Petplan Equine have arranged for Eventing World Wide to have an insight into Lissa Green’s early training in preparation for the 2016 eventing season. Lissa is the daughter of eventing legend Lucinda Green and is a CCI*** event rider in her own right. Lissa gives her top tips for the year as she aims for her first CCI**** event in the autumn at Burghley Horse Trials.
There is nothing I love more than riding horses after they’ve had a good holiday, I have learnt to never underestimate what a good chunk of time off and decent grass can do for these lovely animals. They come back physically and mentally more developed and are more open to learning new things, I guess, just like us humans.
My advice is to start with road work as it is one of the best things you can do for your horse’s soundness. Each season starts with three weeks on the road, by day five we are doing eight miles in walk, a marching walk mind you, letting them just amble along won’t help muscle growth or fitness, we aim for the 8 miles to take us two hours.
By week three we gradually cut down the length of road work but start jogging up the hills, gradually introducing a working way of life back into them, whilst having the amazing benefits of being on the road. The juddering of walking on road historically is meant to be a good ‘leg hardener’ – in actuality what it does is help keep the Sharpey’s fibres healthy – they attach ligament and tendon to bone. The way to make the connection really strong is to stimulate it with mild, controlled, progressive concussion i.e. road work, however trotting fast on the road will have a negative effect, so we always try and do that pace as slowly as possible.
We have introduced schooling and jumping, thank goodness, feels like I have been waiting a life time to leave the ground again. I had my first lesson with Major Richard Waygood on the 14 January with Hollyfield (Øli) and Med Night Trafford Mignonette (Minnie) – both these two horses have the same problem and find it difficult to ‘sit’ on their hind end and carry themselves, so we do lots of pole work to activate those hind legs. Øli is new and arrived from Sweden at the end of last year, he is notorious for stopping and having poles in the show jumping (thankfully he is a dream cross country), I believe he has been forced ‘on the bit’ whilst show jumping, because that is what people perceive looks right. In my opinion, what is right is what suits the horse, also remembering that a horse’s distance vision is in the bottom of the eye, meaning that having their head up before a fence is sensible as they can see it for longer. When Øli has his head down ‘and pretty’ he goes a bit numb and onto his forehand, making it difficult for him to balance himself.
Fingers crossed we have unlocked a tiny aspect of what needs to be addressed to help this horse move forward. Either way, I love him and am having a super time slowly putting together his puzzle ahead of this season.