This is probably the first time in history that all equestrians find themselves grappling with the same thing. Something has changed for just about everyone. Ironically it has nothing to do with horses and yet it is directly or indirectly impacting almost every rider…
Lockdowns, socially isolating, quarantine and social distancing have become terms that we all not only understand, but most of us have experience of implementing over the past weeks.
Today, I want to specifically address riders who, right now, cannot get to visit or ride their horses. As frustrating and sad as this may be, all is not lost.
I believe that there are ways that you can use this time to really invest in your foundations as a rider. And all of this in order to come out the other side an even ‘better version’ of yourself. Time is something you probably have an abundance of right now, so why not fill it with one of these activities?
1. Fill in the Gaps in Your Knowledge
Horse riding is physical. It requires you to take action on what you learn. However, right now, you may be feeling frustrated about not being able to take action. You simply are not allowed to go to the barn. Or maybe lessons have been canceled. All is not lost…You can learn a lot through watching videos, reading and listening to audios.
In fact, I personally believe that when a rider understands ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing, it makes ‘doing it’ a lot easier.
What have you been struggling with in your riding lately? Why not research it more and find out more about it. I am going to stress that, in particular, pay attention to causes versus symptoms. So many riders make the mistake of trying to fix the symptom. Quick fixes and short term results will follow. However, as soon as more pressure is added; you find yourself back to square one. And that is usually the exact time you need for the ‘fix’ to work!
You have an opportunity to ‘go deep’ with regard to what you learn now. If you are at a loss of where to begin, I suggest THE TRAINING SCALE
and how it can help you and your riding.
2. Give Your Tack a Good Old Spring Clean…
Now, your eyes may have rolled here, however, let me finish… Okay, firstly, have you ever noticed how, when you ‘look good’ you ‘feel good’? This is true in day to day life, non-horse related actives. But it is also true as a rider.
Having all your tack sparkling and ready to go will inspire you to show up differently when you do ride again. It encourages you to think, act and feel like a ‘better version’ of yourself.
If you find yourself with time on your hands and equipment at your location, get to work. Spend time giving all the equipment a deep clean. Remove grime. Notice what needs repairs or replacement. Look for general wear and tear and even begin matching that to what is happening when you ride. A stiffness or ‘lopsidedness’ can often correlate to a flocking issue…
Tack is something that many riders purchase once and then forget about. However, it makes sense that if you and your horse are developing, your needs regarding tack will evolve as well…
Maybe that bit is no longer the best option for you and your horse? Or perhaps a different noseband is required. It could be the martingale or the numnah. Even the girth can play a part. You and your horse’s needs will change over time.
As you clean your tack, picture how each individual piece is either adding or taking away from your conversation with your horse. Then begin researching…
3. Create or Update Your Goals
Let’s be honest here, the ones you created just 3 short months ago might just be looking a little far fetched right now! This is why this the perfect time to assess and make adjustments if necessary. Everyone is being forced to ‘pivot’ in some way or another right now. It is foolish to simply sit tight and hope to ‘ride this out’.
Change is essential in order to continue to make progress right now in the world.
One of the benefits of the current global situation is that is has forced us to have a lot more clarity regarding our priorities. What is really important. And in doing so, identify what can actually wait – or be discarded. We all have the potential to fall into habits that no longer serve us.
Often, it is only when we are actually forced to stop those things, that we notice new and better ways forward.
See this as an opportunity to ‘pattern interrupt’ your habits. Those that are still serving you will survive. In fact, they might just thrive. And those which are actually holding you back; find new ways or simply replace them with something you actually want.
4. Condition Your Body for Riding
Okay, I say it ALL THE TIME that riding is a 50:50 team sport. You and your horse. And yet, as riders, we are often guilty of devoting so much time to our horses 50% while completely ignoring our own. If you are confined to a specific area right now with a lot of time on your hands, why not invest 20 to 30 minutes a day to your own personal ‘condition’.
Find A SIMPLE WORKOUT PLAN
you can follow and begin implementing it. Each day devote 15 to 30 minutes to improving the future you and your riding.
Keep in mind that this is not a time to stress your body. Don’t work yourself to the point of exhaustion or the point of total body soreness! However, light (keyword in this case) exercise repeated regularly will help you to feel physically and mentally more ‘able’.
And after as short as 3 weeks will allow you to see a huge difference in the saddle as well.
5. Continue to Look Forward
It can seem all doom and gloom right now. I am going to suggest limiting yourself to one or two chosen content or news streams, and then switching off the rest. The world has been turned upside down. The confidence has been knocked out of almost everyone I know. Things are different.
However, I can choose how I respond in this situation. For myself, for my family and friends. And for my horses.
I am a firm believer that there is always a way forwards. This is why I am using this time to condition myself, mentally and physically, so as when the way appears, I am ready to take it.
Maybe this will help you to do the same…
Keep safe and well