How to plan a training session with your horse

Ever wished you knew how the professionals school their multiple rides as day. They have a plan. And so can you.

What do you want to achieve?

Before you plan, think about what you want to achieve. Is your goal to ride your first preliminary dressage test? To improve your horse’s jumping? Or to have a well-mannered hack? It’s important to know what your goals are first. Write them down somewhere.

Make a plan

Once you know what your goals are, break down the moves that you need. If it’s a particular dressage test, you will need to work on the particular moves in that test, as well as on the training scales which include things like rhythm and balance. If you are jumping, you need to work on pole work and grids to improve the athleticism of your horse. Practicing jumping courses can help you get your eye in. If you are aiming for a nice mannered hack, then you need to work on obedience and control.

Know when and how to reward your horse

Know how and when to reward your horse when they’ve done an exercise well. It will encourage your horse’s performance as well as improve his attitude.

There are many ways to reward your horse while training. Try some of the following.

Praise with your voice, as well as a pat on the neck.

Give your horse a treat if you have one with you.

If you are making your horse work, such as teaching him voice commands while lunging, allow him a few minutes to relax as a reward.

Find a trainer

Find an instructor that you get on with and who understands your aims. Then try not to chop and change instructor too much so that you get some consistency.

Be your own trainer

If you can work with mirrors in a school, you can watch yourself and see what your position is like, what your horse’s legs are doing etc. It’s very useful. As is, video of your sessions. Try and persuade your other half to film you from time to time, especially if you’re having a lesson.

Clear your mind

Riding is excellent therapy so you probably won’t need to do this. But try to forget about what’s going on at work or your horse-induced overdraft while you school. Concentrate solely on what you’re doing now (fashionably called being ‘in the moment’) and your schooling will improve along with your mood.

Be brave

If you want to progress, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Otherwise you’ll only ever do what you’ve always done. Trust your trainer and try new things. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, that’s why you train.

Don’t over practice

Practice until you’re doing something well, then finish the training session with your horse on a good note. Don’t go over and over it until you sicken them. If it’s not going well, there’s always another day. Keep your session to less than 45 minutes as a tired horse won’t learn any more.

If you follow this advice on planning a training session with your horse, we expect the rosettes shouldn’t be far behind……