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/
When you start a test from inside the arena you turn onto the centre line at A – right? So why – when you have to ride a ½ 10m circle from E/B to X at the end – does it seem twice as difficult? The simple answer is you don’t have the fence to help you. The root of the problem? You’re probably trying too hard. If you haven’t ridden 10m circles before it’s understandable you find ½ circles to the centre line difficult. If your horse is young or green he may struggle to stay balanced. Make things easier by practising them in...read more
What do you look for in a medium trot or canter? The length of your horse’s strides? Forget it! Medium paces are about more than distance. They’re about power. Next time you’re schooling don’t worry about the bits in between – focus on the ends. Medium paces are about increasing the length of your horse’s strides but they’re also about generating energy from his quarters. To do that you need to push him forward to a steady contact – yet that’s the one thing least likely to happen when most riders ask for a...read more
Are you struggling to keep your horse in canter? It’s a common problem but often the thing you’re doing to stop it is actually making it worse. If your horse keeps falling out of canter you probably push on harder – especially as you turn onto the long side. The trouble is if he’s unbalanced at the start the more you push him the worse he’ll get. By the time you’ve passed E/B he’ll be so unbalanced he’ll break into trot. If your horse puts his head down and leans on your hands as he canters you probably try to pull his...read more
What’s the first thing you think of as you approach a turn? Inside bend? Most riders do. A novice rider may not think of bend as such but they’re likely to think they should turn their horse’s head to the inside. The thing is it’s actually more likely to make your turn less accurate than help your horse. Put yourself in your horse’s position. Walk a straight line. Now test these out – Turn your head to the right. Do you turn? No. You keep walking straight but looking to the right. Which is what happens if you pull...read more
When you’re schooling do you ever halt and stand still for five minutes and then expect your horse to return to work immediately and do his best? No? Never? So why is it, when you get to a show, you think nothing of it? Shows vary but most have a steward who calls you when the rider before you goes in. You probably do the same if you’re on your own. The average test lasts about 4½ minutes – add a minute either side to get into and out of the arena and that means you have at least six minutes to kill between your warm up...read more
When your horse is going well do you avoid pushing him in case you mess things up? You’re not alone. Most riders would rather play it safe than push their horse but it’s the one time you can! When your horse is going well he’s listening and waiting for you to tell him what to do next. But if you don’t he won’t. It’s easy to think if you sit quietly your horse will miraculously transform into a power house (or that a dressage judge will think him worthy of a 7) but unfortunately that’s never going to happen unless you push him....read more
Are you struggling with your canter leads? Does your horse favour one leg over the other? It’s a common problem. There’s a common cause too. The rider! Trying too hard is a big cause of confusion and tension in horses and riders. Often when a problem begins your response to it can actually make matters worse. If your horse is always getting the wrong leg what do you do? Bend him towards his leading leg? Lean towards it? Turn a tight circle so he has to bend? Use your outside leg harder … further back … or for longer? Or do you...read more
How often do you ride a canter to trot transition on a long side? It’s probably something you do all the time without thinking about it. So why do you find it so difficult on a diagonal? A diagonal is a straight line just like the long side. You can do it. You just need to know how. There’s one big difference between the long side and the diagonal. The first corner. When you turn onto the long side the fence is there to help you. Turn onto a diagonal and there’s nothing to stop your horse falling out – except you. If you...read more
This is the 100th post at School Your Horse! That’s at least 100 different things to do in the school with your horse. Now tell me it’s boring! If it’s not inspiration you’re after but advice get in touch via Facebook or Twitter or email email@example.com . My advice is free (what you do with it is up to you) so don’t be shy, try me 🙂 In the meantime here’s something to keep you going – Does the thought of enforced walking exercise send you to sleep? Don’t let it! Walk may be the slowest pace but it’s...read more
How do you ask your horse to go from halt to walk? From walk to trot? Most riders will shorten their reins up, shuffle about in the saddle a bit and then put their leg on. But which part of your leg do you use? And for how long? And how on earth does your horse know the difference between walk on more actively and trot on? Thankfully your horse isn’t a computer; he sees the grey bits between the black and the white. Over the years he’s learnt to translate this mixture of arms, legs and seat shuffling and come up with the correct...read more