When it comes to horses, why bother to learn new skills and work for progress? Isn't horseback riding a recreational pursuit, something that is meant to be tremendously enjoyable? What is wrong with going to the barn to play around, socialize with friends, and have a good time with a horse?
Well, nothing at all. Enjoyment, relaxation, pleasure, exercise... these are definitely major perks of spending time with horses at the barn. However, horse riding is also a serious commitment - especially because of your equine partner, who deserves your best in terms of riding skill and development.
Yet, it is so easy to stay with the status quo and do the same things day in and day out. If you want to limit your learning opportunities, give these following ideas a try!
10. Never Leave Home.
Stay in your own barn and do the same things over and over! Avoid learning from others or exposing you and your horse to new situations! Get into a riding rut and stay there! Yes, I'm being sarcastic. If you have access to a trailer, there are so many things you could do with your horse that not only will give you a nice change, but might also help you expand your skills and learn something new. Maybe you like to show. Maybe you want to go to a fund raiser ride-a-thon. Maybe you'd rather go for a long gallop on gorgeous trails with friends.
9. Be Closed-Minded.
There are so many "ways to Rome" in horseback riding. It seems like everyone has an opinion about everything! No wonder - when every horse has a unique personality and physical trait, and every rider comes from their own perspective - it's perfectly reasonable that we come at the same problem from so many different angles. Every riding discipline has its strengths and contributions to riding theory and practice. Keep and open mind and take the variables into consideration in order to really understand what others are doing. Then, decide if you think it will work for you or your horse.
8. Stay In Your Comfort Zone.
Y'know what they say - if you always do what comes easy, you'll rarely get beyond your present abilities. This is definitely true when it comes to horseback riding. Personal development often goes hand-in-hand with discomfort. Push your own limits to reach new heights. It's not just a cliché - it's literally true.
7. Compare Yourself and Your Horse to Others.
Well, we always compare ourselves and others to a certain degree. But one of the key lessons we all learn after some time with horses is that judgments usually get you nowhere - whether you think they're better or you are. If it's about the ego, you will always have something to worry about. So instead of competing against others, compete against yourself. Take your horse and your own strengths and weaknesses into consideration, and through diligent goal-setting, work toward personal bests.
6. Come to the Barn in a Bad Mood.
Your horse will pick up on it immediately! Unfortunately, you can't really cover up your attitude when it comes to horses. They feel you, whether on the ground or on their back, and some do respond accordingly. On the other hand, one huge benefit of riding is that you can leave your gripes at the barn door and just be in the present when you're around your horse. There is often no better way to improve your day than spending some of it with your four legged friend!
5. Ride Sporadically.
Just like any other endeavor, there is no replacement to practice. If you ride every now and then, you can be guaranteed that any learning will take longer than if you could commit to two or three times a week. Now I know most of us cannot commit to more than one ride a week and that is fine, so long as you understand that everything will take longer. The body needs repetition in order to make new synaptic connections. The more time in between each practice, the longer it will take for the body to make adaptations.
4. Keep Doing the Same Thing and Expect Different Results.
Another cliché, but oh so true in horse riding. We often find ourselves getting frustrated as we have every intention of progressing to the next level, only to find that in order to do that, we need to make even more changes to ourselves. The problem is that you can't expect the horse to respond to the same thing in a different way. And the change begins with you.
3. Make It All About Yourself.
If you ride because you want to show everyone your great riding technique and amazing talents, I have news for you. Riding horses can be a very humbling experience, especially the first time that the horse decides to do something unexpected.
2. Don't Take Lessons.
This one is a no-brainer. If you want to try new things, learn new skills and feels, chances are that someone with more experience can help you find that path. If the person is also a good teacher, you might just be surprised how quickly your riding techniques can develop.
1. Don't Listen to Your Horse.
Horses communicate with humans all the time. We only need to become sensitive and informed enough to know the horse's body language. You can tell if a horse is happy in his work by his body outline and way of going. During a ride, you can make decisions based on your horse's feedback. Rather than just pounding away at your predetermined goal, you can take into consideration what he is "saying" and address those concerns before moving on.
Do you have any tips to prevent progress? Let us know in the comments below!
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New! Horse Listening – Book 2: Forward and Round to Training Success
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7 Ways To Listen To Your Horse: The information can inform everything from general health care, to training and conditioning programs, to your horse’s mental well-being.
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