Coventry Equestrian Center

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Coventry publishes a newsletter twice a month ! It has training tips, great  photos and often just  local  horse news. Ask to be put on our mailing list.  Just send your email to and write newsletter  in the subject line.
To read some of the samples on this website simply click on the link to the issue you are interested in.

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Newer newsletters will be downloadable as .pdf documents. They will be added in this section - just click on the link to read the one you want.

Coventry Issue #1116, A Day in the Life of Coventry, including "The Horse's Shoulders why do we care if they are straight...."

The Horse’s Shoulders

During our  lessons we hear a lot  about the horse’s shoulders.  Phrases such as -- the shoulders are falling out, falling in or collapsing,  bulging,  or he’s popping his shoulder. Then a trainer may say  did you feel those shoulders lifting, we need to get his shoulders up...!

Most riders just do what the trainer says but does anyone wonder why we obsess over the horses’ shoulders? 

The reason we talk about the shoulders is  to get the horse straight.  But why do we care if the horse is straight?  We want our horses straight so they will work evenly on both sides of its body.  Why do we want our horses to work evenly on both sides of its body?  To impress a judge for dressage shows or to develop our horse as an athlete?   The answer is  both. Dressage tests simply evaluate how well you are training your horse.  Each movement is performed in both directions  tracking right and left so the judge can score how well you train your horse in each direction.

I prefer to call dressage “gymnastic training” which is what it is for the horse. By gymnastically riding  the  horse in both directions and keeping its shoulders straight  (in line with the haunches) we are training the horse to work evenly in both directions.  The dressage judge will evaluate how well we are doing this, and those riders who do not show dressage will just use gymnastic dressage training to make the horse more pliable, responsive to the aids and balanced both longitudinally & laterally!*   As a result, by knowing why we want our horses straight  and having the ability    to control the shoulders  the horse will perform better for all disciplines.   Ultimately, our horses should be  trained with 'four way stretch' meaning  on all sides of their body with the rider always being able to control the  shoulders with the outside rein.

 *Longitudinal means  training the horse back to front  such as stretching or transitions with in the gait.  Laterally means training the horse side to side as in lateral work such as  leg yielding, shoulder in and  haunches in.  

Click here to view article and see photos

Please be patient; because of the pictures it takes a few moments to download... thanks!

2008 Coventry Reports

Special Report!
Medals, Olympics and Special Medals!
Oh, my! On a hot summer day in Penn State PA, 2008!

Molly and Spirit who competed in
Special Olympic Summer Games 2008

In Stride with Life is a new non profit organization that merges other organizations for the greater good of us all. We like to call its purpose a Tri-Unity of Community. For a spring project this year, In Stride with Life brought together athletes from Special Olympics and Coventry Equestrian Center from Washington County to attend and compete in the Special Olympic summer games. By doing fund raising the board of In Stride with Life was able to sponsor two athletes and two horses to travel and participate in the summer games. It was a fascinating adventure for not only the Coventry Caravan, but, more importantly, for the two special athletes that attended. It was the first time Washington County ever sent equestrian athletes to the summer games.

Personally, as the one who put together the program, with a lot of help from friends and contributors, I am not sure who benefited more, me or the riders.
Being at an event like this was not only huge and crowded with all kinds of special need individuals, but, there was enough positive energy around you that I
think it could have fueled our planet with all the enthusiasm. I took so many pictures I could not possibly share them all. At the opening games I was enthralled with the T-shirts the athletes wore and I took several pictures of the encouraging quotes: TEAM or, Together Everyone Achieves More; Hustle, there is not a substitute; and, Let me win and if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt....

Courtney and Baby Doll
practicing the Trail Class prior to competition.

Our two athletes were signed up for classes that they never did before. They did trail, barrel racing, dressage, and relay races. I thought, boy, this is going to be interesting, but amazingly they both did really well. They won several of their classes and on horses that never did a trail or barrel class before !
“Sure’” Babe says, “I have not done this before, but for you, Courtney, lets give it go...”
The weekend we were there was the first weekend in June, and it was 90 degrees. The enthusiasm, however, for all the athletes (and there were well over 1000) was incredible. Everyone was always happy despite the sweat dripping off our faces. 

Spirit having a bath with Molly and her Mom,
volunteer Kristin, andSpirits owner-sponsor Mary Louise.

The horses were perfectly behaved and acted as though they have done this 100 times before. Of course, they loved being pampered with constant baths and the athletes loved washing the horses down, picking the stalls and filling the water buckets. This is not work in 90 degrees for a Special Olympic athlete - just pure joy, pleasure and bliss.

Molly proudly in First place holding
her ribbon among the other competitors.

For me, the highlight was watching all the athletes receive their awards on the Special Olympic podium. Yes, it was just like the real olympics, only special! Each athlete stood on the podium and got their medals. A military soldier was there to salute them, and police officer was there to shake their hand. They bent over one at a time for the medals to be placed around their necks, then all Olympians stood up straight, smiled and held up the ribbons and got their photos taken. Click click click, cameras and flashes would all ignite in unison. You would have thought that Paris Hilton had arrived when each award was presented. Some athletes would cry, some would jump up and down and some would say, “Let me win and if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.” One athlete said after he was awarded fourth place for barrel racing, “Next time I will do better, I will go faster.” Not all athletes won, but each was awarded by the honor of being a participant.

Special Olympic coaches Kristin Hermann and
Kristen Kolenda, with their riders. All smiles!

Our In Stride with Life athletes qualified for the National Special Olympics. This puts In Stride with Life back to work to do some fundraising. We heard it is in Nebraska or some place in the middle of America. Trust me, if we can get there we will.

For more information on In Stride with Life contact Tracey at 724 531 1712. Or, Kristin at

In Stride w/ Coventry Report #72
Interview with Kristin in the Tribune Review
They came, they interviewed me for two hours, and the result of the two hours is below (via the link). If you cannot open the link for some reason, I can email you the article.


Horse show at Coventry May 25th.

We came, we showed, it was a beautiful day, and all had a grand experience. But now do you wonder what it was you did? Click on the link below for the “Memorial Reflections”.

Click here to download Report #72, to see pictures and Kristin's explanation of "what you did"!

In Stride w/ Coventry Report #71
And, do you know where your horse is..... getting out 'cause the rains have moved on,..temporarily...
From "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield:
The mind is such a powerful instrument, it can deliver to you literally anything you want. But you have to believe that what you want is possible. Scientists used to believe that humans responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, they're learning instead that we respond to what the brain, on the basis of previous experience,..

Why does the brain behave this way? Click here to find out...

In Stride w/ Coventry Report #70
Chewing the Reins out of the Rider's Hands.
Chewing the Reins out of the Hands... is something we learn as riders at Coventry. I learned it from some old classicists in my pursuit of “dressage”.
In this report, Brianne and Eli, a 3 year old Friesian-cross illustrate the technique. Simply, Brianne asks Eli to give to the bit and chew the reins out her hands in doing so he releases his top line. She passively resists with contact and he gives at his poll...

Click here to read about and see photos of Brianne and Eli demonstrating the technique of "chewing the reins out of your hands"

In Stride w/ Coventry Report #69
Sunday & Monday, horses are in. Some are getting lounged others in the just keeps raining...Saturday eve at Coventry...


... discover your riding pot of gold
... take lessons at Coventry!

Click here to view Report #69, and to see what Kristin has to say about rain, rain, and more rain!

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The No Spin Quote
Here's a spiffy quote from Charles deKunffy:
"The leg energizes; the seat modifies; the hand verifies..."

More About the  Horse's Shoulders 

The Horse’s Shoulders

Turning the Shoulders

  When someone first told me I had to get the horse on the outside rein to turn them I thought what!  This does not make sense. But, over the years because no one explained why to me, I figured it out.  Simply turning the horse from the outside rein, keeps the horse’s horizontal balance (back to front) and lateral balance ( side to side).  When the horse is in balance it works equally in both directions, and performs more efficiently and effectively.  When you show dressage you perform geometrical figures that mirror one another.  Essentially what you are showing is how well you have trained your horse in both directions to the left and  right and then you get the judges opinion on how well you are training the horse! 

Below is a photo of a horse turning to the left from the outside rein.  Notice his head is in the middle of his shoulders. He is in balance and not falling onto the inside shoulder  or “popping” the outside shoulder which happens when you turn from the inside rein. T his rider is using an opening or leading inside left  rein (so the horse does not bend), her left shoulder (torso/ seat)  is moving in the direction  she is turning the horse and her outside rein is keeping the horse straight and turning.  Looks simple. 

A good exercise to learn to turn the horse from the shoulders is the quarter turn. Here is a link to an article I wrote about quarter turns in 1991.

  A good book that talks about turning the horse from the shoulders is  Dressage with Kyra :The Kyra Kyrklund Training Method.  

The USDF training scale, Relaxed, Rhythmic, Contact (round) Straight ( by balancing the shoulders in front of the haunches)  and then Impulsion... are the basics of training.  Read the article entitled The Three 'R's of Basic Training: Relaxed, Rhythmic and Round at this link below...

click here to download Newsletter #74 - please be patient - it will come into view!

In Stride w/ Coventry Report #73
Below are the scores from the Coventry show. We all had a great time.... please click and ...well, at least you do not have to read four pages about the show.

Also, Coventry will be taking a team to the Special Olympics....

Coventry Show Results in .pdf format

Coventry Report # 73

Group lessons with Kristin, for information call, 724-206-9902.

Get your free dressage
picture analysis. Email your photo
to Kristin at

Learn how to "Home School" your horse! 
Kristin teaches riders how to train the  horse, while you train yourself.  Ask for her flier on home schooling!  Visit the Home Schooling Your Horse Face book page for tips and videos!

Bliss (RIP 3/8/02) recommends this recipe for your equine friends...
Bliss's Favorite Horse Cookies

In large mixing bowl combine:


2 cups sweet feed or equivalent feed

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar (white or brown)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil (cold pressed is healthier)

cup water or apple juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Using a tablespoon, drop round clumps of batter on a greased and floured pan

Bake approximately 20 minutes

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Let sit a few days until hard and crunchy.

Highlights from the January/February 2004 issue...
  1. In Training - Your free riding analysis
  2. The Horse Country Directory
  3. The Training Scale - suppleness
  4. Consumer Beware (Caveat Empore)

Highlights from the March/April 2004 issue...

  1. In Training Video Review - Symmetry in Motion
  2. The Rider's Hands
  3. The Training Scale"
  4. Living Your Riding Position" - a presentation at the WPDA General Meeting by Dr. George Felder

Highlights from the September 2003 issue....
  1. Ask the Trainer : A rider's free riding analysis
  2. Trainer's Tips: How to keep your horse straight

Highlights from the October 2003 issue...

  1. Ask the Trainer - Your free riding analysis
  2. Trainer's Tips: The elbows From the Archives...
  3. Who is this rider and what is wrong
  4. "Release the Potential" a new book by Doris Halstead, describes how to relax your horse using massage techniques - ones you can do yourself...Johannis and Dakota experienced Doris' work firsthand....

Highlights from the November 2003 issue:
  1. Melissa opened a new coffee shop, called Blue Horse Coffee....those of you who live locally go and check it well as...
  2. Some of Ton Stromberg's photos which will be on display for sale in the coffee shop.
  3. New faces in the barn, both equine and human
  4. The training scale - important to keep in mind - the three "R's" for horses!
  5. Last but not least, a free riding analysis.

Highlights from the December 2003 issue:
  1. Coventry Equestrian Center WPDA 2003 Dressage Winners
  2. In Training, a rider's critique
  3. The Training Scale, part 2
  4. Creative Ways to Change Direction in the Arena (from Walter Zettl's book, Dressage in Harmony)

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