Horse riding is a skill that is always a work in progress. A rider can never truly claim to have finished or completed their training… That being said, one of the more frequent questions I get asked by new riders is “how long will it take until I can ride?”. Which inevitably leads to thoughts of “How long is a piece of string?” and a long conversation!
But, seriously, if we don’t ever have a true ‘end-point’, how do we keep moving forward & motivated?
1. Discover what inspires you
I know, the word ‘inspiration’ can be a little overused in this day and age, particularly when coupled with the words Pinterest and Instagram. However, knowing what you like and developing your style when it comes to riding is very often dictated by what you see and experience.
Notice what excites you. Take heed of the things that spark your imagination regarding whats possible with you and your horse. Then begin to thread some of those into your everyday reality with your horse. What can this look like?
- Saving up for those jodhpurs
- Booking that riding holiday
- Reserving your place in the upcoming clinic
- Baking those treats for your horse
- Organising that trail ride with a friend
- Entering that upcoming competition
The list of possibilities is endless because inspiration is everywhere. Also, your combination of things that inspire you, is unique to you. Some may be simple and easy to implement, others may involve more time or money in order to make happen. Either way, what matters is that you begin paying attention to what makes you want to get in the saddle and be a better rider.
2. Share your experiences with others
“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double” ~ John Ray
How true this is. Horse riding is often seen by non riders as not being a team sport. Anyone who has ridden a horse will of course know that the rider and horse makes the team. But equally as important to your success and happiness are the people you are riding with. They will very often have a sizeable influence on your experiences in the saddle.
If you have not already, I strongly suggest that you begin seeking out like-minded riders with whom you can share your experiences with; both when in the saddle and having a cuppa at the stables. Having a good support system is often the difference between you becoming a confident rider who makes progress in developing your skills and you becoming anxious, nervous rider who seems destined to ride the same year, over and over again!
This may just mean moving barns or yards. Or, maybe you can join a riding club that focuses on a discipline you enjoy. If location is an issue, this could look like finding support and friendships in an online space and environment.
Regardless of what your situation or circumstance is, begin cultivating relationships that support you in your riding. Having cheerleaders makes the good times better and will help get you into the saddle again when the going gets tough.
3. See your riding as a journey
All good journeys happen on the way to somewhere… That somewhere does not have to be the final destination in your riding, however knowing you want to reach a specific place opens up a lot of different options regarding how you will get there.
Many riders make the mistake of creating a single goal for their riding; which in itself is not a bad idea. The trouble arises when they fail to create a plan of how to get there. It is like me setting out the front door of my house here in Ireland with the goal of reaching my farm in South Africa – but having no map or itinerary to get there!
The journey would be haphazard, frustrating and long – at best! I would probably make it to my end goal, but whether or not I would do so safely and in a ‘timely fashion’ is up for debate! Needless to say, this would not be a good way to reach my goal.
Many riders approach their riding in this exact way. A destination is chosen – but no plan is created to get them there.
Having a plan, even a lose one, is the best way to actually make things happen in your riding. The plan does not have to be set in stone. In fact, it is almost impossible to create a detailed plan further than 4 to 6 weeks out when it comes to horses. Rather create a series of loosely mapped out ‘mini’ goals. One will lead on to the next, which will lead to the next… This is your journey with your horse. This journey will eventually take you to that ‘place’. The destination or goal; the one thing you wanted. From here, you can choose a new destination and all the fun places you can visit on your way there!
Keep in mind that the plan ‘will’ change. Horses have an uncanny ability to test our flexibility and willingness to persevere with something. But if you know where your destination is, a detour or two along the way is not the end of the world – and who knows what you might discover or experience along the way.
Take Action Today
So, as you were reading this blog post, what ideas and thoughts popped into your mind. What have you seen lately that inspired you? Who can you share it with? If you don’t have anyone right now, where can you begin seeking out like-minded riders? Riders to keep you company on your journey.
And, staying on the whole ‘journey’ theme; where will your next destination be when it comes to your riding?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Perhaps you can inspire another rider who is feeling a little ‘lost’ right now where their horse riding journey is concerned.
Every week I create a series of audio horse riding programs that riders can download and listen to while they ride their horse. It’s like having an instructor with them in the arena! Daily Strides Premium is where all these ‘lessons’, past and present are waiting for you.
The programs are divided into Collections; Leg Aids, Groundwork, Basic Training, Cantering, Gridwork, Reschooling, Seat Aids, Healthcare to name a few. Give Daily Strides Premium a try today – and make EVERY ride great.