Establish control in an arena with your horse

Discover simple ways to establish control in an arena with your horse with expert advice from event rider Izzy Taylor...

Basic schooling and lateral work in an arena are vital for establishing control of your horse before you head out on a hack. Being confident that you can stop, turn or push him on when you need to will help you feel safe. When doing any schooling work, always pat your horse after he’s done something well. This will give him confidence in you and help to cement your relationship.

halt in an arena

Put your brakes to the test

One of the most important things you need to be able to do is ask your horse to halt. If you know you can do this, you’ll have more confidence pushing him forwards while out riding. When asking for halt, sit up tall in your body and close your fingers gently around the reins to bring him to a standstill. Make sure you can do this in walk, trot and canter. It’s also useful for you to be able to do transitions from halt into walk, trot and canter to ensure your horse is listening to you.

leg yield

Take control using leg-yield

Lateral work has countless benefits, one of which is the fact it allows you to gain more control of where your horse’s body is, and where it needs to be. The more supple your horse is, the easier he’ll be to manoeuvre when needed. An easy way to practise this
is to use objects in your arena to leg-yield around. Ride towards an object, then push him to one side of it, asking him to go sideways by sliding the leg nearest the object back and increasing the pressure. At the same time, put a gentle amount of pressure down the opposite rein to make sure he understands where to go, but keep his head bent slightly to the other side.

Use clutter to your advantage

Jump poles and wings cluttering your arena can be a really useful training tool as you increase your horse’s suppleness by bending and circling around them. As well as gaining control of his body, you’ll be helping him balance himself correctly as you circle around wings and pop the odd pole, which will give you a more secure seat while you’re riding at speed.