Benefits of Schooling Twice a Day
Benefits of Schooling Twice a Day Dressage trainer Judy Westlake discusses the benefits of riding your horse twice a day to build up strength and understanding.
By Judy Westlake
There are many advantages to giving horses two short lessons.
Answer: There are many benefits to riding a horse in two short daily
sessions, rather than in one long session. I often school horses twice
a day, using the first session to work on the basics -- movements that
are easy and build confidence in the horse -- and saving the challenging
or newer movements for the second session.
At shows, many lower-level competitors perform two tests in one day.
These tests are
At FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) levels, the tests are longer and require the horse to perform many different movements in one test. FEI tests clearly require additional fitness and stamina. Working an FEI level horse twice in one day will condition him more quickly, making it easier to maintain the higher degree of collection needed for the longer tests. It also gives the rider ample opportunity to practice all the different movements required at these higher levels. It's easy to spend all your time schooling the more difficult movements and overlook movements such as walk pirouettes, rein-backs and halts, which carry the same score weight in a test.
Another important benefit of schooling a horse twice a day is that it gives you two opportunities to end on a positive note. If the horse has finally performed a movement well, such as a simple walk-trot transition or the difficult first few learning steps of piaffe, you can reward him with sugar, a slice of carrot or a pat on his neck and immediately dismount and take him back to the stable. This makes the horse happy, proud and willing to perform his work because he understands, under no uncertain terms, that he is rewarded for his efforts.
Unfortunately, most riders get a little greedy and want to perform
the movement one more time. This can create tension, causing the horse
to get tired and resistant.
Judy Westlake is a United States Dressage Federation
(USDF) silver and gold medalist and a USDF certified instructor through
Second Level. She has studied with Gunnar Ostergaard and Sue Blinks.
She teaches and trains at her Broad Park Equestrian Center in Gray,
Maine, and maintains the web site www.judywestlake.com.