Charlie Hutton's rules for starting young horses

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A forward, active gait is important in dressage, but that mustn’t be confused with rushing. This can be a particular issue with young, inexperienced horses and those prone to falling on their forehand.

“Riding a young horse is like looking after a toddler,” explains dressage rider Charlie Hutton. “If you leave them alone they’ll get into trouble, so they need your support to keep growing in confidence.

"It’s hard to put your leg on when they’re moving forward and jumping around, but its vital you don’t ignore that feeling in training.”

Stay in control

Make it your decision to change something – whether that’s the pace, speed, roundness, engagement – and make sure you support your horse as he tries to do it. Your seat, legs and hand aids give guidance and reassurance.

Focus on forwardness first

Make sure your horse is moving away from your leg. Only when that’s in place can you work towards introducing an outline, engagement and bend.

Don’t walk for too long

Walk is intense for a young horse, so break it up with trot.

Be decisive

Make sure you know how you want your horse to react when you give him an aid. Ensure your aids are firm, clear and you get an instant response.

Ride straight lines

This is hard for a young horse to do, but the arena boundary will help him balance. Don’t always be tempted to circle away.

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