Example Riding Plans for a Week-Day 3
The Warm Up
After the first two days, you should have the warm-up part down to a science. Some basic stuff with the goal of getting your horse focused and giving you the opportunity to gauge how your horse is feeling that day. Is he lazy? Spooky? Relaxed? This is your chance to see whether you are sitting on a willing work partner or not. It is also your chance to get his head in the game if it seems that he isn't feeling it today.
While you are warming up, this is the time when you are going to practice what you decided earlier in the week that you were going to focus on as far as your own riding. It should be pretty easy to combine the two things, an effective warm up, and some exercises for you to focus on yourself as a rider. Whatever riding skill you are trying to perfect, you should be able to come up with an exercise to work on it, at the same time getting your horse focused.
It's multitasking, horseback riding and training is the ultimate test of one's ability to stay relaxed while multitasking. It ain't nothing! Multitasking while trying to balance on top a thousand-pound animal! You'll get it.
Get To Work!
Once you have done your warm up. Your horse should be responsive and focused. Ready to get on to the important part of the ride. Getting back to that exercise you were working on yesterday. Remember, the exercise you chose for yesterday was one that is a stepping stone toward the main goal you are working on.
Hopefully, you can pick up where you left off. Reintroduce yesterdays exercise and your horse picks it back up easily. If so, think about what the next step would be toward your goal. What is the next skill you need to perfect in working towards your goal? Find an exercise that helps work on those skills for you to be able to make that next step. Again, this is the time when if you need help thinking of an appropriate exercise don't be afraid to ask for help from your trainer or someone you trust to help you figure it out.
The easiest way to come up with exercises is to think through the specific steps you have to take to ask your horse to do the skill. All the steps that you have to take, and then what your horse needs to be able to do to be successful at the new skill. Keep it simple, you just pick one step and work on that one step until it clicks, then come up with an exercise to work on the next step. Eventually, you will have broken down the skill into individual exercises to make it easy for your horse to progressively learn the new skill. One step at a time, making sure that you and your horse are clicking and speaking the same language. This is how you will succeed in learning new skills and teaching your horse new skills. Remember, if you or your horse get frustrated, just go back to the exercise before this one. It's important to always know what you and your horse are good at. So that if you get stuck, and realize you aren't speaking the same language, you can go back and reestablish the communication, then end on a good note.
If You Don't Feel Like You Mastered Yesterdays Exercise
No big deal. If that is the case, just keep working on yesterdays exercise. If you can't seem to get through to your horse, break it down into a smaller step. Then once he gets the smaller part of the exercise, try adding it back in again. Stepping back and mastering a smaller skill before moving onto a bigger skill will always benefit you. Anything to keep horse and rider relaxed and speaking the same language is a good thing!
It's no rush. Rushing through things with horses doesn't work. To be successful they need to understand our cues and we need to take the time to make sure that they are putting two and two together. If it takes an extra day or two, so be it.
When You Are Untacking
Decide whether or not you mastered what you were working on today or not? Try and figure out what part of the skill your horse isn't getting so you can try to figure out the best way to help them understand. Again, don't be afraid to ask someone for a suggestion if you need one.
Another Quick Thought On Your Day 3 Ride
If you think you mastered the exercise you were working on. If you want to reinforce it a little bit before moving on to the next exercise that isn't a bad idea. Again, it depends on what it is you are working on, but you can incorporate ground poles, or doing the exercise at different gaits. Also a change of location. Try the exercise out in a big field instead of your normal riding area. Nothing tests your horses understanding like asking him to perform a new skill in a new place! A change of scenery is always good for the mental state of horse and rider as well.
Stay tuned for Day 4!