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Equestrian Coach/Rider, Iris Walshe “Training the horse using traditional and physiological tools”.

By February 9, 2019 No Comments

We recently met with Iris Walshe for an interview. Here she gives us an insight into her world training horses. She talks about training horses using traditional and physiological tools.   

She explains “Everything I have learned about Horses has taken years. This is because every horses I’ve met has taught me something new. That’s how I know, I don’t know everything about horses. I am sure there are people who know more than me and know it differently,  I think this is crucial . There is no System to understanding the Horse!  If I’ve learned anything it is to be adaptable at every moment with no judgement or fixed opinions.  Keep your mind, eyes and ears open”.




If you make a quick judgement or an opinion and stick to that you will have closed your mind to the process.  If you look away you will have missed a movement and what the horse is saying.  If you stop hearing the horses foot falls ,the sighing, the snorting, the tail swishing,  the chewing then the conversation has stopped.

If you were talking to a troubled friend you would hear them, see their body and facial expressions and you would let them talk with no judgement.  You might ask questions, offer solutions for a way forward but you would not force them to do it your way. The horse is the same!  You must help them find a way forward, a solution to navigate their environment and help them to realise their potential career. 
I have competed all my life in Horses and put flat work as the key to all disciplines, including “fixing” as I call it. The type of flat work that you use will vary depending on the discipline, fixing included. I will use techniques that I have discovered and developed to fix horses that also help with other disciplines.  I understand the bio mechanics of horses very well from years of lunging and training horses from the ground and  also on their backs to help them develop and succeed at their job. So that they can find peace in their lives. The better trained a horse the more willing and able they are, the happier they are.
Not all Horses train easily and want to offer their best side. This is a misunderstanding that people often make that horses just want to please when understood. 
Not True !! But there will be a weak spot that they can’t resist. I have had horses that would offer nothing but trouble until I put a fence up. The minute they realised they were jumping they couldn’t resist but go down to the fence and jump willingly! So I have had to use technical jumping exercises to train flat work or willingness until the willingness overrode the unwillingness to doing flat work on its own. So my tip is train to their Strengths!! Equally I have used galloping to training sequence flying changes ! The horse in question galloped, bucked and plunged after every time he was asked to do a flying change.  When taught to gallop and enjoy it and also see it as part of training, he stooped using it to be unwilling.  It is all about getting the body and mind of the horse to work in harmony and one begets the other. You need the body of the horse to move soft and free to keep the mind soft and free and vice versa. 
I was sent a horse that was so unreasonable that it was suggested to be put down. They hadn’t got to the stage of jumping as nobody could stay on long enough to find out. So I started with ground work, then lunging over poles, small fences and bounces just to keep the horse learning and succeeding, the horse again absolutely loved the jumping. So I did enough that when she was sat on we would jump straight away. We also had another horse work with her at the same time so she would get used to him and he would help with making her feel safe when mounted. So it worked and she went to her first show six weeks after. Did the behaviour she had ever surface? Yes! I got greedy on her one day as I knew she had a bigger jumping canter to come out so I asked her for it.  She started launching into the air every canter stride and yes this was a slight nap but one I was going to use to my advantage. I let her continue and when on the third day I asked her to come more through, she had a tantrum and dropped me. I got schooled that day and a week later I got the canter when we both agreed.  My point being the behaviour or unwillingness will always need to be addressed.  However when the horses rides better, more willing and confident, then maybe address the behaviour if necessary. If you address this at the right time the reaction is little.
I have had horses that although bred for Jumping/ X Country hadn’t the heart for it. I don’t believe in my experience this can be changed. I’ve been doing this for 25 yrs and my Top Tip is keep your mind open , gain as much experience as you can , read as many Books on all aspects of riding all disciplines and enjoy the journey. 
Iris Walshe is a gifted when it comes to horses, she has a deep  understanding and knowledge of how the horse thinks.  Iris has been a very important figure on my journey producing Connemara ponies and sport horses. My time spent with her was invaluable. She has developed a system that brings out the best for the horses and rider.   She has always been involved with horses having acquired many qualifications such as BHSAI and HSI Level 2 Coaching.  She has jumped 1.30 and has Evented up to 2* and ridden prix St George. 
I would highly recommend Irish Walshe to anyone who wants to improve their riding and gain further insight into their horses world.
Iris is bases in Co.Dublin, Ireland and she can be contacted on +353 (0) 87 8502261



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