Orlando - A Training Diary

I purchased Orlando in Dec 2006, a 1st cross Andalusian stockhorse. He came to me to be handled and sold on for his owner who did not have time for a young horse.

When he came to me he had not been handled for a while and was a cheeky 2 year old who thought he knew everything! What I liked about him was his willingness to learn and how quickly he came around to doing his job. He also is very people orientated we found this out by my friend Di who was filling up the water trough and Orlando came over out of the herd to see what she was doing. She sprayed him with water and instead of running away he turned himself around so she sprayed his other side!

I originally bought him to sell on but after breaking him in myself and my trainer Graham Chapple seeing him, I have decided to keep him and campaign him myself.

So I have written a dairy of his progress and how I go about my training system.

Working out in his first Led Class at Yarra Glen


Taught to lead tie up and pick up legs properly. He would be brought in every day for a week and handled then left in paddock to be a horse. He was out with my old horse Harley who would teach him some manners as he was more dominant then Orlando.

When brought in he would be led on the arena and would back up yield his hindquarters and front end to me and move sideways away from me. He has learnt to stand quietly and not move into my personal space at all. This I achieved easily with him as he was quite happy for me to be the herd leader.
He also was hobbled during this time as he had a tendency to paw with his front legs this he responded to well.

Orlando at riding club as a baby. Nice and relaxed
Orlando at riding club as a baby. Nice and relaxed

He also in this time was put on the float and taken for a visit to my local riding club to see the other horses working. This he enjoyed a lot and was very relaxed about it all.His temperament is willing and very accepting of people he is not a nervous horse and very happy and trusting he has been learning the ropes very easily.

During this time he learnt to be washed had his feet trimmed and how to wear rugs. He also is accepting being wormed and has his tetanus inj given.


This started in Jan 2008 when I had his teeth done before I put a bridle on he would wear his bridle in the stable while he had a feed to get used to it.

  • He accepted wearing the roller in the stable as I gradually tightened the girth up day by day.
  • He was bagged with a plastic shopping bag on a whip which was rustled all around him.
  • He was then taught to lunge in the arena and to become obedient to voice commands.
  • He was left in the arena with my mouthing gear on to learn to accept contact without being stressed.
  • He was lunged with the mouthing gear on to learn to go forward to a light contact.
  • On the lunge he learnt to accept plastic bottles hanging off the roller and banging on his sides.
  • He learned to carry a saddle and be lunged with the stirrups hanging down.
  • I also lunged him with 2 lunge reins and I drove him from the ground and taught him to turn and stop and back up. This took about 4 weeks and he accepted all this happily without any stress.
With mouthing gear on Jan 2008
With mouthing gear on Jan 2008


I got my friend Jo to help me she is experienced and a light weight for me to bunk her on. I held him and quietly bunked her up until she was lying on her tummy on the saddle after a short time she was able to place her leg over and at 1st she sat with her weight light and leaning forward, then she sat up. All this was with Orlando perfectly relaxed and content with it all. Then we did pony rides with me leading him again with no fuss. After 3 rides like this he was ready for me to ride him.

Using my voice commands from the lunge he quickly learned to go forward from a light seat, leg and and to stop with my seat, turning was no problem.

After 3 weeks he was walking, trotting turning on 20 metre circle and halting. I would ride him with a light even contact and use both sitting and rising trot. I would always lunge him for 10 minutes before getting on and I taught him to accept lunging with an outside side rein and the lunge rein back to the girth. I taught him to canter on the lunge and then under saddle using voice commands to help with my leg aids.

Backed for the first time Feb 2008
Backed for the first time Feb 2008


3 1/2 years old

Three weeks after backing he was floated to the local riding club grounds and ridden there. He went to his 1st rally and rode in a class with other horses a little worried about them coming up behind but not naughty.

I would be working him 5 times a week handling, lunging only or lunging and riding him.

1st set of shoes on 18th April then started riding out on the roads with experienced horses. Very accepting of this and happy in traffic, he met the grader on his 3rd ride out and was not worried.

Saddle fitter came to check his saddle I had been happy with it but I wanted it checked. No problems.

Teeth rechecked had developed small wolf teeth so they were removed.
During this time he was introduced to trot poles both on the lunge and under saddle.

1st Lesson with Graham Chapple my trainer he has been under saddle for 4 months.


  • Teach him to go into a steadier contact and not to fall on forehand.
  • Teach him to react quicker off my light leg aid.
  • Keep him into even contact with straight neck and hold his mouth until he learns to balance himself and stretch into the bit and carry himself up.

Graham rode him in the 2cnd lesson and was pleased with him great to see him I was most happy with him. The walk and his canter are naturally there with a huge over track in the walk and ability to sit in the canter. He is naturally up in his neck and very forward.

By the middle of August 2008 6 months under saddle, he is stretching into contact both up and round and deep not going onto forehand keeping his hind legs under him.

  • He is also starting flexion left and right through his poll.
  • He is sitting into his canter transitions and not running through the contact.
  • His walk is forward and happy both stretching down or up into the contact.
  • He is very light off the leg aids and has started leg yeilding and simple counter canter exercises.


He has been graded Level 3 with ½ points and did his 1st level 3 test HC at our local riding club gaining over 65% he also has competed at Yarra Glen HRCAV show placing 4th in his led class over 16hh.

Orlando competing at level 3 TT Dressage unplaced but a good experience
Orlando competing at level 3 TT Dressage unplaced but a good experience
First dressage competition over 65%. Very Happy
First dressage competition over 65%. Very Happy

He has been ridden out in the forest and keeps going out on road rides.

I will keep you up to date with his training. So as a 4 yo he is a happy forward young horse who now is not lunged before getting on and willing in his work and keen to learn both on the dressage arena and out in the open. His mind is very relaxed and he is a real people horse who looks forward to his work.

Working out in his first Led Class at Yarra Glen
Working out in his first Led Class at Yarra Glen
First ribbon!
First ribbon!


So now I have started to ask a little more of him by introducing more changes within the paces lengthening and shortening.

Getting him to sit and wait for me, short steps so he would put more weight on his hind legs.

I also increased leg yielding with him.

The other lateral work I use a lot is my ground work exercises under saddle they are

  • “Go forward”
  • “Halt and rein back”
  • “Move hind quarters left or right”
  • “Move shoulders left or right”
  • “Move sideways left or right”

The idea of all these exercises being introduced gradually were to get him to listen more and wait for me. So at home and with my once a fortnight lessons with Graham all was going well.

Working at home in canter
Working at home in canter

When I started competing unofficial preliminary and Grade 3 ARC we had a different story. Nervousness as tension set in and he didn’t cope well with horses coming at him in different directions in the warm up arena.

The positive comments we were having were

Shows good potential, Lovely uphill canter, 3 Rhythmic paces, Nice type of horse, Fabulous potential horse, Good effort keep going, Look forward to seeing combination again once established and lovely horse with potential.”

The negative comments were

Horse tense, Short in neck, Unsteady in contact and not thru over back, inattentive and disobedient

So what do you? You keep going out to dressage competitions and taking him to riding club until he can cope with it.

I would just like to make a comment to all the judges who work so hard; you all helped me so much as you tried to give me positive feedback on my nervous boy I would always read the good things you said and take them to heart even though at times in the dressage ring I would feel like I was on a time bomb!! The joy of young horses!! The percentages we were getting ranges from 54% up to 72%.

I also upgraded to Level 2 ARC and unofficial Novice as I found the more he had to do in a test the less he was being spooky and nervous.


With my lessons with Graham it was all going well having introduced shoulder in, travers, renvers, small half passes walk to canter canter to walk and even started Flying changes and pirouettes in walk and canter. This was done gradually over a few months.

I decided that even though his dressage training was going so well I needed to have him relaxed when he went out because otherwise I wouldn’t get him up to full potential.

So I stopped going to Graham and started taking him to Steve Brady Clinic’s whenever possible working him with up to 10 other horse in the arena at once and really working more on his ground work, one rein stops and keeping his feet moving the way I wanted and not his way.

I also took him to our riding club meetings once a month and rode with as many horses as possible I also choose the competitions I went to making sure they were all weather arenas and not too busy in the warm up arenas.

So he started to relax so I could ride him over his back and have him attentive

So now in tests the comments were

Horse confident in canter ,lovely active moving horse with an accurate flowing test, A nice test well done, Nice type with 3 rhythmic paces, What a great combination 3 good paces very confident”.

The negative comments

More connection from hind quarters over back, Trot Could be a little more forward. Sometimes loosing rhythm in trot. A little tense.

Yay what an improvement!! Scores were consistently from high 60% to even over 74%.

We finished off that year as a just turned 7 year old winning 1 test and placing in the 2cnd test and 2cnd in the Jack pot at my own club Macclesfield Official Dressage Day and placing 5th in 1 test at TT dressage at Werribee at level 2.

We were on our way!!


Due to unforeseen circumstances for the time as a 7 year old I couldn’t work Orlando at the level he needed and his training went on hold.

Working round and deep at Tonimbuk as a 7yo
Working round and deep at Tonimbuk as a 7yo
Lovely extension as a 7 yo
Lovely extension as a 7 yo

When I started him again had some wonderful lessons with Kylie Pedder see photos attached and took him out as an 8 year old to unofficial level 2 scoring over 79% in one test!

I then did 4 unofficial Level 1 tests with him scoring between 60% and 66.92%.

The last test I rode on him the comment was

In general worked well and appeared free of tension

What a great comment to finish our competitive time together…..

Orlando Trot as a 7 year old
Orlando Trot as a 7 year old
Working shoulder in as a 7 yo
Working shoulder in as a 7 yo
Canter work as a 7 yo
Canter work as a 7 yo

In March 2013 I sold him to a lovely lady in Lilydale as I just didn’t have time to do him justice, who has the time and expertise to bring out the best of him we keep in contact and I have been to his new home and he couldn’t be in better hands. She says when she rides him she cannot wipe the smile off her face!!

A lovely ending to my Partnership with Orlando.