Bored of doing the same old things while riding at home? Whatever your level, try these three exercises, as explained by coach Caroline Moore at the 2017 International Eventing Forum at Hartpury this week (Monday, 6 February).
1. Put one plait in your horse’s mane and use it as a reminder of your particular position or technique bugbear. Every time you glimpse that plait, think, “Is my right hand too close to the neck?” or “Am I sitting evenly in the saddle?” A coach can point out problems, but riders must learn awareness of their own posture.
2. When warming up, think about how much power you have in the trot or canter on a scale of one to 10 and then vary it. If you are on a six, bring it up to eight. If you’re on nine, take it down to six and back up to eight.
3. If your horse has jumped round a course of fences confidently, put yourself under pressure and add some “podium mentality”. Tackle the whole course again, but this time add three challenges. Firstly, try to do it in five less strides (ask another rider to count your total strides both times) — so if you did it in 132 strides the first time, reduce that to 127 or fewer. Secondly, swap which hand your whip is in twice round the course. Thirdly, slip your feet out of the stirrups a few strides before one fence and then regain them after the fence, while still travelling round the course. You need to train at home for situations which could arise in competition, such as needing to save time, losing your stirrups or changing your whip.
Caroline Moore is coach to the British junior eventing team and is a UKCC Level 3 coach. She has ridden and produced horses up to four-star level.
Next year’s International Eventing Forum is on Monday, 5 February 2018.