Exercise 1 STRETCHING DOWN
Katie spends time encouraging Dillon to stretch. It’s crucial for him to develop the correct outline so he can work effectively and safely, and become soft and supple. “There’s no quick fix for this,” says Katie. “He spent all his working life before coming to us not having to worry about his outline and his muscles aren’t yet capable of making the shape we need. “Long and low work is at the core of retraining an ex-racehorse, especially one who can be as sharp as Dillon. So, we always start each session with stretching.”
How to ride it
1 If your horse struggles to stretch, you’ll need to encourage him all the way. 2 Go large and, although you’re only in walk, ensure the pace is purposeful by using your seat and hands to encourage forwardness. 3 Don’t be tempted to lower and widen your hands to get the stretch. Keep the weight even down both reins and carry your hands. 4 Just stretching an inch at a time is enough in the initial stages. 5 If he struggles to stretch at the start of the session, or he’s too fresh, work him up and together for a few minutes, then try again. Some horses may not stretch correctly until further on in the session, so be flexible in your approach. 6 If he’s happy to stretch, try it in rising trot — only for half a circle at first and then transition back to walk for a few steps before trotting again. Don’t expect too much and praise him when he tries hard.
At first, Dillon finds it more difficult to stretch out in trot