Taking a young novice horse and turning it into top class show jumper is no mean feat. It takes hard work, dedication and a strict regime. Although every horse has its own personality and will respond in a slightly different way to your training plan, there are some general rules you can follow to get the best out of your equine charges. Instilling good habits at an early age will ensure a smooth transition from trainee, to career horse. It isn’t a one man job however. The success of a horse depends on a whole team of people including owners, sponsors, trainers and riders.
When to start training
Three is a good age to begin the regime and break the horse in. Focus on encouraging the young horse to learn a decent trot, canter and walk as well as introducing them to pole work. You can then step back and avoid pushing them any further than that until they turn four. It will entirely depend on the horse as to how long it takes to master these basic techniques. You may be keen to get as much as you can from the horse, as quickly as possible, but bear in mind that their bodies are still growing and developing. If you push too hard at a young age, the excess stress on their bodies can limit the length of their career at the other end, particularly in top class jumpers.
Once the horse is four they can go back to training, where they will be educated continually to get them up to speed in preparation to begin their careers. They will begin work on the flat to achieve a smooth rhythm and balance before moving onto pole work, building up to a good rhythmic canter. Once this balanced canter has been achieved, they can then attempt some jump courses around the pole. When the horse is comfortable with the jumps and the pole, focus on altering the course each time so that the horse becomes comfortable adjusting to a different routine.
When to start competing
Once the horse is confident to tackle the jumps on a changing course, it is nearly time to take them to their first show. Eager horses will be happy to travel and the excitement can even spur them on to learn more quickly and achieve great things faster, however some may become upset by unusual surroundings and an unfamiliar course. A quiet practice ring is the best environment for a horse in training and a weeknight is usually the best time. Even a confident horse can become upset at a busy practice centre with so much going on around it. A new environment can be stressful and your key aim in the first few outings is to maintain and boost your horse’s confidence. Asking too much of your horse, or taking it to a crowded practice ring can have the opposite effect. Focus only on getting the horse around the course initially, don’t worry about clearing the jumps. Even though your horse has proved it can do much more at home, the environment away from home is different and there will be distractions.
Routine is calming for your animal and they will begin to understand what is expected of them. Therefore, take them to the same training ring the following week and try the same practice again. You may see an improvement in the jumps but you can be equally happy with a horse who appears calmer and more confident on their second outing, even if there is no discernible improvement around the course. Note any areas for improvement and work on these in between outings. As well as working on improvements you are looking to build their overall strength and skill.
When you find yourself at a point where the horse can comfortably and confidently complete the practice course, it’s time for the next phase. Your horse will probably be five and nearly six by the time you get to the stage of taking them to BSJA centre. An ambitious horse will be looking to achieve four Newcomers double clears and then go onto compete and qualify for regional competitions.
How to ensure optimum health for your horse.
As well as doing all you can to manage a horse’s routine and build their confidence, the food they eat is key to making them strong and achieving their optimum performance. If they feel fit in themselves, they will perform better for you. A supplement called Equitop Myoplast offers a unique blend of amino acids which work to promote and maintain muscle development. This enables horses to keep up with the rigors of training. Horses who work hard can suffer minor muscle damage and so it is essential that they receive the right proteins to enable the body to repair itself. It is a helpful supplement for both young, growing horses and older horses performing at a high level as well breeding horses. Top showjumpers recommend Equitop Myoplast to owners and trainers because they have seen the impressive results in the performance of the horses that use it regularly. They also see benefits to the horse’s appearance, and are often complimented on how healthy their animal looks.
It is a skill to recognise the potential in a young horse and to understand which horses will be able to go the full distance and become highly successful. It then takes dedication and a careful training schedule as well as a great diet. Alongside this, a quality supplement of crucial amino acids, which are the building blocks for protein, ensures the development of good lean muscle which a horse needs for optimum performance during both training and events.