7 ways to help you get the most from a training session with your horse

You’ve worked tirelessly at home on improving technique or refining skills in your favourite discipline but you want more. Here’s some tips on how to get the most from your training session and make them count from top young dressage rider Joanna Thurman-Baker.

Joanna (pictured), 20, is part of the World Class programme and competes a variety of horses to international level, which includes two rides given to her by Carl Hester, who also helps her train. Last year Joanna was part of the British team at the young rider European championships riding Highcliffe Apollo, with whom she is now competing up to grand prix.

So what’s her advice?

1. Go into the session with a clear mind. Forget about work troubles or that you forgot to put the washing out. Now is the time to focus on your horse.

2. Have an action plan of what you are going to work on. You don’t have to stick to the plan, but at least if you have one, you can attempt to follow and progress yourself and the horse.

3. Work with mirrors if possible. These are invaluable as it’s like you are your own trainer. Alternatively, film a few sessions weekly. Then watch and learn.

4. If working with a trainer, be open to trying new things. Sometimes the answer lies outside the box.

5. Be brave! Push yourself out of your comfort zone and really see how much you can do. Remember you are allowed to make mistakes — that’s what the home training is for.

6. If you’re practising for a dressage test, don’t go mad going through it 100 times. Your horse could get too used to the test and start taking over and anticipating the movements. Spice things up and add in a few of your own movements to keep things fresh.

7. Don’t work your horse for longer than 45 minutes. For most, it won’t benefit them in the long run.

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 9 March
Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
Details: “This unaffiliated dressage competition features classes ranging between intro and elementary.”
Enter now

British Dressage

Date: 9 March
Venue: Keysoe, Bedfordshire
Details: “This competition has classes from prelim to prix st georges with summer qualifiers.”
Enter now

British Dressage Quest and unaffiliated dressage

Date: 10 March
Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
Details: “This mixed competition features classes ranging between intro and novice with some qualifiers.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 10 March
Venue: Mullacott Event Centre, Ilfracombe
Details: “This competition has classes from intro to elementary.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated long arena dressage

Date: 10 March
Venue: Oaklands College, St Albans
Details: “Classes range between intro and elementary, plus there is a a pick your own freestyle to music class.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 10 March
Venue: Forest Edge Arena, Swaffham
Details: “This competition has classes range from intro to elementary.”
Enter now

Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings