I bet that you still remember the day you made your first ‘big’ equestrian-related purchase. Whether that was a helmet, a saddle, a horse, or a property, it’s a special time for all riders. And of course, all of the ‘big ones’ that come after that are equally as memorable.
The same applies to your riding. That feeling when you ‘finally’ understood the canter and how to move with your horse – rather than bouncing against! Or the first clear round you and your horse worked together to achieve.
Big moments that, just like physical things, usually lead you on the path to your next ‘big thing’.
And as riders, we also tend to collect a whole lorry load of smaller things as well. The amounts of which tend to correlate to the amount of time we’ve considered ourselves as ‘riders’. The daily essentials that, over time, we find we have 7 or 8 of each one (hands up who has a whole cupboard of brushes in the tack room!).
Clearing Out the Clutter
This is why, I believe, a good clear-out is essential for your progress as a rider. So many of the things you have collected over the years are probably not in regular use anymore. And sure, some of them are things you only need every now and again, but are handy or essential when you need them.
However, other things are simply sitting there taking up space. They are part of a past version of you as a rider and no longer complement the version of the rider you are today
This can be certain equipment or training aids. It can also show up in the form of healthcare, supplements, lotions, or ointments. How often have you purchased something, usually on the recommendation of someone else, only to find that you really don’t enjoy using it?
Often the reason we don’t throw things out or give things away is that we paid ‘good money’ for them… Yet, if these things are reminding you of bad purchases every time you arrive at the barn, they’re not really helping you to enjoy your time with your horse, are they?
Creating Space for New Things
Of course, once the clutter has been cleared, you will begin to see all of the space you’ve created. And because there are only things that you actually love and use there, you get to feel more aligned with your ‘stuff’ as well. This often helps us to feel more comfortable while with our horses.
With the space that you have created, begin to ask yourself what the current version of you as a rider would have there. And what would ‘future you’ begin to look for?
By asking yourself these questions you will automatically begin to future-pace yourself a little. This is not just inspiring at the moment, but also a continual reminder that you are growing as a rider. It will help you to create more confidence in yourself as well because you can clearly see how far you have already come.
Applying This to Your Riding
Just like the physical things you accumulate along the way as a rider, you also will collect mental clutter. And riding habits. Lots and lots of habits! These habits are everywhere; how you groom, tack up, mount up, warm up, ride, cool down, untack, pack things away, etc.
Habits are things that you’ve learned and then, whether intentionally or not, put onto autopilot in your day-to-day riding and interactions with your horse.
For the most part, they usually serve you well… Until they don’t! And this can be where many riders find themselves stuck or plateaued when it comes to making progress. They are doing all of the things, riding all of the time, but just not getting anywhere.
It is amazing how often riders discover that by changing one simple thing they are doing, often on autopilot, they immediately get unstuck and begin to grow again in their skills and mindset.
Declutter Your Riding Aids & Methods
I’m always wary of people who are unwilling to consider different methods and ways of doing things. I think one of the hallmarks of a great rider and trainer is to always be of the mindset that you have so much more to learn. And that this knowledge can show up in the most random of places!
Having had The Daily Strides Podcast for 10 years this year, I am pretty confident that some of the things I’ve said are things I no longer align with 100% now.
And this will also be true for you in your riding. How you stopped a horse the very first time you got onto a horse and how you halt today are, I’m hoping, two very different things. And so, the same applies to everything else. How you use your aids. The combination, timing, weight, pressure, etc. What you know about how your horse moves. And your actual beliefs about yourself, your abilities, and those of your horse as well.
The only way you will continue to progress as a rider is to regularly allow yourself to be very present with what you’re doing on autopilot… And tweak, change, replace, stop, or start where necessary.
The old adage of ‘what got you here won’t get you there’ applies to this. So it’s well worth taking the time this week to dive into your equipment and your riding and begin making space for the next best version of you as an equestrian.
- Revisiting the Basics; Why This is So Important in Your Riding
- Putting 1 Basic on Autopilot This Month in Your Riding
- Returning to Riding – Focusing on the Basics
- What are the Basics when it Comes to Riding
- The Importance of Correcting and Perfecting the Basics in Your Riding
- Start with the Basics in Order to Build Confidence
- Understanding the Balance of Your Aids