Team LBD Dressage home of international rider and trainer Luke Baber-Davies will be helping you by providing some dressage and schooling tips.
In our first month we are going to cover off 10 handy hints and tips for successful training, keeping both you and your horse happy.
A happy horse is the key. Always ensure your horse is enjoying their work. As both a trainer and a rider I always like to mix things up with hacking, lunging and other exercises which help keep things different and far more enjoyable for you and the horse.
This is meant to be fun… so ensure you have fun and enjoy it. You do not want to feel as though you have worked harder than your horse. I find that keeping a looser lower leg means that when I engage and touch the horse with my leg, the horse reacts positively encouraging a much better forward transition and pace. Increasing the number of transitions will not only make it more enjoyable but will also help keep your horse in front of the leg whilst getting their brains engaged. With all this practice they will be as clean as a whistle.
Hot and bothered horse? Firstly you don’t want to cause an argument between you and your horse as that definitely isn’t going to make for an enjoyable session. For hot, sensitive and opinionated horses I like to do lots of lateral work as this really does help your horse get used to the leg and supple throughout the body. Try a leg yield down the track in trot or canter with their quarters in will really help your horse loosen through the back and used to the leg.
Take a breather. Remember to give you and your horse regular breaks by walking and letting them stretch throughout the session. You will not only get far more out of your horse but this also gives you the opportunity to take a little breather.
To half-halt or not to half-halt? Remembering to half-halt before every movement or transition will help to keep your horse balanced and listening to you.
Find a good trainer… We all need eyes on the ground and a good trainer (regardless of your discipline) will help suggest tips, tricks and exercises to help you move forward and progress with your horse even within your first session, going it alone without a trainer could just cause you and your horse to fall out and it take much longer. Go to your training session with an open mind as it might not be ‘your way’ but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way.
Keep calm and relax… Never ride when you are upset, stressed for frustrated or ensure you leave it in the tackroom. Horses are very sensitive to your mood and if you are stressed or in a hurry then you are probably heading for an unproductive session.
Practice, practice, practice… It may sound a bit obvious in the beginning but quite simply the more you practice the more familiar your test becomes, helping both you and your horse relax. You are best to practice the test in parts and only practice the whole test a few times to avoid your horse anticipating the movements.
Circles with straight sides are squares. Prepare and picture a circle across the arena ensuring you ride it correctly. Balance and bend are both key here and vital for the higher marks.
Ride with a purpose. Whilst riding your straight lines ensure that your horse is actively moving forward in a nice even rhythm, (that doesn’t mean fast and rushed). When your horse is moving forward it’s much easier to ride a straighter line, showing plenty of impulsion and stopping you from drifting off course.
The key is to enjoy what you are doing and your horses will enjoy it too.
Stay tuned for next month, as we will have more tips and tricks. Want to ask a question or suggest a topic? Just tweet or tag #AskTeamLBD on Twitter or Facebook. You can also head over to Facebook to follow us or visit our website at www.team-lbd.co.uk.