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TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR HORSES & HORSE RIDERS

Not surprisingly due to Covid and a lot of horse riders confined to riding at home, I have received a lot of inquiries about my training programs.  I offer single poles training programs which have a poles pattern and a detailed document that coaches the rider through a progressive gymnastic training program.  Set up instructions with distances are also included.  These are hugely popular and while there is a lot of free information out there on various poles exercises mine are a little different.  My poles programs are exactly that… a ‘program’.  Not just a pattern with a line of arrows but a set program with describing the aim and benefits of each pattern along with coaching on how to achieve them.  All of my poles programs are designed to improve accuracy, balance, connection, strength, mobility and the riders ‘feel’.  They differ in their levels of technicality and intensity with options to scale each exercise to a more difficult session. The 12 pole program is the only one that incorporates an in-hand program as well as a ridden program but all can be broken down into sections and worked through in-hand first, if the rider desires. 

Providing five day programs have kept me busy as I tailor them to the individual.  These can be tailored for a rider wanting to improve their balance, or increase their horse’s stride, to help build top line on their horse or to create even muscle development after incurring an injury.  The training programs for the kids who are competing are also popular as it gives them something to focus on and stops them flopping around on endless circles when not under instruction. My programs set the rider up with achievable goals, what they need to do to action those goals and various methods to problem solve an issue along the way.  The video critique is a huge advantage to these programs as it allows the rider to see what they are doing on the play back with my comments on how to improve that component of their riding. 

To give a bit of a better picture on how my programs work I thought I would take you through the process with my little ambassador Jorja Clarke.  Jorja is 14 years old and competing 1* Eventing on her green Warmblood cross Thoroughbred (aka Buzz).  Jorja also has a Thoroughbred mare she events but I primarily help her with Buzz. 

Jorja’s mum has recently bought a Pivo so training sessions can be video recorded.  This makes writing Jorja’s training programs so much easier and her understanding of the critique is clearer due to it being visual.

Below is a screen shot of a video Jorja has sent me and my comment in correlation with the time of the video.  For each rider undergoing this form of training I set up a Drop Box folder and they download their videos to their folder for me to critique.  Not only does this allow the rider to see exactly what they are doing in relation to my comments but it allows me to write a very specific and tailored program to suit.  At this point in the video Jorja is about four strides away from a canter transition. The transition was rushed and hollow, so I am able to take her back to the point where it started to go wrong and write/coach how to improve the transition and the point of preparation. Jorja is a great student and why I made her an ambassador for AML as once she is corrected on something, she will always make the next attempt so much better!

I generally try to get clients to send me through about half an hour of video to critique. That gives me enough footage to really pin point what the main issues are and the basis of the next training program. A five day training program can take me around 3 hours to write, depending on the client and their level of understanding with how I communicate. I always encourage my clients to ask plenty of questions. I generally have about five different ways to say the same thing, so if one way isn’t understood by the rider I can generally find a way that they can. The programs get emailed to the client in the form of a PDF and can be printed out or read straight off a screen. I have had one client ask for her programs to be sent through in an eBook file such as epub which worked a treat too and allowed her to read the program straight from her tablet. I originally thought these programs worked best for analytical people but they are proving to work well for the visual learners too when the video critique is matched to the program. Below is screenshot of one of the exercises I had written up for Jorja in an earlier program.

Jorja is an extremely busy little rider with two eventers of her own and a string of client horses coming and going for schooling through school holidays. Training other peoples horses is how Jorja pays for her own two. Jorja’s long term coach, Leah Simmons coaches Jorja in person on a weekly basis.  Leah and I are from the same school of training and often liaise on what Jorja needs to focus on so I can write it into her programs.  Not all kids are as lucky as Jorja to have two coaches helping them along the way, but most kids don’t have up to 8 horses in for training which is way more than either Leah or myself could help her with on her own. This method has proven to be a very effective system which had improved Jorja’s scores and placings after six weeks into using the programs.

Ultimately, it is up to the rider to put in the training but having someone more experienced set out a program and another set of experienced eyes to keep you on track rapidly improves the rider and horses skill set. 

I have other riders who are not lucky enough to have Leah or any other coach to drop in once a week for a private lesson.  These ladies and young riders live remotely and don’t have access to qualified regular coaching, so the training programs have been well received by this crew of mine.  I realized over time that my clients who were following the written training programs were progressing faster than the clients who were undergoing a weekly lesson.  As Covid has prevented us from being able to get out and coach in person I have transferred a few of my private lessons over to the five-day programs as they could afford it.  The five-day programs with video critique cost $150 with each program used by the rider for between two weeks to a month to be able to achieve the desired result.  Broken down weekly it is no more expensive than a weekly private lesson, so if you need that bit of extra help, especially through this restrictive time of Covid, then send me a message and we’ll have a chat about what you’d like help with.

Otherwise, if you just want some fun training ideas that will not only improve your riding but increase your horses mobility and strength, download a poles program off my site or head to your App store and download my AML Equestrian Coaching App which currently contains 18 poles exercises and 2 jumping exercises. The App is now linked to my Youtube channel so I can start uploading more demo videos and give my riders a direct link to a more visual form of knowledge.  There are various levels of patterns in the App, but they will all test you and keep you more than occupied with your training.

Happy riding everyone!

To download the App head to your App store or hit one of these links –

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