Is every 30-minute ride starting to look and feel the same for you? Even the ones that you painstakingly chose exercises to work on? Annoying, isn’t it? Especially because actually ‘moving forward’ in your riding is the reason you are riding!
If this is the case, firstly, take heart that you’re not alone! Remaining focused throughout the day to day riding can really begin to wear on most well-intentioned riders after a while. And can even cause riding to begin dropping off your list of priorities…!
This is why I suggest a 3 pronged approach to developing your weekly riding plan in a way that keeps things interesting and moving forward…
A plan that will take you, clearly, on a path to your goals. Part 1 is to introduce regular intentional Fun to your riding. From there, Part 2 is working on deepening your Partnership with your horse. Which leads us to…
Part 3 – Developing
Doing the work. This is part that most riders are good at talking about, planning about, and even trying in the arena. You have probably found yourself on more than one occasion in the arena, exercise all mapped out in your head. And yet realizing, in absolute dismay, that it is just not coming together for you.
The key is to begin making ‘the work’ actually work for you and your horse!
Developing is another name for training. I personally believe that both horse and rider need training in order to move forward in their relationship. Often, most horse and rider combinations begin with one team member not being as advanced as the other. In this case, the more advanced or developed team members will help to ‘lift’ the other to their level. The schoolmaster horse or the more experienced rider.
However, at some point, most horse and rider partnerships will reach a level where they are now matching in their skills and abilities. And this can be where so many begin to plateau.
Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally
When we think of ‘working’ our horses or ‘training’ our horses, it can be easy to only focus on the physical. The things we can actually see. Increased flexion. Improved straightness. Maintained rhythm. However, reaching a new level in development actually involves your horse also develop emotionally and mentally.
Your horse must believe that he can do the things you are asking him to do.
The same applies to riders. Just focusing on actual physical riding skills will result in a rider plateauing in their training. We all know of the rider (maybe it is even you) who knows what to do and can do it… But just does not have the confidence to do it. Or who cannot consistently establish or maintain what it is that they are doing?
Both horse and rider must develop both mentally, emotionally, and physically in order to really continue to grow individually and as a team.
The Power of Simple
I am a big believer in keeping things simple. Simple exercises that focus on simple outcomes. The basics matter and I believe that spending the majority of your ‘Developing Time’ there, will help you and your horse reach your goals much faster and easier. This is especially true if you have plateaued in your riding…
Often, if you are not seeing progress (usually because Fun and Partnership are not included in the plan), you instinctively jump to complicated where training is concerned.
I am going to urge you to rein in the temptation to do that and to really just focus and work on the simple in your training with your horse. It’s not fancy, it’s not fashionable! But it works.
Choose simple exercises and rather work on them through the filter of what you want to achieve in your riding.
For example, a serpentine can be used to work on transitions, bending, rhythm, walk, trot, canter, straightness, ground poles, flexion, relaxation, accuracy and so much more. One exercise, that is as basic as they come, and I’ve just given you 11 different ways you can use it in your training.
Adding Developing To Your Riding Plan
Just like Fun and Partnership, there are many different ways to incorporate Developing or Training into your riding plan. Here are a few suggestions you can use to get you started…
- Lunging in an enclosed space
- Long Lining
- Flatwork (while riding)
- Shows & Competitions
- Long Lining over poles
- Lunging in an open space
- New experiences
- Trail rides & hacking
And that is just to get started with… I’m sure you can come up with many more ways and opportunities you can really begin training and developing both you and your horse.
Again, you will see cross-pollination between the activities on your Fun List, your Partnership List, and your Training List. Remember, it is the intention that counts.
The final part of putting all of this together is to find actual exercises for you and your horse to work on each day as you ride. 3 exercises can go a long way. 5 and you have more than enough for a month’s worth of riding.
Choose wisely and, remember, keep it simple!
Additional Links to Help You:-
- Planning Your Rides – Part 1 Fun
- Planning Your Rides – Part 2 Partnership
- Lunging for Riding
- Online Community for Equestrian focusing on Planning and Mindset
- Stop Wasting and Start Investing Time with Your Horse
- What’s Your Number in Your Riding?
- A Plan for 7 Days in Your Riding
- Plan Your Ride with These Simple Steps
- Transform the Next 12 Weeks in Your Riding
- Connection; the Online Membership for Equestrians