The Magazine May 2019

Winter inspiration – part 1

Posted 6th November 2019

When daylight hours are dwindling and you’re stuck for inspiration, a schooling session might be the last thing on your mind. In the first of our five-part series, we’ve got some quick, effective exercises to make sure your workout packs a punch

Mary King riding a leg-yield exercise

How many times have you put off a ride because you can’t bear the thought of yet another hour’s schooling session under the dim lights of your arena? Training seems like much harder work when your competition schedule is empty and your sleek, fit horse feels like something of the past.

However, summer bodies are made in the winter, and by schooling effectively now, your horse will be on better form than ever come spring. With the help of Mary King and Chris Burton, we’re guiding you through five months’ worth of effective schooling exercises and advice to make sure your horse comes out of winter ready to kick off his 2020 season in style. This month, start your training how you mean to go on with four exercises that are small in time but big in reward.

Mary King’s ten-minute leg yield exercise

No matter what stage of schooling your horse is at, he should know to move away from your leg. Simple but effective, this exercise improves suppleness and engagement.

How to ride it

  1. Take your horse onto the three-quarter line in walk to start. Ensure that he’s moving forward actively and in a straight line.
  2. To ask for leg-yield, use your inside rein to ask for a small amount of inside bend. Put your inside leg slightly behind the girth and apply pressure to ask him to move away from it. Ensure you stay straight in your body to keep your horse balanced. Praise him with your voice when he takes a sideways step.
  3. Start by asking for just a few strides at a time, before rewarding him with walking forward and straight, then asking again. Gradually build up the amount of steps you ask for.

Top tip If you find that you’re crossing your inside rein over your horse’s wither to ask him to move to the outside, it means he isn’t paying attention to your inside leg. Apply a stronger leg aid and reward him when he moves. Focus on keeping your hands in the correct position.

The next step

To increase the difficulty of this exercise, put your horse through his paces as he leg-yields. Begin in trot, moving on to canter as he progresses.

Check out part one of our winter inspiration series in association with Baileys and have a go at the exercises from Mary King and Chris Burton – in January Horse&Rider, on sale 14 November.



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