Basic training sets us on the right track to develop the natural ability of the horse. It is wrong to believe that with a 4-year-old horse one can achieve looseness in one session, rhythm in the next, and then contact, etc. This is simply not the case. The individual elements of training develop side by side and as a trainer one should ensure that they are present whether the horse is destined for dressage, jumping or hacking. Basic training lays the foundation for the future development of the horse while maintaining his trust.

Introducing new exercises depends on the individual ability of each horse. Repeating the same exercise relentlessly is monotonous and should be avoided. A ridden session should be planned so that it has a variety of movements which cover all the elements of training. Weather and facilities permitting, we like to begin by loosening the horse up over cavalletti and going for a short hack after the training session, or else going for a hack before riding some dressage exercises in the school. Sometimes we loosen the horse up by cantering in a light seat on straight lines around the exterior of the school before going into the school itself. This preparatory work must be fun for both horse and rider, in fact it goes without saying that it must be a good experience for the horse so that he is calm and prepared for training. Every session is made up of three parts: loosening up, working, and walking to end with. For the young horse this means loosening up, working and further loosening. Loosening up in walk, trot and canter to get rid of any tension is essential before the rider can drive the horse forwards. With older horses (more than 5 years old) loosening up should last about 15-20 minutes.

The aim of daily training for a young horse (about 4 years old) is to make him completely supple. In the first half-year, a 4-year-old horse is loosened up with different lessons and exercises. In the second half-year more difficult exercises are introduced to improve rhythm, suppleness, contact and especially working through the back. The next stage is to introduce a variety of exercises, some easier than others, using the training already established in the first and second half-year periods. Exercises in the third and fourth half-years of training should introduce collected work that will be ridden more towards the end of that period (at about 5-6 years of age) so that all aspects of training are covered.

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