Simon Lawrance, MFH, four-star event rider and UKCC Level 3 coach shares his thoughts on how hunting can help your horse’s training.
1. Hunting is excellent for horses that have got sour in competition or training and need sweetening up.
2. It is great for strengthening — they are working for a long time without being asked to do very difficult things.
3. It makes them tougher and less “precious”, and able to cope with different types of ground and going.
4. It makes them braver and more forward-thinking.
5. It improves their ability to get themselves out of trouble and teaches them to find a “fifth leg”.
6. It is a fun way of getting horses fit, particularly warmbloods and those which are inclined to be stuffy.
7. It teaches them to gallop and improves one-paced horses by making them more competitive.
8. It accustoms them to being around other horses in potentially exciting environments.
9. Remember that it is not going to suit every horse, but most — not all — can settle to it in time.
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10. I recommend taking a young horse to some competitions before he goes hunting so that the rider can assess how he is likely to behave in public with other horses.
11. Hunting also has huge benefits for the rider. It is excellent for improving strength and fitness, and teaches them to deal with the unexpected. They learn to ride up and downhill, to cross a variety of terrains and how to conserve their horse’s energy. Anyone who rides would benefit from going hunting.
12. It allows both horse and rider to have fun and relax in each other’s company without pressure.
This article was first published in H&H’s Ask The Trainer (Summer 2014)