This summer has just flown by way too fast, but I am ending August in the best way possible. My Mom is coming for a visit, which I am really excited about. It feels like years since I have seen my family. She is coming to get a horsey fix and see the progress with Edward and Vitall. Both are going fantastic.


The FlexChair® system. Reprinted with permission from Eurodressage

Also next weekend I am teaching a clinic in Amsterdam working with Nicoline Van Dantzig from FlexChair®. It is a great system, and I really enjoyed using it. Here is what Euro Dressage had to say about it at the Global Dressage Forum:

Tineke Bartels’ Dutch young riders’ team rider Michelle van Lanen and her gorgeous liver chestnut gelding Urchin (by Jazz) were the guinea pigs for this session. Van Lanen showed a slight tendency to lean back in the saddle. She was asked to dismount and take a seat on the flex chair to correct her seat. The computer screen showed a bull’s eye and a blue dot which indicated Van Lanen’s centered seat. She had to do exercises moving her seat from A to B in a straight vertical line and in a horizontal line (the diagonal, circular and figure-8 rotations were not demonstrated in the session but are part of the flex chair training). Van Lanen was asked to “feel the saddle with her bottom” and do the required movements as relaxed as possible. One noticed on the screen that it was difficult for her to balance and sit straight in the saddle.

Wouters explained that over the years many riders came to her practice with upper body pain, especially back and neck aches. “If you use your body the wrong way, you give your spine extra compression because of too much tension. If you use your small deep stabilizers you don’t have that compression.”

Van Lanen on the Flex Chair assisted by Saskia Heijkants
An American physio asked Wouters why the rider was not imitating a correct rider’s seat on the flex chair by putting her feet under the hip to get a more vertical alignment. Wouters replied that they first start in a 100° angle on the chair. The American also suggested doing the same exercises on a Swiss ball instead of a high-tech flex chair. Wouters replied that the advantage of her chair is that “you can keep sitting above your bottom.”

Tineke Bartels intervened by mentioning that riders have to be “able to sit in a neutral position and start giving aids from there. The horse has to do the job, not us.” Ada mentioned “if you are aware of your seat you’ll feel quicker that your horse is crooked.” Van Lanen mounted her horse again and her seat was indeed straighter, especially at the beginning. After a while her muscles got tired and she started to slump a bit. Bartels said that, “she is an experienced rider and has to change her system. It will be difficult to find new balance. She is out of her comfort zone so she has to will it. I frustrate her a bit now but it helps her get in this position. She knows now how it has to feel.”

I will give a full update from the clinic with pictures and videos.

Edward is looking more and more grown up every week. The other day he did his first walk to canter with Piet. I was a very proud mommy. Vitall is feeling more and more like his old self as we ease back into normal work. I have been taking out into the woods twice a week – once mid-week to break up ring time and at the end of the week before his weekend off. He power walks the entire way. I found a few small hills that I have been taking him up and down to build up strength.

The other week Bridget and Sara were over visiting me. Sara’s stallion was in the Pavo Cup. I didn’t get a chance to go watch Pavo Cup, unfortunately, but they really enjoyed it. Other than that it was great being able to catch up with them

I am doing big updates to my website. I will be re launching it in the next few weeks!!!