Do you want to improve your riding skills? Do you often watch other riders and think to yourself that you wish you were a better rider, like others? Do want to ride more consistently?
In this article, you’ll discover 5 simple habits that you can put into practice now all designed to help you to improve your riding skills over time.
So if you want to improve your riding…
Habit 1: Find Something To Inspire You To Ride
Summer really is coming, I promise. The days are getting longer which gives even the busiest person extra time to get out to the barn and work with your horse.
And to help motivate you to get out there and actually work with and ride your horse, you need to find something that motivates you. For myself, I am so grateful I found out about Noelle Floyd’s Masterclass Membership.
I watch the instructor led video’s when I can’t ride, like every day right now because the weather is not really riding friendly. Having a tool like the Masterclass Membership helps me because I don’t have a riding instructor. So I use the Masterclasses, like my own personal riding coach. And how cool is it to learn from people like Tik Maynard, Missy Clark, and Ian Millar? Without these Masterclasses, I would have no feasible way to take a riding lesson from professionals of this caliber.
By having something to focus on, like these Masterclasses, I can plan for when I can ride. And I am so excited for the weather to turn so I can ride Plezant! I just need some clear ground, so please spring, hurry up and get here!
But having the Masterclasses help me to remain accountable to my riding, as well as giving me goals to focus on. It’s really helpful!
So to help make your riding a priority, find something that will inspire and motivate you to ride your horse.
Habit 2: Video Your Ride 2 Times A week
This involves a little more work, which is why I am only suggesting it twice a week. You also have to set up your camera (or phone) onto a tripod, and then actually record your ride.
I do this a lot with my husband. I will text him after I have my horse warmed up, and I ask if he can come record me riding for a few minutes. He never tells me no. That might change though if I asked him to do it every single day. So I limit it to just a couple of times a week.
I find I ride better when I know I am being recorded. I sit up taller, I stop looking down at my horse, and I concentrate on putting my horse through his paces to make sure I get a lot of material to review (more on that in the next habit)
Habit 3: Critique Your Videos
Once you have a couple of videos recorded, watch them. Pay attention to how you are riding, once you get over the fact of watching yourself ride. I find that truly being able to see what I look like while I ride is completely different than how I think I look. And the camera doesn’t lie.
How is your posture? Are you leaning forward or too far back? How are your hands? Are you giving an kind with your hands, or are you harsh and balancing on your reins? What about your seat? Are you sitting evenly in the saddle? How are your heels, and your head? Heels down and head up? These are the simple things you can see, and fix if there is something wrong.
When you watch yourself in your video, and then ride your horse again, you will be trying to improve everything you saw in your video.
If you are lucky enough to have an arena mirror to watch yourself live, it’s still helpful to see a video. So ask someone, anyone to be your camera man for a few minutes a couple of times a week so you can critique your own ride. It’s really helpful! And if you do have a Masterclass membership, you can see how the instructors actually record themselves riding, and then critique the ride. So it really is useful to video your ride, and will help you!
Habit 4: Perfect The Basics
It may seem boring, but if you need to get better, you need to have strong basic skills in the saddle. You have to walk before you run right? The same goes for your riding. And it’s easier to perfect your skills at the slower gaits and then work your way up to the faster gaits. And it is important to practice the faster gaits too.
A lot of times we do what is easy. And walking and trotting is easier than cantering or galloping. But if you hardly ever canter, how can you get better? So be sure to practice all the gaits. You may not be able to gallop all the time, depending on your space. But you can practice walk, sitting trot, rising trot and cantering. You can also work on getting stronger by working on your two point and going over trot poles.
Start with the slower gaits and once you are balanced, and feeling more confident work up to the faster gaits. You want to have strong legs that are stable, and not flailing on your horse, or having your hands pulling on the reins to keep your balance. If you are losing your balance, you need to practice more.
And while you are working through each gait, be sure to work on the basics of your position with your horse. Think about your seat, hands, and legs. You want to be well balanced at all gaits before progressing in your riding. It will be more enjoyable for you and your horse.
Habit 5: Practice On The Ground First
You may want to do this one first. But for myself, I typically ride Frisby, and then I work on the ground with Plezant since I have yet to ride him since bringing him home. But learning how to do things on the ground with your horse first does transition into what you are doing in the saddle.
For me, it’s easier to start on the ground and make sure that your horse get’s it before getting into the tack. I like to be able to move all 5 parts of my horse from the ground first.
His head, his shoulder, his rib cage, his hind end and his feet are the areas I work on.
Once I can move all 5 body parts in the direction I want them to move, then I can apply the same practices when I am in the saddle.
5 Simple Habits To Improve Your Riding
The more you practice, the better you will be. And if you try to practice perfectly, you will get even more out of your riding. If you put these 5 habits into practice now, you will be a better, and more confident rider. It take about 30 days to make a permanent habit, so make a commitment to yourself to get out there and work with your horse!
And if you are looking for some more ideas and guidance to help you on your journey to being a better and more confident rider, you can get started with a Noelle Floyd Masterclass Membership. It’s an affordable option if you are looking for professional help, and don’t have access to a trainer.