Work at the gallops can help you and your horse build confidence. The long lines of a gallop track pretty much eliminate the need for steering and allow you to concentrate on keeping them straight and forward and establish a secure position. Plus, by the time you’ve cantered for a mile, any thoughts about being naughty will have evaporated from your horse’s mind.
It’s important to start out steadily. Trot to the gallop, gradually warming up your horse’s body and settling their brain. As you trot along, remember to change your diagonal often – for example, changing it every 20 strides will help to make sure you work both sides of their body evenly. This is essential to help them avoid injury.
Going to the gallops not only builds your horse’s fitness, it can be a real test of rider fitness and strength, too. To adopt a galloping position, your stirrups need to be short enough for you to be able to stand up and off your horse’s back, with your hands low and on his neck. Your feet need to be well-placed in your stirrups so your heels can lower and stretch down. You can use your horse’s neck and his martingale or breastplate strap for balance. If you don’t use a martingale or breastplate you can attach a stirrup leather round their neck as a neck strap to hold on to.