Home :: Video Lessons with Jessica Jahiel

Expert Witness

Video Lessons
Holistic Horsemanship®


Contact Me
Reader Contributions
True Helmet Stories


Video Lessons with Jessica Jahiel

About Video Lessons

Whether our main interest is dressage, eventing, jumping, or trail riding, there are times when we all need help, either with our horses or with our riding. At the very least, we need someone to help us assess our riding strengths and weaknesses, and help us set our goals. Even if we are lucky enough to have good regular instruction, it's a good idea to have another professional evaluate our riding skills regularly. Unfortunately, clinics are too often logistically inconvenient or just plain unaffordable. Some riders simply have no access to good instruction of any kind, and are unable to attend good clinics on a regular basis. As many of them discover, working alone all of the time is frustrating. Without help, their progress tends to slow to a crawl. If you need help, there is a solution. No matter where you are or how isolated you may feel, you are not alone. You can increase your understanding, your skill, and your confidence, and get back on the track to real progress, by taking private, personal video lessons.

Why Video Lessons?

  • Video lessons can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and thus help you begin a personal program designed to improve your horse, your riding, and the relationship between you and your horse.
  • Video lessons allow you to work with the instructor of your choice - no matter how great the physical distance between you. In-person private lessons or clinics are still the ideal, but getting good lessons or attending a good clinic may involve hauling your horse for several hours - or several days. Video lessons allow you to get the personalized help you need whilst saving you the expense, time, and inconvenience of travel and hotels.
  • Video lessons also enable you to watch yourself and your horse again and again, and compare what you see to the written analysis and commentary. Sometimes it can be hard to identify the moment when things were "just right" or "not right", and it can be even harder to remember those moments accurately once the lesson or clinic is over. With a video, you can easily refresh your memory of a particular moment.
  • Video lessons provide a visual journal that will enable you to track your achievements and monitor your progress over time.

What Is A Video Lesson?

Video lessons offer individual, private help for you and your horse. Video lessons are easy: send a video of you and your horse (details below), and get back an e-mail analysis, riding/training suggestions, exercises, and advice (as appropriate) on safety, tack selection, and horse management.

Tell Me What I Must Do

In writing, or in your video, tell me about your horse (age, experience, soundness problems, attitude, length of time you've had the horse, and how the horse is managed - stabling, turnout, daily exercise, etc.). Then tell me about yourself (age, experience, soundness problems, attitude, current level of riding, average weekly time spent riding, goals, concerns, interests, what comes easily, what is difficult for you, etc.) Ask any questions you like about anything: horses, training methods, riding styles, saddlery, tack, etc.

How to Shoot Your First Video Lesson

For your first lesson, have someone shoot you as you tack up, warm up, and ride as you usually do. Don't change anything - your tack, your posture, or your riding routine - just because there's a camera in the ring with you. Please wear something reasonably form-fitting - it's hard for me to analyze your seat and help you make changes if a baggy sweatshirt is hiding your body position. Make the best video you can. You don't have to have a professional do it, but it's always best to use a tripod to keep the camera steady, and make minimal use of the "zoom" feature. Lighting conditions can be tricky, so remember that it will be easier to see you if your clothing contrasts with your horse - e.g., light breeches will show up better if your saddle and horse are dark. Similarly, if your horse blends with the footing or the background, use contrasting wraps on his legs (dark on a light-coloured horse, light on a dark-coloured horse). Please do NOT use bright red or bright orange - these colours tend to flare on video.

Shooting Subsequent Lessons

In subsequent lessons, you will be asked to perform certain exercises on your video. I will be able to see how you have worked on your exercises, what's working, what isn't working, what new problems have come up (if any), and what new exercises should be introduced once you've mastered the previous ones.

What Can I Learn From A Video Lesson?

You can expect an analysis of your seat and position, and of your horse's gaits and movements, and recommendations for improvement. You can also expect some observations about tack and equipment, and suggestions about fit, adjustment, or possible changes. If there are areas such as groundwork and horse handling that might benefit from some exercises or changes, you will get observations about those as well. Don't worry - there's at least one exercise to correct every position problem. The Virtual Clinician will suggest exercises to develop an independent seat and legs, but will not stop there - you will learn to develop your eye and increase your ability to think and analyze. The Virtual Clinician will help you enhance your ability to plan your ride, think clearly during your ride, and analyze the ride afterward to determine what was right, what was wrong, what you want to keep, and what you want to change.

Video Lesson Q&A

  • My main interest is Classical Riding, should I do anything special on the video?
    All of my lessons, including video lessons, are based on the principles of classical dressage. The early training of every riding horse should involve conformation analyis, gait evaluation, work from the ground, and a program of exercises designed to strengthen, supple, and condition the horse. You'll get the best help if you follow the directions above ("How to Shoot Your First Lesson").

  • I'm into Natural Horsemanship. I need help with groundwork and I want an evaluation of my relationship with my horse.
    Fundamentally, there is only one horsemanship - the kind that puts the horse first and helps it to become the very best horse it can be. Groundwork is part of this, so if this is what you are doing with your horse right now, feel free to include it. Your relationship with your horse, as demonstrated on the video, will be evaluated, and you will get suggestions about how to improve and deepen that relationship, and how best to deal with the performance or behavior issues that concern you.

  • There's just ONE problem I want help with, can I make the video all about that?
    You certainly can - but I advise you not to. Some riding, training, and performance problems are simple and obvious; most are not. Every problem has a cause; some problems have more than one cause. The way to eliminate a problem is to discover and eliminate the root cause of that problem. To get to the root cause, I will need to see you and your horse go through your normal handling and riding routine. You are welcome to discuss the problem at length in the information you send me, tell me what you think the cause is, and describe what you have tried to do to correct the problem. And, of course, if you want to give the problem extra time on your video, that will be fine.

Okay, I want Video Lessons! How do I sign up?

How to get your personal video lesson:
  1. Create a 45-60 minute video. If you use VHS, remember to make a copy.
  2. Format can be VHS (NTSC) or DVD.
  3. Keep one copy for yourself, and send the other. This costs much less than paying the postage both ways, especially if you are located outside the USA. It will also eliminate the risk of your ONLY video being lost or damaged in transit - and it means that you will be able to compare the analysis to the video much sooner.
  4. Be sure to include your e-mail address so that you can receive your analysis promptly.
  5. Send a check for $65 USD made out to Jessica Jahiel, and send video, check, information, and e-mail address to:
        Dr. Jessica Jahiel
        Summerwood Farm
        663 CR 1800 E
        Sidney, IL 61877

Please e-mail me at jessica@jessicajahiel.com if you have any questions about the Video Lessons.

Back to top.