Author Archives: AJ Dyer - aka Visionaire

What’s the difference between being a good rider and a great one?

  What makes good riders great? Their sense of timing. Riding and training horses require a lot of feel, and to do it well also relies on applying the right aid at the right time. For example, a lateral leg aid must be applied when the horse can properly respond to it– when that hind leg is just leaving the ground and moving upward. If you close your leg when the horse’s hind leg is going down and weight-bearing, he won’t be able to react in the way you want. This can frustrate both of you! How can you develop…

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Taking care of basics with your OTTB before your first ride – Sponsored by Back on Track

  Great for muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Products for horses, dogs and people. Visit www.backontrackproducts.com   My recent article, “What you should know before your OTTB’s first ride off the track” spawned some great discussion from the audience.  First of all, I’m glad it was helpful to so many of you!  Taking in those comments, I thought it might be useful to back up and provide some insight on what to do before you get on: basic handling and tack choices, for instance. As far as daily handling goes, most OTTBs are just like any other horse.  Some of them…

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Training tips to transform your horse into an easier ride

  I have a novice horse for sale, and a lovely young adult came to try him on Saturday. I got on the horse first, as customary, to put the horse through his paces and show he can perform as advertised. He was a little distracted during the first few minutes of warmup, but he eventually settled and showed a pretty good walk, trot, and canter. I hopped him over a few low fences, and then the potential buyer was ready to give him a try. I advised her that he was pretty straightforward, ride leg-to-hand, with light, small aids. She…

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What conformation feature do four-star horses have in common? – Sponsored by Back on Track

  Great for muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Products for horses, dogs and people. Visit www.backontrackproducts.com   We are only three months away from the first CCI4* event of 2018, the Kentucky Three-Day Event (April 26-29th). The snow will be melted before you know it, and you will be back out riding cross-country. While we impatiently wait for the four-star action to begin, let’s take a look at what AJ Dyer has observed with a few phenomenal horses that have made it to this level. Assessing commonalities is a great way to help us find suitable upper-level prospects when horse…

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How YOU can improve Eventing by voicing your opinion

  Have you ever attended an event and thought to yourself, “Wow, the course design here is confusing,” or “I wish the bathrooms were cleaner?” Do you wish someone was listening to your concerns? What can you do? Guess what, you’re in luck!  For every event in which you participate in the US and Ontario, as a rider, owner, volunteer, or spectator, you can fill out an online Event Evaluation Form.  The form allows for specific feedback regarding every aspect of the event; warm-up rings, footing, course construction, etc. As well as general niceties like on-time scheduling, coordination, restroom facilities, and…

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Friday’s Five – Steps to help riders of all levels find horse owners

  You do not need to have an Olympic appearance on your record to seek out ownership support. There are many individuals who would be interested in joining your team and supporting your riding journey even if you are not targeting a four-star in the near future. But when you head out looking for owners you need to forget the traditional model of ownership – a wealthy individual already steeped in Eventing culture – and broaden your horizons to bring new people into the sport. People who would get satisfaction and enjoyment from being part of a sport team and watching a…

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Things you NEED to know before riding your new OTTB

  This week, the 2018 Retired Racehorse Project opened up entries. So horse people around North America are on the hunt for Thoroughbreds to re-train for this incredible competition. It is the ideal time to share with you again, this informative article from AJ Dyer who is an experienced Thoroughbred trainer and enthusiast! Each year, lots of racing Thoroughbreds find their way into new homes and new careers. There are two schools of thought when a horse steps off the racetrack: turn ’em out, or get on with riding. Prior to my experience in the Thoroughbred industry, I was a…

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Set up this simple exercise to perfect your skills at jumping narrows and angles

  If you’ve mastered this turning exercise over poles, kick it up a notch this week using a “Cross” jump to refine your accuracy. The cross is simple to make: two 12′ jumps set perpendicular at right angles to each other, one rail a hole higher than the other. Start with the cross set very low (18″-2′), and approach each side from a trot until your horse feels comfortable and jumps straight. Want to work on your turns? Circle after each jump, using a simple cloverleaf pattern to turn back to the next. As with the George Morris pole exercise, make your…

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Is “over-horsing” creating a problem in today’s event riders?

  I’ve been lurking in various discussions on the world wide web in which participants attempt to identify and solve a host of problems in the sport of Eventing. I’m not really one to stick my neck out, I don’t like confrontation and unless I’m certain I can really add something of value, I tend to keep quiet and observe. In one particular instance, the value of coaching and quality instruction is blamed for “what is wrong” with the sport in America. While I agree that lower-standard training is a problem, I got to thinking about another part of the…

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Follow these seven steps to perfectly plan next year’s competition season

  For most of us in North America, the 2017 eventing season has wrapped up.  Our horses are enjoying a little down time– some longer than others, depending on your winter climate.  Still, it’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season.  Since I’m very goal-oriented and driven to succeed, I like to develop a “roadmap” for the upcoming competition year and start planning early. What guidelines do I use to develop a competition schedule? 1. Identify your end goal (AECs, Area Championships, CCI, etc) and review the qualifications necessary for you and your horse.  Is this goal realistic?  Is it very ambitious,…

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