What if things could be more simple for you to upgrade your riding? So, instead of practicing for hours and hours in the saddle, you could begin doing more simple things that would have an enormous ripple effect. Quick and easy things, so that you are not left feeling overwhelmed…
All of these easy-to-implement tips can be done while you are busy with your existing ‘riding routine’… All it will take is some intention and self-awareness from you
And while, in the long run, good correct practice coupled with sufficient knowledge and physical ability is what will really see you make progress in your riding, these 5 simple to do ‘add ons’ will actually help you to get there faster. And begin shifting your mindset as well. A very important requirement as a rider.
1. Quick Massage into Your Grooming
What would happen if you learned a few simple techniques that helped your horse to loosen up before each work session? Probably, over time, an increase in the quality of the work begin done, that’s what! And yes, it’s important to consider that you are not a qualified horse ‘body work’ expert.
There are some great accounts on social media you can follow where experts will show you simple exercises you can do with your horse for specific benefits (or to address specific challenges)
Does this replace having a professional visit your horse regularly? No, of course not! But it will help you to become more knowledgeable about your horse’s body and how it works. It can possibly have some loosening or therapeutic benefits to your horse. And it’s a great way to bond and develop your partnership more :)
2, Visualise While Tacking Up
After grooming, we will naturally progress to actually getting ready to work. Whether you are preparing to lunge, ride, or do some groundwork, there will be some sort of equipment (or boots/bandages, etc.) that you will put on your horse.
Use this time to get really clear on what you want the outcome of this training session to be for both of you… Think, step by step, about what you are going to work on; and how the desired outcome will look and feel
Having this clarity BEFORE you get into the arena or begin working will help to keep you focused and on track. And it will help you to recognize when you are both moving in the right direction, or course correct when you’re not!
3. Stretches Before Mounting Up
And I am referring to you and moving your body with these stretches! Now, you can decide whether to do these all at once (3 or 4 minutes) before mounting up. Or to work these in through both the grooming and tacking up. So maybe two or three stretches between each type of brush, or between each hoof…
What is important is that you have identified where you may be a little ‘tight’ through. your body, and then find simple stretches you can perform to loosen these specific areas out for you
If you can already show up to the training session a little more supple and ‘loosey goosey’ it will allow you to focus more on helping your horse to do the same. It also, when riding, allows you to begin to move more with your horse, rather than against. Long story short, it will improve the quality of your warm-up.
4. Highlights Reel during the Cool Down
So after you have actually worked your horse (quality over quantity – always), rather than just zoning out during the cool down, you can use this time to begin putting your thoughts together regarding how things actually went for you both. If you used your ‘tacking up time’ to visualise or imagine what you wanted for the ride, it makes this even easier.
Ask yourself some strategic questions; did we achieve our overall goal for this session? How ‘on track’ did we remain? What worked well? And what needs attention (or is missing something)?
Doing this when it’s still fresh in your head, as in it only just happened, means it’s more honest and true. Sometimes we can allow the whole ride to be defined by a couple of seconds and one single event. However, regardless of if the ride was ‘a win’ or a ‘try again tomorrow’, when you take the time to really dig in, piece by piece, you will find so much more there that you can learn from.
5. Writing it All Down in Your Riding Journal
Finally, as soon as you have taken care of your horse, that will depend on your unique circumstances, sit down on a bale or a blanket and quickly capture the ride in your riding journal. If you truly want to upgrade your riding, this is essential for you to do on a regular basis.
A riding journal creates a personal feedback loop for you in your riding – especially important if you are working alone a lot of the time. Over time you will begin to see patterns – these are gold!
However, in my experience, it is the one thing that most riders are NOT willing to do in their riding! So, if you’re not doing this… WHY?! It literally takes 4 to 5 minutes. And it is a gold mine when it comes to identifying what’s working, what needs changing, what needs to be done, what needs to stop, and everything in between for you and your horse.
Upgrade Your Riding Today
Okay, I personally think that all of these items are ‘doable’ for you and your horse, starting today. They are simple, easy to achieve, and require little to no extra effort on your part. They also require little to no extra time, if time is an issue for you and your horse.
I would love to hear how you get on with this, make sure you join the Daily Strides Podcast Online Community over HERE and let me know which one you’re going to do. Or, if you’re going all in on all 5 of them for you and your horse!
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