• Paige Hazell

My Reggie suffers with locking stifle – something he’s had since we bought him, that we manage and (touch wood) is getting better as he gets older. I also know, with Reggie, he finds it easier to ignore a area of his body, whether this be because of pain (if he ignores it, he can ignore the pain) or distraction of something more pleasurable (he often tripped as a youngster, as he was almost always too busy looking at something else to care about what his feet where doing!)


He’s been appearing lame in his back legs, and showing reluctance to walk through the deeper mud. He’s had a chiro treatment last week, and she agrees that the stifle and leg is fine, he’s just expecting pain, so is shielding it, making it appear lame.

I’ve used methods before to draw his attention to body parts (nothing negative mind!) like jingle bells round his front fetlocks, to encourage him to pay attention to his feet and not fall over, rather than starring off into the middle distance!


And with the go ahead from our chiro (remember I’m not a body works expert! So don’t take what I say as absolute gospel, I’ve just studied and applied to what works with my horses) and drawing inspiration from @pantherflows (of instagram) Pain Science and Performance course, I’ve started rebuilding Reggies body map, with positive touch and sensation, to draw attention back to the nerves in that area so he doesn’t ignore it for fear of pain, and hopefully be able to introduce wider ranges of motion with it during the winter.


This includes having a long hot water bottle tucked up and under his rug, to warm him up. I then pulled the rug back slightly (careful to keep it as warm as possible!) and used gentle taps with my hand to pull attention to that area. I then used the silicone hammer that goes with my tuning fork, and then finished with the vibrations of my tuning fork. 4 different sensations, that won’t hurt, and some more pleasurable than others, to rebuild positivity to that area. The important thing now is to maintain this work, and do it on the regular, so we don’t revert back to shielding in fear of pain.


In an ideal world, I'd be doing this positive touching all over his body, but with the weather the way it is, I feel it was only fair to keep him warm and tackle the "problem" areas! Though I found he also quite enjoys the tickle of the tuning fork around his ears and face


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  • Paige Hazell

Offside target work with Reggie


This is such a good exercise for stretching (we worked on stretches to the side and following a target down and between the legs) Reggie finds these easy peasy as he's a super flexible pony.


BUT my main intention on this task was to brain train! Reg is a pretty intense pony, and when he's locked onto a person, it's a military level locked on! The purpose of this task

was to take his attention away from me, find his target and return. It's very easy to get stuck in the habit of having our targets an arm's reach of ourselves, that horses can become to reliant on having a person involved and to depend on us for confidence. So with this Reggie had to take me out of his line of vision, disassociate me with the target, and become a strong independent thinker


To start this exercise off, you'll have to establish a solid foundation of target training, with a (bright) target on a minimum of a meter long stick.

Practice from in front, guiding your horse side to side with the target, so they're in practice of looking to the side instead of straight on for it.

Once this is in place, move to the side and place your arm over your horse. Remember, if your horse is locked onto you, he may not notice the target on the other side. (This is also why I recommend a bright target) So bring the target forward and pointed towards his face. When he's switched his attention, pull back until their nose has reached the point you've desired for the stretch, let them target, click and treat.


When this has been done a few times to allow your horse to build up an idea of what you're asking, you can pair a voice cue with it. Not shown in the video, my cue is "away". Ultimately, it's use is to be able to get your horse to move their head "away" from you - and will be beneficial down the line if your horse is to become a mugger for treats, or steps into a humans bubble.


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  • Paige Hazell

I'm actually incredibly nervous to post this. The main thing I gained from training with Heather is personal growth (as well as more knowledge!) but the time with her really kicked started me into what I do now, and I'll be forever grateful. These are just a few times that stick out for me, and I could write so much more - so I'm afraid my time with Heather will be in a few more parts than anticipated!


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Life changing, is how I describe the months I spent riding and training under classical seat master Heather Moffett.

Prior to going to Heather, it’s safe to say I was unconfident, anxious and lacking direction. I didn’t think I was worthy of travelling to Heathers base and riding her horses. It almost didn’t happen, when in 2018 Devon was battered with the “Beast from the East” 2 weeks prior to my due arrival and I received a call from Heather; “I don’t know if you should come – my indoor schools collapsed.”

I look back now and realise that actually, that started a quiet steely determination in me. “Don’t be silly. I’ll come down and I’ll learn more in a conversation everyday with you than I will anyone else, even if I don’t ride. See you in a couple of weeks.” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The first time I walked through Heathers gates stays so strong in my mind. Her yard overlooks a beautiful valley, stables over two levels, and (although collapsed at this point) an equally impressive indoor school. And as poignant this memory is, I never ever forget Heathers face when she saw me. “I didn’t realise you where this small (!!)” And friend and instructor Kathy laughed too- No one had thought to mention I was barely 5ft1! I was set up to have my work cut out, on hot headed 16.1 Sudi – Heathers school master Luso who I was set to ride for my time there. Luckily, Heather had a outdoor school but with the wind from the valley and Devon’s unpredictable weather, we where to have to work for it.

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Anyone that’s had the pleasure of meeting Heather would know that she is the kindest, but fiercest lady. She doesn’t mince her words, but delivers them with a complete honesty that you trust. She had a way of saying what I needed to hear (whether I wanted it or not!) that always resonated and stuck with me, and 2 years on I still hear her at the back of my mind.

My first official lesson with Heather was held in her simulator room, so she could evaluate my riding. We were talking through my strengths and weaknesses, when she had kindly complimented me on my skill set. She wanted to know what I had to work on to so desperately need to come down to her, even amid the worst snow storm. “I just want to be a confident rider” and promptly burst into tears. Now Heather is the definition of tough love, and I absolutely adore her for it. Instead of hampering to my blubbering mess, she simply said “Well you’re not going to get far on my horses if you keep doing that – do you want to be here?” And yes. Yes I bloody did. So every day I rode Sudi, I fought with that stupid little voice in my head and again, built up that steely determination that had started to fuel me. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The first month was spent building my fragile confidence and partnership with Sudi. On the ground, we got on well. He wasn’t too different to my Dales (Just bigger and the dirt noticed more!) He had the same cheeky chappy attitude, and we ‘hung out’ well. We safely established good scratchy places, and he soon accepted he was getting smootches. We had little plays, and that big luso nose being shoved in my face made me infinitely better about the move down!

Heather, her then yard manager Kay, and volunteer Tallulah spent ages building me up. Both on the lunge and on the yard. I admit I spent the first 2 weeks on a line or with Kay quietly guiding and/or leading me, and Heather talking me through. I was softly shown how to ask for more lift through the shoulders, through exercises like Spanish walk and passage. I worked on my leg yields, my shoulder fore, and travers and renvers were slowly added. Heather would lunge Sudi before me riding so we could suss his mood. And only once did he show any of his true hot headed self so much I couldn’t get on. (In his defense, it had snowed and that was VERY exciting!)

After a particularly good ride, I remember asking Heather how she thought I was doing. “Quite frankly Paige, you’re boring to teach”

My heart fell through my stomach. I had traveled all this way and worked my backside off, and Heather, my hero and inspiration, thought I was boring!!

“There’s nothing to correct. You get on and do it, and there’s nothing for me to do”

I think I floated through the rest of the day. I was so self critical and there was so much I picked apart for myself, I couldn’t have been given a bigger compliment! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Now this story is the one that echoes with me the most. A few months in, Heather had a second module level 1 group of instructors in. During my morning ride, they congregated round the outdoor school gate as I was about to get on. I remember going light headed, and turned to Heather and asked if they were going to be watching me ride. “Yes, and I’ve told them how good you are, so they’re all excited” – “Oh Heather, could you not have told them I’m crap and lowered their expectations?!”

Heather promptly smacked me (with a helmet on) around the head with the handle end of the lunge whip. “Don’t be so daft and get on with it girl!” and that is what goes through my head every time I question if I could do something ridden wise! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kay Sparrow (Heathers yard manager at the time) was a brilliant influence. Kay is easily the most amazing horse woman I had the pleasure to work with. I could easily have stood for hours asking Kay the most random questions. And she had an answer, and time, for each of them. Kay taught me how to adapt the way I carry myself on the ground. I was either too passive, or unintentionally confrontational. It certainly helped with future work saddle fitting a total range of horses (Exmoors to Warmbloods and Friesians is certainly a mix!) She’s also an incredibly talented and knowledgeable long lining instructor. Between her and her gorgeous TB Monty, I soon picked up the positioning and skill needed for classical lining. This has been such a transferable skill, that I so enjoy doing. I’m so incredibly lucky that she’s started taking Zoom lessons, so am learning the art of Danish long lining with my Reggie.


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