Rider Instructor & Coaching

Whatever your discipline, Esther’s coherent and consistent approach together will help you progress your riding and your horse’s progress, whether competitive or a purely for pleasure. Her in depth understanding of rider biomechanics, backed with her huge and broad experience in managing and training horses in all disciplines but especially in the ultimately demanding sport of endurance, is likely to cast light on the challenges you may be facing, whatever your level of skill and achievement. She offers one to one training at her base in Worcestershire but enjoys travelling to run clinics for riding clubs, livery yards or any other groups of riders (please contact Esther to find out minimum number of riders for your location).

Help your horse and your performance in every equestrian endeavour by becoming a better rider with help from Groen Equestrian.

Some people always question the motives behind rules. When learning to ride as a child and being told to put her heels down or her shoulders back, Esther often challenged the reason for this. As she did not have the best motor skills, part of asking why was to understand what she should be changing and how. The other part was wanting to know the reason behind everything because she was always curious.

When she started to work with young horses, she needed these questions answered more than ever. The blank canvas the youngsters presented did not respond to usual tricks or pre-installed buttons a rider just had to press. Training a young horse meant installing those buttons yourself and thinking about how to do that to get the desired result. This was an eye-opener for Esther, and when training more young horses and even some “problematic” horses, she often needed different ways of explaining to all kinds of horses what a rider meant with and with which aids. She found that only one aid should be applied to make the horse understand what was asked in order to make the horse connect that aid to the desired response.

When Esther started teaching humans as well as horses a while later, she had to be able to explain the aids for an exercise in such a way that her pupils understood what she meant. She sometimes needed a selection of explanations as not everybody's minds and bodies work the same way, something she had experienced herself in her own early riding days. Just regurgitating what a common riding term was (for instance: ‘heels down!’) was not sufficient; Esther had to delve into the biomechanics of what happens to a body when the heels go down, and also what effect this had on a horse. Her own horse Moreno, which she backed and trained herself, was extremely responsive and would not accept any stiffness or blockages of the rider, so he proved a great teacher and mirror for Esther.

Some riders ask for too many things at the same time or think they are asking one thing but are actually meaning something else entirely so it is vital they realise how to precisely request a specific response. Moreno was extremely clear about what he accepted in his rider’s aids so he was instrumental for Esther to learn how to be transparent and pass this on to her pupils. The effect on the horses when the riders improved was impressive, and much more significant than focussing only on the horse, which is often the conventional way of instruction.

Esther's 6 Steps & Riding Box

Esther has developed her own style of teaching, combining the different methods she has encountered over the years. She follows a stepwise strategy in her teaching. The steps have a logical progression, build one upon the other in turn, and also link together in many ways. Each step is a prerequisite for the next one: without energy, you cannot take up a proper contact. Without contact, you cannot create flexion etc.

  1. Energy
  2. Contact
  3. Flexion
  4. Straightness
  5. Balance
  6. Obedience

 All these steps together are part of riding which Esther then feeds into her concept of riding “in the box” when she is teaching. This is an imaginary box in which the horse travels and which the rider can use to check if all the foundations of energy, contact, flection, straightness, balance and obedience are in order. When the horse is working in the box, the rider should not have to correct or ask much. The horse will have a relative sense of freedom to do as it pleases, as long as it stays within the boundaries of the box. When a new exercise is commenced the rider should find that they need only to give minor aids to make any changes to “the box”.  

  • focus forward rider

  • focus forward horse

  • contact with hands allowing forward movement

  • straightness: horse is going on 2 tracks

  • energy, power from behind

  • balance: breastbone is lifted

  • flexion of topline, neck and back if the horse would be turning

  • obedience: a happy horse with a happy rider as boundaries are established

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