Solo Schooling Book Study

How do you continue to progress when your mentor/instructor goes to New Zealand for the winter and your arena is a frozen lump of ice, snow, manure, and sand?  I invited a group of horse friends to join me in a book study of Wendy Jago’s Solo Schooling.  

With our esteemed Maree half-way around the world, we can learn how to help ourselves and each other through the ideas and strategies in Wendy’s book.  Our first book discussion is scheduled for 1/23.  This will give everyone time to order the book and read the first two chapters.  In the meantime I have read and outlined Ch.1, so I can lead the discussion.

USPC says of this book, “Many riders school alone, either all or most of the time. If you are in this situation, you have probably experienced how easy it is to lose direction, motivation and become discouraged. …. Valuable to riders of all levels and all disciplines.”   I organized this book study to form a group that could support each other as we continue learning on our own.  Perhaps the ideas in this book will help you too.  Order the book and join us virtually in our book study.  Here is the outline for Ch.1.  Add your notes, ideas, and personal ah-ha’s to this study guide.

Solo Schooling Study Guide Chapter One

P6-8 Coaching is

  •  Process, not content
  •  how things happen, not what happens

When you examine your relationship w/your horse, you will be surprised by how much you know:

  • what changes need to be made
  •  how to go about making changes
  • agenda for change
  • develop confidence: sense of resourcefulness
  • allows rider to

-refine & develop skills                                                                                                                     -navigate stuck places, pitfalls, puzzlements                                                                             -develop independence

benefits to horse

  • achievable goals
  • clearer messages
  • elimination of confusion & distractions
  • understanding of real intent

Performance = potential-interference                                                                           Interference from:

  •  internal- (self one):left brain, judgements: success/failure or praise/blame
  • external- expectations of others, competition, etc

Potential from self two: intuitive, right brain

P11-12 Assuming Resourcefulness problem-solving: (When I want to change something that is happening in my riding or Monarch’s response,

  • I analyze what happened
  • I explore possible causes for the unwanted outcome
  • I brainstorm things I can change to get a different outcome

P13 Define Clear & Achievable Outcomes

p114-15 Make Choices that Fit Your Beliefs & Self-Identity


SAFE: zone of comfort, static,not demanding, relaxing

STRETCH: zone of learning – demanding,yet meaningful; confidence building

STRESS: zone of paralysis, cannot learn, brain freezes & body stiffens

p16-17 Permission to Play

  • Mistakes are opportunities to learn
  • Experiment w/out worry of failure;

discovery; feedback-  when horse becomes stiff or hollow, (feedback), review training scale,  when pattern becomes sour- break it up/do something else

p17 Take Responsibility & Accept Yourself

P18-19 Monitor through Heightened Awareness for problem-solving, resourcefulness, responsibility • (sensory acuity) be curious w/objective self-observation

• 3 points of view, (perceptual positions): self, horse, outsider

Relaxed Focus


  • “be here now;” be present in the present
  • be curious about what is observable, interesting, & relevant

RELAXED- effortless effort, tensegrity, mutual attentiveness between horse & rider

p20 Rigorous Without Pressure

  •  involved, attentive, committed, aware
  •  Whatever happens is useful, stay outside the “blame-frame”
  •  cultivate curiosity as a habit of mind; it is a productive path to learning

p22 Converse in a whisper with your horse; develop patience

  •  gradual path/ pace is not forced
  •  no short cuts or blind alleys
  •  focus on process, not product
  •  own the plan through investigation & discovery
  •  puzzles yield rewards
  •  relax

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