Welcome to NorthernGates Coaching,
Here at NorthernGates we are constantly evolving our riding system. The system of today might not be the system of tomorrow, and we are proud of this. I am Nadine DeKoning, and what you will find on the coaching pages is what our riding system looks like as of today.
We have a growth mindset.
Somethings will always remain constant in our system. Our cornerstones are as follows:
Kindness is king
We consistently experiment
We are not afraid of making mistakes
If you are having a problem while riding the method to fix it is always the same
We strongly believe the horse tries to match everything we do to become the mirror image of us
Having fun is important
Kindness is King
We have grown to be more of a fun training stable than a boarding stable, and with this in mind there is only one requirement to keep your horse here with us or to be a student at our stable: you must be a kind person.
We have a zero-tolerance gossip policy and in our early years we strongly enforced it, but we have found over time the need to enforce it disappeared because the kind culture at our stable grew to be remarkably strong. Everyone here looks out for one another, and helps one another in and out of the stable.
It doesn’t matter if on paper your horse costs a dollar, or costs a lot more than a dollar. Cost and worth are two different things, and here at our stable all the horses are worth a lot. They are all priceless.
This is a place you can grow because you are not just supported by your coach, you are supported by the entire team. If you are at a horse show with our barn and you need help, any one of our students will gladly stop what they are doing to help you. This compassion is natural for them, but it is also nurtured by Justin and myself. We have a horse show kindness award for each show we go to. This award is earned by the student who shows the most compassion to the horses and to other team members, as we believe our kind environment can grow even more.
Our culture is something we are proud of. You won’t find a mean person here, we guarantee it.
We Constantly Experiment
Our goal is to ride better, and get results faster. We accomplish this goal using experimentation. We experiment… a lot.
Our mind is our most important asset, so some of my favorite experiments have steamed from information we have learned from MindValley.com. These experiments have been wonderfully successful and have given us many tools for our tool box. We have learned the correct way to visualize an end result, how to use EFT tapping to help advance riders faster, and many more techniques students of all ages have found useful.
We have learned whether we realize it or not, we ride with our emotions; and we have learned many techniques to change our emotional states to the ones which yield the best results.
By focusing on the mind our riding program has exploded.
Our experiments with challenging the current riding belief system have also been wildly successful; in particular our new way of using our weight as an aid has drastically improved our results.
Riding is a sport deeply rooted in tradition, but the word “tradition” can be synonymous with the word “stuck.” We don’t let traditional methods stop us from trying a new method, because this would stop our growth. Our riding system is strongly based on the American Forward Seat Equitation system, but it has some deviations and some system additions.
Our system has evolved, and will continue to evolve through experimentation. If the experiment works, then we have another tool for the tool box. If the experiment doesn’t work: we laugh, throw the idea out, and never touch it again. You wouldn’t believe the results we had from experimenting with magnets, and how you can make yourself and your horse stronger in a matter of seconds.
My favorite line to say is “What?! That worked? Why?” I am proud to say I have said this line many times recently, as to me this statement signifies growth.
We are Not Afraid of Making Mistakes
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried.” – Stephan McCranie
One of the core reasons we fostered a kind environment is because we want people to feel free to make mistakes. There is no judgement here. Feel free to make all the mistakes you need to make in order to become a better rider, because we are all in the same boat. Mistakes made here on the farm are treated with support from other people, and not ridicule.
I make a lot of mistakes, it is something I am weirdly proud of as it means I am leaving my comfort zone and trying something new, or I am working (and playing) on advancing up the levels.
I am not afraid to tell people what our current system is because if the current system is proved wrong with experimentation or scientific evidence, we just change the system and move on. Because we are not scared of making mistakes, our system can have a fluid concept; which helps it advance faster. If one of our assumptions is proven wrong, we just change the system. Not every experiment we try is successful, some of them do not yield results which is OK. I am still glad we tried the idea out even if we had a poor result.
Our experimentation allows us to grow more through enlightenment, and less through pain.
According to the experts at MindValley.com there are two ways you can grow: through pain, or through enlightenment. If you stub your toe on the corner of your bed frame you learn to try to avoid this in the future because you learned through pain this is not a good thing to do.
Our goal is to grow through enlighten experiments.
If You are Having a Problem While Riding the Method to Fix it is Always the Same
When a rider encounters any problem while riding (which is not related to physical pain) the road map to fix the problem is always this: fix each aid individually in its order of importance.
We currently believe the order of importance of our riding aids are as follows:
First fix the mind, then fix the eyes, then fix the weight aid, then fix the legs, then fix the hands.
It is true you can focus on your harsh hands to fix the hand problem, but a hand problem is often a symptom factor and not a cause factor. To solve the problem faster we go after the cause factors first.
Usually what will happen is if the rider fixes the mind, then the eyes, and then their weight aid, the problem will often correct itself without the need to go any further down the list because the mind, the eyes, and the weight aid have a higher value of importance than the other aids. Also, when fixed together their positive affects create a larger total sum value.
This method of problem solving restores intent, balance, and rhythm quickly. See my book and our rider scorecard for more information on this method.
We Strongly Believe the Horse Tries to Match Everything We do to Become the Mirror Image of Us
We believe in a matching principle:
The horse is the mirror image of their rider: their body does everything the rider’s body does. Their shoulders match the rider’s shoulders, their hips match the rider’s hips, their rib-cage matches the rider’s rib-cage… but most of all their mind matches the rider’s mind.
When a rider is uncertain what shape their body should be in to do a particular move, they can figure it out by understanding what shape the horse should ideally be in. When a rider puts their body in the ideal shape the horse will change to match them.
Having Fun is Important
Riding first and foremost is supposed to be fun, otherwise why do it?
We play a lot, and our goal is to always increase the level of play because when we play we naturally breath, and breathe lowers the stress hormone cortisol. The more fun we have, the more flexible our muscles are. When we play other emotions like fear disappear. Adults sometimes forget to play, but don’t worry, if you are an adult rider in one of my lessons I will get you to play, even if I have to beat it out of you with poorly told "dad jokes." Some of our riders compete, others do not, but all of our riders play.
I try to make the lessons as fun as possible and adapt each lesson to the individual student and their personality. Some riders ride better in group lessons than in private lessons. Some students like it when I talk a lot, other students like it when I only say keywords as it helps them slow their mind’s rhythm down when I don’t say a lot.
Words I use to explain a concept might work well for one rider, but not for another; so I try different methods of explanation until I find one which clicks. It is something I learned from my dad. If you are with accountants, speak accountant. If you are with a farmer, speak farmer. Don’t worry, I will learn the language which works for you so we can have a meaningful conversation.
I will push you to advance your riding but never will I push you past your current abilities. Like building a pyramid, the foundation layer takes the longest. If you ask me to move up and you are not ready I am not scared to tell you no, but if you are ready to move up I will push you to do so. I will make you feel safe so you can have more fun.
Welcome to NorthernGates Coaching.
Nadine DeKoning, CMA-CPA, Bachelor of Commerce (Hons)
Justin DeKoning, Bachelor of Applied Horticulture Science