6 Schooling Exercises For Sharp Horses
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6 Schooling Exercises For Sharp Horses

Unpredictable weather, cold temperatures and longer stabling hours can impact your horse’s behaviour. Here are 6 schooling exercises for sharp horses with professional rider tips to help manage sharp horses.

Pole Opposites

Our Sponsored Event Rider, Anthony Clark, says he likes to keep sharp horses busy and incorporate poles;

“If I’m riding sharp horses, I will often incorporate trot or canter poles (raised poles, if the horse is capable ) to keep them busy and focused on their work. In my view, it is better to give the horse something to think about and an exercise that requires their feet and focus than to attempt to ride a sharp and fresh horse through their shenanigans and risk injury. Once the horse is calm and focused, we can return to our regular schooling routine.”

Mirror Me Exercises

This is an excellent exercise for focusing your horse and giving you a valuable schooling exercise on the ground. Ensure you are suitably dressed with a riding helmet, gloves and appropriate protective footwear and that your horse is wearing a halter with a long lunge line so you can keep a safe distance if required.

This exercise is undertaken in walk, and the idea is that wherever you move or stop, your horse mirrors you. Start this exercise along the arena fence line and walk on and ensure that your horse walks as soon as you take the first step. Stop, and your horse should stop; if they do not stop and walk ahead, correct by asking a few steps back and begin the exercise again. You should be able to go forward, stop and change direction with your horse listening, following and focusing on you.

Thinking Laterally

Our Sponsored Dressage Rider, Sarah Rogers, has some valuable advice for keeping your horse concentrated on their work;

“I really like to use leg yields in my warm-up to ensure that the horse is reacting to my leg aids, especially if they are fresh – this is an excellent exercise so that you can get the correct response from the horse in trot and canter. Another exercise I like to do with a more established, older horse is doing a little counter canter and then going into a half pass or leg yield. These are great exercises for hot or sharp horses who often can take time to accept your leg aid positively so by giving them exercises like these changes the conversation and gets their brain focused.”

Ever Decreasing Circles

If your horse is fresh, trotting a 20m circle spiralling in leg yield slowly into a 12m circle and then leg yielding back out will keep your horse focused and concentrating on you. Harness that forward energy by using your lateral work as a ridden tool to keep your horse focused on your aids. Keep the rhythm steady, and once your horse is listening, change the rein and repeat this exercise.

Practical Thinking

Professional event rider and Aloeride Sponsored Rider Eliza Stoddart is practical in her approach, as she explains;

“I always think using raised poles and cavaletti poles as part of your schooling helps focus the horses when they are fresh, and it’s not difficult to set out and fairly accessible to people that don’t have a lot of equipment to hand. You can work the horse’s muscles well without needing to school for too long if you are riding in the dark after work. Equally, you can incorporate lots of transition work using cavaletti poles, raised poles, or bounces in the canter work.”

Going Round In Circles

Professional eventer  & Aloeride Sponsored Rider Victoria Bax trains and competes ex-racehorses (RoR) and has this tip for helping to achieve concentration;

“A good exercise to keep their attention is to ride a 20m circle in trot at E, then every time you cross the centre line ride a 10m circle in the opposite direction, then back to the 20m circle again. For more advanced version of this exercise; canter the 20m circle, but trot the 10m circles, including lots of transitions too.”

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