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From the moment you enter the show ring, you and your horse should look like you mean business, says top producer Allister Hood.

In the next part of our training series, Allister explains how to get active.

“A sloppy walk doesn’t give the right impression to the judge, and the same applies to the trot,” he says.

Tip one: get the right response

“The walk should have a bit of bounce and energy, as if your horse is saying: ‘look at me’,” says Allister as he watches Rebecca Murch on her 153cm gelding, Corky.

Allister asks Rebecca to work on Corky’s responsiveness.

“He needs to be a lot more in front of your leg, so give him a quick tap with your schooling whip.”

There is an immediate improvement. Allister tells Rebecca that she needs to create an instant response to her aids, and then keep that impulsion.

“In canter, ride every stride as if you are asking him to gallop,” he suggests. “Use your back and seat – but I don’t want to see your upper body moving.”

As soon as Rebecca gets a quicker response from Corky, the picture changes.

“He looks like a different pony,” Allister says. “Don’t settle for anything less than an instant reaction.”

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Tip two: school while you hack

If you have safe areas in which to hack, or if you can ride in open fields, take the chance to build your horse’s impulsion.

“You have to get him marching out, especially on a hack,” Allister tells Rebecca. “You can do everything out hacking — retend you’re at Horse of the Year Show.”

Allister was speaking at a BSPA clinic at Barleylands EC, Essex, on 12 March. Words by Carolyn Henderson.

Don’t miss H&H’s showing special (16 March), jam-packed with more training, interviews and features, on sale now.