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Horses must be responsive to the rider’s aids, but you can have too much of a good thing.

In the final part of our training series with Allister Hood, the reigning Horse of the Year Show supreme champion explains how to relax a buzzy horse.

Tip one: make the walk count

Every judge wants to see an active walk, says Allister, but the horse must move purposefully rather than rush.

What happens in one pace is likely to happen in others, so encouraging rhythm and relaxation in the walk will pay dividends in trot and canter.

Tip two: sit still

When Allister sees Vicki Faulkner’s Mansfields Fair Lady is rushing, even in walk, he tells Vicki to sit still and allow the mare enough rein to lengthen her stride slightly.

“Let her switch off a bit by almost switching off yourself,” he explains. “It’s the same in trot. Don’t get carried away with your up-downs — keep them slow.”

Tip three: don’t rise too high

Allister suggests similar tactics to Sarah Field on her show cob, Bruce.

“Don’t rise so high,” he says. “Allow him to move you out of the saddle.

“The faster and more tense he gets, the stiller you need to sit. Relax your hand to help him relax.”

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Tip four: don’t overcook your horse

Emma Grady has brought her Hackney/cob/warmblood Splash to the clinic for experience.

“You’re over-cooking him,” assesses Allister. “His big, powerful trot has gone to his head and it’s become almost too much for him to control.

“Slow him down and soften him. Then he has more time to think about what you’re asking him and you have more time to ride him.”

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 for more training, interviews and features — on sale now