Ideas for Schooling


Hi everyone! As we’re starting to get into the lighter nights (and for those of us with only outdoor arenas, this makes such a huge difference!) and show season is fast approaching, I thought I’d share some of my favourite schooling exercises to help get you and your horse into shape and keep you interested. All the diagrams are roughly based on a 20 x 40m arena, but obviously you can adapt to what you’re working with.


Polework - Clock Face

I find this exercise really helpful for getting your horse’s attention and keeping it- Lewi has a tendency to get bored very quickly as soon as he realises that he’s not jumping, but this makes him focus. To set up, you need four poles. I usually do this at the centre of the arena, so around B and E if you have arena markers, as this means that you don’t use the fence as much, but if you wanted to you could do this at either end. Place each of the poles in a clock face, so with one at 12, one at 3, one at 6 and another at 9. It should look like this:

This exercise can be ridden in walk, trot, or even canter if you’re particularly co-ordinated! To start, ride a 20m circle at E. This should bring you around the outside of the poles.


Once you’ve completed the 20m circle, push your horse inwards to create a 15m circle, which should bring you over the middle of each of the poles.


Next, shrink the circle again to be 10m, which should bring you round the inside of the poles.


Then gradually increase the size of the circle until you’re riding 20m again, to complete the exercise.


Picking Up Canter

Again, this exercise requires a 20m circle in the centre of the arena. This can be really useful for getting your horse to pick up canter on the correct lead leg and getting you used to giving the correct aids, and also to keep them on their toes. Start with a 20m circle at E or B in trot. (Shown in purple on the diagram). When you get to the points of the circle that would be at 3 or 9 on a clock, as highlighted in green, change the direction of your circle and move onto a 10/15m circle in the opposite direction. (Sorry for the badly drawn diagrams!)


When you come back to the green, change your bend and re-join the 20m circle. When you reach the second green marker, repeat. Once you’ve done this a few times, repeat, but when you change the bend to re-join the circle, pick up canter on the correct leading leg to continue on the 20m circle. You can then either go large or continue on the circle and repeat. Make sure to switch up when you re-join in trot and when you pick up canter to make sure your horse is on their toes! You can also circle more than once in 10/15m if you feel necessary to make sure your horse is balanced.


Finally, a quick exercise that should hopefully be less complicated! I know that a lot of people ride 20m figure of eights, this is just a suggestion to make this a bit more difficult. Ride a figure of eight at each end of the arena between K and F, or H and M, with 10m circles. You can add in transitions between walk and trot as you switch direction if you want to make it more complicated.


Hopefully these make sense to you! Let me know if you have any questions, I am always contactable on my Instagram, @lucy,lewi , or Twitter @lucybell345

Thanks for reading!
Lucy xx


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