No doubt by now everyones full of enthusiasm and plans for the forthcoming season (despite the recent weather) but lets just stop for a minute and look at how we plan, train and prepare.

Firstly no matter what youve done through the winter break/or not it is still important to go back to some basic work

  Walk work trot work hills etc etc not forgetting the schooling

  Find your training circuit or circuits and use them assessing what youre feeling as well as the readable signs of speed and recovery rates look back at last years records

  Those of you with youngsters starting their 2nd & 3rd seasons should see a marked change in those signs

  All should hopefully find a horse keen to get on with the job

  And if not take a step back and ask why?

Everyone needs to do some checks....

  vet check it really is worth it!

  Teeth (or dental technician)

  Vaccinations (fei now requires every 6 months)

  Blood profile

  General health check


  Physio dont miss this one, it really is worth getting a good check through of those muscles once theyve been back in work a few weeks you might just pick up something that could cause a problem before it does! It will also give you an opportunity to refresh what stretches and massages are good to do


  Make sure you get your saddle checked once youve done some toning work no point doing it before toning but dont leave it too late in the training process leaving it too late will mean the damage has be done!

  Remember if this is a youngster you could well be seeing some big changes dont ruin your chances by trying to make it fit in the long run it will not do either of you any favours.


  General Equipment

  Rugs - Do you have enough and do they do the job?

  Is everything mended and clean for the start

  Spares or everything

  Water carriers & sloshes all present and correct

  Map case intact still?

  Spare shoes

  Transport all up running & legal

  And so the list goes on ......

But ..... we need also to look at what happened last season lets look at the most common scenarios:

v  You finished on a high good results and or progression last ride completed with you both feeling and looking great no lumps, bumps or attitude brilliant. Just assess what it was you did that worked dont be complacent make sure you keep looking and listening this season plan your rides and goals carefully always allowing for changes and reversion to Plans B,C and even D! Remember to go through the Checks as discussed previously.


v  It was ok you had some prolems/niggles didnt really feel all ws well either attitude, or little lumps and bumps, not looking too great after rides? It wasnt ok then!! A holiday might just have done the trick but just beware and make sure you go through each of those little problems with a fine tooth comb and comb them out! Was it the saddle? Was it the riding? Does he just not enjoy it? Did it rub? Is his food not right? Or was he simply not fit enough? Take a really good step back and THINK make sure you start out with no doubts or listen carefully for niggles. Take extra care with the checks ..... and make sure you are able to get him fit for the job youd like to do!






v  You finished with an injury sometimes an easier scenario than the previous at least you know what happened! But do you know why, maybe not and you never will but just reassess for a moment, should you have stopped at the last vet gate did she really feel right on that last bit of work before the ride? But whatever the reason you need to be sure that you are both ready to come back have the CHECKS done! Make sure you do a really thorough training plan with assessment checks built in dont take short cuts (its not worth it!) Look at what youre entering carefully according to what the problem was and give yourselves interim goals!

So just a few tips to keep you worrying! And a few more suggestions to keep you on your toes!

  ... dont forget yourselves and your crews: get yourselves fit remember the better you ride the easier for your horse

  Practice the trot ups and if its your crew trotting up make sure they practice if youre going to do that 100 miler youll need to trot there and back a minimum of 12 times (and further if its FEI) Everyone (including your horse) needs to know its part of the job!

  We never know it all ... go to some training sessions and enjoy them, Heart Rate Training, Instruction, Map Reading or get an onthehoof personal training plan and trainer

  Have fun .... make it enjoyable for your horses too

And on that note ... On the Hoof wish you all a fabulously enjoyable and successful season.

Maggie Pattinson