Planning Your Rides – Part 1: Fun

Planning Your Rides – Part 1:  Fun

Planning Your Rides – Part 1: Fun

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… Or so the saying goes. I tend to believe this is true. Especially when it comes to riders and their horses. Yes, ‘working’ is important. But, if you are only riding to ride… Well, maybe that is what is actually holding you back in your riding?

I think that in order to really get the most from your riding plan to help you reach your goals, there are 3 key components. Not just work! Fun is just as important. And if you have been riding for any length of time, you will know that fun begins to wane after a while.

One of the biggest reasons that riders don’t ride as much as they say they want to – is down to riding simply not being as much fun as it once was!

Creating a plan for your riding is not just about the days you ride. It is also about finding a balance between 3 key elements that, I believe, are essential. Including these 3 elements will allow you to work towards your riding goals, while keeping things inspired, focused and interesting for all involved. Because, after all, that’s what Team Leaders do, right?!

Part 1 – Fun

Fun is one of my highest values. Seriously. I am all about it. I actively look for ways to make things more enjoyable. And I look for ways I drop or delegate things that are not so much fun for me. Imagine if you took this same approach to your riding?

You see, I believe that most riders ride because riding is fun.

Why do you ride? Because of how it makes you feel – or maybe ‘made’ you feel. And there is the rub for many riders. What starts as this fun, exciting, and new experience, every single ride, can soon become, well, a little same old, same old.

You can make sure fun remains a big part of your day to day riding by intentionally planning enjoyable things for you and your horse to do, on a regular basis.

So what is fun?

Fun is enjoying the moment. The process. It is usually not an ‘end goal’ or ‘endpoint’.  We rarely say “I am struggling on through the mud now because I will feel like it was fun when I’m finished”. Fun is the actual activity. And, fun is for both horse and rider.

It is something that you can do together and that has the single goal of allowing you both to enjoy yourselves and each other’s company.

Many riders confuse activities that bring them joy with activities that are fun for all involved. I know a lot of horses who don’t find jumping the same jump or riding the same movement over and over again much fun. But their rider does!

The rider ends the ride having had the time of their life. The horse ends by offering up a silent prayer of thanks for that particular 30 minutes of tediousness being over!

Fun Can Mean Many Different Things

I can bet that if you and I had a chat over a cup of tea, there would definitely be some things we could agree on as being ‘fun’. However, there are probably just as many that I would say are ‘fun’ and you would look at me as though I was crazy. Ironing, anyone?! Fun means different things to different people.

And ‘fun’ can also change as you develop as a rider. Where initially the simple act of riding was fun, you may find that this just doesn’t bring you the same levels of enjoyment after a while. And this is where developing intention about what is fun becomes important.

Fun also means different things to different horses.

For some horses, practicing the course of fences is fun. Others enjoy the gallop on the sand at the beach. Or grazing in a safe paddock, maybe with their human close by reading a book or magazine. Massages, treats, natural horsemanship… There are endless possibilities and opportunities to discover what your horse enjoys.

Ideas For Getting Intentional

Here are a few suggestions to get you started with this. You may find that you are naturally drawn to one or two of these. Great. Insert them into your riding plan for this coming month.

        •  In-hand grazing
        •  A relaxing trail ride with a friend
        •  Loosely braiding or brushing your horse’s mane
        •  A leg or face massage for your horse
        •  Baking (you) and eating treats together
        •  A walk in-hand
        •  Grooming
        •  Natural horsemanship
        •  Picnic with your horse
        •  A trail ride with just the two of you…
        •  Observing your horse in the paddock
        •  A gallop in an open field
        •  Reading a book in the paddock, or beside the paddock (you know what’s safe for you)
        •  Full body massage for your horse
        •  A beach ride for both of you
        •  Brushing your horses tail

These are just a few ideas, the list is endless. I am going to suggest choosing 2 or 3 and ‘slot’ them into your riding plan for this month.

Trying New Things…

Fun, just like everything else, has a comfort zone. A place where there is no excess tension there to make it feel a little different or ‘uncomfortable’. If confidence is an issue for you or/and your horse, stay in your comfort zone for a while to grow your confidence.

Keep in mind that all things inside of our comfort zone can begin to feel ‘bland’ or ‘neutral’ after a while… Fun is no different…

So, I am going to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. I am challenging you to try something that you have not done before. Or something that you don’t think you, or your horse, would enjoy. Give it a go… See how it feels and, if you surprise yourself and discover it is, in fact, fun; great.

You now have another activity to include in your ‘fun’ list for when you are creating your weekly riding plan.

Happy Riding

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