I have a plan . . .
I think we could all improve the quality and enjoyment whilst training for both us and our horses if we take a leaf out of the way we all we educated. “Bite size” revision, a variation of subjects learnt in one school day, chapters that if followed in the correct order build knowledge without overwhelming us in one go.
Looking back, that’s what was being offered to me, if only I wasn’t so busy selling sweets out of my school bag on the black market whilst designing my perfect equestrian centre on page one of my Physics workbook!
How many of us begin our ride and have a pre set goal with a plan which will help us achieve it? If you’re human like the rest of us, you’ve attempted the stretch.... changed the rein... pleaded for more impulsion so that your trainer doesn’t mention it in tomorrow’s lesson (yet again) and then finished with some randomly placed movements, from smaller circles to lateral work. If that sounds familiar now is the time to get planning. If it doesn’t ring a bell you must have your trainer present for every ride! Just like the final page of every chapter in that text book guided your learning, so should your goal when riding. Try to make it an educated, realistic goal with the help of a trainer or that friend who is more advanced (or at least buys all the expensive tack and clothes, they’ll do!)
For example, on a Monday morning I feel each horse and if I have a competition looming I aim to improve the quality of required movements or transitions by Friday, that keeps me on track for the working week, of course I don’t want to drill them to boredom so I mix my training with polework, road work and contrary to a Dressage Queen’s reputation,a canter in a field (albeit 4mph).
If for example I want to teach my horse a new movement or improve the standard of his way of going, I keep to the subject for that week, raising my expectations of the understanding and then quality as the days go on. With every horse, age, size, breed and level I may have a plan that sounds good to me but until I’m in the arena I haven’t clue where the session will take me. A soon as you are on board look and feel, nobody struggles to say what they don’t like when I ask them, so compartmentalise the way of going (which can seem overwhelming if looked at in one go) into bite size pieces. Too fast? Slow down. Lazy? Get excited and quicken up. Too left? Work right and visa versa. Before you know it your plan has evolved as you listen to your horse and incorporate how he feels. Lots of people tell me they get bored, or run out of things to do, I’ve spent thousands of hours in arenas now and I still haven’t run out of new discoveries.
There is a world of information out there to help solve any issue and learn anything. YouTube, riding apps (RidelyUK being my favourite as yours truly has videos on there) books, online forums (if your dare) and advice from people in the industry combined is a wealth of knowledge you’ll never get to the end of. “The biggest marathons are just a series of individual steps”.... Why people run marathons is beyond me. Use a horse, way easier!
Levi Hunt - Grand Prix International Rider for Great Britain, British Dressage Young Professional of the year 2016, Regional British Dressage Team Trainer, UKCC3 Coach