Example Riding Plan for a Week-Day 4
So I'm getting kind of redundant about the warm-up thing. By now if you have been following this series, you should know the warm-up goals. They are the following-
1- Establish what kind of horse you are sitting on that day- lazy, energetic, tense, ready to work? That is the thing about working with animals with their own brains, they are different from day to day just like we are. Before you get into the main part of your ride you want to see what kind of horse you are working with. Is he or she having an "on" day or an "off" day?
2-The second warm-up goal is to establish that your horse is respecting your leg and your hand and being responsive to your cues. In other words, does the steering wheel, gas pedal and brakes work? You would not take a random car on a long drive without making sure everything was in working order right? The same thing with your horse, make sure he is being obedient to all the basic stuff.
3-Using the experience of your ride yesterday, and the way your horse feels today, you are going to decide whether you want to continue working on that same skill exercise that you did yesterday. If it is coming easily now, without causing tension for you and the horse, you are probably ready to move on to the next step. Which would be to break down the goal you are trying to reach, and decide what the next skill is that you need to perfect in order to achieve it.
P.S- Don't forget you need to focus on yourself as well, at least for some of the ride. Do some no stirrup work, two-point position, sitting trot...whatever you feel like you need to improve on as well. Spend a chunk of your time after the warm-up or during the warm-up phase with yourself and improving your own skills in mind.
Take Into Consideration How He Feels Today, Every Day Is Different With Horses
You are lucky! So if your horse has mastered the exercise from yesterday, how he feels today will come into play with whether you move on to something new or not. Even if he was amazing yesterday, if today is not his day, we aren't going to press on, we are going to stick with the same exercise.
Is He Having An Off Day?
Does he feel lazy, tense, grouchy? Did it take longer than usual to get his attention in the warm up? Do you just feel like you aren't quite on the same wavelength? If that is the case, even if he did your exercise perfect yesterday, I want you to work on it again today. Maybe jazz it up with some poles or by doing it at a different gait. Maybe a change of scenery would work.
If he is having an "off" day, even if he was perfect yesterday, today is not the right time to push on to the next skill level. That would just be asking for tension and an unpleasant ride. Remember, part of planning and horses is taking into account their changes daily and being able to read them. Then being able to decide how to best use your time.
If he is having an "off" day, start off after warm up with something you know you and your horse are good at, whatever that may be. Do that in both directions. Then when it seems you are more on the same wavelength go back to yesterdays exercise, wait for a lightbulb moment. I'm not talking like the Christmas tree in times square light up, even just something small. When you feel like he "got it", even if it was just for a moment. That is your stopping point for the day.
You took a horse who was an unwilling partner, focused him on his job and got him back to where you wanted with the exercise you chose for the week. Good for you! That is your stopping point!
If Your Horse Was A Rockstar Yesterday And Is Right On Today
If your horse was amazing yesterday and took well to the new exercise that you were working on. I want you to use this day to just solidify that he really gets it. No reason in rushing, you can't rush horses. You need to make sure he truly understands, otherwise, when you move on, you will have miscommunications again.
So how do you solidify his ability to do this exercise? Incorporate it into exercises that he has already mastered. Do something that is easy for him, do it both directions. Then come back to the new exercise and do it both ways. Then back to something else that you are really good at. The specific skills will be totally individual to horse and rider. So again, if you need help with ideas for exercises or plans ask for help!
So you kind of did a sandwich type thing with old familiar things and now his new skills from this week.
Just like every other day this week, we want to find a good stopping point. Where you are both relaxed and feel like you are speaking the same language. Keep in mind your horse's fitness level as well. Even if you feel really excited about how he is going, don't overdo it. You don't want to push him until he is tired and grumpy and then have to struggle for a lightbulb moment to end on. Always keep in mind the horse's attention span and physical fitness, when considering your riding plans.
You Are Right,Day 4 Was More Of The Same
You are right! Day 4 was basically more of the same. Making sure you are spending time on your own weaknesses, as well as working on new skill exercises with your horse.
It requires progressive thinking, being creative, and most importantly being aware of the horse underneath you and constantly striving to speak his language.
Remember, the key is to simply, step by step, work through each skill needed for you to meet your goal for the week. You can't skip steps. He has to learn the preschool stuff before he moves onto kindergarten or first grade!
While You Are Untacking
Reflect on your 4 days of riding, hopefully, you have been keeping a journal or some sort of notes on your progress. Make a list of the improvements that you have made and then another list of what still needs work? Write down if you met your goal? If you didn't write down what you think the disconnect is and the specific steps to get you and your horse back on the same wavelength. Take note of all the positive things that happened with your horse in these four days no matter how small!
Stay Tuned For Day 5!