What Are You Achieving?
Sometimes we finish a ride, and the horse is tired, and we are tired, and yet nothing was actually worked on.
This can happen for a range of different reasons, some of them legitimate, and others not.
I sometimes can have weeks where I achieve very little in terms of training because of either my own physical restrictions (i.e. pain or injury), or because the rider that is going through a phase or isn’t tuned in enough to listen to the horse, or a lack of confidence means you tend to just try to “get through the ride” without getting hurt.
A lack of confidence can often result in this sort of mentality, where a rider merely gets on and off and tries do a bit in between, praying all the while that nothing will happen, no dogs will run out, or trees will make a noise, or a gust of wind will come up at the wrong time.
The other reasons might be a lack of focus or goal. i find that even if your goal is to ride a preliminary test and gain a certain percentage, then that in itself gives you more direction in training. This goal should be given with a date, which of course can be extended, but at least it’s there, so you don’t keep putting it off.
We might go out to ride, and feel the trot so great we just sort of float around enjoying it, and forget to actually better it by using transitions, and suppling exercises.
How many times have we seen videos of a horse and rider going all the way around the arena in a fancy trot, and I think, that’s great, but is there a purpose to that? Are you making the trot better? Are you making the horse more supple? Or are you just tiring the horse out until you can finish the training?
“Many riders are happy to get their horses tired by running around in the arena in trot or canter. This gets the horse tired. “Working a horse” is something else altogether.” “( Nuno Oliveira)
So you need to ask yourself, do you want to train the horse, do you want to establish a connection with him based on trust, respect, and communication, or do you want to sit there and look pretty, or get a work out and go home?
If you prefer the first scenario, then as I said you need to set goals, and not just goals to aim toward, but every day goals.
What am I trying to achieve today?
And more importantly, when you finish riding, don’t just rush off to your life, reflect!
Reflect, reflect, reflect!!
Ask yourself, how was that ride, how does my body feel, did I achieve what I set out to?
If you need to, keep a journal of what worked, and why.
You will quickly find that it’s in the reflection that you learn the most about your journey on your horse. Talk to him. Ask him how he felt. He isn’t going to answer you, but in the process you will establish a greater connection with him and you yourself will begin the reflection process.
The two elements of dressage that I find are most easily forgotten are reflection and breathing.
So…Incorporate this into every single training….
Think, what am I setting out to do…Breath while you are doing it…Reflect on how you did it, and whether or not you are on the way to your goal…
Think, Breathe, Reflect!!