Willa New­ton’s three-step guide to a for­ward-think­ing horse who is on your aids

In­ject some en­thu­si­asm into your horse’s work so he’s think­ing for­wards and re­ac­tive to your aids. Event rider Willa New­ton shows you how

Your Horse (UK) - - Contents -

RID­ING A HORSE who is be­hind your leg and lazy to re­spond to your aids makes school­ing hard-go­ing — and it can lead to a loss of con­fi­dence over a fence. But slug­gish­ness doesn’t have to be some­thing you ac­cept. Wak­ing up your horse so he’s sharper and more re­spon­sive to your aids is a must — not only will it help you to progress in your rid­ing, but you’ll en­joy it more, too. Four-star event rider Willa New­ton un­der­stands the im­por­tance of hav­ing an ac­tive and re­spon­sive horse. Whether you’re jump­ing a course of 60cm fences or aim­ing at the higher lev­els, it’s es­sen­tial that your horse re­acts quickly to your aids, as sit­u­a­tions can change quickly.

Im­prove re­sponse time

“I like to start wak­ing my horses up at the very begin­ning of a ses­sion,” says Willa. “Tran­si­tions are a great way to do this and they en­cour­age your horse to be lis­ten­ing and re­spond­ing to your aids.” Once warmed up, it’s es­sen­tial to keep your horse’s at­ten­tion, so try­ing new things and pre­sent­ing him with chal­lenges is a great way to keep his brain en­gaged. “One of the ex­er­cises I’ll do to­day is to ride a se­ries of jumps on a clock face [in the shape of a cir­cle],” says Willa. “It re­ally gets your horse think­ing — and fast. Once over one jump, he’ll al­ready have to be look­ing at and pre­par­ing for the next.” Over the page, Willa ex­plains three ex­er­cises that you can ride in a school­ing ses­sion with your horse to wake him up and get him lis­ten­ing to you.

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