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Tack Room Tales

How Half Halt Succeeded to Confuse the English Speaking World, brought to you by

January 2015

Milo was born a long time ago on a far away continent called Europe. He was sometimes called Half, maybe because he had half a mind on anything he did, he never could make up his mind. He had quite a large family and they went under the surname of ‘Ophouding’ or ‘Parade’, depending on which dialect they spoke. Half was born into a family that was wellknown for their horse skills.

The Secret of the Indirect Rein, brought to you by

October 2014

The term ‘indirect opposing rein aid’ actually existed in an old cavalry handbook, which I read when I was a young rider. Of course, not everyone who entered the cavalry last century was a competent horseman. Competitive horse riding was mainly done by military officers. The three day event was called a ‘military’ for a long time.

Memoir of a Riding Instructor, brought to you by

September 2014

My best lessons were… When I did ‘nothing’. It is the end of a long day. It has been busy and it is hot! You have been up since dawn and now you need to give three more lessons in the evening.  The last thing you want to do is to give three more lessons. A nice cold drink while watching the sunset would be more enjoyable than standing in a hot, dusty arena with sweaty horses. But… Your riders don’t know how busy you have been. Their ride is the highlight of their week. You can’t just stand there being tired and grumpy! 

We Are Teachers Through and Through, brought to you by

June 2014

Many people were rather upset when we at announced that we were phasing out our coaching courses. After all, the Hartogs have been producing quality coaches for many, many years. Our equestrian centre was a wonderful training ground for instructors, as it had a great variety of students, well-trained horses, and routines and procedures that helped trainee instructors progressively work their way up from the stables, via pony teaching and assisting in lessons, to becoming capable and knowledgeable coaches. 

Riders Have To Do the Hard Yards, brought to you by

September 2012

Consumer goods give us instant gratification. If you think your computer or car is too slow, you can buy a better and faster one, and you don’t always need more training to use them. This is not so with horse riding (or any sport, for that matter). You just can’t purchase a horse with better breeding and pre-training, step on board and miraculously improve your riding.

The Deaf and Blind Rider in our RDA Program, brought to you by

August 2012

 This deaf and blind rider was actually quite large and also mentally affected. You can imagine he was under stimulated because he could not read, listen to or even watch television and had a comprehension problem. I was assigned as a side walker to help keep his balance. Having had little experience in communicating with a deaf and blind person, I found it hard to communicate apart from touching him and helping him turn the horse. Because his comprehension was affected, we did not know if he even realised he was on a horse.

Holiday Camps...The Day Started at 2am, brought to you by

August 2012

Every holiday, we ran holiday camps in our centre. There was great excitement in everybody about sleeping at the centre, getting up early, helping feed the horses and mucking out! One night during a holiday camp, I was woken up by noises in the stable at two in the morning. You know how it is, you are not quite awake, but you know you have to investigate. Our Doberman, Mira, came with me to protect if necessary.

Cow Dressage, brought to you by

July 2012

Some people don’t like the word Dressage because they think it means top level competition with top hat and tails. For them, it is not the reason they wanted to learn to ride. They just want to have fun while learning and learn how to control a horse competently. So, in our business, we changed the word Dressage into ‘Riding on the Flat’.

The Authority of the Instructor, brought to you by

July 2012

When we are teaching, it is clear that we, as instructors, must be on top of the pecking order. Students with little experience often do not tell the horse what to do properly - that is left to the instructor. One of the best ways to keep your authority is to have clear 'words of command'. Horses get used to them and, if you always say the same thing, horses will get used to the commands and react to them. With beginner riders, this is a necessity so the ride remains in control.

Safety When Turning Out a Horse in a Paddock, brought to you by

July 2012

There was no malice when this Percheron kicked up his heels and seriously injured the handler. I have a friend who says that, out of all the animals, she likes dogs and horses the most. Why? Because they have such beautiful eyes. I know that most people fall for the large, soft, moist eyes of horses. They immediately fall in love with any horse they see. But these beautiful eyes are large to enable the horse to scan the horizon and see danger from a long distance.


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