Comments From Maree McAteer

These excerpts are from Facebook posts that we have compiled for your reference:

Going to miss my view of the past 2 weeks being a captured, catered to judge of the EOH in our latest competition. Quite the experience to have time to thoroughly judge 57 rounds. Grateful I did not have to cram it into one week – to have the luxury of time to proof read and ponder was wonderful. (Proof reading took 4hrs). Absolute highlight was to see the improvement in the partnerships that have done multiple VWE competitions. It was not at all the riders just learning the patterns better but some real understanding of the appropriate balance and degrees of difficulty for their horses at the stage of training they are at. This so justifies all the effort and time. It proves that this is a powerful format for helping people and horses. We have effectively joined the experience of ‘a show’ and ‘a clinic/lesson’ together in just the right amount of each. Big decision now is what do we do next and how to move forward from here. I keep buying Lotto tickets to see if ‘the planet’ would like to finance it forward but no joy yet so obviously more work to be done. As we develop the format and put parameters on the different areas we can then attract like-minded people to help with the judging. It is not at all like judging a ‘live’ show. You can replay as many times as you like, comments can be as extensive as you like and most of all you can offer ideas on how to move forward. This done within the parameters of getting the horses more OK and confident means the riders are not having to decide too often ‘what is my horse going to be open to in a calm manner’. I am so so so looking forward to tripping around over the next 3 – 4 months and seeing all these now familiar faces in real life. I will learn so much and then be able to take that back to judging the next competition.

Maree McAteer – January 2021 (in NZ quarantine hotel)

After 20 yrs of using WE to help teach people about how horses learn I am still in awe of the effectiveness of the obstacles to cover all areas that are needed to gently guide the training of horse and rider. The VWE course for Competition 3 is tight in a 20m x 40m arena but quite doable if you plan and prepare quickly and thoroughly then act gently. This I think is the essence of riding/training well. The ability to prepare the horse so well that when you ask for the task it is easy for the horse. I watch 100’s of rounds every month and am in constant amazement of the ability of horses to learn obstacles and courses and be happy doing it. The horses that are in balance and self-carriage in their bodies and calm and understanding in their minds will many times when given some preparation as to ‘where’ they are going nail a course beautifully and for sure have it down the 2nd time. If we as the human part of the partnership can be as in the moment and ready as the horses are what an ‘Avatar’ feeling that could be. If you are finding the course challenging think of what you are learning rather than how hard it is. Get ready, get ready, get ready until you can do the whole course and be always ready on time or maybe early so the horse can then help you out – how great is that feeling when your horse so happily goes and does.

Maree McAteer – October 2020

Having a lovely time right now watching the challenge videos and comments and thinking about all the fine details of what we are learning from the exercise. It has made me think back to the early 80’s when I was first exposed to Nuno Olivera and his training. I got endlessly fascinated in the exercise of shoulder-in and then quarters-in all on a circle. All the endless questions – how much shoulder-in is achievable before it become leg yield or quarters out? To change to quarters-in which part do you move first and how much? Gently over and over again. What can my horse do? What is he telling me? The conclusion…….there is both exercises in each exercise – there is a feeling of the minutest quarters in in shoulder-in (inside the horse) and a feeling of shoulder-in in the quarters in…….then the how much question and from that comes the moments of Holy Grail.

Maree McAteer – August 2020

Rhythm is a word you hear a lot especially in the lower levels of training. How do we create nice rhythm on our horses? Some horses have it naturally better than others just like some people can dance to any beat and others struggle. Several things go into finding and polishing your horses natural rhythm. As all these things come together a nice rhythm will slowly appear:

– relaxation while moving,

– straightness – the gradual feeling that your horse goes the same both ways,

– to be comfortable and understanding to stay between the aids – not dull to the leg or heavy and held slow by the hand,

– a degree of balance that makes all the above get easier all the time – most horses will have one persistent habit that disturbs their balance, i.e. falling on a shoulder while turning,

– as riders our sense of an achievable rhythm and our ability to gently and persistently hang onto it even though the horse can’t – this is done through the feel of moving in our bodies that the horse can begin to relate to.

– it takes strength and a degree of fitness in a horse to hold a consistent rhythm for an extended period of time/distance – it is our judgment as trainers to work out does he need more strength or more fitness. Gaited horses and Standardbreds are specialized movers who can go greater distances efficiently without tiring, when we ask them to slow a little and use more strength to create a degree of suspension it is hard and takes time to develop. When this is achieved they are quite beautiful.

As you can see to develop a beautiful rhythm is a complex dance and no two horses are the same. Be kind to yourself and your horse when you think it should be easier than it is. Happy dancing!!

Maree McAteer – July 2020

With the launching of our 2nd Virtual WE Competition this week I would like to start the discussion ball rolling with some ideas/thoughts on Single Slalom. In Preparatory for this Comp we have stipulated first Single Slalom is at walk and the 2nd time is trot. Our reasoning for this is: a. that we get to see the horses do one obstacle in walk and can give feedback on walk quality, b. Single Slalom is hard to do well and easily at trot unless your horse is immediate to bend through his body off your leg, seeing one effort in walk we will be able to see where you are in this process, c. if practiced slowly at walk to get order of aids correct it will get easier at trot. i.e. bend from inside leg (without rein aid) and turn from seat and both reins.This attention to detail enhances the process of developing your ride to be from the back/body of the horse to the front instead of the head/neck aids first and the body aids 2nd. The development of this is a gradual mindful process. Have fun.

Maree McAteer – June 2020

Maree McAteer Webinar interviewed by Wendy Murdoch

riding up to the halt

Here is a challenge to work on shortening steps and riding up to the halt. This exercise involves slowing and reducing the length of steps before the halt, which will help the horse come to a balanced halt. Instead of leaning into the halt and dropping the chest, the aim of the exercise is to encourage the horse to keep their chest lifted and their front to back balance evenly distributed.

Set up poles in the arena down each long side 8m from each short side that will provide a set of four halt-over-pole obstacles.

Ride around the arena halting over each pole.  After each pole, develop a feel of riding your horse ‘up’ through his body and pay closer attention to straightness from nose to tail until the halfway point between the poles then keeping that ‘up forward’ feeling, gradually reduce the length of each step to finish with a halt over the next pole. Slow and small steps without stopping prior to the halt will improve balance and coordination as the horse will not be using as much momentum to keep their balance.

As you build on this maybe put a trot or canter circle in at B and/or E.

Have fun and enjoy the journey.