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

Your Horse (UK) - - Better Riding -

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.”

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