Plan your riding

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Get yourself a training calendar/diary so that you can keep track of your progress. This is not just fun, but also really rewarding.

Begin the year by making an overall plan of how you see the year in terms of training sessions, competitions, rest periods, vaccinations and shoeing.

When you then come to plan your training sessions, you can make more detailed weekly plans, as well as a plan for the forthcoming two to three months. It is a great idea to get help from your coach. Don't forget to set yourself goals – not simply final goals, but also smaller interim goals – so that you can get satisfaction when you feel you are on the right track.

Try to plan your training to make it as varied as possible, combine work in the arena with gallops, gymnastic jumping, lunging or long-reining. If you get the mixture right your horse will be much happier and willing to work. Even if you have drawn up a good plan, you have to be prepared to change it if need be. The horse maybe doesn't respond as you had thought it would to the exercises you have planned or you maybe sense that the horse feels tired and not entirely responsive? Then you might need to reduce the demands placed on it and/or add short rest periods in order to achieve your goals later on. Perhaps the opposite is true and you need to activate your horse more to move forward.

Keeping a training diary allows you to gain a good overview of how your horse reacts to and learns from training. You can go back and see how the horse performed earlier – this can be invaluable help. You can find answers and remind yourself of small details that you perhaps did not think were that important at the time, but which in the context show themselves to have been significant.

Horses are individuals and their need for training sessions and rest periods vary. Some are most comfortable if they get exercise every day, even if that means they only get walked out one or two days per week, while others want to have one or two rest days in order to function best. You have to be perceptive and learn what works best for the individual horse.

Of course, it is even better if you have the opportunity to draw up training and competition plans together with your coach as they can maybe see that you and your horse can cope with more than you yourself believe and the plans thus become more or less realistic.

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