IMPROVE YOUR HORSE’S BRAKES - -Teaching your horse to slow down and stop

Being able to stop your horse in a controlled manner is an essential part of staying safe while riding. Your horse must listen to you when you ask him to slow down or stop in whatever situation, be it out hacking, tackling a course of jumps or at a competition and you must be able to do it quickly and safely.
In the first instance if your horse is reluctant to stop we would advise that you get him checked over just incase he isn’t running away from pain. Make sure his teeth and back are checked by a vet and his bit and saddle fit correctly.

Pulling up after a fence
If your horse tends to rush around a course of jumps and his brakes regularly fail after a fence, pull him up straight away. This should teach him to come back to you after each jump; this should help with gaining a more successful round without him rushing and making mistakes. Set up a course of jumps with a fair distance between each and practice coming to a halt within a few strides of each jump, accelerate again towards the next and repeat. Keep the fences small to start with so as to build confidence. Remember it might take a little time, so keep practicing and remember to reward your horse.

TOP TIP – Schooling your horse regularly on the flat is a great way to get him listening to you and ultimately improve his brakes. 

Raised trotting poles
Using slightly raised trotting poles as a grid when jumping can be a useful way to encourage your horse to concentrate and slow down.
Place raised poles in between or in front of your fences, this will help bring him under control and also help in your flatwork sessions to steady him if he has a tendency to rush and take control. Both on the flat and over jumps, you need to earn your horse’s respect and keep him concentrating on what he is doing rather than him running off, raised trotting poles are a great way of keeping his mind occupied.

TOP TIP – Working in the school will have a knock on effect when you are out hacking as he learns to listen and improve his manners.

In-hand exercises
Working with your horse in-hand, both tacked up or simply in a head collar with a long lead rope, can help improve his manners as well as his brakes. Ask your horse to back up for a few strides, while standing at his shoulder and using your hand to place pressure and push, your horse should politely back up. If he ignores you or tries to barge you, use slightly more pressure or try placing your whip gently across his chest to ask him to step back – Never hit him with it.

TOP TIP – It is important that you can control your horse’s movements from the ground, if you want to control him when on board.
Improve your riding read more great exercises and tips