I am fresh back from Equine Affaire, and ready for action. It is overwhelming in a positive way all the old and new information you learn about horses and how to have a successful relationship with your horse. What I observed over and over at the horse expo is that there is an endless amount of things I can do with my horses. That sounds like a silly statement, but not planning what to do with them is what happens to so many people. We all get into a rut, especially if they are at your house and not in a lesson program. Sitting at one of the clinics over the weekend, my friend said to me, “you could do that with your horses”, and that got me thinking, it is time to have a plan before each ride.
For the most part, trail riding at my house is pretty uneventful and casual for both horse and rider. I have beautiful trails that I am proud of. They are well taken care of by me, pretty much on a daily basis year round, except during hunting season. My horses have been on my trails enough that there isn’t really any surprises for them or anything that is going to challenge them too much without input from me. We all love a relaxed ride, talking the entire time, but when you do that, the horse gets lazier and lazier. Completing obstacles out on the trails is so much fun and rewarding. A friend that I ride with has a new horse and I have had Cheyenne only a year, so obstacle challenges on the trails is new to our horses with us. When we head out for a ride now, we each find an obstacle to do along the ride. It is the best of both worlds- nice safe trails with a great opportunity to expose our horse to a new task and get the brain thinking by both the horse and rider.
Having a plan doesn’t have to be just a riding plan and shouldn’t be just a riding plan. I keep mentioning in my past posts that four letter word- cold – that is coming closer everyday here in Syracuse, New York. There are many days ahead where a lot of us will not be doing much riding because of the weather. It can be little changes like asking your horse to step back before receiving his grain, or neck stretching for a carrot. Many of these things I do in the barn make the cold, blustery or rainy days not seem so bad because I am still working with my horse.
I started today to implement a plan into my personal riding program. I bought a 20″ x 30″ dry erase board. I had a novice rider coming over to ride with me today. First we did a 15 minute trail ride right next to the riding ring, then we worked the horses in the riding ring for 45 minutes. The rider was excited about a plan that wrote down tasks for her to try to work on. The board was sitting against the fence riding ring large enough to easily be read. I could tell it was a more productive riding time for both me and the horse and It was fun!
So if you feel like you are in a rut doing the same ole thing most of the time, get a dry erase board and list what you hope to do riding or hand walking or visiting your horse each day.