Having a Productive Ride
I absolutely love riding and it brings me joy, but I have to be honest, there are definitely some days I am just not motivated to ride. Whether I am feeling tired, stressed, or under the weather, I definitely have those days. However, the horses still need their exercise! In this post, I am going to be sharing with you my top tips on how to turn an unmotivated ride into a productive ride! Even if you're not unmotivated, these are awesome exercises to incorporate into your ride.
First, try something different! Maybe do a quick 15 minute ride and then venture off and go search around the property. I recently started exploring a little bit around Fieldstone with Lux and we have both been having fun. Not only is this still physical exercise, it is also a nice mental exercise too, to look at new things we may have never seen before. It keeps his mind active. I also find it nice to spend some extra time with Lux and have a fantastic chat with him (yes, I talk to my horse, don't you?). Especially during the whirlwind of finals, it has been nice to take a break from all the prep and get outside of the ring.
When I can't seem to find a specific exercise to work on, I combine them all together! I create a "dressage pattern" with exercises like transitions, turn on forehand, backing up (try an odd number of steps), lead changes, counter canter, etc! This is not only great for me to check in on my aids, but also to see my horse's reaction time. It may be easy to transition into an exercise when you have time to plan and focus on it, but what happens when you don't have much time to do it (like in a test)? Specifically, what happens when you go from a turn on the forehand into a counter canter? Can your horse do it as smoothly? I also love to bring my sister in and "compete" against each other with these patterns.
Another idea is to follow your jump course that is set in the ring (just don't jump them!) and include mini-tests in between. I know it sounds weird, but it actually is a lot of fun. Even when I am the least motivated to ride, the time flies by when doing these different "courses!"
Here is an example of a "dressage test:"
Walk out of line
Leg yield at the sitting trot
Pick up your canter
Demonstrate 2 changes of lead (flying or simple)
Back 3 steps
Sitting trot across the diagonal
Turn on the forehand
Walk back into line at a relaxed walk
Triple challenge yourself! Think about what you are working towards and make today the day you push yourself and make yourself an even better rider. Maybe pull off your stirrups, don't use spurs (fantastic leg exercise), or put a crop behind your back. Doing these things are also sure to earn you some brownie points with your trainer!
I also love to set up poles anywhere between five to seven strides and work on collecting and adding strides or moving up and taking out strides. I also love to set broken lines and practice coming more direct or bowing out. Play with your striding, speed and routes to fine-tune your ride.
If I am so tired or just truly unmotivated to ride, have a relaxing ride! Don't stress about framing or finals, just relax and be with your horse. Some of my best rides have been when I let my horse go long and loose and I'm not worried about my leg or posture. Trust me, it's nice to have a break from stressing about everything and just enjoy the love of riding.