From 4 years to 4 star… What does it really take?

I was absolutely delighted to attend the 4th leg of the Ros Canter and Caroline Moore, 4 years to 4* tour at Vale View Equestrian last night.  I have taken away so much from just 3 hours of learning and I hope you find it useful too.

Credit : Rupert Gibson Photography

Caroline Moore, British Eventing National Coach to our GB Junior Squad and co-owner of the world’s leading event horse Allstar B, gave me a behind the scenes insight into some of the exercises used to train a horse up the levels.

I won’t spoil it for you all because Horse&Country TV will be airing the footage on 18th December, but I will tell you about my 3 favourite exercises from the evening and the top 3 nuggets I am taking away from it.

A bit about the set up

The arena looked something like this:

Let’s get one thing STRAIGHT

So, there are 2 oxers and 3 skinny brush fences set alternately on a straight line.  This is a test of accuracy, balance and straightness.  The horses they used for this were incredible young horses but I cant wait to have a go.  TOP TIP: Walk your horse through the skinny wings without a pole or brush so they get used to having a small gap to fit through.

Caroline talks us through this exercise here:

Poles Apart

This was probably my favourite exercise of the evening.  Yes I loved seeing Ros and her accuracy over the huge shoulder brush corner BUT…. where I am at right now, this exercise will help BOTH my horses and me to focus and re-group.

3 sets of 3 raised trotting poles on 2 turns (see arena diagram). So simple but I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made to both horses in the arena.  Trot over 3, turn, trot over 3, turn, trot over the final 3. This will help focus attention of both horse AND rider, balancing the horse for the turn will teach collection and engagement, and the lift they need for raised poles will certainly build great muscle tone and also encourage an active hind leg. I LOVE this and I cant wait to have a go!

Watch the exercise as Caroline tells us about her magic list…

Changing Ways

My next favourite was a VERY simple figure of eight teaching the horse to respond to your weight balance and land on the correct canter lead.

We received a physics lesson from the ever knowledgeable Caroline where she explained how your weight can directly impact which leading leg your horse lands on after a jump and this exercise is excellent for that. TOP TIP: The jumps can be tiny for this but remember, Eyes UP!

Just turning your head and weight, looking and bending the horse in direction you want to travel will have a direct impact on the leg they land on after the fence.

See Ros and Heidi having a go:

My TOP 3 Nuggets

Nugget 1: Ros has changed so much about her riding in the last few years and she put a lot of emphasis on not riding with too short reins and getting out of balance up the horses neck… I do this A LOT and I’m going to practice lengthening the rein and being more in balance.

Nugget 2: There were some great tips for SPOOKY horses last night and I definitely need to get on top of this.  Ros talked a lot about firm and fair training and I am going to insist a bit more often that Pat pays attention to ME not the slightly off brown leaf on the fence 200m away.

Nugget 3: Learning to love going fast to a fence… I’ve got much better at this but practicing galloping in the field and going quicker than I’d like to a jump would stand me in really good stead for XC riding. Not in a hurry to tackle that MASSIVE shoulder brush corner though!

I really cannot tell you how great it was at this demo.  They are full to bursting with knowledge, the pair of them.  I am almost certainly going to book in for a lesson with Caroline, she has such a huge toolbox of skills and I really look forward to improving my horses using her training methods at home too.

Massive thank you to Caroline, Ros and Heidi and also to Jump 4 Joy, Stierna and to Justine at Smiley PR for allowing me to cover this event.  I can’t wait to get practicing now!!!


CREDITS: Header Image by Rupert Gibson Photography 


Vic Brant

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One thought on “From 4 years to 4 star… What does it really take?

  1. Loved this! Such good do-able exercises to practice at home. I have real trouble with the mare I ride not paying enough attention, so am always looking for new exercises to try when we are schooling. So I will definitely try those! Louise from In Due Horse xx

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