Dressage training with Ville Vaurio: “trust me, nothing bad will happen”

There aren’t that many scenarios that make me nervous when riding Vallu anymore (excluding hacking), but I have to say that the building works, galloping horses on side of the arena, people riding their horses on the canter track on the other side of the arena, gale force wind as well as people coming and going to the patio next to the arena as a combination did freak me out to begin with… 🙄 Talk about being thrown into the deep end! Especially when you are used to riding alone on your quiet arena with no interruptions apart from tractors and other traffic on the road near your arena. There was even one girl who was rude enough to jump over the poles that had been put in the middle of the arena to create separate spaces for those riding in the clinic and those who weren’t, and several times she jumped them right as I rode past and nearly rode into me! #mannersplease But after this slightly heart attack inducing warm up, I have to say I’m so happy that we went to have a lesson and that it was so busy there because now I have a new tactic on how to deal with a Vallu who has crept into his shell, is spooky but also behind the leg (talented horse right here…)
I’ve always been told to kick and ride forwards to make the horse busy when they are being spooky and that’s what I’ve always tried to do, but on the rare occasion that Vallu has been spooky as well as being behind the leg, I have always struggled with what to actually do to get him working normally. Asking him to go forwards has tended to result in more spooks (during this lesson I had 2 ‘leap into the air and then take off with me’) or then a canter that doesn’t actually go anywhere and his neck so tense that nothing you do can get it to move… But today Ville managed to get me to ride Vallu in a such a way that in the end despite everything that was going on around us I managed to get some of the best canter work out of Vallu AND some of the best working pirouettes ever!!
It’s all to do with the timing and my own attitude. Instead of riding like “oh good boy Vallu please relax everything is fine”, when he is feeling like he was during the lesson I need to be “COME ON GO FORWARDS, trust me nothing bad will happen”. Both are a positive mindset, but the latter helps him relax because he feels more confident with me and therefore will listen to me better. So when he tries to drop behind the leg, kick forwards and pat, flex and then go quiet and just ask him to concentrate on me, rather than everything else going on both inside the arena (other horses etc) and outside the arena. It was such a lightbulb moment and even though nothing has really changed in my riding, I feel like EVERYTHING has changed!💡The canter was better, the canter pirouettes were really good and my canter walk canter transitions felt like they would have scored a 10.
He was VERY tired afterwards...
After a couple of times of kick forwards and pat, flex and then ask him to concentrate on me it was as if I had a different horse underneath me. It felt like he dared to breathe for the first time in 30 minutes. What a break through for us! And especially for me to be able to get Vallu to actually let me ride him even though he was tense and wanted to just stare at everything that was happening around him was a fantastic experience and has made me feel a lot more comfortable about going to new yards for training and competitions, since I now know I can actually get him to work with me 💖

Have you ever had a lesson during which it felt like you had learnt something amazing?


  1. Vallu seems to be a horse that takes a lot of patience and perseverance! I'm so happy to you had a breakthrough with him.

    1. Haha, yes he's not easy! But that's what a schoolmaster is for, to continuously teach you even after you've been together for so many years! Thank you