By Jenny Richardson BHSAI

During the Spring and Summer months, it is just so lovely to ditch the schooling in favour of lovely ambles in the British countryside, but if you’re not careful, it’s easy to neglect the carefully structured regime of training and discipline that keeps our horses structured and well behaved in their work!


It is very easy in the arena to be too epetitive and we must avoid the possibility of boredom setting in for both horse and rider.  Here are a few changeable and interesting routines to keep you both on your toes, and enjoy the sessions.


It is very easy just to stick to your twenty metre circles and riding large around the arena, but there is plenty of unexplored territory! How about you try to ride a square instead of a circle, using pivot turns and a diamond shape is another good one.  Use the letters and sides of your arena to pinpoint your shape.  Always start in walk and progress on through the paces.  Try a spiral where you begin with a large circle and slowly make the circle smaller, say, to around five metres and then leg yield out until you are back to your original size circle.  A good straightening exercise is to ride down a three-quarter/centre line as straight as possible.  Horses do tend to drift and this is always one of the more difficult tasks to perfect.


Often, exercises will be aimed at trot or canter, but how about mixing it up a bit and setting up some trot poles along one three-quarter line, canter poles on the opposite side and the same across the two diagonals?  This will keep you both alert and thinking ahead and will involve plenty of trot/canter transitions both up and down and in both directions.  You can even include walk transitions in between the poles if you want to be a little more advanced.



Place a small jump in the centre of your school, planning to create a figure of eight shape in your riding.  Your turns after the jump should initially be fairly tight to encourage your horse to land correctly but when this becomes established and easy, aim to jump the fence in a straight line with the turns a little further away from the jump and in a more gentle curve. A good tip is, e.g. if you are going from right to left as you are jumping, look a little to the left, have a little bit of left rein and right leg on and this should encourage a correct landing.  You can start by trotting in and cantering away and progress to the whole exercise being done in canter.

All exercises should be performed on both reins equally to produce flexibility and rideability and will improve the enjoyment of your hacking days for you both.  You will enjoy your beautifully behaved horse and he will be very happy pleasing his rider.

Jenny Richardson is Equestrian Centre Business Manager at Ireland’s Castle Leslie Estate, a venue that offers luxurious equestrian training breaks, including ‘Build Your Confidence’ breaks, in the heart of Ireland. Visit 


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