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/
How often do you moan that you’re bored or you can’t think of anything to do? Instead of trying to come up something completely new take a look at an old shape and see what new things you can do with it. Take the figure of eight for example. When was the last time you used one? They’re one of the best shapes to use as you can vary their size, your pace and you still work your horse evenly on both reins. There are two ways to ride a figure of eight. Either you ride two diagonal lines or you link up two circles with a few strides in a...read more
When you ask your horse to stretch does he seem confused? Can you blame him? Ever since he was broken he’s been taught to shorten, work rounder or slow down. Suddenly along comes a dressage test and he’s expected to understand (and be grateful) that he’s allowed to stretch. Is it any wonder he’s confused? If your horse is going to understand you need to make sure you understand first. In the same way as free walk on a long rein doesn’t mean walk on the buckle, allowing your horse to stretch doesn’t mean trot round the school with no...read more
Is your horse responsive? How responsive? Will he do as you ask as soon as you ask? Or does it take a few seconds for the penny to drop? Some horses are sharper than others but before you blame him look at your expectations. How quickly do you actually expect him to react? You may think ‘immediately’ but do you really? Imagine you’re walking up the long side and you want to trot at E. You’re walking towards E and gradually increasing the amount of leg you’ve got on so he knows something’s coming. (You’ve probably shuffled your fingers...read more
It’s more common for a horse to lift his head above the bit to avoid your hand but what do you do if your horse drops his head down and gets behind it? You may lift your hands and kick on – you want him to lift his head up after all. Or perhaps you drop the contact and kick on to prove to anyone watching you’re not holding his head down. The trouble is neither method actually works. Horses overbend for two reasons – to avoid a contact or because there isn’t one. When you’re trying to get your horse on the bit you should...read more
When you school your horse how much of your session do you spend in trot? Why? Chances are you’re either trying to get him on the bit or you think you’ve got him there and you don’t want to upset things. The thing is – if he was really on the bit you’d be able to do anything with him without upsetting him. The phrase ‘on the bit’ is unfortunate. Of all horsy terminology it’s the most commonly misinterpreted. It has very little to do with what goes on the bit – and everything to do with what goes on behind it. Take a look at the...read more
Are you confused between energy and power (impulsion)? Don’t be. Energy is the fizz you get when you shake a bottle of coke. Power is the pressure of that fizz as it pushes against the lid before you open the bottle. In riding terms your legs create the fizz and your rein contact (the lid) gives it something to push against. Trouble arises when your contact is too tight and puts a backward pressure on your horse’s mouth – it’s like driving with the hand brake on. Look at it another way – Imagine you have to push a...read more
Are you a nervous rider? Don’t apologise – it doesn’t make you a bad one. In the long term, if you push yourself through it, you’ll develop an inner strength that many riders will never find. Nervousness comes in many forms but when it stands in the way of what is supposed to be your hobby it’s time to do something about it. It’s common for riders to lose their nerve after a fall or a fright. It’s only natural you’d worry that it might happen again. Whilst some riders can push that doubt to the back of their minds if you’re...read more
How many times are you told to look up? It’s a common fault and yet one of the easiest to cure. There are very few things that are improved by NOT looking where you’re going and a dressage test is definitely not one of them! A dressage test is made up of a series of movements and transitions. At least that’s how it seems at first glance. Those movements are on the left hand side of the sheet. On the right hand side you’ll see what the judge is looking for – straightness, balance and accuracy. All are affected by where you look. ...read more
You’ve heard the expression “Look at the bigger picture” – right? It’s a great way of looking at life. But not when you’re schooling your horse! Too many riders focus on getting their horse on the bit without actually thinking about what gets him there. On the bit is the result of good schooling – not something that’s needed at the start. It doesn’t matter if you’re schooling your horse for the first time or working towards a Grand Prix dressage test if the fundamental parts are wrong your horse can’t work onto the bit. Forget...read more
Do you find the whole idea of a simple change daunting? Do you think it’s beyond your capabilities or your horse’s? Think again! Simple changes are just transitions between canter and walk. It’s an easy way to change your canter lead. They’re tricky but certainly not impossible. If you can walk, canter and tell if you’re on the correct leg there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t ride one. You just need to take your time. Instead of thinking about it as one movement break it down into separate parts. There are three parts to a...read more