have can’t supersede what the
/ Bite-Size Pieces /
horse’s needs are.” Drumm
recommends saving new
concepts or more difficult
work for open-ended days.
Often, riders will skip getting
on if they feel too much of
a time crunch, but Drumm
advises that you do what you
can with the time that you have.
“Amateurs often don’t spend
enough time with their horses
because it’s so precious,” she says.
“With a job and a family, trying
to fit enough time in with your
horse is difficult. Do as much as
you can as often as you can. Even
if you only have a short window,
it’s always worth going to the
barn. The more consistent you
can be with your horse, the better
your results will be.”
/ All’s Well That Ends Well /
Be sure to end on a positive note.
“It’s important to finish with
something the two of you find
easy and fun before cooling out,”
“The horse should end the
session more relaxed and happy
than when he started. The end is
as important as the beginning.”
/ Take it on the Road /
When you’re at a show, find a space where you can safely school your horse, says
Drumm. At some venues, there may be multiple areas available for riding, while at
others you may need to join the hubbub in a busy arena.
Many horses benefit from watching the warmup from outside first before
joining the commotion. Be sure to plan for more time than you think you need.
“One of the mistakes people make at horse shows is to not give themselves
enough time,” says Drumm. Remember that your horse may be excited, so
what seems like extra time may actually be just what’s needed to acclimate
Get out there, keep it simple, and have fun!
NATALIE DeFEE MENDIK is an award-winning journalist specializing in equine media. Her personal
horse passions include dressage and vaulting. Visit her online at www.mendikmedia.com.
/ Hot to Trot /
On the other hand, if your horse
comes out overly energetic, you
may first have to work off some
“Horses that are full of energy
need to move,” says Drumm. “If
he seems rideable, go ahead and
start trotting and cantering; I
feel it’s good to let them move
at the pace they’re comfortable.
Work with your horse until he’s
relaxed and able to stretch
through his topline.”
On the other hand, some horses
require a little extra work before
a productive schooling session.
“If you bring your horse in and
his head is up, he’s snorting, and
he scares you, you need to do some
ground work before you even get on,”
/ Skill Set /
Once your horse is ready to work,
you can reinforce existing skills or
introduce your horse to something
new. However, Drumm cautions
riders to be realistic.
“When you start a new exercise,
you can’t go from 1 to 10; you have
to go from 1 to 2, and so on,” she says.
When your horse gives you an inkling
of what you’re asking for, reward him
and give him a break. “Don’t over-drill. If you put too much pressure on
your horse and yourself all the time,
it can get tense for both of you.”
/ Budget Right /
“Even if you don’t have much time,
deal with the horse as if you did,”
says Drumm. She circumvents that
rushed feeling by setting an alarm
for five minutes, at which point she
“Then I forget about time and
work step-by-step as the horse is
ready, from one stage to the next,”
she says. “The amount of time you
Even if you only have
a little time, it’s always
worth going to the barn.
The more consistent you
can be with your horse,
the better your results