Leonora Smee’s blog: How is this going to help me in competition?

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Leonora Smee is an international showjumper, TV presenter and model. In her latest video blog, she talks us through her flat work sessions

I’m here with Waltons Top Flight and we’ve just finished a flat work session. I’m really happy as he went fantastically.

In my last blog I explained that I was getting my horses up to full fitness, ready to start competing again in February.

Today I’m going run through what I would usually do with my horses in a flat work session.

I always start in walk for 10-15 minutes, depending on the horse. I like to do it with an exercise rug on while it is so cold at the moment.

I then pick up a light contact and do some walk, trot and canter — nothing too strenuous, just some figures of eight and big circles on both reins. This helps to get them nice and warm and supple ready for the session.

Then I come back to walk for a little breather and then take a little more contact to work in more of an outline, over their backs.

I also like to incorporate some lateral work, such as leg-yield and shoulder-in. In canter I always try to think to myself: “what can I do at home that is going to be beneficial to me in the competition ring?” So for example, I will try to envisage a big combination, a course builder might have created of a corner. So then I will come around the corner with a good canter and tempo, with my inside leg on and my outside leg a little further back to make sure he is engaging his hind-leg.

Another thing I like to do is to work a lot on the quarter and three-quarter line. This helps to get horses straight and works towards nailing straight line related distances.

Lengthening and shortening within trot and canter is also beneficial. This is because when we’re at a show, distances on the course might be a little short or long.

When I feel like we’ve done enough, I will do the all-important cool down which includes encouraging the horse to stretch forward and down in trot, almost with his nose touching the floor before coming back to walk for another 10-15 minutes with the rug back on.

I’m really looking forward to sharing with you everything else that we do!

Leonora