Paradise Farm

Paradise Farm Ride better through knowledge ... not luck!

Welcome to Paradise! Owned and operated by international event rider and trainer, Lellie Ward. With over 30 years of international level 3-day experience, Lellie sets herself apart by concentrating on the most important tenets in successful eventing: safety, balance, control and confidence. In 2007, she initiated a unique series of Foxhunter Safety Clinics employing the same vital principals. Lellie welcomes riders and horses of all levels to train with her at Paradise. She also is available to conduct a clinic at your facility. Contact Lellie to schedule.

Dressage Today

Dressage Today

To improve accuracy in all your half passes…

Align your outside hip, inside hand and the bit with your destination letter in one straight line. (This will help you remember to use your inside rein as an indirect rein, not an open one.) Imagine this line, and you will always arrive at the proper destination in all your half passes, whether they are shallow or steep, at trot or canter. —Leslie Webb (Illustration by Sandy Rabinowitz)

A few pictures from recent Stono River Stables RIDE BETTER clinic.We have a clinic there the last weekend of every month...

A few pictures from recent Stono River Stables RIDE BETTER clinic.We have a clinic there the last weekend of every month.Hope you will join us .

Ritter Dressage

Ritter Dressage

We are often asked how to get a horse light in hand and off of the forehand when he is leaning heavily on the bridle. Both issues are closely related to each other. The rein contact that the horse offers is not a localised affair that is limited to the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth. It is, rather, the result of the horse’s balance, overall posture, and muscle development. That’s why it usually doesn’t help to change bits, because the underlying causes are located somewhere else.

Possible Causes Of A Heavy Rein Contact

Whenever something isn’t going well it’s always important to research the possible causes before deciding on a course of action to correct the situation because if you address the symptom (heavy rein contact) and not the underlying cause, it is unlikely that the horse will become truly light.

When a horse leans on the bit, it’s always a sign of an imbalance: the hind legs push more than they carry. They use their extensor muscles more than their flexor muscles, and the horse transfers some (sometimes a lot) of his weight from his hindquarters to the rider’s hands.

In some cases, the hind legs throw the weight onto the forehand because they don’t engage enough. They step down close to the vertical or behind the vertical so that they skip the flexion phase and start extending their joints right away. Because they are far away from the center of gravity, this force (in the physical sense) approaches the body mass from behind and pushes it horizontally forward. When the hind legs step down closer to the center of gravity, they can lift the body mass up because their force approaches the body from below rather than from behind, so the direction of the force is more vertical, rather than horizontal.

In some cases, the hind legs step down close to the center of gravity, but without flexing and without supporting the body mass. If the horse doesn’t have the strength in his hind legs to lift the body mass, or if he lacks the confidence in his hindquarters to support and lift the body mass, he will try to relieve his hind legs in one of several possible ways. One possibility is to lower his neck and lean on the reins. At the same time, he will try to keep the joints of his hind legs as extended as possible. This results in a hard and heavy rein contact and a hard, uncomfortable feeling under the seat bones.

Possible Remedies

Since the root of the problem is an imbalance, a lack of flexion of the hind legs, it can’t be fixed by using a stronger bit. It has nothing to do with the horse’s mouth. The heaviness in the reins is merely a symptom and it will only go away when you address the root of the problem: the imbalance between pushing and carrying. When the hind legs flex and support a larger share of the body mass, the rein contact will become light again.

The imbalance of the horse usually has a longitudinal and a lateral aspect:

✯ The front legs have to support a larger share of the weight than the hind legs, when the joints of the hinds are not flexing enough under the weight,
✯ and one lateral pair of legs has to support a larger share than the other pair. This is a straightness issue. The naturally concave side of the horse’s body typically carries a smaller share of the weight because the hind leg of that side moves alongside the body, instead of stepping underneath it. This shifts the weight onto the shoulder of the naturally convex side, which is why the rein contact on the naturally convex side tends to be heavier or harder than on the concave side.

There is another, related, aspect to it: Gustav Steinbrecht says that the resistance you feel in the bridle usually finds its support in one of the horse's legs. In many cases it's a hind leg, in others it's a front leg. The horse can only brace and lean on the bit as long as this leg is on the ground. He uses the ground against the rider, essentially. When you ask him to pick this leg up, he has to redistribute his weight to the other side of the body. Otherwise, he would fall down. It creates an engagement of the deeper core muscles and an opportunity to relax the outer muscles that had been bracing against the ground and against the rider. As the horse shifts the weight to the other side of the body, he can let go of the rein he was leaning on, at least for a few strides.

Any bracing and leaning by the horse is static in nature. It's human nature to try and fight the static behaviour of the horse with static counter measures, like holding and pulling. But since the horse is heavier and stronger than the human, the horse will win a leaning and pulling contest every time. The only thing that works in these situations is usually to dissolve a static resistance by moving the weight around so that the horse has to reorganise his balance which leads to him engaging muscles that had been slack and relaxing muscles that had been tight and braced. In other words, he stops bracing against the ground and against the rider.

Posture and balance tend to become habitual. Horses like to support themselves with the legs that they are more aware of. Using a certain leg more often develops the muscles around it, and it makes it even more available and more neurologically connected to the brain than the other legs. Some horses have a “favorite” front leg with which they always support themselves. Unfortunately, this asymmetry develops the musculature very unevenly, creates excessive wear and tear in the overused front leg, and leads to compensatory stiffness and bracing in various parts of the body.

If you try to change the weight distribution, some horses become very defensive because they think that you are trying to kill them. They are not aware that they have two healthy legs on the either side of the body. Or they don’t believe that these legs are all strong enough to support the body mass. So they may resist against any change of balance at first. In these situations it usually works well to move the weight only for short moments away from the favorite leg and allow it to return briefly. The more often you rock the weight away from the favorite leg and back, the more they realise that they have one leg at each corner of the body and that all legs are perfectly capable of supporting the body mass, at least for brief moments. This creates a greater sense of security and self-confidence. The horse no longer worries that he may fall down and die, and it leads to a better body awareness and a more even muscle development.


In order to make a heavy horse light, there are 6 areas you need to work on.

1. Mental flexibility: the horse has to be able to visualise the movement the rider is asking of him. If he doesn’t understand what the rider wants or how to do what the rider is asking, he will brace and resist.
2. Body awareness: the horse has to be able to feel his legs as well as the weight distribution over the support base. If he can’t feel where his legs are and which leg is supporting the weight, he can’t change his balance and will brace and lean or resist.
3. Balance: the horse has to learn to distribute and redistribute his weight over the supporting legs at will. Balance is not static. It’s dynamic. A horse is only truly balanced when he is able to adjust the weight distribution from one split second to the next, to meet the requirements of the situation.
4. Coordination: the horse has to be able to move his legs in any direction (forward, backward, sideways) and to move off from the halt with either hind leg.
5. Suppleness: shoulders, pelvis/hindquarters, and spine should be freely mobile, without being limited in their range of motion by muscle blockages. This enables the horse to balance himself and to carry himself without having to use the rider’s hands as a fifth leg.
6. Strength and stamina: The hind legs and the postural muscles need to be strong enough to maintain self carriage for longer periods of time.

I have found in practice that we often need to start with developing the horse’s body awareness first, then we can improve suppleness and balance, and when the horse has discovered the correct muscles that he needs to use to balance himself, we can strengthen and condition them.

- Dr. Thomas Ritter

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USA Eventing

USA Eventing

#TBT to the OG super pony 🙌 Despite standing at only 14.2hh, Teddy kept of with the best of them at the highest levels of eventing! Watch him jump around his first 5* at the 2007 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event before finishing 3rd!! #USAEventing

Watch all three phases here ⤵️

Even though #LRK3DE might not be happening this year USEF Network has a lot planned for the #BestWeekendAllYear so stay tuned!

Paradise Farm will be canceling our shows until this virus is declared terminated.Please stay safe.Be smart.The big pict...

Paradise Farm will be canceling our shows until this virus is declared terminated.
Please stay safe.Be smart.
The big picture is what's important.

Horse Sport Ireland

This is the.......

Padraig McCarthy and Mr. Chunky at the Eventing High-Performance Squad Training in Attington Stud, UK last weekend

Competitors! You can find all entry status; stabling; and times (next week) on Please check you...
StartBox Scoring - Online Scoring Software for Horse Show Events

Competitors! You can find all entry status; stabling; and times (next week) on Please check your entry status, and if there are any questions, let us know! We also are accepting late entries with the $65 late fee. But stabling is extremely limited.

StartBox Online Scoring System provides free online software that manages entries and live online scoring to horse shows, horse trials, 3 day events, and dressage shows.

The Music Man

The Music Man

Here are two absolutely awesome vocalists.
Father and son Brian & Thomas Owens! Brian Owens Soul! They nailed this great Sam Cooke classic "A Change is Gonna Come" perfectly! Sit back & just watch this great performance. Those watching at the time were lucky indeed! Well done to both of them!
Check 'em out: Brian Owens Soul

Thanks to Susana from our very popular Quality Music Appreciation page for this. Come & join us!

Tryon International Equestrian Center

Tryon International Equestrian Center

We can’t stop watching this winning round from Saturday’s $72,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 2* on this #TripTuesday! ✨ Richie Moloney and Ypaja Yando wowed the crowd with their striking jump-off performance, stopping the timers at an impressive 46.819. ⚡️


Paradise Farm is looking for riders that want to learn to RIDE BETTER. Please contact us for lessons,training and boarding opportunities.5*rider with over 40 years competition experience. Paradise Farm is a complete boarding and training facility for all levels.Other teainers welcome to use facility.Contact Lellie Ward at Paradise Farm.

USEF Network

USEF Network

It’s 🥇 and 🥉 for McLain Ward in the $71,200 Fidelity Investments® aboard Franka Trichta and Rapidash respectively at The American Gold Cup! #USAJumping

Fédération Equestre Internationale

Fédération Equestre Internationale

Judy Judy Judy JUDYYYY! 🎶

'I have the best pony ever!' 🤗 Judy Reynolds from Team Ireland Equestrian is all of us as Ireland secure their first Team ticket to Tokyo 2020 at EC Rotterdam 2019! 🇮🇪

Watch them shake their stuff on the way to Tokyo!

Love Wide Open

Love Wide Open

I am grateful for these people in my life.

Horse & Country TV

Horse & Country TV

Huge congratulations to the new European Eventing champion Ingrid Klimke! We're celebrating Ingrid's win with our two masterclasses, one focusing on Dressage and the other on Jumping. If you'd like to get tips from Germany's European champion, stream these masterclasses on demand now here:

Showjumping Ireland

Showjumping Ireland

Aine Shortall & Flying Star took the runner-up spot in yesterday's 128 Under 10’s Premier Pony at the Cavan Equestrian Centre yesterday.

Cannes Stars

Cannes Stars

In case you were wondering just how big those fences are...

Anyone ever heard this before?

Anyone ever heard this before?

Ok. A "good" correct example of a horse in piaffe. True collection is a lowering of the horse's hindquarters to carry more weight - not pulling the horse's head in to make its neck look round. Too often riders equate collection with "going slower" which is incorrect. It's an increased loading of the hindquarters through lowering, which takes time, strength, and correct development...not whacking the horse on the cannon bones with a pole to get it to snap the front end higher than the rear end. This is a lovely photo showing correct collection, a relaxed horse, lowered angle in the haunches, horse's head in front of vertical, no severe pulling on the curb rein, rider in balanced position, parallel limbs, tail relaxed. It's terribly difficult to find correct examples, and way too easy to find bad ones...

Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc

Beezie Madden / John Madden Sales, Inc

Cleaning tack and wrapping things up after today’s bronze at the Pan Ams. Excited for the individual final on Friday! 🇺🇸

USEF Network

USEF Network

For the 15th time, Scott Stewart is your Leading Hunter Rider at The Devon Horse Show! Check out his winning handy aboard Catch Me that scored a 9️⃣2️⃣

Andrew Ramsay

Andrew Ramsay

Gymnastics to help us back into form.

#chriskapplerinc #shalannofarms #california62 #showjumping #training #fillifabbri #samshieldamerica #sarmhippiquestyle

Steffen Peters: Creating Self Carriage Through Movement

Steffen Peters: Creating Self Carriage Through Movement

This can apply to lower level horses too. Simply take the same principle and apply it to the movements your horse can do like collected trot to lengthen stri...

Dressage Hub

Dressage Hub

Charlotte and Valegro rock the Freestyle 93.9%! The Benefits of Lungeing the Rider with Robert Dover
07/24/2019 The Benefits of Lungeing the Rider with Robert Dover The Benefits of Lungeing the Rider with Robert Dover

Robert Dover discusses his first year riding with a German instructor. For most of the year his lessons were on a lunge line, where he was not allowed reins or stirrups. This developed his ability …


4069 Wagener Rd
Aiken, SC

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Paradise Farm is on Hwy 302 (Wagener Road), just a short distance from the city of Aiken.


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Due to a cancellation we are in need of a stadium steward tomorrow from 10:30 - 6:00 PM and fence judges from 10:00 - 6:00 PM. Please contact me via messenger. Thanks
Paradise Farm is still in need of a few more volunteers for the horse trials this weekend. Friday: Stadium scribe Stadium Warm Up Jump Crew Cross Country Warm Up Cross Country Finish Timer Fence Judges Hospitality Helper Saturday Score Runner Jump Crew Sunday Xc Warm up Steward Score Runner Fence judges Contact Me if you are available to help. Thanks in advance
Paradise Farm is still in need of a few more volunteers for the horse trials this weekend. Friday: Dressage Scribe (Just had a cancellation) Stadium scribe Stadium Warm Up Jump Crew Cross Country Warm Up Cross Country Finish Timer Fence Judges Hospitality Helper Saturday Score Runner Jump Crew Sunday Xc Warm up Steward Fence judges Contact Me if you are available to help. Thanks in advance.
Paradise Farm Horse Trails is still in need of a few more volunteers for this Saturday. Still looking for: show jumping warm up steward jump crew Cross Country Fence Judges Cross Country Score Runner Please contact Melissa Rundt if you can help or sign up on We'll provide lunch, drinks and snacks. Come join the fun!
Great time at the Schooling HT. Trying to find the results?!!
Paradise Farm needs a few more volunteers for the schooling horse trials this Sunday, May 26. Show jumping Warm up Steward Jump Crew Cross Country Warm Up Steward Cross Country Finish Timer Fence Judges This is a small show so it won't be a long day. Contact Melissa Rundt to volunteer.
Will you offer a TN division at your schooling horse trial in May?
Was there a photographer at the HT this weekend?
Whistled and Rasta came galloping and bucking straight up to me, in the best of Peter Pan's tradition - love the memories. Hope all is well 😎
Hi all! Ride times for this weekend's Horse Trial are posted at! We will start Dressage at 8am. Show Jumping with start at 10:15, and XC will start at 11:30. We are so excited to have everyone. If you are NOT on the list, please let us know so we can track down your entry. Thanks!