Hours and hours… This is how long most riders devote each week to developing and training their horse. And yet, many riders fail to realize that they are the ‘cap’ on their horse’s further progress.
Eventually, your effectiveness as a rider will determine what your horse can actually do with all the training you devote to him or her…
So it makes good sense to spend time each week thinking about, planning, and then taking action on your own development. Your own conditioning, training, fitness, nutrition, social time, rest, and all of the other things that we plan for our horses.
Why Do You Ride?
I think to answer this, we first have to get clear on why we are riding our horse to begin with… Most, if not all, riders are in the saddle because they have a certain outcome in their head that they want to achieve. This could be a feeling, such as relaxation or enjoyment. It could be a certain task, like getting a clear round, or qualifiing for something.
Whatever the reason, it is worth remembering that you are taking time from your life to try and produce that outcome each time you mount up.
Unfortunately, for many riders, they often fall short of reaching the desired feeling, goal, or outcome. And, many times, this can be due to their horse not actually understanding what the outcome is that they are working towards. A lack of communication between horse and rider.
What is ‘Effectiveness as a Rider’?
When you know what you want to experience, it then becomes your responsibility to effectively communicate this to yoru horse. We do this, as riders, using our aids. And it is always a combination of aids.
Your thoughts, legs, hands, body language, voice, position, seat, weight… And these are just some of your ‘natural’ aids.
You also have a whole toolkit of artificial aids you can use to communicate with your horse. The saddle, bridle, arena, spurs, whip, lunge lines, lead ropes, etc. Most riders use a combination of natural and artifical aids in order to get their message across to the horse.
The challenge becomes when they lack control over their own actions. This results in sloppy, haphazard, attempts at communication that muddies the message being communicated.
When Communication Goes Awry…
It is important to remember that, for the most part, whenever you get a result with your horse that is different to what you initially had in mind, the message probably became muddled. A simple case of you asking for one thing, but your horse hearing another, different, request.
Retraining can play a big role in closing gaps between the expectations of riders and horses, however training is equally as important
And training is not just for the horse. You, the rider, must also learn how to ask with more intention, focus, and clarity. It is easy to say that the horse is ‘stupid’ or ‘doesn’t understand’. However, the truth is often that the rider not clearly asking the question…
There is a common misconception in horse riding that you ‘control’ your horse. You don’t – and never will. You merely influence…
Your responsibility is to become better at influencing your horse using the aids that are available to you, natural and, when required, artificial.
Developing Self Control
The good news is that you can develop more positive influence if you work on improving the control you have over your own body. How it moves. The range of motion you have with it. Your physical and mental stamina…
Coordination is developed over time through a mix of developing physical strength, focused and intentional thinking, and building emotional confidence.
I feel that saying ‘I’m not very coordinated’ is the easy way out for many riders. Lack of coordination, in most cases, simply means a lack of dedicated training; physical, mental, and emotional. Improving effectiveness as a rider requires a commitment to consistetnly upgrading yourself and your skills.
I feel that, in order to truly begin experiencing the outcome you desire every time you get into the saddle, there’s work to be done on the ground as well.
Taking Responsibility as a Rider
If you are currently getting less than perfect results with your horse, then this work is for you. I think that it’s fair to say this is true of all riders. There will always be ‘more’ that we can do regarding developing our skills as an equestrian.
Taking the time to develop yourself as a rider will allow you to begin responding rather than reacting when in the saddle.
It will allow you to use your different aids in a way that is easily understood by your horse. Your mindset will become resilient, positively expectant, and open to new ideas and ways of doing things…
All of these things will help you to have better conversations with your horse as you consistently improve your effectiveness as a rider.
Fit for Riding 2022
If you are keen on going further on this journey with me, I have a 4-week plan for you to use to help you get there. It is fun, effective, and will allow you to truly see results in just 4 weeks in your riding.
More Help for Riders:-
- Fit for Riding; Fit for Life 2022 Plan
- 3 Things To Focus on To Improve Your Riding
- 6 Questions for When You’ve Stopped Improving as a Rider
- Connection; My Online Membership for Equestrians
- Online community for equestrians working on their mindset & fitness
- Online Community for equestrians focusing on re-schooling horses (and ex-racehorses