How can I school my horse without an arena?

No arena to school your horse in? No problem! Here dressage trainer Ian Cast offers his tips on what to do. 

While life can seem tricky if you don't have access to an arena, there are still lots of schooling exercises you can work on with your horse, either out on hacks or while riding in a section of his paddock. 

In fact, you can do excellent flatwork training in a field, virtually all year round.

Try setting out an arena in your horse's paddock. Lay a few fence rails or poles on the ground to simulate corners, and use one or two more rails or poles on each long side to ensure you're working in the same area as a competition arena.

This will usually be 20m x 40m or 20m x 60m, depending on the test you're doing. 

School your horse when hacking

You can also school while hacking, though not all the time as hacking should be a relaxing experience for both you and your horse. 

Remember, everything counts. Simply working up and down some hills, for instance, can be a great way of improving your horse's strength, balance and fitness.

You can also break down your hack into intervals, doing a few minutes working on some shoulder-in or leg-yield. 

Of course, common sense should always be at the forefront of your mind. If you only have access to roads to hack on, don't leg-yield across them unless it's clear! 

Bear in mind the weather too, and avoid roadwork if it's very wet or icy.

Train your horse online 

You can pick up some great tips by watching videos of trainers coaching. Alternatively, join horsey forums where riders in a similar situation to you can share advice for schooling without an arena. 

There are a few trainers, including myself, who offer video training services online.

These services allow you to upload a video of you riding from the comfort of your own yard, meaning you don't have to travel.

The trainer can then give you advice on how to progress, or improve your existing technique.