How to make the most out of schooling sessions?

No matter what discipline you do with your horse, schooling is so important to build the connection between horse and rider. Even if you are just a happy hacker, a little schooling session now and again can really improve the quality of your rides.

It’s important that you get the most out of your schooling sessions to avoid wandering around aimlessly. If you are focussed, you are aware and thus are more likely to have a positive experience and feel like you have accomplished something afterwards.

Here are three ways to get the most out of your sessions:

1. Plan it Out

This may seem obvious but a lot of the time we can be oh-so-keen to get working on the next movement that we don’t actually stop to think about how we are training our horses. So, take some time at the beginning or end of a week to plan your schooling sessions with the following prompts:

  • How long is the session going to be and how long will you spend on warm up/ cool down?
  • What exercises will you use in the warm up to prepare your horse?
  • What is the main thing you want to achieve in the session?
  • What aids will you need to use to achieve the movement?
  • If your horse doesn’t understand, how can you break it down further?

2. Set Realistic Goals

If you go into a schooling session expecting your horse to perform like Valegro you will be disappointed (unless you are working at that level- obviously- but us everyday equestrians aren’t quite there generally!). If your goals are too high, you will probably become frustrated and come out of the session feeling disheartened.

It’s better to expect less and gain more.

BBequines

If you reach your goal and more then you will definitely feel great, your horse will pick up on this also, and it will promote a better, more understanding partnership between you and your horse.

3. Balance Between Activities

I believe it is good to have routines- I’m like a routine guru- but I do think there is a line when it comes to them. I like to have a couple of warm-up routines and cool downs to get going but what you do in the middle needs to keep the horse interested.

So, when you’re schooling think about how you can include poles, shapes, transitions, grids and jumps to keep the learning active and playful. It not only makes it more fun for you, but also for your horse.

Also, remember not to over school. I know I am guilty that when things are going well, I’ll just want to keep pushing but it’s important for your horses mental health to have variety and there are huge benefits. I like to switch sessions between hacking, schooling, lunging, groundwork and liberty. For Bo, I don’t tend to school two days in a row due to his age but how you organise your week for your horse will be different to suit their needs and your discipline.

So there you have it, three tips that help you get the most out of your schooling sessions.

Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments or over on my instagram @bbequines.

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