Dressage - Passion ~ Perserverence ~ Partnership
Philosophy

I like my horses to work for me because they choose to, not because they are forced to.  During training I present questions to my horses in the form of body language or aids. I ask them a question and when they answer I make the right answer feel right and the wrong answer feel wrong.  Because we cannot verbally articulate what we want them to do they answer us by “guessing” the right answer. The right answer may not be 100 percent of what I am seeking but I recognize they are on the path to the right answer and reward them.  Reward can be as simple as a release of pressure, a verbal good boy or girl, pat on the neck treats, or a break. When a wrong answer is given I simply reroute the horse. If a horse evades I incorporate the evasion into a “rerouted” movement, gait or bend so that their evasion actually ends up creating more work for them.  This approach has repeatedly been validated as they, more times than not, stop doing their evasion. Sometimes this takes a while but they learn to recognize that their chosen evasion leads them to more work! I believe that this creates a less confrontational method of training and a willing partner. It keeps my rides playful and is a positive reinforcement approach which leads to partnership and harmony which creates a happy athlete.
 
I utilize this philosophy while addressing the training scale and teaching dressage movements.  The training scale, I perceive more as working elements that are dependent upon each other. The dressage movements help create the strength and suppleness needed for lightness of the forehand and ease of movement. 
 
I believe that I need to get the horses focus to accomplish our goals.   This is why it is important for me to start their session when I walk into their stall or pasture and start a relationship with them on the ground before I ride. 

As for teaching, I try to teach to my students learning style.  Each lesson is different focusing on what presents from either the rider, the horse or the team of horse and rider. I try to incorporate theory, judging and basic horsemanship as it presents.  There are no short cuts, just hard work, passion, patience and love for our partners. 
 
The beautiful Val Olson and Copper
                                                                  Val Olson and Copper

The horse world is small and I encourage anyone in my program to utilize outstanding sportsmanship skills.  This means supporting the person you are competing against, by loaning them equipment in a last minute emergency to congratulating them after a good ride, to offering words of encouragement when something goes amiss.  Be a humble winner that can always learn more and be open minded when you don't.  Remember you can always look and find fault with another's ride but look for the good too. 
 
References
 
I had hired Nicol to train my horses and she was worth every penny.  She has a very calming effect on the horses with a gentle touch.  She doesn't just train the horse to be trained, she gets to know the personality of each individual horse and works from there. She works with the horses and who they are and she does get the end results. When my other horses need to have training once they are older I will call her, she does a wonderful job and she cares, not just about getting a paycheck either.
faitharabians@hotmail.com
 
Donia Taylor
 
I had my 16.2 hand gelding in training with Nicol and she, by far, rode and trained him the best of any instructor I had him in training with.  That is saying something, because he was…”a poop” when she got him.

Tara Thompson
 
I have known Nicol for about 5 years. She began teaching my daughter how to ride dressage at an early age. Nicol is very conscientious and concerned about the well being of both rider and horse. My daughter wasn't even allowed to trot her horse until she had the basics established and could confidently manage her horse. Nicol is a very skilled rider and teacher. She is patient, thorough and will continue on with the lesson even after the allotted time to make sure both rider and horse have achieved the desired goal for that day. Nicol has an understanding for rider and horse and is passionate about learning, teaching and pushing herself to be the best in her personal training as well as training for her student. I would recommend Nicol as a trainer for her commitment to her field as well as her understanding and knowledge which she brings to the table.

Phyllis Slattery
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