Improve your riding – off horse…
If bad weather or a lack of facilities means you can’t ride much in winter, improve your riding without getting in the saddle.
1. Watch training DVDs and read equestrian books and magazines. Write down the ideas you like and plan to incorporate them into your riding when the weather gets better.
2. Start yoga or Pilates classes to help with core strength and balance. You’ll see massive results in your riding in no time.
3. Attend any top rider clinics or demos in your area. These are a great way to learn new skills and again, you can attend armed with a notepad and pen to take ideas away.
4. Observe your horse – and other horses – during their time in the field. It’s amazing how much you can learn about these wonderful creatures just by watching their body language.
5. Book a lesson on a schoolmaster if money permits. Riding a horse that’s more highly trained than your own can give you invaluable ideas about training and help you to get a better feel for what you’re trying to achieve with your own horse.
6. Visit equestrian forums to gain ideas from other horse riders. Forums can be a great place to seek advice on your own riding issues, too.
7. To improve your lower leg position in the saddle, stand with one heel over the edge of a stair, with your other foot firmly on the stair above. Press down into your heel and repeat 10 times before changing legs. Do this every day and watch your lower leg become so much more secure when you ride.
8. Why not organise regular coffee mornings with like-minded friends, so you can discuss riding techniques and bounce ideas off each other?
9. Watch YouTube clips of top riders in your field riding at their best. If dressage is your thing, search for Charlotte Dujardin, for eventing, try Mark Todd and for showjumping tips search for Ben Maher, for example. Or choose your own favourites.
10. Watch videos of yourself riding your horse, if you have some. Be constructively critical and think about areas where you can improve. Ask a more experienced horsey friend to help you, if necessary, but make sure you choose someone you trust to give you a constructive report, rather than someone who will just find all your faults and cause a lack of confidence. Make sure they have your best interests at heart.
11. Almost forgot! Read Equi-Ads for some great hints and tips!