7 Circles, 5 Serpentines, 4 figures of eight; on repeat…? What’s Your Riding Routine?

7 Circles, 5 Serpentines, 4 figures of eight; on repeat…? What’s Your Riding Routine?

7 Circles, 5 Serpentines, 4 figures of eight; on repeat…? What’s Your Riding Routine?

What does your average ride or training session with your horse look like?  Do you have a riding routine that you follow? If yours is leaning towards, or if it already is, a little too predictable; maybe it’s time for a change?  While riding the same sequence often can sometimes be beneficial to your riding and training (more on that later), for the most part, it will only help habits to creep in.  And usually not the greatest of habits.

Doing anything the same way, on repeat, almost always has the same effect.  Your body (and your horse) will look for the easiest, most efficient way of doing it; which probably won’t truly serve you!

This is because, usually, the ‘easiest’ or ‘most energy saving’ way is not the best way; particularly when we are focused on developing and training.  So, why do we fall into the trap of riding 7 circles, 5 Serpentines, 4 figures of eight (or whatever your ‘go to’ routine?  And why do we continue to repeat it over and over again?

If It Worked Once…

For most riders, their version of the riding routine is born out of a series of exercises that they rode once or twice that produced a certain outcome. 

Now, the outcome it produced might not necessarily have been the one they truly desired.  It could just have been a thought, which produced a certain feeling or emotion in your body.  Like ‘satisfaction’ or ‘accomplishment.  This is particularly true for riders who, in the past, have struggled to ‘find things to do’ with their horse.

The fact that they continued to ‘work’ their horse for 30 minutes or so makes them feel successful.  This feeling is based on the quantity of the work, not the quality. 

Another way a riding routine can work once, and in doing so quickly become the ‘go to’ routine is to do with behavior.  The horse may have responded or understood what the rider wanted that particular ride.  Sometimes the riding routine itself can be the catalyst for this happening.  However, more often than not, it has more to do with the specific circumstances of the individual ride.

So ‘No’ to a Riding Routine Then?

Not necessarily… I do believe in routines to help set the tone for the conversation.  I am also a fan of developing specific routines to achieve specific outcomes.  But these are more foundational.  I believe that routines help to develop the rhythm for the session or work you are focusing on with your horse. And that is the key.

A routine can help to set the tone for the schooling session with your horse.  However, it’s the intention or focus that then guides the conversation forward.  

By creating a specific intention for each movement, you can begin to make your riding routine work for you.  And I think that each intention should be a stepping stone of sorts towards a specific goal or desire.  The type of goal is not really important; it’s your commitment to achieving it that counts.

Riding a circle for the sake of riding a circle will not help you or your horse in the long run.  However, that same circle, if used to increase suppleness, establish a rhythm, develop contact, gather energy, or any number of things you can focus on in your riding – is where the power of riding the circle lies. 

Setting an Intention

So, if the riding routine itself is not really the issue.  Rather the lack of intention with how we repeat it that is, how do you develop intention. I have many previous episodes and articles on goal setting (I will link to some below this article). However, there is also a quick way to figure this out…

A quick and simple way is to ask yourself the question “If I could achieve one training outcome today with my horse, what would that be?

Once you have the answer to this question, the next step is to identify what needs to be in place for this to occur.  For example.  If your answer is ‘riding a clean upward transition into the canter’, I would suggest basing the first few movements of your regular riding routine around responsiveness.

Use your version of the “7 Circles, 5 Serpentines, 4 figures of eight” to work on the elements you need in place in order to reach your desired outcome or result for the ride. 

The Positive Aspects of a Riding Routine

Okay, so you can probably tell that I am not completely against having a riding routine for you and your horse.  A go-to, tried and tested set of exercises that you can ride to help you get a specific result.  And there are other ways that your individual riding routine can help you develop your skills and train your horse.

By riding a specific riding routine regularly, you can begin to see the results of your training. You will feel (and see if you take regular videos) the differences as you and your horse improve. 

A regular riding routine will also allow you to make strategic changes to your methods, training, equipment or anything else that can have an impact on your riding. By creating a baseline with your regular routine, you can then see the results of any changes you make.

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A Plan For Each Ride

If you are still feeling uninspired or bored in your regular riding routine, perhaps having someone else create the plan will help?  Every week, I help riders all over the world to work towards specific outcomes with their horse using my guided audio horse riding lessons.

Simply mount up, press play, and work through the movements and exercises with your horse; all focusing on developing or improving a specific outcome in your riding

Knowing that each ride, or groundwork session, or lunging session, will now help you to improve your skills will turn your riding around.  You can find all the details about Connection HERE.  And if you are going to ride your horse later, what will your intention for your version of “7 Circles, 5 Serpentines, 4 figures of eight” be?

Happy Riding

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