Here are our top training tips for getting through the season, especially if the eventing season beckons in March:
The depths of winter are fast approaching. However, this time of year offers us the chance to focus on 2014’s successes, ascertain whether training goals have been reached, and plan for next year. Many eventing competitors will be keeping their horses’ training programmes ticking over and getting ready for the next season.
It is all in the preparation
The key to enjoying the sport of eventing, and being placed if you are riding competitively, is in the preparation. Eventing can be an expensive sport, so it makes sense to maximise your chances of enjoying a competition, or getting the most from the facilities you are using. If you are riding professionally, or at least hoping to accumulate competition points from your country’s governing body, it is advisable to have specific goals about what you want to achieve from attending an event with your horse.
- Winter is the ideal time to go back to basics, and focus on your flatwork – it is the cornerstone to achieving balance and rhythm over fences, and the suppleness and obedience your horse gains will also make you safer when jumping. Falls are common in eventing, so if you plan to reduce the risk factors for a fall, riding a supple, well-schooled horse is essential. Using pole work in your winter schooling programme will help keep your training fresh – there’s nothing worse (for horse and rider) than endless, boring arena-work with little focus. Twice a week, with a friend or your instructor to help on the ground, set up an odd number of poles in the arena – if you set them up as canter poles, you will be able to do walk, trot and canter work over them – depending on your horse’s stride, set them up at 9-12ft apart (ensure the same distance between each) and ride over them, focussing on straightness and forwardness. Once your horse is comfortable with the distance, ask your friend or instructor to roll them out an inch at a time, so your horse has to ‘reach’ further to clear the poles – repeated on both reins at different gaits, this exercise is useful for developing cadence in the paces, especially in trot.
- A good cross country horse must be bold and straight, as well as fast, so if you are attending cross country clinics this winter, focus on your approach and getaway lines. If you do not have access to cross country facilities, utilise the local hacking available to you, and work out specific, straight routes up hills, through parkland and across paths to improve your ability to assess straightness, speed and direction when riding.
- Check your tack and equipment – obviously to ensure it is safe and in good condition, but also to make sure it is fit for purpose. Good quality ranges like Stephens Leather are built to last!
- Did your horse go well in his bit – is it time to change to something else and seek advice?
Check out the Bombers Bits range at this website – if you are a customer seeking a bit, call us for stockists. If you are a retailer wanting to stock them, we’d be delighted to showcase the range to you.