Articles by Carol Seaman


If you saw the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, you've heard
that funny quote. Crazy right? But,there are people that feel this way.Our
competitive spirit launches us into believing that winning is EVERYTHING.Or is
Remember that apart from racing and some other sports, Dressage visual and
subjective. Although our judges are highly educated and skilled at the task,
THEY ARE HUMAN! They make mistakes! They also cannot help have a preference of
the type of mover, breed or even color of the horse. They can't help feeling
pulled in by the "cute factor" i.e a pony or a child that has so much ring
presence they can't resist giving them extra points. They can't help but
preferring a certain style of rider position. On the other hand, they can't help
being sticklers for rough hands, corner cutting, inaccurate circle size or some
other pet peeve.
We have to remember this when we come down the centerline and try to ride our
personal best test!
Balance and Harmony has to be our goal!It should look and feel like a dance
with our best friend! We should also compare our rides to what we had last week
or better yet, last year!

While coaching students at a horse show this weekend, I noticed a few horses
being harshly"re schooled" in the warm up arena after a less than perfect
test. Re schooled to the point of exhaustion.
I also had a student tell me that her pre class anxiety came from her fear of
being yelled at if she made a mistake. Her prior trainer used to reprimand every
wrong move rather than point out the positive. How frustrating!
We have to make mistakes in order to learn and grow. Correct them and leave them
behind! Read ALL the comments in that test from that "mean" judge who gave us
the low score and learn from it! Then throw it away :-)
Had a bad ride? Don't take it out on the horse and work them until they are too
fatigued to learn. Tomorrow you can start over again.

We ALL win this way!







There is nothing greater for a trainer than receiving messages from two
different students in one day announcing that they are 1st and 2nd place in
their classes and one rider just received a qualifying score toward a USDF
bronze medal.

Only one thing is greater.One horse is 18 and the other is 20!!!

So much value lies in a horse with experience.The older horse may need some
maintenance and extra attention, but there is nothing greater than learning from
a horse with experience.
Amateurs and beginners need to answer these questions.
How much do you want to learn?
Do you want to learn from a student, or a teacher?

Please don't be turned off by horses with age.In most cases older horses that
have extensive experience and show records have been meticulously cared for.If
they are already in their teens and are still sound and serviceable, they will
remain so with quality care.

The news today made this trainer very happy!
Happy trainer, happy rider = HAPPY HORSE
Happy Horse ~ Happy Life <3





It's that time again!!!
Warm weather..overheated horses..more exercise..running in the fields.. rolling
in the dirt, and preparation!
Murphy's Law tells us that every horse in every barn will need a bath at the
exact same time!!!  Most facilities and private stables do not have an endless
supply wash stalls or wash areas.  Stables in rural areas rely on wells and
delicate septic systems. They don't have a limitless supply of water, and the
septic systems are very sensitive to detergents. Hot water isn't always
available because hot water tanks only hold so much and need time to replenish
the supply.
These are all things we all need to take into consideration.
Here are some wash stall pointers...
Keep things neat and keep water localized. No one else needs to get wet while
you are spraying a horse or feel like they are entering "the swamp of sadness"
because of bad aim or power washer hose gripping.  Water should never be wasted.  

Sponge bathe when possible.
Clean up and sweep up manure and hair to keep drains from clogging. Keep
belongings and equipment out of harms way.
Be courteous and efficient. Most likely there is someone else waiting their
turn that might be too polite to ask.
Remember! These are work areas. Safety first! Long conversations among friends
are better while hand grazing. 

A dirty horse is a happy horse but a clean horse is even happier!







If you are a dressage rider you take on the responsibilities of trainer.
What kind of trainer are you?
Do you look for an audience when you ride and try to impress others with the
"tricks" your horse can do? Is showing more important to you than educating? Are
you in a hurry to get to Grand Prix? Does your horse know more than you and you
are in a hurry to catch up?
Do you feel that the continual development of things like good contact, strength
via balanced transitions, self carriage and quality of the gaits are more
important than practicing movements despite the level of the horse's ability?
Are you set out to ride correctly with patience, supple aids, good position,
elastic core strength and balance?
Keep this in mind next time you saddle up.
A good education needs the foundation of the basics. Once the basics are in
place, the tricks are easy. 

Slow down your heart rate! 
“If you act like you've only got fifteen minutes, it will take all day. Act like
you've got all day, it will take fifteen minutes.”
- Monty Roberts
Enjoy the moment! Know your limits and more importantly, know your horse's
Find some "zen" time with your horse for happy education sessions.  Use mirrors
and good eyes on the ground to help you.

Impress or Educate?
A happy horse is an educated horse.

Happy Horse = Happy Life <3





Close your eyes while you are watching a horse and rider perform or practice. 
Listen closely. Do you hear soft rhythmic footfalls? Soft controlled breathing?
Do you sense the self carriage, balance, lightness, and controlled power in the
atmosphere? Do you imagine a happy swinging horse with a confident soft rider?
Although they are working hard as a team, it's somehow quiet and you can hear
nothing but lightness in the strong rhythm of their partnership.
Do you hear loud, hurried, clanking, erratic noises that might be signs of
tension? Obvious things like teeth grinding?  tail swishing? strange saddle
noises? difficulty with breathing?  over use of the whip? abrupt changes of
Although they are working hard, you have to assume they are working against
each other rather than as a team. Their is a true struggle for balance and

When you open your eyes, what do you see?  Were you correct in your assumptions?

When you are riding your own horse, remember what you learned with your eyes
wide shut. And try to simulate the rider/horse with the happy sounds.

Happy Horse, Happy Life <3






Are you level in the saddle? Have someone video your riding and when you watch it hit the pause button. Look at the picture and pretend you are a builder looking for level balance. Look at your eyes, ears, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles etc... Are they the same distance from the floor or ceiling? If you had a carpenter's level would the little bubble sit directly in the center if you set it between your hands? If your horse suddenly evaporated, would you land on your feet with a soft bend in your knees and ankles? Or would you tip to the side and fall forward or backward. Staying balanced in the saddle is something we all strive for. Remember, you have to be level in order to be balanced. Your correct balance influences the horse's ability to stay level or balanced. A balanced horse is a happy horse. Happy Horse, Happy Life <3






What draws us to horses? What makes us so obsessed?
Is it the physical exercise? The desire to be the best in competition? The
companionship with a creature that doesn't judge us? Their beauty and power?
Smelling the leather and sweat? Wearing the fashionable breeches and boots?
Like Winston Churchill said..
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of
a man.”
For me, it's not the level of training or even the competition. My addiction is
the JOURNEY.  Coming back day after day and improving the skills of
communication, connection, balance, self carriage and harmony.
That makes me a happy rider.
Happy rider - Happy Horse





One of the most amazing teachers in my life taught Theatre.  He taught us how
LISTEN and observe.  He would encouraged us to sit in the park, a restaurant, or
a mall and observe.  Listening is a true art and it takes sensitivity and
practice to develop the skill,
The art of listening can be transferred to our riding.
Do you really know how to listen to your horse or do you talk, talk, talk, talk?
For example, do you know people who don't let you get a word in edgewise? Finish
your sentences? Don't really listen or comprehend a word you say? Frustrating,
Well, how do you think their horses must feel?
Our riding aids are the way we communicate to our horses.  Legs, seat, hands,
voice.....Our conversational tools. 
Think of it as a conversation between two actors in a play.  Two actors with
equal speaking roles.  You say something, I listen and give you a response. Give
and take.
It's not Hamlet's soliloquy!