You and your horse are a team, working together and looking after one another to achieve your goals and dreams. However, training can be a long, tiring and frustrating process, full of ups and downs, good days and bad days. Bear these five simple training tips in mind though, and you and your partner will be well on the way to equestrian success.
1) Always start from the ground up.
Don’t just jump straight on and expect your horse to know exactly what you want right away. Be sure to take your time and be patient, spend time on the ground with your horse, building up a bond and establishing trust through simple daily tasks like grooming and feeding. Rushing this stage will only lead to disappointment and a good relationship on the ground will definitely lead to a much happier riding experience for both of you.
2) Never mount your horse with a rigid training plan in mind.
Having an area of focus for your training session is important, but it’s also necessary to gauge the mood of your horse. If your horse is struggling with a certain exercise, being adaptable with your schooling schedule will work wonders. Instead of forcing a task, change it. Have a back-up plan in mind and different exercises that are aimed at achieving the same goal, such as straightness or suppleness.
3) Add variety to your weekly riding.
Horses, especially green youngsters, can get easily bored when faced with repetitive training tasks. Having a schedule is essential and many horses respond well to routine but adding subtle changes, such as trotting poles, are a great way to engage your horse in what you’re doing without intimidating and overwhelming them. Hacking out is also vital when trying to familiarise your horse with unusual surroundings and sounds, making them calmer when faced with the excitement of a competition, for example.
4) Get an outsider’s opinion.
Sometimes when training a horse it can be hard to work out what’s going wrong and why. Bringing in a friendly but honest outsider, such as your trainer or another rider at the yard, and asking them to observe one of your sessions could be just what you need. From down on the ground they might notice things you don’t and offer you constructive criticism to help you improve.
5) Finish all rides on a positive.
Finally, riding can be frustrating and tiring for both you and your horse and some sessions won’t go as well as others. When training, it is really important to remember the positives from a session, as well as how to improve on the negatives. Maybe your horse didn’t ace their flying changes, but how was their trot to canter transition? Did they feel confident? Taking pros and cons from each ride is a really handy way to work out where to focus your attention in a stress-free way.