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A Cowgirl in England: Mastering the moves

It’s not all about English-style riding in the UK’s Horse&Rider Magazine, you know! The team at Horse&Rider love trying out all kinds of different – and unusual! – horsey activities. In fact, at the moment we’re running a series entitled ‘Have a go at...’ – and so far this year, H&R staffers have tried their hand at tent-pegging, horse agility, horseback archery and even polocrosse! There are plenty more weird and wonderful horseback activities to come, so do check them out.

One of the most memorable horsey activities for Assistant Editor, Lucy Turner, was a trip to western horseman David Deptford’s farm here in the UK. David is a leading UK breeder and trainer of Quarter Horses, and has represented Great Britain in the international reining arena on several occasions. His farm is one of only a handful of western riding centres in Britain, so Lucy was thrilled to be invited to have a go at riding cowboy style.

First of all, David took Lucy through the basics... Well, he called them basics but we all considered them pretty advanced movements to master! Flying changes were up first: “Start off in the lope and look in the direction you want to go,” instructed David. “Pick a point on the circle where you want to make the change, then to squeeze with your outside leg, feel the horse lift, and then simultaneously release pressure with your outside leg, whilst squeezing with the inside leg.”

Lucy’s horse, Snipper's Heirogance (Snipper), was really responsive to her aids. Not surprising, seeing as he’s a leading sire of American Quarter Horses in the UK! “He really lifted as I applied my outside leg, allowing me to apply the opposite leg. Once I'd got the hang of it, he changed immediately every time,” said Lucy.

Up next: sliding stops! David explained: “In order to carry this dramatic manoeuvre out properly, you need to accelerate right up until you stop, as this helps the horse lift his shoulders. If the horse is not accelerating, he will be flatter and more drawn-out, and won't stop so quickly. Start at the top of the arena in lope, build up your speed to a gallop, then push your legs forward and say ‘whoa!’. Make sure that when executing the stop, you are totally straight and that you don't pick up the reins. The harder you push your legs forward, the deeper the stop.”

On Lucy’s first attempt, Snipper picked up her anticipation of stopping and he started to slow down too early... “As soon as I started to plan where to stop, he immediately slowed and, although we managed a slide, it was nowhere near as dramatic as David's,” said Lucy. “So David stood at the end of the school and I just kept galloping towards the wall until he called ‘Stop!’ - and then I shoved my feet forwards, and we did it! This was one of my favourite exercises, and Snipper seemed to enjoy galloping and sliding across the school, too."

Lucy went on to master 360-degree turns and some tricky polework exercises – you can find out how she got on at “I never imagined I'd have a go at anything as exciting as this on my first lesson,” Lucy recalls. “I did wonder if David was joking when he suggested I had a go at some of the moves, but luckily Snipper could do it all with his eyes shut!” Lucy was so inspired that she’s now planning to take her honeymoon at a US ranch later this year with her fiancé Doug. They’re scouring Top50 for a suitable spot as we speak!

Going digital...

We’re really excited at the moment, as Horse&Rider Magazine has officially stepped into the 21st century! All of our magazines are now available to download onto your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, from the AppStore. So no matter where you are in the world, you can get the best horsey news, articles and advice from the UK’s no.1 best-selling equestrian monthly magazine. You can buy back issues and current issues ‘as you go’, or subscribe to 13 issues per year to receive the mag a discounted rate. Check it out at!

Next month...

Spring is on its way and it’s time to get those horses fit for the 2011 season! Whether it’s trail riding, competing, or training your horse, we’ll reveal the best ways to get your horse fit for purpose. ‘Til next time!

The Team at Horse&Rider Magazine

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