Setting yourself challenges at home to mimic the pressures of competition is a great way to teach yourself to ride through little errors rather than letting them throw you.
Reigning eventing world champion Ros Canter shares the exercises she practices at home to get ready for event day.
“If you have access to a full course of fences when you’re training, it’s good practice to jump it in full before finishing a session,” says Ros.
To give the round purpose, she puts the pressure on by setting three things to achieve:
Swapping her whip from hand to hand three times.
Jumping two fences without her feet in the stirrups. You must have them back in time for the third jump.
Make up a track as you go along, rather than planning it beforehand.
This forces you to think about more than which fence is coming next – but you mustn’t allow yourself to lose focus on maintaining a forward, balanced canter and riding good, accurate turns.
“Having three things to think about on top of jumping each fence means you can’t just pootle around. You’re putting pressure on yourself – great practice for competing,” says Ros.
“This shows how, as soon as you’re riding under pressure, it doesn’t feel as easy and you start making mistakes. When you’re at home, you can work on ironing out these errors.
Bridging the reins
Ros chooses to ride with her reins bridged, as it means she keeps her hands still, closer together and is prevented from shortening them.
“If my horse gets stronger, I put my hands down and use my core to say ‘whoa’. If my reins aren’t bridged, my hands would come apart and be at different heights. Then it gets harder to use my core, rather than my hand. “Think of it as steering the withers before the nose.”
Read more of Ros’ advice in the full article, in issue 455.
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