HORSELOGS.COM - Feature Article from Lindsay Grice...
Feature Article from Lindsay Grice, June 2006

Q. I show in both English and Western events. I would like to have a professional looking braiding and banding job but my efforts always look a little ďamateurishĒ Any hints?

A. Following are some ideas that have helped me as Iíve practised over the years to achieve tidy, uniform braids ands bands.

1. Keep the braid as tight as you can in the first inch. Doing so keeps your braid from twisting and requires mighty thumb strength!
2. Braid close to the neck. Donít pull the braid toward you as you go.
3. Use cotton string or waxed thread in a colour that matches the mane. String doesnít stretch as much as wool, and has enough thickness to grasp easily.
4. Use water or (better still) Quick Braid spray.
5.Keep the mane short and pulled. Longer braids tend to twist more easily.
6. Use a marked comb to divide each section of hair evenly.

1. Divide hair sections with a comb to keep the part between the sections straight.
2. Keep the unbanded mane away from the section you are banding with a clip or bobby pin.
3. Keep your fingers pressed against the neck as you are twisting the elastic. This holds the ponytail against the neck. Donít pull out toward you.
4. Use water or Quick Braid spray, and sturdy elastics without too much stretch.
5. Resist the temptation to form bigger and bigger bands as you or your horse becomes impatient.
As with anything practise is the key. Use the off season to practise when youíre not under the pressure of time. And donít dismiss the idea of hiring a professional for that true professional look. What you spend may be worth the anxiety you avoid on show day!

Q.I recently purchased a horse and would like to find a riding coach who would help us reach our potential. Where do I start?

A. Following are some questions to consider as you search for an instructor who will meet your needs.

1. What are your goals? Do you want to compete or simply learn to work in harmony with your horse by way of weekly lessons? If you do wish to compete, choose an instructor who regularly attends the type of shows you wish to participate in. He can help you with everything from entries, to your attire, to a game plan before you enter the ring. What is her track record? Are her students generally successful? If so, this may be an indication that what she preaches really works! If you donít wish to compete it can be pretty frustrating if your instructor is away at horse shows so often that you canít schedule regular lessons.

2. What is your learning style? Are you motivated by praise and positive comments? Are you sensitive to criticism or does it stir you to push yourself harder? As a student, I didnít care much for small talk during a lesson but wanted as much concrete, honest critique as I could to take home and work on until the next session. Some people prefer a more casual pace to their lessons. I donít believe anyone likes to be yelled at or belittled. Watch different coaches in action and take note of their style. A good coach should be able to read their students and tailor their style somewhat to meet their needs.

3. What is your best learning environment? Are you a people person or a loner? Do you prefer a coach with a busy, active barn or a quieter learning environment? Do you prefer group or private lessons? For many people, having other riders around with similar goals is a great asset. Others like to have their instructorís undivided attention.

4. Does the coach give good value for your lesson dollar? Ask to observe a lesson of a coach you are considering. Is each lesson well planned with a variety of exercises and skills taught? Is there a logical reason provided for a skill that is taught as well as an application (in what situation would I use this skill?) Is there a summary at the end of the lesson and suggestions of what to work on in the week to come? The lessons should start on time and be mostly uninterrupted ( by telephone calls, visitors etc.) Make sure you can understand the terms he uses.

5. Does the coach ride and compete? Although there are some successful instructors that do not ride regularly I know from personal experience that it is only from having ridden a studentís horse myself that I can tailor my instructions to fit their specific need. Sometimes I will get on a studentís horse in the lesson to demonstrate a skill and give a step by step description of what Iím doing. Sometimes itís quite an eye opener for me to experience from the saddle what couldnít be seen from the ground! The drawback of having an instructor who competes is that sometimes their energies are divided at horse shows between their students and the horses that they are riding themselves. Finally, try a lesson with a prospective coach and see what you think.

Who Is
Lindsay Grice?
Lindsay Grice is a member of the American Quarter Horse Association's Professional Horseman Association and an Equine Canada Certified Level 2 Coach. She teaches horsemanship clinics in the United States and Canada and writes articles for several equine publications. She has made appearances on television and radio, speaking about horse related issues.

Lindsay has often been Ontario's top ranked Jr. Hunter Under Saddle rider, and in recent years has ridden several horses to AQHA's national high point year end status. Lindsay has a reputation for successfully training clients horses for new events - including Western Riding, Horsemanship, Equitation and classes over fences. She strives to create thinking horseman of her students by clearly communicating the how's and why's of riding.