If you are lucky enough to have your own horse, then you will want to ride it daily. Not only to exercise them and you, but also because you are lucky enough to have a horse! However, it can be easy to get stuck in a cycle, and before you know it you are doing the same thing every day.
This is the quickest way to create boredom for you and your horse. It can be impossible to train a horse that doesn’t want to co-operate, and how do you think of new things to do when you are bored yourself? This catch 22 can ruin the magic of horse ownership, so it is important to take the time to think about how to vary your daily ride.
Let’s say you are trying to master leg yielding – this isn’t a move you can learn in one session, so you will be spending some time repeating the same thing. However, you don’t have to repeat the location. If you are lucky enough to have access to an arena, then it provides the perfect flat surface, however it is the gym for horses and they can get bored.
Try exercising in their paddock. The ground is usually flat from the constant grazing and it is a familiar environment that won’t cause your horse to spook. Yet by just moving the lesson, your horse will be alert and engaged, which will encourage learning.
Similarly, you can try hacking as a warm-up while looking for a suitable location. Your horse will be enjoying the time outside and when you take half an hour to do some schooling, it won’t feel arduous and when your horse starts to tire, you can just continue with the hack.
Change it Up
When you’re learning to ride you will do a large range of exercises to teach you how to stay on your horse. After these lessons, the techniques are mostly forgotten, but they are a fun way to shake up the daily routine. However, they are best performed in an arena or enclosed area.
Are you learning a dressage test? Performing it over and over is boring for both of you and it can be hard to see where your weaknesses are after a while. So instead do the test without stirrups.
It might sound like a joke, but you will be able to pinpoint the moment where your balance shifts, your legs swing and your hands come up – all things that will lose you marks in a competition. Not only will you look at the test with fresh eyes, but your seat will also be improving at the same time. You can also use this technique for jumping – it might seem scary, but it is a great way to deepen your seat.
If you have someone willing to help you then try riding on a lunge rope. This way you can ride without your saddle to further improve your seat, or without reins to strengthen your legs. Your horse will enjoy the variety and you will become a better rider in the process all in a controlled, safe environment.
Ride with Others
Whether it is your friends or a group lesson at a riding school, your horse is a pack animal and they will relish the opportunity to be around other horses. It will also be enjoyable for you to be able to talk with other like-minded riders, rather than riding in silence every day. This is the perfect opportunity to learn new techniques with the help of others.
Another benefit is they will be able to observe your riding and give you pointers. Whether it is the riding teacher or your friend, they will be able to see things you can’t. Take the time to ask them to observe you perform a move/jump a course and give feedback. This will be invaluable in your development.
If you aren’t trying to master something specifically, then why not play some games? Mounted games are something played as a child, but are equally as fun for adults. Charging around a paddock with some healthy competition is a fantastic time for both you and your horse while secretly improving your riding. Jumping on and off, racing around poles and throwing socks in a bucket – you are practicing control and improving your balance at all times.
Plan a Day Out
While this may not an option every day, try planning to go somewhere new every few months. A great place to visit is a local beach and your horse will love the change of scenery. Try and get a few friends to come to make it as enjoyable as possible.
After finding a beach that horses are allowed on, you are free to do whatever you like. Whether you want to draw an arena in the sand to practice moves, gallop at full speed along the sand, or maybe even a swim on a hot day, the beach allows you to do anything and everything. Both of you will enjoy the trip and you will feel refreshed when returning to the daily routine.