What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Figure out how to choose a theme or topic
- Be specific about what you are going to do with each of the two horses
- Align your schooling with the goals for each of the two horses
- Understand that adjustments are often essential
Planning what to work on with your horse is often a task that many riders neglect. Often this is due to having failed at making it simple enough that you can follow. This ‘threat’ doubles when you add a second horse into the mix.
Creating one plan can seem daunting enough; now to create two plans for two horses, who have different needs and goals can seem impossible. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be…
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast I take you step by step through a process that works where planning for two horses is concerned. It works because it is simple to do. Simple and easy. In fact, once I explain this to you, I’m confident that you will feel like this is definitely something you can do in your riding and schooling.
Why is Planning for Two Horses So Difficult?
Well, the real answer here is that it actually isn’t! It is often the rider who makes it difficult by over complicating the whole process. In riding, there are thousands of different exercises you can ride with your horse. Add lunging and groundwork into the mix and that number multiplies significantly.
Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the trap of thinking that complicated exercises or school movements are necessary in your schooling.
Any rider who has a successful relationship with a horse will tell you to focus on the basics. Get those right and then work on from there. Now, obviously when you are working two horses, particularly if one is more developed than the other, more challenging questions are necessary.
However the question or the desired outcome should remain the focus of your schooling – not the exercises you are using to apply the question…
Choose a Theme or Topic for Each Horse
I know, it seems so obvious; and yet so many riders fail to do this. I recommend having a monthly theme or topic that part of a bigger 3, 6 or 12 month goal. Another way of choosing this is what came up during your last clinic or lesson… However you decide to choose a topic, the important thing is that you do just that – make a decision or choice!
Having something that you want to work towards or achieve for each of your two horses will make deciding what to actually do in the saddle with each of them so much easier.
Your topics or themes do not have to be the same. Now, of course, it will make life a whole lot easier if they are similar or related. But again, this does not necessarily have to be the case.
Working two horses using two completely different themes or topics does not have to be difficult. Your approach is what will determine the outcome; keep that in mind as you plan your exercises.
Choosing Schooling Exercises for Your Two Horses
Be careful here; this is where most riders overcomplicate and confuse both themselves and their horses! If your ‘plan’ is too complicated or time-consuming, you are not going to stick to it. It’s as simple as that!
Think of the basics. Keep things as simple as possible. And use your chosen theme as the perspective you approach each exercise from.
I personally recommend choosing four exercises a month. Then just riding them using the specific individual filter or perspective that you have already chosen for each of your two horses. This way it doesn’t matter how far apart your two horses are in their training level. They will both be worked in a way that benefits where they are right now in their development.
Most basic schooling exercises can either be worked on using a different focus, perspective or filter. And simple variations can be added where necessary to the existing basic exercise.
Less Time Planning; More Time Implementing
Following the above suggestion will give you more time to actually school or ride. While setting up different exercises for each of your two horses might be a novelty at first, I can guarantee you that it will soon become a chore. And we all know what happens when the fun is gone from something we once enjoyed!
Choosing the same exercise for both horses will help you to simplify your whole schooling plan.
The same exercise does not mean having the same intention, as mentioned, it simply means that you have more time to work on how the horse is actually working through the exercise. Less time moving any poles or markers. More time in the saddle actually working on what you want to improve with your horse.
Riding the Same Exercise Differently with Two Horses
So now that you have your four exercises for the month, what is next? Well actually putting it all into practice and riding your both of your two horses through one of the exercises. Let’s use an example here; one of your horses is a 4-year-old green horse who is still working on establishing rhythm, particularly through bends and circles. The other horse is a 12-year-old who is competing and working towards the next level. Straightness is key for this horses overall development and strength.
Remember, everything when riding is related; meaning that nothing worked on will be done in isolation from other schooling principles.
I would suggest one of your exercises being a simple serpentine. With your first horse focus on riding the exercise as accurately as possible, and trying to maintain the rhythm throughout the whole exercise. You can later begin adding some transitions into the same schooling exercise. With your second horse, obviously the same will apply with the added focus of straightness through the exercise.
The same exercise, ridden the same way just using a different filter or perspective depending on your end goal or focus with each of your two horses.
The Advantages of Working Two Horses Using the Same Exercises
As you begin working your two horses using the exercises you have chosen, use the fact that you are working two different horses to your advantage. Begin noticing what challenges are coming up.
Often a green horse can bring your attention to a missing element with a more advanced horse. A basic missing element which otherwise might be overlooked.
The other advantage of working two horses through the same exercise is that it highlights some potential pitfalls which are being caused by you, the rider!
If two completely different horses at two different levels are having the same issue show up; one of the common denominators is you – the rider!
Is there something you are doing that is causing both horses to have a similar issue with the same exercise? If so, what can you do to begin replacing this with something that is more beneficial to both yourself and your two horses?
Working two horses at the same time does not have to be complicated or stressful. Remember, simplify where you can. Then just enjoy the process. You are, after all, blessed that you have two horses to work in the first place :)
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