Franklin Balls are a branch of the Franklin Method, originally invented to improve the proprioception & suppleness of dancers, but now scientifically supported for use in equestrians.
The use of Franklin balls to improve balance, position, feel, and body awareness is becoming much more wide-spread, not just around the UK but across the globe.
I was a real sceptic when I first heard about Franklin balls. Truly, I thought it was complete nonsense; a mumbo jumbo pseudoscience.
How wrong I was!
If you're interested in trying Franklin Method balls to help your riding, keep reading to see my 3 top tips for getting the most out of your session.
I went down the 'college' and then degree option. I don't regret it for a second.
You will hear from, typically the older generation, of yard owners, that equine college courses (and god forbid, equine degrees!) were hand delivered to the equine industry by Satan himself. Many of these people do not believe in science as a concept.
They've experienced occurances with former college students being 'useless', 'ineffective' or 'unsafe'. They often want someone who's completed an apprenticeship, because they've learned on-the-job, and already have 2 years of full-time experience before coming to them. If you are going to go down the college route, don't be one of these people. Get some experience too. I did my BHS exams alongside my degree, and had working student/voluntary/training/paid equine jobs whilst doing so. Your aim should be to come out the other side as well-rounded individual.
In the short-term, the apprentices will progress a lot faster in the industry than others. What about when they are 40? When they want to settle down? When their back causes them absolute agony every waking moment, and they start taking Co codomol on a regular basis just to get through the day? When they want to leave the industry? (I know you might not believe me, but I promise, it does happen. People do throw in the towel and get a 'normal' job). Those former apprentices may well end up working in a supermarket, getting paid £9 an hour to scan items and take payment from customers. Those who've done the college route, and achieved UCAS points, can go to university (if they haven't do so already), and take a £40,000+ project management job, or go into another well-paid profession.
There is nothing wrong with considering, and planning for, a future outside of the equine industry... just in case.
It's all very well and good having experience, but until you're at least middle-aged, you'll be learning daily. What happens if you encounter a problem you haven't come across before? Find ourself in a situation you have no experience of? What do you do? Nothing. There's nothing you can do (other than hope someone who does have experience of this problem becomes available to advise).
In absence of experience, you need knowledge. You need to be able to find information, read it, understand it, read some more, and formulate your own opinion on how to handle the situation very quickly. That is something that college courses and degrees give people. In my humble (albeit, biased) opinion, it's irreplacable. If I get stuck, I get my phone out and jump onto Google Scholar. I read a few articles, so I can understand the problem better, come up with a solution based on what I now know. If it works, it's logged as good experience (do that again, if it happens again). If it doesn't work, it's logged as bad experience (try something different next time). I'm not even 25, there have been (and will continue to be) many, many firsts. The ability to research and problem-solve in record time has been hugely beneifical, and will continue to be, without a doubt.
The option you take is, of course, up to you.
Both options have strengths and weaknesses, and will afford you different opportunities, connections, and skills.
What springs to mind when you think of “classical training”? Dressage? Andalusian or Lusitano horses? Airs-above-the-ground? The Spanish Riding School of Vienna? People dressage up like Napoleon in traditional tailcoats and funny hats or outdated uniforms?
Whilst these things are not, necessarily, wrong. They most certainly are not the whole truth...
So I've decided to hunt down some really useful resources - videos, diagrams etc. that I can share with you guys! They will all be shared on my Facebook page, and a lot will make there way to here too.
This one was created by an American dressage rider, trainer and Doctor of Chiropractics, and it's all about using the core, and goes into hip flexors a little bit. It's quite long (a little over an hour) so make sure you've got some biscuits and a drink! Credit Jamie Pestana D.C. & Megan Leonard.
Mental health, and mental health awareness, is so important, especially at a time like this! I'm so grateful to UK Coaching for offering this vital training, and making it available to sports coaches from all sports and backgrounds.
Long-reining clinics are pretty popular in the USA, but long-reining is a bit of a dying art in the UK. Most people just do straight lines and circles when long-reining, or believe that it's just for young horses, don't they? The reality is, if you can do it from the saddle, you can do it all from the ground eventually! We can use poles on the long-reins too.
Many, many riders focus on the head and neck when schooling. At Elementary levels upwards, a greater element of collection is needed, but a lot of riders forget that their is an entire horse to collect. Their version of "collection", not that it really is that at all, comes from bringing the head and neck up and in. Meanwhile, the back end trails out behind the horse, who hollows their back and drops onto the forehand.
I use these exercise a lot, they are an absolute staple, both when producing horses and coaching riders of virtually all levels.
4 poles positioned at '12', '3', '6', and '9' on a 20m circle or slightly larger if your arena allows. It's very simple, you ride around the circle over the middle of the poles, generally in trot or canter. It's great for testing how regular and consistent your horse's paces are and working to improve the regularity of paces, it tests how accurate you are as a rider and makes you really think about control, it encourages horses to settle because it's very predictable, and the poles help to create more hind-end engagement whilst inside bend is maitained on the circle. More advanced horses and riders can raise the poles slightly, and advanced combinations can replace the poles with fences (but don't go too mad with the height, steering is required for this exercise!).
I am a dressage trainer and general equestrian coach in Surrey, Sussex, and Berkshire. I teach dressage lessons, and hold a range of riding and equestrian clinics around the UK, and use my blog to share horse training tips, advice, and resources.