During the winter months it can sometimes be a struggle to keep motivated and on track with your horse’s training.
Following a short winter break, event riders like our very own brand ambassador, Hector Payne, will have to ignore the gloomy conditions and crack on with preparations for the season ahead.
This year will be extra hard as nobody quite knows when governing bodies will get the green light to begin the season due to current restrictions but competition horses must be fit and ready to go when they can.
Here Hector offers his advice on training during the toughest months to be a horse owner…
When motivation is low it is a good idea to mix things up in training and do something different to keep things fresh for both you and your horse. You could set a goal to improve a weakness or teach your horse a new dressage move. Having a focus will keep you on track and give you an incentive to tack up every day.
A simple thing to improve is straightness. Achieving straightness when riding is vital, whether that is for approaching a fence when jumping or achieving a perfect straight line when riding a dressage test.
During your schooling session, ride on an inner track or the 3/4 line as this means your horse has to ‘stand up’ and not use the fence for balance. If you are lucky enough to have arena mirrors, ride towards them and look at whether the horse is trotting straight.
If you have a young horse it is a good idea to introduce leg yielding to their training early, even if it is just a few steps.
Starting in walk, leg yield back to the track and then as it improves leg yield away from the track. If you teach it well in walk, it will come more naturally in trot.
For more experienced horses it’s good to leg yield in from the track as it encourages them to put their hind legs underneath them more, without the rider having to work too hard.
To help ensure your horse is in front of your leg and responding to your aids try this simple pole work exercise:
Set out four sets of poles on a large circle, two sets of trot poles just over one and a half yards apart and two sets of canter poles, three yards apart. The aim is to complete the circle as smoothly as possible. To make this harder try using raised trotting poles or cavaletti’s.
Build up slowly by first isolating the trot poles and then the canter poles before riding the complete circle and remember to repeat the exercise on both reins.
By trying something new and mixing things up, hopefully you will be motivated in no time at all!
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