Y Back to basics
Whether you’re riding a young horse or training one who’s less experienced, try Sam Griffiths’ exercises to establish the essentials of balance and suppleness
OU CAN’T RUN BEFORE you can walk, and the same goes for your horse. Whether you’re a keen competitor or prefer doing your own thing at home, getting the basics right is essential for training a well-schooled horse. One rider who knows the importance of building a horse’s foundations is Sam Griffiths. It’s fair to say that he knows a thing or two when it comes to moving horses up the ranks, having competed in multiple four-star events and won Badminton in 2014. “There aren’t any shortcuts when it comes to training horses,” he says. “You need to take time in the beginning, but it pays off.” Here, Sam works with fellow event rider, Caroline Harris, who’s riding Issy. Caroline has evented up to three-star level, but fiveyear-old Issy is still in the early stages of her career.
Keep calm and carry on
When training a youngster like Issy, or practising a new move with an older horse, it’s important to begin the right way. “I always start with three things,” says Sam. “Making sure my horse is calm, forward and straight. Once your horse is calm, he’ll be open to training. He’ll relax and be softer in his body.” While in your warm up, try to settle your horse as much as possible. The more settled he is, the more he’ll be able to understand what you’re asking. One way to do this, if you feel safe to, is to trot around the school and let him have a stretch by giving him a longer rein. Once he’s warm and feels relaxed, you can begin your schooling but, as Sam explains, feeling calm should be top of the agenda. “Keep everything slow — if he starts to rush, come back to walk,” he says. “It’ll give him time to think and understand what you’re asking. “Have patience. Remember that it takes a while for a horse’s body to be able to do what we’re asking.”