Riding through winter doesn’t need to be a chore. Dan Greenwood explains how to make the most of winter training to prepare yourself and your horse for the competition season ahead
Whether you’ve had a jam-packed summer, or are getting to know a new or young horse, it’s common to feel as though you’ve hit a wall in your training through the winter. Shows are fewer and further between, the bad weather seems interminable and you may feel that you’re not progressing as you were throughout the summer, when you had specific goals to work towards.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The winter months should be used as a refresher, giving you time to iron out the wrinkles in your basic training in order to start your competition season at your best.
It’s easy to slip into bad habits during the busiest part of your season, because when your focus is on competing and schooling the movements required for a test, it’s common for the basics to take a back seat. Taking the quieter months to really concentrate on the building blocks of your position and the effect that it has on your horse can make a huge difference to your performance and results when you head out with your new-season goals in mind.
I find that most riders worry about every aspect of their position – or at least, they try to! But it’s possible to fixate too much on having the perfect position and let effectiveness fly out of the window. You can’t think of everything all at once, so keep it simple – the cornerstone of your position is the way you sit on your horse. Sit in the middle – not too far forward, backward, left or right. Once you’ve found that central balance, then it’s easy to relax into a natural and effective seat. At the end of the day, a good position is less about looking pretty in the saddle and far more about the way you influence your horse’s way of going.
This month, we look at tweaking your position for maximum effectiveness, and getting your horse forward, straight and in front of your leg.
For Dan’s favourite exercises and problem-solving tips, get your copy of February Horse&Rider here, on sale 15 December.