Make 2016 Your Perfect Horsey Year

Welcome to the New Year! Here at Bridleway, we’re looking forward to an exciting calendar of horsey events including, of course, the Olympics – so there will be plenty of equestrian action for enthusiasts to follow.

Many of you will by now be looking forward to putting the colder, wet weather firmly behind you and looking forward to the evenings drawing out and more days in the saddle. Maybe you’re preparing for the competition season, or perhaps you’re planning to improve your riding, but now is the time to make goals and decide what you want to achieve this year. Just as with human relationships, there are several factors that make your relationship with your horse a great one…

Partnership – A healthy partnership is one where neither party has the upper hand. Horse and rider should work at a 50:50 level where you share responsibility with your horse for everything you do. It should never be a battle of wits.

Learning – It’s important to remember that horses and humans learn in different ways – for example, your horse’s instinct tells him how to conduct himself in a social group, whereas people need to learn how best to do this. Horse operate in an unselfish, clear way and, as riders, we have to take time to reflect on our actions and become aware of how we behave around horses. Being consistent and fair is the way to a happy horse.

Effort – As riders we need to consider that every horse has his limits in terms of athletic ability. However, every horse can give the rider his whole attention and effort. Lessons from an experienced instructor will help give you the tools to ask your horse in the right way for whatever you want him to achieve.

Setting targets – it is important to set goals that are achievable for your riding. You and your horse need to believe that you can do whatever it is that is being asked of you. Set small, realistic goals and never put your horse in a situation where he cannot succeed. Be prepared to adjust the timescales or goals throughout the year if they’re not going to plan.

Avoid punishment – Like children, horses respond well to reward. He doesn’t need to be told who is boss and punishment will only reinforce fear, so reward good behaviour positively and only put him in situations where he won’t misbehave.

Time on the ground – spending time doing work in-hand, grooming or simply talking him will all help you to build a strong relationship with your horse. The more he places his trust in you, the greater your partnership will become.

New challenges – Horses and riders alike enjoy new challenges because they help to build confidence. Make this year about learning some new riding skills or trying something new with your horse. Get out of your comfort zone and try something off the beaten track, whether it be a riding holiday, trying a new equestrian discipline, or simply hacking over new terrain.

Remember that, whatever your riding ambitions in 2016, Bridleway has your equipment needs catered for. Check out our current ranges of clothing and equestrian products at