Riding habits. We all have them. And it’s in these habits that we can have different levels of success with our horses. So I thought it would be fun to share with you 3 things I do every time I ride my horses.
These aren’t anything fancy or difficult to do. But I do find by focusing on these 3 habits, I make the most of the time that I have with my horse. It also helps me to get in tune with my horse, and really get a feel for how the ride is going to go.
Habits can be good, as well as being bad. But I have three things that I do every time I ride, and I thought they might be helpful for you too!
Walking Before Getting In The Tack
This is something I have done for as long as I have had horses. After I get tacked up and ready to ride, I always walk with my horse around the arena, or even on the trail. Even if I have lunged, before I climb into the saddle we go for a walk.
Typically I will walk at least 1 lap in each direction of the arena. This gives me a chance to see what kind of mood my horse is in as well as pay attention to anything that he is paying attention too. If I take a few minutes to get my horse and myself focused on our schooling session before I get in the tack, I find it really helps me to focus on what we will be working on during our schooling session.
I also like to do this once our workout session is complete. Usually I will untack, and do a light grooming. And then I will take my horse for a walk outside of the confines of the arena.
I know Plezant looks forward to this. Because when he thinks it’s time to be done, he will wander toward the gate that takes him out to the front yard, and the green grass that lines the front of our property. He really enjoys this, and so do I. He gets to relax, get a little bit of grass, and I will take a brush with me, and groom him a little bit more while he is enjoying his pre-dinnertime snack.
It’s my way to say ‘thank you’ to him for the wonderful time that he has given me.
Walking For Warm Up
Although it may not be popular or too slow for some, I will always warm my horse up with some walking before we work on the faster gates. By walking first, I am giving my horse some time to get loosened up as we warm up for schooling.
Both of my horses are seniors, and I want to keep them comfortable and rideable for as long as I can. By walking for at least 15 minutes at the beginning of every ride, I can get my horse warmed up while getting his muscles, tendons and ligaments loosened up and ready to work.
And we can work on so much at the walk which will transition to the faster gaits too. Some of the things I like to do while we warm up are:
- Practice my two-point or half seat
- Shoulder in
- Shoulder out
- Ride without stirrups
- Extending the walk
So this is what I do for the first 15 minutes or so of every ride. And sometimes I may only end up riding for 20 to 25 minutes. But just being in the tack for any amount of time is precious to me. So I do what I can to get my horse fully warmed up before work, in order to be able to ride more! And walking is an excellent way to gt myself, and my horse warmed up.
End Every Ride On Something Good
There is always a perfect place to end a lesson or schooling session. And the perfect place to end a lesson is on a positive note. And while this can be challenging for some rides, it can be done.
For example if my horse is getting frustrated with what I am asking of him, I take a step back and break it down to something more simple, and that I know he can do well, like staying in a consistent trot for two trips around the arena. Then I bring him back down to a walk, and we work on flexing, backing, or even just standing still.
But no matter what we are working on, I always make sure to end the ride on a positive note. And once the ride is done, like I said earlier, I always give them a reward by grabbing a snack out on the road. For my horses, this is definitely something they look forward too after we have had a work out.
3 Things I Do Every Time I Ride
Horses like routines. And I find by always doing these three things every time I ride I enjoy my horse time that much more. And I am fairly confident my horses like this too. Or, it could be because they like routine, and I like routine, that it just works for us.
How about you? Do you have a pre or post ride routine that you do every time you work with your horse? I would love to hear your habits that you do every time you ride, or work with your horse!