Winter riding: Take control

Winter riding: Take control

Top-level coach Maggie Doel BHSI gives us her advice on staying sharp in winter.

1. Enjoy your horse through the winter. For horses who have finished a season fit and well with no injury problems, this is the time to assess the weaknesses in performance. Think about why and then address the issues, or simply just acknowledge what the partnership enjoyed most and go out and enjoy that discipline to make it even better. It’s an individual choice.

2. Around Christmas, review where the horse is in its condition and training, and adjust plans accordingly. This may be the ideal time for a couple of weeks off, then start gearing up for the season again.

3. To maintain interest in the school, make a plan for the session. This means the work done has a reason and is, therefore, clearer and more interesting to the horse.

4. At Reybridge Eventing we use a lot of poles, not necessarily to go over but to use as points of a circle, corner depth or serpentine points and then to go between for straightness and accuracy of line. This tends to focus the rider’s mind, which then engages the horse’s brain.

5. It’s worth using the accuracy of two poles laid end to end in a continuous straight line as a different way to measure stride length. This can be done by starting to count as you go past the tip of the pole.

6. Think about your goal. Is it to move up a grade or stay at your current level and become more competitive? Assess the previous season, think about your horse’s soundness and your hopes and ability.

7. I think the easy bit is finding the competitions and then training to go to them. The hardest part is writing down a constructive plan A with realistic goals – and then be prepared to have plan B, C, D and so on.