With competition season fast approaching, now’s the time to make the improvements to boost your scores. This month, Mary and Chris share more quick, effective exercises to improve your horse’s way of going
Although the days are lengthening, the early months of a new year are often the hardest to get through. The cold and dark can feel relentless, and that magical clock change at the end of March seems forever away. But with competition season on the horizon, it’s time to invest in your schooling, ready for improved scores on the sunny spring days to come.
If you’ve been following our winter training plan so far, you’ll have enjoyed four great exercises from superstar eventers Mary King and Chris Burton, as well as a feeding 101 on what your horse’s diet should include to help him build that all-important muscle. This month, we return with more easy-to-remember, high-impact exercises to fit into your schooling routine right away.
Chris Burton’s shoulder control exercise
This short, simple exercise is all you need to stop your horse falling in on turns. It’ll improve straightness and connection through his whole body, too.
How to ride it
- If your horse is prone to anticipating turns and cutting the corner, don’t ignore it. Corners set you and your horse up for the work to come, and he needs to listen to your aids and respond to them both quickly and accurately.
- You can either use a stronger outside rein to show your horse where he needs to go or increase your inside leg aids. However, if he’s struggling to maintain straightness, there’s a good chance he’s ignoring your hand and leg aids, and so this might not work.
- If that’s the case, ensure you keep a stable body position, ride deep into the corner and halt at the apex of it. This is for two reasons: it gets you right into the corner and also reminds your horse that you’re in control. Remember, don’t say ‘that’s good enough’ – the aim of training is to make it perfect.
- After the halt, move forward ensuring your horse has true bend through the turn.
Why it works
This exercise is effective because it’s not possible for a horse to fall through his shoulder in halt. He’ll soon understand what you expect and his work will improve.
Pick up a copy of March Horse&Rider, on sale 9 January, for more effective exercises to help set you and your horse up for the season ahead.