Schooling on the go – how to make your hacks count

Over winter it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of endless schooling sessions in the arena. If you feel both you and your need to inject a little more enthusiasm into your riding, why not escape the confines of your arena and school elsewhere with this advice from top instructor Cameron Macintyre.

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Transitions

Transitions are a great way of keeping your horse’s attention and engaging his hindquarters. Practise riding good transitions up and down through the paces and within each pace. Be accurate and plan where you’ll do each transition – using telegraph poles or trees as markers can be useful.

Taking it sideways

Lateral work such as leg yield, shoulder-in and haunches-in can be done in walk and trot along bridleways and quiet roads when it’s safe to do so. 

Leg yield teaches your horse to move away from your leg without bend, while shoulder-in and haunches-in teaches him to move away from your leg with bend. This is more difficult for both you and your horse. 

Begin by asking your horse to leg yield towards the hedge line and then away from it. You can make this exercise more difficult by asking for shoulder-in and then haunches-in again, using the hedge line or edge of the road to help you. 

These exercises are great to help supple and straighten your horse. Remember suppleness equals contact.

A backwards step

Rein-back helps improve engagement and teaches your horse to round his back. Make a halt transition and rein-back for a number of steps. He must be as straight as possible when stepping back, and on the bridle. Once you’ve done your rein-back, half, then ride actively forward into walk, trot, or even canter.