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
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.