Do you ever feel like you aren’t getting anywhere in your riding, progress is slower than you would like and you are starting to wonder why you do it?
Most of us have been there at some point in our riding careers so don’t fret. It is how you get out of this rut that really matters. We all have parts of our riding that we grapple with and feel like we make the same mistakes over and over again. Goal setting is a great tool that many top athletes use to keep themselves accountable on on track. Read on for some great goals you could set for your own training. Try and think about these every day and you will find yourself out of that annoying rut and moving forward in no time.
Always listen to what your horse is trying to tell you
This means having empathy and being sensitive to your horse’s needs. Remember that they aren’t machines and they will have off days just like we do! Don’t be afraid to change the plan a little bit to make the most of your training. Try not to get stuck with one way to train the horse, there are many roads that lead to Rome and sometimes thinking outside of the box is what’s going to get you to where you want to be. Sometimes it can be frustrating training a horse much bigger than us, that doesn’t speak the same language as us as we can’t just tell them what we want. Whilst it would be impossible to teach a horse English, we can learn better how to speak ‘horse’, that means listening to him and tailoring your training to his needs. The more you listen to him, the better you understand, the better you will work together as a team and the more motivated he will become to want to do a great job for you. If you find yourself getting frustrated try to take some deep breaths and refocus.
Ask yourself what you can do to understand your horse better and maximise your training benefits.
Never give up and stay patient
It’s so cliché to say never give up but do exactly that- never give up! Now this doesn’t mean continue to pursue a training technique that just doesn’t work but it does mean stay positive and find other ways to get the job done. Fine tuning your aids and your horses understanding and acceptance to the aids takes a long time to truly master so whilst training may seem slow be assured that you will get there. If you are feeling really disheartened then find a trainer who can encourage and support you through the learning process.
Patience is one of the most important virtues you can have when training a horse, sometimes you will feel like they get a new movement quickly and sometimes it might feel like you will never get there but no matter what, be confident and patient. Take your time and get there sooner is a great motto to adopt. You might feel tempted to rush your horse at times but this will only create problems later on and it will probably mean you end up taking longer to get to where you want to be.
There will be times in your riding where things get a little messy, that is okay but always be thinking of maintaining a harmonious relationship with your horse. Make necessary corrections but be fair and reward him when he deserves it. Everyone loves to know we are doing a good job and our horses are the same. The most important thing we can have with our horses is a harmonious relationship where it benefits us both. Don’t make your horse your slave.
Every single rider, no matter what level and discipline needs to maintain a nice forward moving horse in their work. No one enjoys watching a combination that looks like every step is their last, so get moving! This doesn’t just come from kicking your horse until he moves more forward, it also comes from you riding forward yourself. Sit up and take your horse forward with you around the arena.
Rhythm and balance
Now you are moving nice and forward you might find maintaining rhythm becomes a little tricky. Ride the rhythm yourself and you will notice your horse becomes far more rhythmical. Check you are sitting balanced in the saddle and if you aren’t make the necessary adjustment so you are. There are many things we do to influence our horses, sometimes they are good and sometimes they influence him in the wrong way too, much of the time when we think we are having a problem with our horses it is coming from us!
Focus on dropping your leg down and making it as long as possible with your heels down. If your horse is moving nicely off your leg then your legs will be still, if the horse is behind the leg you might find yourself kicking every step. If that’s the case then give him one clear aid to get him going forward and then relax, only giving him another aid when he drops behind your leg again- much better for both of you than nagging every step!
Focus on having an independent seat- this will help with all the things discussed above. Your seat really influences how your horse goes for you so it is super important to focus on developing a great seat.
Be consistent and fair always
Consistency is the best thing you can offer your horse in your training. This means being disciplined yourself! This means putting in the work, you can’t expect to put in two solid weeks of schooling and then give him two weeks of hacking and expect to have made huge progress. Instead give him a few days of schooling and some hacking every week. He will be much happier for it and you will notice big improvements. Horses love routine so the more routine you can offer him, the better.
Think about what are some ways that you can make your training more consistent for you and your horse.
What are some ways you can improve the consistency in your rides?