Confident Rider Challenge Day 23
We are just over 3/4 of the way through our confident rider challenge. And if you have been working with your horse in some way over the last 23 days, I would hope you are feeling more confident being around your horse both on the ground, and in the saddle. Of course there will be good days, and bad days. But hopefully, the good days are starting to outnumber the bad ones. If you are not having success yet, revisit what you have been doing each and every day. Go back to when you were having success with your horse, and work from that point forward.
This challenge takes work and dedication on your part. But the good thing is it can be done. And if you are working alone and not having success, maybe it’s time to enlist the help of a professional. Stay safe, and be smart when working around your horse.
Which leads me to today’s topic, why you should lunge your horse before you ride.
Why You Should Lunge Your Horse Before You Ride
If your horses are anything like mine, they have distinct personalities. Ethan is curious and spooky. Frisby is lazy and a people pleaser, all at the same time. But both of my horses can benefit from lunging before being ridden. One is lunged to calm him down, and the other is lunged to get him warmed up. Two different horses, and two different reasons why I lunge them before getting into the saddle.
And this is the benefit of lunging. You can watch how your horse is moving before you climb into the saddle. Get your horse tacked up as if you were going to get into the saddle right now. Take him out to the arena wearing his halter, and attach the lunge line. Bring your bridle too, because you can ride after you get him warmed up.
Walk with him in the arena, and get him into work mode. If you have some ground poles set up, maybe walk him over a few of them. And then grab your lunge whip or stick and string, and have him walk on the lunge line. After a bit, ask for a trot, and then extend the trot for a few minutes. After he is really moving out, ask for the canter. Be sure to do the same thing going in the opposite direction.
And while your horse is moving around you, pay attention to his body language. Is he moving fast or slow? Is he paying attention to you? Does he seem fearful, or relaxed? Is he simply going through the motions because he knows what is coming next?
Set Yourself Up For Success
The goal is to get your horse warmed up before you get into the saddle. You want him to be ready to go, and calmed down if he is very hyper. It may take 5 minutes in each direction, or it could take 20. It depends on your horse. And knowing when he is ready for work is your job. This is why it is important to pay attention to how he is moving.
If your horse tends to be on the lazy side, and you get on him straightaway once you get him to the arena, you will spend the first 15 to 20 minutes of your ride working to get him warmed up. If your horse has a lot of energy, and you do the same, you could end up fighting him for the first 20 minutes.
Neither one of these scenarios are helpful, or enjoyable.
But by taking the time to get him warmed up before you get into the saddle, you will enjoy your work so much more. And I am confident your horse will enjoy it more too. Yes, you will need to spend more time with your horse. But that’s a good thing! Well, I think it’s a good thing. Your horse will enjoy it too. The time with you, maybe not the work part so much.
And sometimes it may not be a great day for riding. This is ok. You don’t have to ride your horse 7 days a week. And being flexible, and paying attention to what your horse is telling you is far more valuable than always riding.
If you or your horse just aren’t feeling the riding thing, that’s ok. Even if you had this big plan of getting on your horse, and working on perfecting your sitting trot or flying lead changes. It is better to spend more time on the ground and work on things if you aren’t in the right frame of mind to be riding.
You want to build your confidence level, not destroy it. So be flexible and understand it’s ok to just work with your horse. Every time you see him, you don’t have to ride.
So my challenge for you today is to lunge your horse for at least 10 minutes before you get into the saddle. Work him in both directions at all three gaits. Pay attention to how he is moving, and what he is telling you. He is telling you something, you just have to pay attention to what that is.
If your horse is good, and acting quiet, and secure go ahead and ride him. If not, know that its ok just to lunge him. Maybe work on transitions on the lunge line instead. And as always, end your work session on a good note. It is far better to have a shorter successful schooling session rather than fighting your horse the entire time.
With practice and consistency, your lunging time will help set the training time up to be a positive experience for both you and your horse. So get out there, and work with your horse!