Skip to main content


Casting Call for Dressage Riders - Spotlight on 101 Classes

The TV production " Road Map to Making The Grand Prix Dressage Horse" is underway and a casting call has gone out for dressage riders with a young horse to start.   Topliner will be trainer British international Grand Prix competitor/coach/clinician Paul Alvin-Smith of Willowview Hill Farm, Stamford NY. The filming will be completed at his farm located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York, and it offers a super opportunity for dressage aficionados with a young horse to start to enjoy free training and board for their horse during 2022. " The Horse Studio is thrilled to be able to offer this rare opportunity to riders. Paul has started several horses from babies and made them to the Grand Prix level during his career, where he has competed to scores of over 72% at Grand Prix in Europe. Folks interested in auditioning can find more info on our website ," says Kathy Collins, a veteran staffer at The Horse Studio.    The production will enjoy the backdrop of
Recent posts

That Little Thing Called Connection

The bit and the reins are not the only connection point between horse and rider though you might thing so when discussions come up about that little thing called connection.   GP rider Paul Alvin-Smith schooling -   It seems almost inevitable that the beginner rider will focus almost entirely on their hands when they learn the basics of equitation. This is likely more the fault of the instructor who is understandably similarly focused worried that in all likelihood the horse may take exception to errant pulls on the reins and his sensitive mouth. Of course pointing the horse in the direction you'd like it to travel is not accomplished the same way as steering a car or bicycle. Although in some ways more a bicycle than a car, the neophyte equestrian may be forgiven for not making that connection. The error on the instructor or trainer's part however, could easily be corrected. The connection between horse and rider occurs at all points of physical and verbal contact. Mounted ri

Why We Bring Up Lack of Rider Symmetry at Clinics

The importance of symmetry in the mounted rider is not one to be overlooked as it can do much damage to the horse. I cannot count on one hand the number of times that this question has come up in our clinics and how often we have had to address it. Often my husband will work diligently to explain and to help the rider address the issue of their asymmetry but also fairly often the rider and/or their significant others, whether that be family members, support team or trainer, will be annoyed at the time we spend on the topic. Renowned author Susan Harris does a grand job of explaining the issue.  As the great masters such as Alois Podasky advised all those eons ago, the matter of how the rider sits upon the horse should be as though the rider is draped across the horse's back with balance being critical. The rider should not hold themselves in a crooked position, or indeed any position with gripping thighs and legs as the results of such activities show in the illustration above. Ma

Horses Are Not Plug-n-Play ~ Especially Youngsters

I'd like to say that starting a young horse correctly is as simple as teaching it a few ground manners, free or line longe work, saddle and bridle it and mount up. I'd like to say that once the horse has accepted this amount of input and is relaxed, training under saddle is a straightforward matter of kicking on. Not so. Paul training a young ANCCE stallion at WVH   Horses are not plug-n-play and every young horse, even before you hop aboard (or rather lightly place your seat in the saddle from the height of fa mounting block so as not to make the horse stiff to one side by mounting from the floor using the stirrup iron), needs more than just urging it into the trot and beginning work on transitions up and down, taking it's head side to side for directional aids with reins. It is true that mounting the horse and teaching it to accept the presence of the weight and activity of a human being on its back is a good start. Musculature of the horse's back has hopefully been d

To Be Honest..Winter Dressage Workshops in Upstate NY Not The Best Idea

Paul and I just finished up our first November weekday dressage workshop program here at Willowview Hill Farm, Stamford, NY.    The weather was temperamental this 'sticks' month of November. Temperatures ranging between 60 degrees and below freezing with snow, and the workshop program was subject to some flexibility on the schedule as a result. Perhaps starting at 8am at this time of year was a bit ambitious given the season. The weekday factor also was perhaps not such as good idea either as some clinic students told us they would love to have participated if it had been over weekends rather than weekdays. The majority of those pre-registered showed up but the numbers were lower than we anticipated overall. I think perhaps winter dressage workshops in Upstate NY are not the best idea. Having said that, the students that did participate seemed to enjoy a fun time and hopefully learned a lot. " It was a lot of fun as lessons with Paul and Nikki always are. My horse was a bi

What's The Difference Between Boarding and Horse Training Board

Sometimes during the course of doing business you realize that there is an area of your endeavors that requires clarification. In this case, it is the difference between a barn that offers regular boarding and one that offers a specialist discipline training for horses.   Leave the trainer to do their job.. Horse owners, especially those newer to the horse training industry, seem to be confused on this topic. Not everyone has sent a horse out for training or realizes that there is a difference in how a public and private equestrian facility is utilized and services that are offered.  Hopefully this broad explanation will help. It is not 'cut and dried' as some business operators mix the two. Perhaps that is the reason for some of the misunderstanding. Regular Boarding If you choose a barn to board your horse, then it is likely the responsibility for its care, custody and control will be on the shoulders of the barn operator.  This boarding option usually allows you both access

Time To Dance Dressage Again

    2021 seems to have been a particularly long and difficult year thus far. Obviously Covid hasn't helped much. The loss of my father just before Christmas 2019 has taken its toll and even the passage of time barely dulls the feeling of loss. On top of that the July colic of our 2nd statesman Grand Prix horse Tigger that required the decision to euthanize him still has both hubbie and I reeling. Personal health issues, haymaking weather making the season inordinately long and the like, have all hampered attempts to get back on the horse.   I'm just reviewing Robert Dover's new book for Catskill Horse magazine," The Gates to Brilliance." I suppose in a way in dressage terms I grew up with Robert's influence. The 1980's to early 2000's were a time of international competition and travel for me. Horses were very much front and center of a busy working life and hubbie Paul and I enjoyed many adventures both together and separately throughout those decade