Getting the best out of an ex-racehorse in the dressage arena

  • Ex-racehorses can make excellent eventers but while the dressage can be the biggest challenge, this phase can be improved

    In 13 March issue of H&H Ben Way, who won the intermediate section G at this year’s spring fixture at Oasby says of his 16.2hh 11-year-old gelding Galley Light:

    “He was intended for the racetrack, but didn’t take to it. He’s very fast and an incredibly careful showjumper, but he has struggled a bit on the flat. Natalie Allen has helped me a lot over the winter and I was thrilled with our sub-30 score.”

    Oasby Horse Trials 07/03/2014We asked Natalie what she has been working on with Galley and Ben (pictured right at Oasby) and a bit more about her own thoughts on training horses generally and ex-racehorses in particular.

    “We’ve been working on improving Galley’s basic connection, getting the relaxation, the lightness of forehand and engagement of the hind legs. We’ve also done a lot of work on test riding, keeping the consistency and the accuracy.

    “Galley is a sensitive horse, but it works for him as he has a lot of expression. His canter work is very good. He’s a good learner and his lateral trot work is now improving.

    “Like all racehorses, he can sometimes get a bit tense through the simple changes — he just has too much energy.

    “My 7 tips for working with an ex-racehorse in the dressage arena would be:

    1. It’s really important that you develop trust on and off the horse
    2. Aim to improve relaxation with these horses
    3. Don’t rush the basics
    4. Use your horse’s energy to your advantage
    5. Use your voice to give encouragement
    6. Focus on balance and rhythm — I think this is key with ex-racers
    7. They can be “bubbly in the brain”! Give them regular walk breaks.”

    What’s your USP? What makes you different from other trainers?

    “People say that I’m quite good at picking up what the horse needs and what the rider needs. I’m passionate and want to improve horse and rider combinations as much as possible to achieve their goals. It’s important to encourage and be supportive to help develop a independent rider but to give nuggets of information when necessary.”

    Where do you get your inspiration and learning from?

    “I read, watch a lot of videos, and train with Carl Hester – he’s an inspiration.”

    What’s your pet hate?

    Negativity – people not being willing to try something new.”

    Share with us your signature exercise

    “I do a lot of work on speed control and balance. The exercise I do most is probably leg yielding on a circle, in and out. This helps engagement and is good as it makes a rider focus on the hind legs and not just on the reins.”

    What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?

    Trust your instincts – various people have said this to me but the first was probably my first trainer, Ian Woodhead.”

    If we were to ask your pupils, what would be the one thing they all say you continually shout?

    “Shorten your reins and look up.”

    To find out more about Natalie visit www.natalieallen.com


    You may like...