Riding alone – does this best describe you and your horse when schooling and working? If so, I understand how it can sometimes leave you feeling like you are trying to piece together a difficult jigsaw puzzle – with no ‘picture’ to help guide you! Things not quite fitting together how you would like them to.
You’re not alone. Equestrians who are riding alone often find themselves struggling with:
- a lack of motivation
- not knowing if challenges are caused by horse or rider error
- a lack of accuracy & consistency
- no accountability (“I’m just too tired to ride today”, anyone?!)
- riding the same 30 minutes for the last three years…
- the temptation to jump from A to B (without doing all the required work in between)
It can be disheartening, especially as you probably were so excited about riding alone and working your horse by yourself.
However, if you are struggling – there are definitely ways that you can start, today, overcoming those challenges. So before you give up, which is the unfortunate end result for many of the thousands and thousands of riders out there riding alone, I want to give you a few ideas today on how you can turn your situation around.
How you can make riding enjoyable, pleasurable, interesting and, well, fun again for you and your horse.
1. Regular Inspiration
Now, this seems a little obvious, but a lack of motivation can often be overcome by tapping into some really small, but potent, inspiration. What is it that really gets you excited about horses and riding?
For some people this can be a simple as doing something different, such as getting out of the arena. However I am willing to bet that you have already wrung every drop of inspiration out of riding somewhere new – meaning a different approach is needed.
- Podcasts | Daily Strides Podcast | Fit for Riding Podcast
- Local show / expo / clinic
- Pinterest | Strides for Success
Different mediums work for different people, so find what works for you and then make time in your schedule to tap into that source or feeling regularly.
And remember, motivation will wear off, so it needs to be repeated on a regular basis to be effective.
2. You or Your Horse?
This one can be tough and confusing to try to figure out. You find yourself riding alone and trying to work through a specific movement, or master a particular principle. Over and over and over again you try, but it is just not coming together or happening.
If you had a pair of eyes on the ground to guide you alone, the ‘course correcting’ would be much easier, but you don’t.
It is just you and your horse – and this problem!
There are two ways you can deal with this challenge and I would suggest trying both, together, in order to really gain some insights on what is going wrong and why.
- Start a riding journal
- Take regular videos of your riding for comparison purposes
The riding journal can be initially a little time-consuming and bothersome; however if you can capture a few details after every ride you will find that it becomes one of your greatest resources in identifying patterns. I have a full detailed blog post on this HERE
A riding journal will also help you pinpoint the cause, as opposed to treating the symptom.
With the videos, I have written a full blog post on this and how to implement it in your riding HERE
3. Increasing Your Accuracy & Consistency
This is actually one of the easiest pieces of the riding alone puzzle to begin putting together. There will be a little work upfront, but overall it will be something that can be put onto ‘auto-pilot’ pretty quickly in your riding.
- Install ‘markers’ around your arena or riding space
- Identify potential ‘markers’ if working outside the arena
Now, many riders think that they have to get the expensive markers, or they feel that they must have an actual arena. But ‘markers’ can be as basic as a large rock or a tyre and as sophisticated as professional dressage markers.
And regardless of where you ride, this is something you can make work for you. You can even go so far as to use trees, electricity poles or (yes, I am Irish, so don’t judge me here) potholes in the road as your markers!!
What is important is that there is something or somethings that don’t move and you must ride past. Then begin planning your transitions, your halts, your bends, your circles, your school movements, your leg yielding, your lengthening, your shortening (the list is endless) at those markers.
Accuracy happens when you can do what you want to do at the exact point you want to do it. This is when your body passes the marker, not your horse’s head or tail. You.
Now, you can also use these markers to improve consistency by creating little challenges for yourself. “Every time I pass a marker, I will half halt and rebalance”. Simple, yet effective.
So there you have it. We have covered the first three challenges on our original list and I really hope that you get some ideas here on how to move things forward.
Next week we will jump into the second half of your ‘challenges’ when it comes to riding alone. I want also to dive a little deeper into both these things with a live training. It is 100% free and you can reserve your spot HERE
In there I will show you how you can begin mapping out some work for your riding. There will be an actual plan you can use. I will also be showing you how you can begin adding more outside accountability into your riding and how you can get out of frustration and move into clarity when riding alone.