17 January 2008 15:39
What is a suitable workload for a youngster within the first year of backing?
By Your Horse
Dressage instructor and rider Claire Lilley says……
Lunge your youngster three times a week and ride twice in the school for 20 minutes. Other training at this stage includes correcting his behaviour when you’re grooming, handling him and tacking up. Make sure you can lead your youngster in-hand and load him calmly.
Months one to six
Extend your riding sessions to three a week and always lunge your horse before riding, especially if he’s fresh. Don’t get on unless you’re confident that he’s calm and relaxed, otherwise you risk frightening either him or yourself. Allow him to work into a contact, with a fairly long rein (not too loose), to encourage him to take the bit rather than forcing him to be rounder than he’s ready for.
After six months
By this stage you should be able to ride a simple Prelim-level dressage test. These include three-loop serpentines, 20m and 15m circles and transitions from walk to canter.
Leave jumping until the second year of training – your horse’s bones and joints are still growing, and jumping too early may cause problems in the future. Polework is fine once or twice a week for 15 minutes. Your horse should be able to work through his back, accept a still contact and keep in a rhythm.
After a year
You should be able to ride your youngster in a rounder outline, with his nose vertical to the ground, making sure his poll is the highest point. By this stage, aim to be able to ride the movements required in a Novice-level dressage test.