Author: Andrea

Maddie Bricken – Featured Rider

Maddie Bricken – Featured Rider

Through Instagram I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet an incredible group of equestrians, one such person is Maddie Bricken. You can’t help but be drawn in by her gorgeous bright bay Leah and Maddie’s warmth, honesty and passion for all things equestrian. Maddie is prehaps […]

Short Steps and Flying changes

Short Steps and Flying changes

A few lessons with coach Danielle Keogh was just what the dressage gods ordered to kick of our 2018 season. Excitingly we were able to progress our work on both the short steps and the flying changes as well as further the developing the ‘pirouette […]

My Plan – January 2018

My Plan – January 2018

The 11th day of January may seem like an odd and late time to be sharing with you all what my plan for the month, however there is a reason. Towards the end of last year I took Nonie’s shoes off. This has been another learning curve for me. I have a lot left to learn about horse management.

My farrier left town and I was unsure who to turn to. There were no clear recommendations at this time and what’s more there was no-one who lived and worked in Mackay 100% of the time. With these factors in mind I decided that I would try to transition Nonie to be barefoot. She initially handled this really well. I was working her about five days per week and she was sound. Of course she was tip toeing around rocks and gravel, but that was to be expected.

Upon my return from holidays at the end of 2017 I was excited to get back into it and start working towards my 2018 goals. Unfortunately, Nonie was foot sore at anything more than a walk. Looking back she was probably getting a bit tender in the lead up to my holidays, but as we all know horses are incredibly stoic and she soldiered on for me. I wasn’t able to get shoes put on her until this week. She is now back to her fabulous self and I am now more pumped than ever to kick some goals! In reflection I should have noticed sooner that Nonie was not handling being barefoot. Lesson learned. This mare needs shoes.

Nonie going barefoot was not 100% my original plan


I have three lessons lined up this weekend with coach Dani Keogh. I am excited for these although less excited about the 4am starts that will be needed to make my 6.20am lesson slots! Nothing like watching the sun rise to kick off your day though right?!?

The entry to Diamond View Dressage Park - I have a plan to take lesson with Danielle this weekend

Equimind Competitions

Between General Christmas craziness, holidays at the end of December last year and Nonie being foot sore when I returned I wasn’t able to compete in the December Equimind competition. I’m feeling excited to get back into it and improve upon my October scores. For the elementary tests this would mean cracking the 70% mark. To do this we’ll need to improve the lengthened trot and canter. In the medium tests my goal for this month is to score higher than 62%. The feedback from our last test was that we needed more displacement in the lateral work. This was also something that we worked on during our last lessons.

Equine Body Work

Nonie is over due for a session with Penny her favourite equine body worker, so I certainly plan to get her booked in. Penny uses a combination of massage, laser and red light on acupuncture points. She spends a good hour and a half working her way around Nonie’s body. I know that Nonie enjoys her sessions as she start yawning almost as soon as she see’s Penny drive in. She also feels incredibly loose and swingy after her session.

Nonie is also due to have her teeth done, we have an equine dentist visiting in the next month so it will be great to get all of these things sorted before the year starts proper.

At the begining of Febuary there is a local hack day. I did a few a of these last year and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I am consdering taking her to this one to kick off the show season.

Nonie and Andrea at a local hack show - January 2018 Plans


Have you made a plan to kick start your year?

Comparisons & Equestrians

Comparisons & Equestrians

I have long compared myself to other riders. The hallmark of these comparisons has been a sense of not good enough-ness. In years gone by I’ve felt the need to justify where I am on my journey in comparison to others. My sense of self-worth […]

My first twelve months as a blogger – Lessons Learnt

My first twelve months as a blogger – Lessons Learnt

I have now been a blogger for a little over a year, and its been something I have thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve learnt a lot along the way and I’m sure there are many more lessons still to be had. My top learnings as a blogger […]

2017 – A year in Review – Equestrian Blog Hop

2017 – A year in Review – Equestrian Blog Hop

2017 was a whirlwind of changes to in my career and a different focus in my riding. A promotion at work saw my professional life ramp up. With Nonie and I being between elementary and medium level, competing took a back seat and the focus was squarely on learning. And I completed my first 12 months as a blogger!

Equestrian Blog Hop - 2017

My first year as an equestrian blogger.

In my first year as a blogger I wrote and published 52posts which had just over 7000 views and I ‘met’ and got to work with some fabulous bloggers. Some of my favourite and most popular posts have been:

Daring to suck

My most popular post was all about embracing imperfection or ‘daring to suck’ as riders. I talked about how my tendency towards perfectionism has held me back in my riding in the past and the strategies I’ve used to overcome this.

2017 Daring to Suck

Emily Grimstead

The Featured Rider series was sparked from my desire to share my friend Emily’s journey to The National Dressage Pony Cup. Emily shared about the challenging journey taking her Appaloosa pony Goosebumps from a rescue to Breed Champion at pony cup. From there the series was born. Her advice to other riders was simple but poignant – have patience.

Emily and Goose 2017 National Pony Cup

Bailey Notle

My second featured rider story focused on Bailey Notle – a rider I have admired for quite some time. In the two part series we covered a variety of topics from how Bailey got into riding, to what she loved about dressage and of course we got to learn more about her mare Fair Joy.
Bailey also had some pretty fantastic advice for readers:
– Not comparing our personal journey to someone else’s
– Staying true to the purpose of dressage that is improving the horses way of going
– Fashion over function
– Never stop learning

Bailey Notle and Fair Joy

The equestrians guide to motivation

I had been pondering the issue of motivation and figured I would go to the brains trust (aka my fellow Equestrian bloggers) to find out more about motivation. I asked what motivation is, what causes it to suffer and how we can improve it. A few themes emerged including the importance of setting goals, managing the pressure we place upon ourselves and knowing when to take a step back from riding.

Highlights of 2017

Looking back at the year that was 2017 there were a few clear highlights for me.

Lessons with Brett Parbey

Over the Easter long weekend we traveled down to The Sunshine Coast to attend lessons with Australian Based International dressage rider Brett Parbey. I was struck by his simple yet effective approach to training horses.

2017 Lessons with Brett Parbery

In June I had the opportunity to join the EquiMind team as a sponsored rider. Since July we’ve competed every month (with the exception of December) in thier online dressage competitions. This has beena great learning tool for me and has helped me to get back into the ring and ride through dressage tests and receive feedback on them.The Summer Championships were held in September and Nonie and I managed to finish as the Dressage Champions!

Medium Debut

My one and only competition for the year took place in July in the warm and dry Townsville. Mum made the flight up to Mackay to help me travel up and share this moment with me.

2017 - Ambition

The tests were certainly not our best work and arguably we were a little green at that level to have made our debut. Nonetheless, I am glad we took the plunge as getting out into the competition arena at this new level served to highlight our weaknesses.

Riding Bridleless

About a month ago, I finally took the plunge and rode Nonie without a bridle. It was something that I had been wanting to do for the longest time and Nonie took to it like a duck to water. I’m looking forward to doing more of this in 2018 and improving my ability to ride off my seat and legs.

2017 Bridleless Riding

Lessons on a Pegasus

The final highlight of the year would have to be my lessons on super coach Dani Keogh’s Remi Pegasus (aka Nemo). This was such an invaluable experience which has given me a clearer feeling of collection in the canter and canter pirouettes. I felt how I can use my seat and core to help the collection and keep the hind end active with my legs.

Similarly in the medium trot I got a better feeling of sitting myself in the saddle to help maintain the balance in Nemo’s body as he lengthened.

It was also really cool to see how elements of the warm I do on Nonie (training elementary/medium) were the same as what Dani does with Nemo (training Prix St George) and served as a good reminder of the importance of having the horse quick off your aids and being precise with your aids. For me this means keeping my legs in the correct position.

What were the highlights of your 2017?

2017 a year in review

Bridleless riding and adventures on the beach

Bridleless riding and adventures on the beach

As long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters. We’ve all heard it before. And yet somewhere along the way our ambition takes over and the fun can easily take a back seat. Regular readers will know that I love dressage and I genuinely take pleasure […]

My Christmas Wish List

My Christmas Wish List

The decorations have been out since Haloween, but December has only just started. This seemed like the perfect excuse to have a bit of fun and put together my Christmas wish list. Celeris Deck shoes These gorgeous deck shoes will take you from a casual […]

Behind the Scenes with Alta Mira Horsemanship

Behind the Scenes with Alta Mira Horsemanship

I have made many wonderful connections through the Facebook Equestrian Bloggers group including with Lindsey Rains of Alta Mira Horsemanship. Her blog is a combination of stunning photography, beautiful artwork (drawn by Lindsey) and inspiring writing that is sure to have you hooked. In her writing Lindsey tells wonderful stories and masterfully weaves in lessons about horsemanship in a way that has learning without realising it AND wanting to get out and work with your partner. In addition to sharing her own learnings with horses, Lindsey has a series of posts dedicated to highlighting positive partnerships between horse and rider.
Perhaps what I love most about Lindsey’s writing and blog is that you get the sense that she has no ulterior motive, a refreshing change in the equestrian world, her desire to connect with her horse and place their welfare front and center is evident. Lindsey has also spoken honestly about her experiences with mental health and how this has impacted her riding.
I was really fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Lindsey and get to know a bit more her and her blog.

Is there a meaning behind the name ‘Alta Mira Horsemanship’?

Yes, there is!  And I am so glad you asked.  The name “Alta Mira” was chosen because Alta Mira, Spain, is where the earliest cave paintings of horses were found.  The premise of Alta Mira Horsemanship is to get to the essence of horse-and-human partnership–to skip all of the nuanced categories of horse riding and horse training disciplines and to find what has remained true over the years about horsemanship since horses and humans first began interacting.  You can read more about the Meaning Behind the Name Alta Mira Horsemanship on my blog.
Lindsey of Alta Mira Horsemanship

How did you first make your way into the equestrian world?  

When I was only a couple of years old, I started drawing.  After nearly three years of me drawing nearly exclusively horses, my mom decided to take me to my first lesson at age 5.  Once I was old enough to join a show jumping barn at age 7, I was going every week, learning how to jump and moving from barn to barn to compete.  Eventually I moved away from competition because I met a trainer who taught me so much more about competition – she taught me about partnership, horsemanship, and dressage fundamentals.
Lindsey from Alta Mira Horsemanship

What is your horsemanship philosophy?

In just a handful of words: Act in the Horse’s Best Interest.  I have seen such a range in approach to horsemanship over the years.  There is a spectrum where at one end, you have the idea that horses are to be subservient to humans and are to be “made” to do things at all times, with a punishment cycle as its reinforcement and no room for input.  On the other end of the spectrum is this idea that the horse is the leader, the horse always knows best, and we need to find what they’re telling us.  While it seems silly to state either of those extremes, all of us fall somewhere along that spectrum.  Neither of the extremes fully act in the horse’s best interest, because one inflicts much harm, and the other doesn’t provide the structure that horse’s need to feel safe and be healthy.  Right in the middle of the spectrum is the balance, where a horse knows what is expected of him, yet can contribute to the partnership with heart, constructive feedback to the rider, work ethic, and trust.  It is our duty as riders to make sure we are practicing what we know to be best for the horse physically and psychologically, even though they are below us in the leadership/ownership sense.  It is important to me to continue learning and growing as I continue my horsemanship journey.

Has there been a particular horse that had a significant impact upon you as a horse person?

Let me avoid my cliche reflex of: “All horses that I have encountered have taught me so much.”  When I was a young competitor, I rode a lot of different horses and often schooled the “problem horses.”  So all of those learning experiences aside, the horse that had the greatest impact on me was the first horse I ever rode: Shadow.  Shadow was a gorgeous bay Arabian-Quarter Horse gelding.  He was the reason why I fell so deeply in love with horses at the start.  Like any first horse, you bond so quickly because everything is new.  After a couple years of lessons on Shadow, I had moved on to competition barns and didn’t ride him anymore.  I took a couple of years off of horseback riding in high school due to depression, and Shadow actually brought me back.  You can read more about that story here.
HOrsemanship - the secret to a joyful relationship with our horses

What inspires you to continue to grow as a horse person? 

I cannot stop learning.  This is my nature with everything I do, but having something like horse riding, where the learning never stops or plateaus, feeds my addiction to learn in a way nothing else ever has.  I find that the more I learn, the more I am able to help horses blossom, which is such an incredible feeling of accomplishment and purpose.

What are you hoping to achieve through your blog? 

I hope to help other people understand their horses better and see that partnership is simple, it just takes patience and work.  I want them to know the deep feeling of satisfaction when they reach a bond and level of skill with their horses after working together with them.  Furthermore, I want to engage in the online equestrian community to the end of making the world better for horses and their humans.
Behind the Scenes with Alta Mira Horsemanhip
Talking to Lindsey confirmed that she is an open and thoughtful equestrian, one who truly inspires me to do better. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Lindsey better. Be sure to head over to her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with her wonderful work. 
Equine Ambition – November Blog Hop

Equine Ambition – November Blog Hop

When I think ambition, I am almost instantly transported back to my Grade 11 English class and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I loved English, Macbeth not so much but I was very excited when the November Blog Hop topic was revealed as Ambition. The evolution of my ambition […]