Sometimes planning and executing an effective schooling session can feel like a mission, especially when you’re pushed for time. To help you out, Horse&Rider has designed some great 30-minute schooling plans
All our 30-minute plans include a five-minute warm up, three five-minute exercises, another 5 minutes to focus on one exercise you found tricky or particularly beneficial to your horse, and a five-minute cool down.
Plan 1 – Building impulsion
If your horse is prone to being lazy, it can feel like you’re endlessly nagging him with your legs. The problem with this is that your aid becomes less effective, and you’re caught in a vicious circle where your horse needs more and more input to keep going. It’s much more beneficial to use quick, sharp aids and encourage him to move forward under his own steam. You’ll need to keep his brain working, too – long periods of trotting or cantering around the school will cause him to switch off. Here are three exercises that will help you…
Ex 1 – Transitions between paces
While they may seem simple, the key to correct transitions is to maintain an even, active rhythm without letting your horse rush forwards or fall onto his forehand. Keep your leg on and use half-halts to keep his hindlegs engaged. Try riding walking for four steps, then six steps of trot, four steps of walk and finally halt. Alternatively, make a transition at every marker – pretend you’re doing a dressage test and aim to make the transition exactly on the marker.
Ex 2 – Transitions within the pace
In trot, use a half-halt to slow the pace for a few strides while maintaining a consistent contact. Then use your inside leg to ask your horse to power forward into a bigger trot for a few strides. The rhythm shouldn’t change
– instead, your horse should simply shorten and lengthen his stride while still staying in front of your leg. As he gains strength and confidence, you can ask for more lengthened or collected strides, and greater expression and contrast. As a test, trot between two markers and count how many strides it takes. Set a goal of adding an extra stride for your collected trot and losing a stride for your lengthened trot. When you’ve achieved that, try to gain or lose a second stride. Once you’ve cracked it in trot, have a go in canter.
Ex 3 Leg-yield into canter
Trot down the three-quarter line and use your inside leg on the girth to push your horse towards the track, while using your outside leg behind the girth to control the angle of his quarters. Ask for a little flexion to the inside – you should just see the edge of his eye and nostril – but support him with the outside rein to stop him falling out through his shoulder. When you reach the track, ride an upwards transition into canter.
For more of H&R’s 30-minute plans, get your copy of January Horse&Rider here, on sale 17 November.