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Alex Bragg's Training Tips

Alex Bragg’s training tip #1

Bonmahon Blue Mist (Richie) is a very rangy horse. He’s four-years-old and 16.3hh – he’ll grow a bit more by the time he’s finished – and has had three outings in four-year-old classes. With Richie, I’m concentrating on his rhythm and straightness. In the school I start working in trot as it is sometimes difficult for the bigger horses to cope with their canter while jumping until they’re a bit more mature. I want Richie to pop the fences economically and confidently.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #2
You can only progress as fast as the horse will let you and you need to be patient with all of them. With a horse like Bonmahon Blue Mist, a tall rangy 16.3hh four-year-old, we are looking to his future and he will be campaigned accordingly, making sure all the building blocks are firmly in place as we progress. I like this horse a lot as he has all the attributes of a very good horse. He’s brave with a forward thinking attitude and he has a huge amount of scope. We all are looking to make progress, but be patient with it.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #3

At this fence, Bonmahon Blue Mist, a 16.3hh, four-year-old with a lot of scope, took off a stride too soon and has made a huge jump over the fence. It looks impressive, but we want horses to pop fences economically and confidently. We approached it again quietly and he jumped it perfectly next time.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #4
Bonmahon Blue Mist, a 16.3hh four-year-old, lacks technique at this point in his training but he has raw talent. I’m working on his straightness and teaching him to manage himself so that he develops his technique naturally. I’m training his mind as well as developing him physically. If he relies on me, we’ll come unstuck at an event, so the aim is to teach him so that he is confident, he thinks for himself, he’s straight and he has a good technique.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #5
A winter training schedule for young horses: with my horses I tend to hack them at least three times a week and will work them in the school on average three times. With each horse you are aiming to make progress so you need to set goals of what you would like to be achieving reasonably by the end of the season with a mid-season goal in between. It can be useful to sit down with your trainer and make a plan. It’s easy to take a scatter gun approach to training and competing, but if you actually structure it, you’ll find you’ll achieve much more.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #6
When you are schooling at home, you should aim to be jumping your horses 10 – 15cms higher than what you would expect to jump when you are competing. When it comes to the competition, it will seem a lot easier!

Alex Bragg’s training tip #7

No matter how well your horse jumps, never take them for granted! I was expecting Bonmahon Blue Mist, to pop this little ditch, and he gave it plenty of space. Later, after he had jumped it several times, I was so focused on the fence after the ditch that he attempted to stop.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #8
Brushes on either side of a fence can be used to guide a horse to the middle of the jump and are really useful. You should always be fussy about making your horse jump in the middle of the fence.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #9
Your lower leg is your anchor point and quite often you will see riders with their stirrups a hole or two too long. Pull them up and you will be able to put your weight down through your heels and your contact with the horse’s side will be more consistent.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #10
Bonmahon Blue List, a four-year-old who had three BE outings last year, is ducking his head here through the owl hole. He’s so honest that he jumps it, but he lowers his head right down as he’s wary of the top of the fence. I simply repeat this fence until he feels more confident.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #11
Steps - always approach a step down steadily and allow the horse to canter away in a good rhythm.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #12
Ditches - come in at a steady speed so that your horse can assess the question in front of him, but make sure you are saying to him that we are going to jump this and get to the other side. Don’t rush, as you will confuse your horse.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #13
Trakehners - with my young horse, I approached the Trakehner in a steady trot, leg on and looking forward, and clicked so he knew he had to jump it.

Alex Bragg’s training tip #14
Putting together a course - once you’ve jumped a variety of fences confidently, you can put together a course.Have a plan so you can prepare for each fence adequately.Now approach in canter. Remember, balance and rhythm are key, so do come back to trot if you need to re-establish this.

(Images taken at Pontispool Equine Sports Centre on the Wychanger Barton Arena with Alex Bragg)

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