Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Winter Schooling Ideas

Winter schooling can be a bit of a chore. Arena's might be frozen or water logged making schooling difficult and with the dark nights we're maybe a little less keen to school. I am fortunate in that I have an indoor to ride in during the winter months, however at the moment we have only just got it back (it's used to store corn during the summer and autumn months) and so we are limited to walk and trot. 

Here are some ideas on what you can do to spice up your schooling for if you, like I sometimes do, get stuck in a bit of a rut! I would just like to point out that I am by no means an instructor, knowledgeable rider, whatever, but these are just some of the things I often do with my horse to keep him listening and active :)

20, 15, 10m circles. These can be done anywhere. I start with 20m to make sure Pea is warmed up, making sure I don't just do them in one place but mixing it up by doing one at C, then A, then C, then B/E. For 10m circles I often like doing them in each corner to make him think, but then also incorporating them at B/E so sometimes doing 6, then breaking off and doing bigger ones. 

3 or 5 Loop Serpentines:
These really help to get your horse bending and listening to your leg and seat aids rather than relying on rein aids. I find with trying 5 loop serpentines they really help with mine to stop him from trying to just rush off in the trot rather than using himself as he really has to use himself and come back and listen to me in order to fit them in! Of course, depending on the size of the arena you can vary these to add more if you have a long one or shorter and you can also vary the difficulty. I also add in halts when going across the centre line to spice them up a bit. 

Shallow Loops:
I find these help to encourage you really use your corners otherwise the movement just won't work. Also you can vary how far you come in off the track and once more established, these can be used in canter to start encouraging for counter canter. By leg-yielding back to the track you are encouraging the horse to really use himself and making the movement more helpful rather than your horse possibly just rushing back to the track. 

Lateral Movements:
Leg-yielding off the 3/4 line, centre line, in and out of circles, decreasing and increasing circles, round corners, anywhere to really encourage your horse to use himself. I also introduce some shoulder-in and turn on the forehand (though this confuses Pea no end) to spice things up and get him thinking. 

As I mentioned, I'm no schooling pro or anywhere near but these are some ideas to spice things up, but speaking to your instructor will help as he/she can advise you on what exercises to try which are best suited for you and your horse!

Laura & Pea x

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