Get Creative … Or your horse will – Craig Johnson
With Cols now living in Somerset and the lack of all the facilities I once had i’m having to get creative with my training. I think this has actually helped Colin, he’s growing stronger, the work is more varied and he can build a booty without going around in circles. Ive been asked so many times how i’m going to train him properly without an arena every day and i’m about to tell you all I’ve learnt about training outside the arena.
Gateways can be your arch nemesis when out hacking, we have all been there right? Having to get off drag your horse through the gate, climb the fence and throw yourself back on and hope for the best. Teaching a horse gateways and opening and closing gates can teach them so many other things. Lateral work, you horse can learn to turn on and about the forehand around the gate. This engages core and working the peach. Something else you can can train at a gate is the rein back. When a gate needs to close towards you keep a contact and gently ask with moving your legs backwards. Don’t be afraid to take your time, reward when he does the right thing and move on.
Road work can be the devil and angel all at once. We all know the age long battle of car vs horse and i’m not saying go and hack down the M5 but country lanes can give you so much good. Cols has learnt patience, Having to stop and wait for all the tourists to get their cars to the woods at weekends. I truly believe it’s helped him find his balance, he has space to find his feet and every trot is THE trot. I also use the long straight roads to perfect our leg yield, another place lateral work comes into play. The road also gives you room to play with the paces, find that free walk, let him relax or make him march his way around working hard. We spoke about this with Vittoria Panizzon and how she hacks her horses.
THE HILLS 💁🏻♀️
Hills are literally my favourite outside the arena training aid. Hill work can do SO MUCH for your horses body.
I use them in these three ways;
1. Walking up hill – Strengthening of the body + low level Cardio
2. Trotting up hill – Higher Level Cardio + Lower strengthening
3. Walking down Hill – Strengthening of the top line and stretching
There are so many other reasons hill work can benefit but these are the ways I find they help me and Cols.
The environment 🎄 (yess that’s a Christmas tree)
Im a true believer in the more your horse sees outside the arena the better he will be inside. Hear me out. Ive always varied the horses work as much as I can and use your environment to help you. Even if he’s petrified of something if you can use that experience to ‘get him past it’ you’ve built trust and without trust there’s nothing. Traffic, dogs, kids, bicycles, a flappy plastic bag, a big white bag, the ground changing colour, I could go on forever but all these things build his little confidence.
If you’re not lucky enough to have good hacking then boxing out to hack in a local woods is definitely something I recommend. Remember your hi-viz, highway code and a good hack snack.
Happy Hacking Leah and Cols ❤️ x