Do you want to improve your riding skills, and yet finding more time to spend in the saddle feels an impossible task right now. More time in the saddle means an even more ‘busy’ schedule!
Or, perhaps, you’re experiencing the other side of this coin; you’re riding all of the hours, but you’re not actually seeing any improvement?
It is important to remember that riding alone won’t improve your skills as rider… There are a lot of other factors involved as well.
Not Riding Enough
Let’s tackle the ‘I don’t ride enough to improve’ first. Yes, while it is true that in order to build and increase your skills as a rider you do have to spend some time in the saddle, the keyword to remember there is ‘some’. Hours and hours of endless riding are not entirely essential to improve your skills.
Remember, the key to improving as a rider is to be very intentional with the time you do have to ride or interact with your horse
This will allow you to focus on the things that will best move the needle for you in your riding. So, for example, if you are struggling with upward transitions, your time will probably be more valuable if you work on your self-carriage while riding. Rather than simply practicing the upward transition.
It is important to identify what are symptoms in your riding, and what are the actual root causes…
I have a previous episode on this HERE that will help you to begin doing that.
Riding All of the Hours
The flip side to this is the rider who rides 4 or 5 hours each week but still fails to improve. If this is you, you’ll know how ‘hard’ you practice. How diligent you are at making sure you get those rides in… And, understandably, how frustrating it is when nothing changes!
Doing more of something won’t help if the thing you are doing is not the right thing.
As a rider, it is important to remember that your basic skills must be upgraded regularly in order to work with the ‘new version’ of you in the saddle. Meaning that whatever got you to this point in your riding, won’t get you to the next level.
Letting go of older ways of doing things can feel uncomfortable. Especially if those things helped get you to the point you’re at now. However, in order to grow as a rider, it will require you to begin doing strategic things differently. This can often be small tweaks that make all the different
Okay, so you know which side of this equation you are sitting on. The next thing to do is to begin creating a strategy to actually improve.
Get Clear On Current Priorities
If you are not riding as much as you want right now, you need to ask yourself why? And be REALLY honest with the answer.
Yes, there are some people who, due to the season of their life right now, simply can’t devote any more time to riding each week. And that is fine. If this is you, my advice is to improve your knowledge, your posture, your core strength, your coordination, and your emotional well-being and beliefs each day. None of these things require you to actually ride your horse.
However, for most riders who don’t have ‘time to ride’, the issue is less about time and more about priorities. Horse riding is not a high enough priority on your list right now. Again, this may be a season. If so, follow the advice mentioned above.
But, if this statement makes you feel a little uncomfortable – it is probably because there’s a grain, or twenty, of truth in there…
Do a ‘Time Audit’
Many riders who are not riding as much as they say they want to tend to overcomplicate things. They make riding out to be this great big, 4-hour thing that will suck up all the remaining time in the day. This is not true.
30 minutes of quality time with your horse, on the ground or in the saddle, is more than enough to improve your riding – if you are intentional about what you are doing.
The key is to have a plan. Know what you want to work on and then make it happen. Start with groundwork. 20 minutes here and 10 minutes there. This will help you to begin creating momentum and rhythm.
From there, transfer this to lunging. It requires a little more of a commitment, but again 20 or 30 minutes here and there will make all the difference. Until finally you are riding for 30 to 40 minutes a couple or more times a week.
Keep in mind it is NOT the riding, the lunging, or the groundwork that will improve your riding. It is the plan and the intention you create going into each session…
Stop ‘Clock In’ Riding
Now, if you are on the flip side, in that your riding all of the hours but not seeing any improvement, this is for you. I am encouraging you to begin keeping track of your rides. What did you set out to work on? Why? How did it go? How much of the ride did you actually devote to this? And, equally as important, how many times did you get sidetracked?
Clock in riding will not improve your riding. It will only serve to further ingrain bad habits and help you and your horse feel a little more ‘sour’ with each ride.
As a rider, you have to begin taking responsibility for what happens inside of each interaction with your horse. This requires creating a plan and sticking to it.
Making strategic tweaks to what you are doing and tracking the outcome.
Only when you begin to approach your riding from the same perspective a trainer or coach would will you begin to see positive change. And, keep in mind, often things get a whole lot messier before they get better🙂 It’s a process. Be consistent, hold the course and you will begin to see positive changes.
Enjoy Each Moment
Finally, and I realize this is a little cheesy, but learn to be present with your horse. Rather than constantly berating yourself and him for not being further along, notice what you have achieved right now.
Simply creating space in your schedule to be still with your horse for 3 to 5 minutes can be life-changing.
The more appreciation you feel for yourself and your horse, the more that will shine through in your relationship.
Additional Links & Resources
- Free Resource – One Exercise Mulitple Ways
- Identifying Causes Versus Symptoms in Your Riding
- Why Progress In Your Riding Can Often Feel Uncomfortable
- Responsibility is a Two Way Street for Horse & Rider
- Keeping a Horse Riding Journal
- How Are You Showing Up for Your Horse?
- The Daily Strides Podcast on iTunes
- Daily Strides Podcast on Google Play
- The Daily Strides Podcast on Stitcher Radio
- Daily Strides Premium Newsletter
- Lunging for Riding
- Online Community for Equestrian focusing on Planning and Mindset
- Equestrian Virtual Lounge Online Community
- Connection; the Online Membership for Equestrians