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Dressage Training Day with Shaun Mandy 23rd April 2015

Shaun kindly visited our yard at Poplars Equestrian to cast a watchful eye over a couple of horses during their daily schooling sessions.

Shaun has many years of experience training horses and recently spent 18 months in Denmark, based with one of the worlds foremost dressage trainers, Hasse Hoffmann.

We chose two novice horses for Shaun to give us advice with:

Spypark Ferro XS and The Night Traveller.

These are two very different horses, Spypark Ferro being a 17.2hh warmblood and The Night Traveller a 16hh Irish Sports Horse.  We thought we would stretch Shaun’s coaching repertoire, and see what methods we could use to bring the best out in both horses.

We worked with Spypark Ferro first.  Shaun began by asking me for a bit of history about the horse and my thoughts of the positives and negatives I was experiencing in my training with him.  Then we commenced with the work!  Beginning by warming up on a circle, Shaun had me doing easy transitions from walk to trot, but all the time gently pushing the horse from my inside leg slightly laterally.  This created more bend and suppleness and gave me more connection through to the outside rein.  This enabled me to produce a softer and more effective half halt which allowed me to do transitions within the pace, generating more elasticity and engagement.  The result gave us a better rhythm with more ground coverage.

Shaun asked me to do some leg yield in both trot and canter to help us again with suppleness, but also balance, especially when the canter leg yield took us into counter canter.  I felt this enabled Spypark Ferro to remain soft and over his back, and to remain ‘swinging’ through his back when I increased the power into his work.

We finished as we started, on a circle where I continued to gently push from my inside leg, but this time we allowed the horse to stretch down as much as he wished.


Next was the turn of The Night Traveller.  He is slightly more experienced and establish in his work, so we were able move through the warm up a little quicker.  We began in exactly the same way.  Shaun kept encouraging me to soften my inside rein so as not to restrict the horse while asking for more bend and suppleness.

We then progressed with the lateral work and looked at ‘shoulder in’.  Once we had establish a rhythmical, and balanced shoulder in Shaun asked me to do some transitions from the trot through to walk and then return to the trot.  All the time I was to keep the positioning of the shoulder in and maintain the horses balance around my inside leg and into my outside rein.  I could feel my seat becoming more influential in balancing the horse and I felt him becoming softer in the movement underneath me.

I asked Shaun if he could look at my ‘walk to canter’ and ‘canter to walk’ transitions to see if he could help me ‘polish them up’ for my competitions.  Shaun had me canter a small circle around him in an active, collected canter.  He then asked me to push the horses quarters to the inside of the circle in a travers positioning.  While positioned like this I collected the canter a little more, and then asked for a transition through to walk.  Shaun again emphasized that I was to soften my inside rein so as not to restrict the horse.  This encouraged more engagement in the downwards transition and kept the horse soft and relaxed through his body.  I felt this improved the quality of the walk away from the transition.  When I practiced a couple of ‘canter to walk’ transitions as if in a test situation, it was noticeable that the horse stayed in better ‘self carriage’.

To finish off, Shaun and I discussed the sessions, and had a brief recap on the key points that he thought would benefit me and the horses most.


All in all, both horses seemed to enjoy their training sessions, showing improved quality to their paces.  I felt Shaun communicated really well with me, and was very attentive to the horses, as to how much to increase the difficulty of the work, and when to give them a break.

I would like to thank Shaun for his time and input, and I will definitely be incorporating many of his ideas into my daily riding.


If you would be interested in receiving coaching from Shaun please contact him by;

tel.            07780 654703

email.       [email protected]

website.   www.shaunmandy.com

Shaun has superb facilities at his base, with a large outdoor arena, and a 20×40 indoor arena.

He is available for clinics throughout the UK with adequate numbers