Winter Training Tips by Alex Holman

Winter Training Tips by Alex Holman

My winter training tip is: to work on the basics!

This is something that sounds as it is, basic, but it is very important for our training and is definitely something that I make sure I get into all coaching sessions I deliver and every time that I get on a horse!

1, My first, and most simple tip is to remember 3 essential ingredients to a good position from the rider – a good position allows both ourselves and our horses to find their balance, and to keep it whilst working on the flat and over fences, whether they are cavalettis or Advanced fences. No time in the saddle is wasted when it comes to our positions.

They are: 1) EYES 2) SHOULDERS 3) HEELS

If you keep your HEELS down it stabilises your lower leg and keeps it in the right place to use it as an aid to the horse. Keeping your SHOULDERS open engages your core and secures your body over the centre of the horse. Keeping your EYES up and focussed on the new direction or task keeps the balance ‘up’ and helps to direct the horse onward.

You can think of all of these things whether you spend 10minutes walking in the arena, or hours out hacking, and it will make a difference as several new clients can testify.

2. My second tip is to help work on suppleness for the horse – both left to right & over their backs.

As clients I coach regularly will know, I LOVE a serpentine! You can make these as easy or difficult as you like, ie as many or as few loops as you like, and within these, you can add extra circles, transitions, and/or poles.  Focus on riding even loops, with the horse really connected between your inside leg and outside rein, and staying straight between your aids.

If you work the horse on a serpentine for a period of time, they really start to soften around your leg and are ready to work – it’s a great one for a warm-up. I definitely practice what I preach on this one, as I have permanently had poles set up on a serpentine for over a month at home, for flatwork, and used poles to warm up for jumping when we went to hire a local arena for a jump.  Whilst on the serpentine, don’t forget to remember the 3 main points of your position…

My favourite exercise involves a serpentine in trot using poles and halts, but either you’ll have to book a lesson or wait until next time to see a demo…!

Hope you have found these useful.



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