Concept Clinics and Workshops

I’m available for traditional clinics and Concept Clinics (scroll down: Calming Signals, Dressage Rhymes with Massage, and Rhythm and Dance, as well as Contact, Bend, and Writing Workshops ), in the U.S. and internationally.  I’m happy to design the day to suit your group’s requests, whether individual lessons, group riding, or a combination. I require dressage-legal bits and helmets for riders. All saddle types are welcome.  Clinic day-rates discounted to non-profit groups.

** Price increase in 2019**

Schedule before yearend to lock in 2018 prices.

Scroll down for more Concept Clinic information.

New in 2018: New Concept Clinics on topics like Bend and Contact. Relaxed & Forward for Writers workshop add-ons.

Are you interested in hosting or attending a clinic? I’m happy to travel, and I also keep a list of riders and barns looking to partner with other barns on clinics. CONTACT ME and please include your location.

I’m available for public speaking engagements, book-talks, and workshops on topics related to horses or writing. I’d love to hear your questions and ideas.

CONTACT ME to ask for more information, prices, and a calendar date. 

Concept Clinics: A different approach 

Concept Clinics give riders an opportunity to explore a related group of ideas with exercises designed to clarify and deepen the awareness and practice of fundamental principles of communication and training.

Calming Signals If you are standing next to your horse and he looks away, do you think he’s distracted or even disrespectful? When your horse yawns, is he sleepy or bored? If he moves slowly, is he lazy?   Calming Signals is a concept clinic on the ground and/or mounted. We’ll learn to read and respond to calming signals with special attention to comprehension (active listening, intention, and complacency). It’s an equine-focused approach to haltering, leading exercises, and your body language. I’ll say breathe a few thousand times. On day two, we move to the saddle and review calming signals while mounted, as well as ways of encouraging your horse to be a willing volunteer who likes the arena. We’ll also spend time doing horse agility, where the conversation is the most fun.

Dressage Rhymes with Massage. If your horse is young, sound, and has had all the advantages, it takes twenty minutes for the synovial fluid to warm his joints. And that same twenty minutes for you. Warm up is by far the most important part of the ride for strength and positive attitude. This is a relaxed and forward Concept Clinic, using warm-up methods designed to help a horse be physically and mentally responsive. We’ll start with exercises to systematically warm-up each part of your horse physically, as well as engaging him mentally. When a horse is properly warmed up, he literally feels good and that creates a positive connection and a willingness to work. This clinic makes young horses steadier, midlife horses stronger, and elder horses more supple.

New! Contact: Holding Hands with Horses. “Contact is like holding hands with someone you are so comfortable with, that there’s overlap where they begin and you end.   Good contact is moving forward through space without gravity or dependence on anything more concrete than the flow of movement that is oneness.” Rather than conversations about which bit is kinder, we’ll explore a lighter approach to kind contact on the reins. It’s the most subtle and challenging work a rider can take on; learning to maintain a neutral seat and soft hands, moving in rhythm and balance with a horse. Learning to quiet our instinct to control a horse’s face and instead, ride the entire horse, relaxed and forward. There is simply nothing more important to your horse. Dressage Rhymes with Massage is a pre-requisite.

New! Bend, like the soft edge of a crescent moon, is relaxation and strength in fluidity. Bend refers to that sweet outside arc of the horse, encouraged by a body to body conversation. We’ll address the idea of a ‘stiff’ side and a ‘soft’ side and do exercises to create supple balance in the horse and the rider. The clinic goes on to include light lateral work and riding strong circles, on a long rein as well as on contact. Dressage Rhymes with Massage is a pre-requisite.

Rhythm and Dance Clinic. Rhythm is the foundation of the Dressage training pyramid. Rhythmic movement promotes relaxation (walking, grazing, trotting) and bad reactions always include a loss of rhythm (spooking, bucking, bolting.) We’ll use ground pole exercises to balance transitions, with a special focus on the use of seat and legs to encourage rhythm and alter stride within gaits, using half-halts and lengthenings. This clinic includes Riding to Music and finishes with a quadrille or group ride.

New! Relaxed & Forward for Writers: An Add-on one-day writing workshop. Possible topics include:

  • Writing and Riding, The Passion of Horses and Words (Writing exercises in the horse world.)
  • How to Write and Publish a Memoir When You’re Nobody (a how-to process for writing, editing, and publishing.)
  • Making Friends with Readers: An Author Masterplan (How to use a blog to hone your writing skills, create a book, and build a reader base.)

Anna Blake is the author of three books.  Stable Relation, a Memoir of One Woman’s Spirited Journey Home, by Way of the Barn, (a Peoples’ Choice Gold Medal Winner,) Relaxed & Forward: Relationship Advice from Your Horse, and Barn Dance: Nickers, brays, bleats, howls, and quacks: Tales from the herd. She blogs at AnnaBlakeBlog: Relaxed & Forward, a Horse/Life blog.

The first step is to CONTACT ME to ask for more information, prices, and a calendar date. Payments by check and through PayPal.

Relaxed & Forward Dressage: Lessons with me are firmly rooted in the principles of Dressage; training relaxed and forward gaits, responsiveness and balance for the horse and rider. I combine this with a special focus on listening to the natural language of the horse, for a partnership of confidence and pleasure. I take horses and riding very seriously, but I do it with humor and lightness because horses like happy riders.

I work for your goals, whether you want to improve your basic riding communication skills or move on in the competition world. Riding lessons will challenge you, but not past your abilities. Timid riders are welcome.

It’s a wonderful thing to see an FEI horse competing in his prime–the best training on an impeccably bred Warmblood, guided by a talented rider and brought along with all the advantages.

For me, the real question is how much dressage training can help off-the-track Thoroughbreds, smart Arabians, or whatever horse you ride now. The magic of dressage is the balance, relaxation, and strength it provides for any horse, at any age, and in any discipline.

Because isn’t pleasant responsiveness in a horse always the goal?