Classical Training – The things we can’t control!
A major part of training is accommodating, adapting, preventing, or avoiding, the many aspects of riding that we cannot control!
The four major ones that come to mind include weather, weakness, pain and time.
Weather is an element that every rider must face, and no matter how fantastic your riding facilities are, there will always be times when weather will effect your training.
Rain is obvious, and for the many who do not have the luxury of an indoor school, rain can cause major training interruptions.
I was once asked…”Why the hell were you just riding in the rain when we have an indoor?”
Whilst I could have ridden in the shelter of the indoor arena, I chose this day to ride in the rain for one major reason…
It can, and MORE than often DOES, rain at competitions, and there is no point arriving on the day of the test, to realize your horse can’t stand being out in that kind of weather!
Not only should you get your used to training in the rain, but also training the TEST in the rain, as we have all seen the horse that trots up on the most beautiful straight centerline, halts to perfection, and then attempts to turn his back end towards the frontward pelt!
The same goes for wind, heat, flies, dust….If you never let your horse experience these kinds of conditions then how can you expect him to go well when you are out, which is already a scene with a more heightened atmosphere.
HOWEVER, while you must allow your horse to be familiar with these conditions you must also be smart about it…
Don’t ride him out in the wind if you know you don’t have solid control!
Don’t ride around in the rain for long periods if it is freezing, and don’t fly around in the heat for hours on end just to test your stamina.
Gently introduce these aspects into training, but never avoid them completely.
The second unavoidable aspect is Weakness, which of course comes in many shapes and sizes, and can be both horse or human related, to varying degrees.
Sometimes a weakness can be so great that the ENTIRE training focus throughout the horses ENTIRE working life must be tailored to accommodate his specific floor… and the same goes for the rider.
If a rider has a weaker left leg, or pulls too much on the right rein, the teaching they receive for their riding career will need to constantly monitor these weaknesses, to ensure the rider can manage them and continually improve on them during training.
On the other hand, a horse’s weakness can be anything from a hollow back, a tendency to put weight in the shoulders, to more simply a mind that is easily distracted…
With all of these weaknesses a rider must CONTINUALLY accommodate and monitor their existence, and while a lot of them can be improved, the minute these aspects are forgotten they will appear, time and time again!
Pain…well, if you ask a rider if they have back pain and they tell you NEVER, I either don’t believe them, or wonder that perhaps they are not really riding!
If you watch professional horse riders walk home after a long day, it is more like a waddle than a walk, often with one hand supporting the lower back!
Pain, particularly back pain, is something we must all accommodate, and sometimes it can be simple things like not riding in the morning, as you know that’s when the pain is at its worst.. etc
Time is something we all seem to run out of, whether it be because our kids have to be picked up from school, the farrier is coming, we are already late for work… we all have to mould our training around certain time schedules.
A simple way to maximize your time is of course to keep a daily agenda, but if you are not that organized then obvious things like having your tack room well organized to cut down the preparation time, when added up, can actually make a difference.