Your Comeback to Riding; The First 4 Rides…

Your Comeback to Riding; The First 4 Rides…

Your Comeback to Riding; The First 4 Rides…

So you’ve committed to get back into regular riding again.  And, you’re taking it a step further this year by focusing on specific outcomes or goals to work towards in your riding and with your horse. But the ‘goal’ and the ‘first ride back’ are MILES apart!  In fact, very often the comeback to riding can feel a little overwhelming for many riders. How can you make those first 4 rides count for you and your horse – while still having fun, and feeling ‘able’; especially after a long break from riding?

In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast, I will lay out a 4 day plan for you to follow so that you can stop ‘pondering’ and start working again with your horse. 

And, obviously, you will have to apply common sense to this and tweak it for you and your horse’s specific circumstances. Two of the most important factors when customizing your plan are why you stopped riding in the first place and how long have each of you been out of regular work.  Of course, there are a lot of other considerations, but these two tend to have the most impact on your overall decisions going forward.

I have a blog post HERE about some of the factors to consider when bringing your horse back to work after a long break that might be helpful for you.

Ride 1 – 20 Minutes in Walk

Feeling Your Horse Underneath You

Let’s start by being very honest about the current circumstances and situation… You are probably not going to feel as supple as you would like, as ‘comfortable’ as you used to be, or as ‘coordinated’ as you remembered during the first few days of riding.

Instead of focusing on the differences between ‘then’ and ‘now’, invest your time in the saddle by ‘tuning into’ how things feel right now…

The initial ride after a break is a great way to reconnect with your horse. Use this ride to drop down into your body and feel your horse underneath you. Pay attention to the subtle movements, the rhythm of their gait, and the energy they exude. Being able to ‘feel’ all of this will give you a ‘win’ for your first day back and lays the foundation for the next three rides.

Ride 2 – 25 Minutes in Walk & Trot

Practicing Your Alignment, Straightness, and Basic Position

Once you have that initial ride over you, your focus can start shifting a little towards ‘training’ yourself again. And one of the first things you must consider and ‘correct’ where necessary is your basic riding position. If your position is working against you, especially now, you will develop habits that will hinder your communication when in the saddle.  It is vitally important to try and get it as good as you can – from the beginning.

Again, the aim is not to expect things to be the same as they were before. But rather to make the most of how things are now. 

So, as you settle back into the saddle, focus on refining your alignment and straightness. Work on maintaining a balanced seat, aligned shoulders, and a steady lower leg.  And, if it is safe to do so for you and your horse (assuming that your horse has been ‘working’ while you have been away), you can also try some transitions into a trot.  I would suggest rising trot.  Ask for the trot, see how well you can move with your horse for about 30 seconds, and then transition back to walk.  Do this a few times throughout the ride. Slow, steady, and simple.

Day 3 – 25 Minutes in Walk and Trot

The Half Halt and Halt

Today is when you can begin to set an intention and focus for your riding.  As a rider, you are probably well aware of how important the half halt is for you and your horse.  And it can be practiced and improved on all the time, even during the early days of your comeback to riding.

Mastering the half halt is a key component of effective riding. Let each corner, bend, turn, and transition be an opportunity for you to refine this key aid in your riding.

Each half halt allows you to assess your basic position, how well you’re moving with your horse, and if your horse is listening and understanding your aids.  By trying to improve both the half-halt and the halt throughout each ride, you will start to notice subtle improvements in your abilities even this early on your journey back to regular riding.

Day 4 – 30 Minutes in Walk and Trot

Timing Your Aids to Your Horse’s Movements

I suggest making Day 4 all about combining the previous two rides and starting to put things together for you and your horse. I say this because, as you begin to ‘feel’ what your horse is doing and then ask specific questions at specific times, you can begin to experiment with improving.  And when you build on yesterday’s theme of the half halt and halt, it lays a solid foundation for your comeback to riding.

Instead of worrying about yourself, you can turn your attention to creating better communication and offering more support to your horse throughout the ride. 

To do this, you must have an awareness of what is happening when underneath you. And how you can use your basic position, alignment, and aids to both ‘ask’ and support your horse. This is where the work starts when it comes to developing yourself and your abilities in the saddle again. And again, it’s worth mentioning that things won’t be the same as they were. You must develop your timing, coordination, riding fitness, and overall confidence in your abilities again. And all of this will take time…

Your Comeback to Riding

You are unique as a rider. So it makes sense that your journey back to regular riding will be yours and yours alone.  Keep in mind that you can look to different plans and advice for inspiration. However, each should be then tweaked to suit your individual journey and circumstances.

If you would like help with your comeback to riding, make sure you check out Returning to Riding. 9 weeks to get your basics onto autopilot so that you can make the transition from passenger to ‘rider’ for you and your horse. We will work together, using easy-to-follow audio horse riding lessons and weekly video reviews to help you transform your riding.

Experience how you will go from feeling ‘floppy’, unbalanced, and lacking confidence in your abilities when in the saddle, to gaining control of your body and aids, practicing clear communication, and actually improving how your horse goes while being ridden. 

With 9 weeks of private, 1 to 1 coaching with me over a secure video, voice, and text app, you will have all the support you need – and a proven program you can re-do with your horse time and again to polish both of your skills.

Make sure you check out Returning to Riding today for all of the information.

Happy Riding

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