The ‘New Normal’. I feel as though we have reached a point where we must begin looking at how we can settle into this period in our lives, rather than wishing for the way things were. You may have to become the trainer for you and your horse. I know that many riders are having to now begin, maybe for the first time, be the trainer, the instructor, the chief planner, as well as the rider.
Progress doesn’t just happen. There are a few essentials that must be consistently visited in order to maintain consistent progress. Progress, I believe, is deepening the understanding and the relationship between horse and rider. What you do with this progress is up to you. However, I feel that all riders should be looking to at least try and build a conversation with their horse.
Here are the 5 essentials you must regularly visit if you are to make this a consistent reality for you and your horse…
1. Your Mindset
Whatever you believe about yourself as a rider, is what is playing out in your day to day riding. Believe you can trot; low and behold, you will trot. Canter is the same. So too is half pass, jumping and any other discipline or movement to do with riding. However, there is a flip side to this… Believe you will fall off; you probably will!
Your mindset has the power to ‘cap’ both yourself and your horse’s development and growth. It can become the glass ceiling that prevents you both from reaching your true potential as a team
However, it also has the power to help you overcome challenges. To move past ‘sticky points’ on your riding journey. And to help you deepen your conversation and relationship with your horse.
So, answer me this… What do you think about yourself as a rider?
The reason this plays out the way it does is not magic or woo (or maybe it is?!). However, if we want to just be practical, the reason this happens is due to you taking action based on your beliefs.
Therefore, your opinion of yourself as a rider will dictate how you actually show up and ride. If that is not motivation to dig a little deeper into your thoughts, I don’t know what is!
2. The Basics
Ah, good old auto-pilot. I am a huge fan of putting the basics on autopilot in your riding. Trust me, it works… Until it doesn’t anymore! This is why I believe that, as a rider, it is your responsibility to revisit and ‘tweak’ your basics on a regular basis.
What do successful riders spend 80% of their time working on in their riding and with their horses? The basics…
Many riders find themselves ‘stuck’ in their riding due to something that falls under ‘the basics’ not being upgraded when it should have been in your riding. Remember, what got you here won’t get you there. Your basics will regularly have to be modified in order to serve the next level in your riding development.
Your foot placement in the stirrup. How you are using your reins. Your position. Sitting trot anyone?!
Every conversation between horse and rider begins and ends on the ground. You mount up and you dismount. Weak boundaries on the ground, very often, begin creeping into the ride. Inconsistency on the ground can often confuse the aids in the ride.
Groundwork can help you develop your aids and build responsiveness for when in the saddle.
It is also a great way to add some variety into your day to day schooling with your horse. Lunging, long-lining, and groundwork itself all help you to gain a new perspective when training your horse. They also allow your horse to figure things out without your weight confusing the issue in the saddle.
Groundwork has huge potential as a tool when it comes to improving your riding.
So many riders what to get from ‘here’ (wherever they are in their riding right now) to ‘there’ (wherever it is they want to go). However, they have no clue as to how they can make that happen. If you are facing the possibility of becoming your horse’s sole trainer, you need a system!
Riders need a proven framework to use when it comes to training and developing themselves and their horses.
A ‘Hit And Miss Approach (HAMA) will never lead to long term success when it comes to riding. The most common HAMA I see riders use is the ‘What do I feel like doing today?’ variety. Look, I am all for inspiration. In fact, I think it is vitally important as a rider to ensure you have some when it comes to your riding.
However, expecting to develop the conversation based on ideas you are plucking out of thin air 10 minutes before you mount up is not going to lead to long term success.
In fact, I have noticed that riders who plan (I use this word in the loosest of terms here) their rides this way often begin to get desperate with their exercises. Rather find a system you enjoy and plug into it.
Remember, every system should have ‘wiggle room’; meaning it must be able to adapt for you and your horse where needed.
Which leads me straight into the fifth essential. When you have a system to follow and some important essentials to work on, planning becomes so much easier. And yet, this is the piece so many riders fail to implement.
Strangely enough, it is also the piece that many riders pay a trainer for their expertise on. Planning how to get from here to there for each unique horse and rider combination.
If you are to really take your new role of ‘trainer’ seriously, the planning element is vital to your success. Have an intention for each ride. A focus for each week. A theme for each month. All leading to your goal. Planning is like mapping out the stepping stones you will need in order to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’. If you are missing intention in your ride, it is very difficult to layer your wins in order to create a strong foundation to keep building from.
Planning in advance will help you remain focused on your goals and moving towards them each and every ride.
Trainer for You and Your Horse
If you are suddenly finding yourself in this new place in your riding, I have two resources to help you. I have created a free Week’s Riding Plan HERE, that you can use to plan your upcoming week with your horse with intention and focus. And if you would like more help and support, Connection is where you can get both those and so much more.
Connection gives you the resources to learn what you need, but also the coaching to go and take action on what you have learned.
You can visit Connection HERE for all the details.
Links to Additional Resources
- Connection – my monthly online membership for equestrians
- CLICK HERE to receive more information on my virtual riding lessons
- Horse Riding Through COVID-19
- Working with an Online Equestrian Coach or Trainer
- Free Weeks Riding Plan
- Free 2020 Equestrian Fitness Challenge
- Lunging for Riding
- Groundwork for Riding
- My free online Facebook Community
- The Daily Strides Podcast