All riders aim to achieve perfection and grow their horses' potential especially when faced with a freshly leveled school that offers a clean fresh start to every ride. Richard one of our featured riders explains, how a leveled school can offer so much more to you and your horse than simply an aesthetic look.
As riders we know the importance of feed back in our attempts to improve our riding. This comes in many forms, most obviously from our trusted instructor.
I find that a freshly leveled school also gives us vital feedback on how we ride too. As we ride round our freshly leveled school we can see the hoof prints that our horses have left in the surface.
From this we can see how straight we are and how deep in to the corners we go. But you can take it to a greater level. If you ride along the long side in shoulder in (or quarters in) you can also see if you are leaving a clear three tracks and if the stay at constant width apart.
Getting feedback from hoof prints is an ideal way to improve that illusive perfect circle round X too, you can see where you fell in or out and take action the next time round.
Riding a centre line is also something that we can improve in a fresh school. Not only looking at the straightness of the line but also at the turns on and off - do we over shoot, or do we turn too soon? I discovered that I sometimes in preparing to turn left will do a slight wiggle to the right. This was made very obvious in our hoof prints.
If you have a horse you trust then you can also play with riding down the centre line with your eyes closed (before you try with your eyes closed make sure you have a good feel of how many strides long your school is so you can open your eyes again in good time before you reach the fence).
Riding a centre line with your eyes closed is one way of highlighting if you or you horse always ends up going off to a particular side.
When we change the rein on a long diagonal we are told to swap our whip over once we have established ourselves back on the track on the new rein.
You can practice this in your freshly leveled school, if I change the whip over while on the long diagonal I can see a very obvious deviation from our nice straight line where I am changing the whip from one side to the other which affects Tommy's balance and straightness momentarily.
Another trick I like to use in the school is in the mornings or evenings I use the shadow cast by the fence to give me a line to ride along when I am working on riding the inside track.
The shadow provides a perfect training aid naturally which we can also take advantage of.
I am sure you can expand many of your favourite schooling exercises to incorporate feedback from the hoof prints you leave in the school surface giving you a useful tool to improve your riding when you are alone and do not have your instructor giving you immediate feedback.
Richard is supported by Mountain Horse and Champion
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