Top 5 Training Ideas For You & Your Horse Over Easter
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Equestrian industry has ground to a screeching halt worldwide. The Equestrian calendar has been abandoned, as we have seen global events such as Sunshine Tours, Badminton Horse Trials, Burghley Horse Trials and many more, cancelled for 2020. Equestrians on every level, from the novice horse owner to international rider, have been affected by the spread of the virus and the subsequent UK lockdown. However, as Equestrians, we are always finding ways to overcome challenges and kick on!
Easter weekend is usually packed full of competitions, pleasure rides and long hacks – this year will be very different, but we’ve put together 5 top training ideas to keep you and your horse busy this weekend!
It’s vital that we alleviate the strain on our NHS, who are working so incredibly hard. That’s why we have put together some simple and safe ideas that are also effective in training. However, it’s important to exercise personal judgement in these situations.
Get creative with pole work exercises
Pole work exercises are a super-fun way to get your horse engaged both mentally and physically! The great thing about pole work is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you like – instead of sticking to the usual four trotting poles on the straight (we’ve all been guilty of it!), try ‘S’ shaped poles, zig-zag trot and canter poles, raised poles on a circle or make a square out of four poles and practise transitions and straightness. You’ll be a pole work expert by the end of the Easter weekend!
Enter an online competition
The question of competitions and trips to the beach is out of the window, but you may have seen recently the rise of online competitions. Equestrians love nothing more than a competition, a chance to show off their skills and their pride and joy! Online competitions are a great way of sharpening your skills and receiving feedback – try a dressage test or an online showing show, there are plenty of competitions to enter. British Riding Clubs recently announced a series of competitions sponsored by NAF to keep spirits high and there are plenty of other competitions online to be enjoyed.
Work on your position
Let’s be honest, even the most experienced riders can benefit from working on a correct riding position. Bad habits are easy to pick up without the reinforcement of proper coaching and they are extremely difficult to shake! A correct riding position in all gaits requires core strength and balance from the rider, which translates into a forward and correct way of going from the horse. If your leg is not still, if you are slightly tipped forwards or backwards or if you’re looking down, you can significantly affect your horse’s ‘way of going’. A great way to improve your position is by using resistance bands when riding – give it a go this Easter weekend! You can utilise resistance bands in two simple ways: use them wrapped around the wrist to keep your hands together and use them over your shoulder like a sling and under the heel of your boot on either side. Remember the key to a good position… shoulder to hip to heel!
Many riders neglect transitions when training, because let’s face it, it’s hardly blood-pumping stuff! Any professional, especially the top Dressage rider, will tell you that transitions are the pillars of your horse’s schooling, and will certainly make or break a Dressage test. By avoiding more dangerous or challenging exercises such as jumping, you are helping to take potential pressure off the NHS, and it’s a great excuse to go back to basics and drill those all-important upwards and downwards transitions.
Fun on the lunge
Why not incorporate some lunging into your training this Easter weekend? Lunging is a great way to establish a relationship between you and your equine friend and it’s a brilliant way to increase fitness, balance and suppleness. If you get bored of going around in circles, why not add some raised poles to the circle and practise training your horse to follow your voice aids? You could even use a training aid such as a lunge lo, originally known as the Waldhausen training aid in Germany. This is an effective and gentle training aid that is easy to use, and will encourage your horse to move correctly and work the hind and the back muscles!
So, there you have it – Capall Rock’s top 5 training ideas to try out this Easter weekend. Get creative and take this downtime to have fun bonding with your horse, stay safe and don’t forget to tag us in your training videos @capall_rock!