7 ways to help you get the most from a training session with your horse

You’ve worked tirelessly at home on improving technique or refining skills in your favourite discipline but you want more. Here’s some tips on how to get the most from your training session and make them count from top young dressage rider Joanna Thurman-Baker.

Joanna (pictured), is part of the World Class programme and competes a variety of horses to international level, which includes two rides given to her by Carl Hester, who also helps her train. In 2017 Joanna was part of the British team at the young rider European championships riding Highcliffe Apollo, with whom she is now competing up to grand prix.

So what’s her advice?

1. Go into the session with a clear mind. Forget about work troubles or that you forgot to put the washing out. Now is the time to focus on your horse.

2. Have an action plan of what you are going to work on. You don’t have to stick to the plan, but at least if you have one, you can attempt to follow and progress yourself and the horse.

3. Work with mirrors if possible. These are invaluable as it’s like you are your own trainer. Alternatively, film a few sessions weekly. Then watch and learn.

4. If working with a trainer, be open to trying new things. Sometimes the answer lies outside the box.

5. Be brave! Push yourself out of your comfort zone and really see how much you can do. Remember you are allowed to make mistakes — that’s what the home training is for.

6. If you’re practising for a dressage test, don’t go mad going through it 100 times. Your horse could get too used to the test and start taking over and anticipating the movements. Spice things up and add in a few of your own movements to keep things fresh.

7. Don’t work your horse for longer than 45 minutes. For most, it won’t benefit them in the long run.

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…

Unaffiliated fun dressage

Date: 20 July
Venue: High Plains Equestrian Centre, Riding Mill
Details: “This unaffiliated dressage competition features classes ranging between intro and novice. Riders will warm up in small groups and ride both tests. Results will not be available until the following day and sheets will be posted out. We restrict entries in classes so you definitely will get a rosette!”
Enter now

British Dressage

Date: 21 July
Venue: Alnwick Ford Equestrian
Details: “This competition has classes from prelim to inter II with qualifiers and freestyle classes too.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 21 July
Venue: Pebsham Equestrian Centre, Bexhill on Sea
Details: “This unaffiliated competition features classes ranging between intro and elementary with a prix caprilli class too.”
Enter now

Stressless dressage

Date: 21 July
Venue: Ladyleys, Oldmeldrum
Details: “Warm up in our indoor school for 20 minutes then ride a dressage test of your choice without having to leave the arena.”
Enter now

British Dressage

Date: 23 July
Venue: Stretcholt Equestrian Centre, Bridgwater
Details: “Classes range between medium and grand prix plus there are para classes too.”
Enter now

Evening dressage

Date: 26 July
Venue: Wix Equestrian Centre, Manningtree
Details: “This competition has classes range from intro to medium, starting at 5pm.”
Enter now

Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings