Author Archives: Ema Klugman

How the ‘dog-paddle’ mentality will make you a better horse trainer

  In my last article, I described how the “dog-paddle” mentality can help us succeed at new tasks. Rather than adopting the extreme of “hope I float” on the one hand or “perfection only” on the other, we can take the middle-road approach and aim for completion. Dog-paddling means you can stay afloat, and staying afloat means that you can learn a more elegant, faster stroke in time. Applying this thinking to training horses, especially inexperienced ones, can help us produce willing, confident partners. Horses have astonishing memories. They can recall experiences they’ve had, feelings they’ve felt, and even things…

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Why equestrians need to master the ‘dog-paddle’

  I think people (including me) fail at new things for one of two reasons. When the task ahead of us feels too hard, we tend to either approach it with abandon, ignorance, and crossed fingers, or we approach it with the expectation that if we don’t do everything right, we are a complete failure. These two extremes rarely represent the best options. In the first instance, we are basically jumping into a pond and hoping that we’ll float—we don’t care who is watching, all we want is to survive. In the second, we are trying to swim in perfect…

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How equestrians can learn more from the bad days – Sponsored by Back On Track

  Great for muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Products for horses, dogs and people. Visit www.backontrackproducts.com   No matter how good of a rider you are or how nice your horses are, some days in this sport don’t go as well as you hope. I think that we learn more from the bad days than we learn from the good ones. In both cases, however, shifting our thinking can help our riding and results. First, it’s important for everyone to define what their goals and hopes are for each event. For one person, staying in the dressage ring and making…

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Why eventers should embrace Arena Eventing

  I was reading the comments on a news story last week about Devon’s arena Eventing class that was held on Sunday night. To my surprise, most of the comments were negative. People weren’t saying “cool, this is great for the sport!”. Instead, they were writing things like, “this is dangerous” and “arena Eventing is NOT Eventing.” They are correct. Arena Eventing is not real Eventing. It is also dangerous, like every horse sport. That does not mean it is not fun, exciting, and a useful way to spread awareness about our sport. I took two horses to Devon last…

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The reality of the horse world’s social media rat race

  Social media has changed our sport. I think many of us are unaware of how online commentary and images affect how we view ourselves, our horses, and our goals. It’s been well-documented and noted that social media, in general, tend to produce a skewed view of people. People showcase their best moments—posing at prom, smiling at graduation, hugging friends against a beautiful backdrop when they’re on vacation. Horse people, for the most part, do the same. We post pictures that make ourselves and our horses look like winners. We sometimes put up unflattering moments—spectacular falls can provide comic relief!…

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Five tips to own your cross-country warm-up every time

  I was talking to a friend the other day about how funny it is to discuss our sport with non-horse people. She said that her friends couldn’t understand why she was still taking lessons. “Don’t you already know how to ride?” they asked. “Well, yes,” she said. “But I’m always trying to get better.” Competing in this sport successfully means you at least know the basics and can perform them well the majority of the time. But as we all know, beyond the basics there are so many intricacies on the path to success. Each time you move up…

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How do equestrians make the magic happen?

  If there was one word to start every question about what training, riding, and competing horses was like, it would be “How?” Everyone wants to know: “how do I get my horse on the bit?” and “how do I see a distance?” and “how do I win a four-star?” Spectators and friends wonder: “how do you tell them to cross their legs when they’re moving sideways?” and “how can they jump over these things that are 4 and a half feet tall and 7 feet wide and don’t fall down?” The questions that riders ask are only more sophisticated…

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Why do equestrians need to make their OWN mistakes?

  I keep on hearing this phrase from event riders: “experience is the thing you get right after you needed it.” It seems to be said at least once after the Kentucky Three-Day event every year. I’ve heard it in no other sport or profession. The phrase applies perfectly to cross-country riding. With experience, riders know when to egg a horse on at a CCI or when to ease off the gas pedal. With experience, riders know how much pace to approach a big drop into the water, and how to create a shape that minimizes the risk of the…

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“Easy, Killer!” Some reflections from my first three-star

  This weekend marked an exciting one for US eventing, with the test event for WEG happening in Tryon. I decided to enter Chattahoochee Hills instead, due to conflicts with my university schedule. It was my fourth Advanced start with the boisterous “Bendigo” and just the second go at the Advanced level for “Joker’s Win.” Bendigo contested the CIC3* class while Joker went in the slightly easier national Advanced class. There are lots of things that can go wrong at an event, or leading up to one, and many of those things went wrong for me. I had a disastrous…

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Four steps to conquer your ‘bogey’ fence

  Whether we admit it or not, most of us have a bogey fence. Course designers have a broad range of fence types from which to choose (in both the show jumping and cross country phases). The most common candidates for bogey fences are probably trakheners and ditches-and-walls, but every rider is different. For one person it may be up-banks on cross country, while for another it might be triple-bars in the show jumping arena. Riders often express fear or doubt about these particular types of fences, which can negatively affect their riding and their horses. Here are the steps…

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