YOU’VE MADE IT through the dark, cold days of winter, and promises of great riding weather shine ahead. Now’s the time to kick-start your schooling with boredom-busting exercises so you can have a happy and fit horse ready for spring riding.
Grand Prix dressage rider Patricia
Becker of Salem, Wis., shares her
tips for getting back into training
after some time o;.
Planning Makes Perfect
Becker recommends keeping
a journal to chart a course of
training and stay on track.
“Come up with a plan and a set
of goals for your summer,” she
says. Having a written strategy
helps keep you committed to a
schedule. Regular rides provide
the conditioning and schooling
needed for whatever events the
show and trail season bring.
“Keep track of how long
you’ve ridden and what you’ve
done,” says Becker. “Take some
notes so you know if you’re
moving in the direction you
want.” Think both big picture
(qualifying for championships)
and day to day (riding round
circles and straight lines).
Keeping it Fresh
If you’re lucky enough to have
access to an indoor arena, you can
keep your horse in steady work
regardless of weather or footing
woes. The biggest trick here is
staving o; the boredom of working
within the same four walls. Keep
your horse mentally sharp with
exercises that keep you out of a rut.
Make use of transitions and
figures to encourage your horse to
remain disciplined and tuned in,
Try these exercises:
1. Three-loop serpentines.
You can start out simple, riding
in posting trot and focusing on
establishing a new bend as you
change your diagonal over the
centerline. Step up your game by
then moving on to trot-walk-trot
transitions over the centerline,
then trot-canter-trot, and even
canter-walk-canter. You can also
tighten up the figure with a four-
loop serpentine, or change your
exercise to a figure-eight with large
or small circles.
“With any exercise, you want to
be exact,” says Becker. “Even if you
don’t have letters like in a dressage