Winter Survival Guide For Horse Riders/Owners
Equestrian Advice & Guides General Equestrian Advice
I like each session we do to be very different from the last. The reason for this is I like to break up the schooling so he doesn’t go sour just doing one thing all the time – he can also get too confident and assumes I’m going to ask a movement of him before I have.
I've had this before with him, where we stuck to the same old school work and then he started to become naughty, finding things in and around the arena to spook at. Switching it up has meant that he stays really focused every session and thoroughly enjoys the work being asked of him.
We like to break up each item throughout the week;
1 day for hacking
1 day for schooling on the flat
1 day for ground work
1 day for rest
1 day for jumping/pole flat work
2 days which I have as flexible days for any of the above as extra training for an event (including XC schooling)
Now, with the above we don’t tend to have set days for each item, as no week is ever the same for me, but the one thing I make sure of is that every item is different to the last. Below is a bit more detail on each area.
Lunging – I mix this up by doing it with and without the use of a pessoa, going over poles, small bounces/jumps, or just on the flat. The options are endless and I haven’t yet done two lunge sessions that were exactly the same (top tip – I also make full use of the school too). I also mix this up by doing it in the field as well as the arena.
Long lining – Just like the above, I can change this up from using the school to the field, and even do a bit out on the roads too. I can do this over poles or without poles, and can also work in a bit of 2 line lunging where needed.
Free schooling – I don’t do this very often, but Bailey loves free schooling over jumps, as it really helps him build the confidence to understand and learn different strides and take-offs on his own, without any rider assistance.
Hacking – I do different routes and lengths every time, mixing up where I trot and how long I trot for. You can also include some schooling and transition work while out hacking.
Rest day – This doesn't mean just leaving Bailey in the field – we do enjoy the odd pamper day full of grooming and cuddles, and of course lots of pictures!
Schooling – Every schooling session is different for us. We have a different goal for each session, whether it be to prep for a dressage test, or practice exercises to get him off the shoulder, we will try to do different exercises every each time. For example, one week we focused on shoulder in and half pass, then for the next one it was transitions. We also vary where we do this, from the arena to the field, and sometimes we even venture out to other stables.
Jump/Pole work – I'm really not one for wanting to jump once a week, so this alternates week to week between jump and pole work. The great thing about poles and jumps is that there are so many layouts you can do for either, so you never need to use the same layout twice. You can change the course, the type of jumps, add in a double, and that's just to name a few options! Again this can be done anywhere from the arena to the field, or at other stables.
Every horse is very different, so you may find you need to do slightly more of one thing than another, but I really believe switching it up is key to keeping the horse motivated.
I hope this rundown of our routine has given you some inspiration to mix it up every now and then :)