I have been riding horses for 25 years.
I have taught riders in Russia and now I live and teach in Canada.
I focus on the rider's seat
and its influence on the horse. I have a master's
degree in biology and I have studied the anatomy and biomechanics of
horse and rider. Being in North America for 13 years, I have worked with
instructors who emphasize correct seat before they ask students to perform more
challenging tasks. I use the same approach in my teaching. This gives my
students a chance to shift attention onto developing their feel, and learning
how to listen to a horse instead of ordering him around. It lays a
foundation for a beautiful partnership and trust between horse and rider.
Since I have started riding, I have felt that I'm missing something.
I was good, but not good enough. Being naturally athletic,
I have learned how to stay on a horse and influence him to some
extend. However, I saw how some riders were much better than me, no matter what
horse they rode. What did they have that I didn't?
In 1998 I had an opportunity to become a working student
for a wonderful dressage instructor, Frances Carbonnel, who
teaches in Castle Rock, Colorado. Her website is
She is one of a very few, who
focuses their attention on the rider before asking something from the horse.
Some of the things she was teaching me, such as
correct rising trot, were new and felt weird.
Everything she told me about how to ride a horse was true even though
I couldn't understand all of it then. With her help, I have
prepared and showed a 4-year old Oldenburg stallion at Training level and
we've gotten a 68% and 72% in our first show.
I have moved to Canada in 2000 and now I live in Alberta about 160 km
from Edmonton. Even
though I'm quite away from the dressage community, I have my own barn and I keep my own horses
as I've always wanted. I don't have enough opportunity to take lessons.
That encourages me to explore, study, attend seminars and clinics, and
listen to my horse. Discovering Mary Wanless' work and attending a seminar that featured one
of her students Sandy Howards from California was a major breakthrough for me.
All the pieces that I have tried to put together, all of a sudden, started
coming together on their own and slowly the path of logical riding and training
began to emerge.
I take occasional lessons from a very talented instructor and dressage rider,
from St. Albert.
The more I understand how riding works, the more fun it is to take lessons
and see horses I ride become better and better. In spring of 2007 I started
working toward my coach certification from Equine Canada. In July of 2008
I have passed all the exams. At the teaching portion of my assessment
I was praised on my teaching skills
and encouraged to develop my career as a coach. I have received a certification for
Equine Canada English Coach Level 1
In January of 2010 I bought a youngster. He is an Andalusian-Holsteiner cross.
His name is Santo de Pequeno PT, aka Santo. I found him in South Dakota
at family breeding farm
Prairie Thunder Ranch
He wasn't even 3 yet, untouched and very emotional.
Santo has grown into a handsome horse. Training him has been a thrill.
Summer of 2012 was his first official show season. He did fantastic in Training Level becomig a champion
at EC gold dressage show scoring in upper 60s. Check the
page to see him in action.
On May 29th 2010 I acquired another horse, a beautiful little bay filly was born. Her name is Regala.
I have bred my friend's QH mare to an Andalusian stallion Merlin II of
Swan Creek Andalusians
. She has
fun and curious personality and loves attention. She thinks work is play and comes
up to me ready to go every time I step into the paddock. Regala already received her ground work
education and is ready to start working under saddle.
I teach students of different ages and skill levels, on horses of different
breeds and abilities. Principles of riding are the same, implications may
vary depending on the rider and the horse. All my riders show improvement.
First, they learn how to
keep their own balance and not to disturb the horse.
Second, they begin to influence their mount without compromising
the balance (either theirs or horse's). It is amazing to see how horses
react when riders stop pulling on the reins, keep up with the horse and
become light and balanced. Horses start to look bigger, they move with
more energy and spring in their step. Even the expression on their faces changes.
The riding concepts, such as feel, timing, thoroughness,
keeping your horse on the seat, riding from back to front etc., make so much more sense now.
Now I can see the big picture, all important pieces are in place,
only details are different. I'm not saying I know everything or can do
anything, far from that. Now I can understand my riding mistakes and
see how much depends on me. If things do
not work for whatever reason, I usually find that I am the problem. Over
and over again, I see that my horse couldn't execute my request because
either I was out of balance, or I didn't ask correctly, or I couldn't see that he was out of balance
and and so on and so on...
Riding now resembles doing a big puzzle, looking for
pieces and putting them together. I can see the whole
picture, but I do have to put it together myself and teach my students
how to do that. That is a lot of fun!
Irina Yastrebova, Riding Instructor and