In a previous newsletter, we ask our savvy equestrian subscribers to put forward their burning questions on tack, turnout and training to our three top professional Ambassadors; Showing Star, Katie Jerram-Hunnable, Paralympic Gold Medallist Natasha Baker and International Show-jumping Star, Laura Renwick.
The Renwick & Sons Team spent time going through all the fantastic questions to pick our favourites and pose the questions to our elite riders.
“I have a young horse and this will be his first season out competing – I’m keen to get him out for the experience, but do you have any advice please?”
Louise, Surrey, UK
“Hi Louise, cherry pick your shows and plan your outings. If your horse needs more ‘ring experience’ pick venues or classes which have ‘inviting’ and easy laid out courses to help build his confidence. Things don’t always go to plan but by having a strategy in place and a focus, you have a basic framework to work with and your short- term goals to aim for. These goals might be as simple as getting your horse more confident in a competitive environment or aiming to move up a level rather than winning a championship class. Whatever your end goals, think about the journey of how you can get there and realistically what your short-term goals should be.”
“Can you recommend any good warm-up tips please to try? My horse gets quite tense at shows and it’s ruining our chances of a good round when we do get in the ring?” Maria, Denmark
“Hi Maria, create a warm-up that works for you and your horse at home and then repurpose this when you ride in the warm-up at a competition. Have a routine that you can tweak depending on his mood and the arena/space. This works really well as a comfort blanket for young horses but equally the older more experienced horses like the familiarity. Don’t neglect your flatwork. I school all my horses on the flat weekly. Teaching my horses to move away from my leg is important, so we incorporate quite a lot of lateral work into our training. We also include lots of transition work; walk to canter, canter to walk and of course simple changes that we later develop into flying changes. Your horse has to be on the aids in the ring and listening to you if you want to succeed in riding a good round.”
“I’m retraining a former show jumper for dressage. I bought Junior last December. Junior is a 7-year old gelding, believed to be Belgian Warmblood, 15.2 hh, mega-athletic, learns fast. His temperament is alert, sensitive, sometimes anxious. He was tight and tense in his topline, back, and hind quarters. So, in January I stopped riding him and took him back to kindergarten (lunging and ground driving). Since January, he’s learned to stretch his neck and open his poll, flex, bend, and lengthen his stride when he walks, trots, and canters on the lunge line and ground drives. He’s developing his top line and engages, pushing from his hind quarters. But Junior doesn’t show the floaty, free movement and suspension that I see in fancy horses. I’d like to resume riding him again. What can I do to encourage Junior to develop more freedom, suppleness, and suspension in his movement?
Thank you for this opportunity to ask for advice.”
Mary, Yardley, PA USA
“Hi Mary, Junior sounds like a lovely horse and you’ve definitely done the right thing taking him back to basics and developing from there. It’s really hard to say without seeing a video but really the cadence comes from strength, you want the hindquarters as strong as possible to take the weight from behind so they can push into an uphill frame and then comes the trot. You’re lucky as the trot is the one pace that you can somewhat make whereas it’s more difficult to improve the walk and canter. To help with the strengthening and balance you can do lots of Polework (I have a YouTube video showing some great exercises you can do) also hillwork so walking, trotting and cantering up hills is fantastic for them. In the school you can do lots of transition exercises, both up and down the paces and within the pace i.e. collected trot to medium trot and back again. Make sure you do lots of stretching warming up and cooling down and when they get it right, lots of reward and stretch. Hope this is some help. x “
“My young horse Rio is not a huge fan of flatwork and can get quite naughty when he gets bored. Any ideas of how I can continue to educate him under saddle but also keep him sweet? He is very clever and learns quickly and I think this is the problem!”
Kate, Northumberland, United Kingdom
“Hi Kate, I love schooling the young horses when they dont even realise it. So when I’m out hacking I do lots of transition work, even some gentle shoulder in and leg yielding. This way you’re educating them but they’re still having fun! Also keeping the sessions short and sweet. I regularly take my horses in the school for 20/25mins then take them for a walk or the other way around so you can warm up or cool down out of the school. When they get naughty because they’re bored you need to make sure you’re doing enough to keep them mentally switched on so lots of transitions and exercises so they’re not going around the edge of the school for too long. And remember, always finish on a good note with lots of praise so they want to please you again next time, I always have a polo in my pocket or on the side of the school for bribery 😂 x”
“I own a lovely 15.2hh TB x ID and together we have done really well in both dressage and show-jumping. A lot of people have mentioned how good he looks under saddle and how well put together he is, so I would like to try showing. Any advice for preparing him for his first show?”
Sam, Oxford, United Kingdom
“Dear Sam, while your horse might go beautifully for you, is he used to other riders? Before attempting a showing class, you need to ensure that your horse is happy with different riders on him. Introduce different riders slowly over a long period of time and ensure that each session is a positive experience with lots of praise and reward. Different rider weights and riding styles can worry some young horses so take your time.”
“My horse is a nice type but we never seem to impress the judges when it comes getting first place. I don’t know where I am going wrong? I have schooled him well and watched lots of tutorials on showing. My tack and turnout are correct in every way but I don’t understand how I can improve my placings. What are the judges looking for?”
Cathy, New Zealand.
“Dear Cathy, without seeing a photo or video it’s hard to say, however if you are both are correctly turned out for your class and your horse is well schooled, it might be your performance in the ring. I personally like to see a horse that has a good walk, a nice steady trot and a good balance in the canter. Making sure that your horse’s transitions are balanced and uphill are important and good manners such as standing still in the line-up and being a pleasure to ride for the ride judges all go towards the judge’s final decision. Practice on these areas and hopefully you will see yourself higher up in the line-up – good luck.”
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