The School Your Horse Blog
Schooling is just another way of exercising your horse and anyone can do it. You don’t need to be competitive and your horse doesn’t have to be the next Olympic hopeful. The more ideas you have the more interesting it becomes. There are over 100 posts on here to choose from. No horse needs to be on the bit to do any one of them. Better still they’re absolutely free!
Use the search box to find posts on a particular pace or problem. There’s more than one way to school your horse and hopefully you’ll find one of them here.
To read a Spanish translation of this blog check out this site – http://www.puntoecuestre.com/tag/schooling/
Is your horse just coming back in to work? Now you’ve waited all this time do you know what you’re going to do with him? You wouldn’t be the first rider to wait patiently for weeks only to finally get the go ahead and lose your nerve in your ability – or your stickability! If your horse has been off work through no fault of his own the chances are he’s had a happy time out in the field pleasing himself. If that’s the case you just need to get him back into the swing of things without over doing it. Whilst it’s good...read more
When you change the rein what do you actually do to tell your horse you’re going the other way? You’re probably thinking you need to swap everything. You have new inside reins and legs to think about and new outsides too. But stop and think about it. That’s a lot to change in a couple of strides. Do you really need to? Can you imagine the information your horse has to sift through just so you can go the other way? Think about it again. What would happen if you did none of those things and just looked where you were going? Exactly…...read more
Is the thought of winter already getting you down? Don’t let it! Winter is miserable enough on its own without you making it any worse! Accept the fact the weather and the ground conditions won’t be on your side and use your time more wisely this year. Instead of looking at the next five or six months in a negative way see them as a blank canvass. Now you have time to tackle that niggling problem you keep meaning to work on. What is your horse’s worst fault? Lack of energy? Attention? Is he more off the bit than on it?...read more
Do you think you can’t improve your horse unless you’re riding? Think again! Next time the Heaven’s open dig about in your boot bag and take another look at an old test sheet or two and see what you can do to improve on your score. First find the highest mark you were given. It doesn’t matter if that’s a 9 or a 5 – if it’s the highest then it’s what you have to aim for. Then look at the other boxes and the judge’s comments to find out why you didn’t score as well. Try to imagine when a judge watches your test...read more
Is your horse responsive? To your leg and your hand? Forget about on the bit or bend. Will he move forward and slow down when you ask? In the school – and out of it? There’s more to schooling than 20m circles and serpentines. Whilst most horses will behave quite reasonably inside the confines of a ménage when you go outside it can present different problems. Just because you’re away from the school it doesn’t mean your horse can forget everything he’s been taught. (No school? No problem! Check this out ) A lack of brakes can be...read more
Is your horse straight? Are you sure? Straightness isn’t just about riding up the centre line or down the side of the school; it’s about turns and circles too. If your turns are less than accurate perhaps it’s time you took a closer look at your body not his. If your horse comes inside the line you asked him for he’s falling in. If he takes a wider line he’s falling out. He can only do either of these if you let him. Getting him straight isn’t as hard as it first seems. He’s like a jigsaw – get the pieces in the right place and you’ll...read more
When you read a dressage test how much attention do you give to 20m circles? If you’re like most riders you’ll read ‘20m circle’ and move on. Well why wouldn’t you? There’s nothing to them is there? Only take a look at an old test sheet. What was the mark for your last circle? 5? 6? If they’re that easy why wasn’t it an 8?! OK so trotting round and round in circles is dull. But so is anything if you don’t know why you’re doing it! Take a look at the key points a judge is looking for with a 20m circle and you may realise why...read more
Are you finding lateral work difficult? Or thinking of giving it a go? Either way don’t think it’s beyond your capabilities. It may seem impossible but so was canter when you first learnt to ride! Any rider and any horse can do it. OK, maybe not to Olympic standard, but if you can go forwards you can definitely go sideways. To move your horse sideways it’s a good idea to get control of his shoulders and quarters too. Check out these posts to find easy exercises you can use....read more
Does your horse lean on your hands? If he does he’s carrying most of his weight on his shoulders (his forehand). When his weight is over his front legs it’s hard for him to bend his knees, pick his feet up and move forward. He’ll lose energy, take shorter strides and his paces will be flat and heavy. When he’s like that you’ll find he’s less responsive and a lot harder to ride. Your horse should carry his weight over his quarters. His hind legs are designed for it. They fold under pressure (unlike his front legs that...read more
The London Olympics have been a welcome distraction over the last week. But are you inspired by these top riders or demoralised? Never put yourself down when you watch. Even those that score 80% make the odd mistake! The difference is they don’t allow that one mistake to spoil the rest of their test. Whether you’re at The Olympics or your local riding club show when you enter at A you’re just another horse and rider doing a test asking a judge to give you a mark out of 10. The only difference is the degree of difficulty....read more