Let's be real. Riding, in and of itself, is a social activity even when there aren't other people in the arena with you. There's you. There's your horse. And there are so many conversations and communications that go on between the two of you that it's never really a lonely kind of activity.
In fact, riding your horse can be something akin to hanging out with your best friend, even if your best friend has four legs!
There is one thing that can make it even better.
Throw a few people and their horses together in a mix and see what happens. These people not only share in your joy and passion for the horse, but also get the same thrill of accomplishment when participating in horse-related activities.
- all work hard together in the indoor arena: this is when you're all on a roll - together. Transitions, bends, quality of movement. The fun part is that by riding together, you sort of feed off each other's energy. The horses do too. The activity level is inspiring!
- weave to and through each other's paths without skipping a beat or getting in each other's way. Think of an impromptu musical ride except that there's no music and there's no set pattern. You all go where you want, do what your horse needs to do, without skipping a beat. No one interrupts the other. You always find room, and you STILL get to stick to your own program. Change directions, take a diagonal line, or simply stay on circles - it makes no difference because there is plenty of room because you're ALL mobile.
- take turns trying something and commenting on each other's skills. Like a trot to canter transition. Or a flying change. Or improving longitudinal suppleness from your leg and seat! There are so many things you can work on, each taking turns, giving the other horses a rest, and then discussing not only the feedback from each person (the rider included), but also what your horse had to say about it. What did he have to say about what you did? Did he release tension, soften over the top line?
- walk side-by-side in an active stretchy walk while you chat during cool down. Save the chatting for the end, when all is done. Get into a free-walk groove (stretchy, active). Get the horses walking together, taking turns on the inside or outside track (the inside horse will have to walk slower while the outside horse will have to cruise). Walk and talk like this for 10 minutes, 15 minutes? Depends on what you have to talk about! But in the meantime, your horses cool down while learning to move freely, get some low-impact conditioning under their belts, and learn to not only accept other horses right beside them, but even enjoy walking in company!
- take turns sloshing through the wet creeks on the trails! Because even though the winding path, the swishing sound of the leaves underhoof, and nature's glorious aromatherapy are enough reasons for a wonderful afternoon outing, crossing that creek on the way home is a splashing highlight! You'll remember the giggles while the horses drop back to let the other horses lead the way. Which one is the bravest?
- head out to watch a day-long clinic, soaking in the information, deliberating on new understandings with your friends during lunch. Auditing a clinic is like taking a mini-vacation from the regular routines of life, because not only do you get to learn, but you also get to see beautiful horses and riders become even more brilliant as their sessions proceed.
- go on a multi-night horseback riding trip - with your own horses! Explore parts of the country that you've never seen (and never will get to see again) that can only be accessed by horses or all-terrain vehicles. Camp under the darkest of nights while hearing the rustling of your horses' movements, their soft, sleepy breathing sounds - because they are tethered just across the campsite!
- decorate the barn for the holidays! You know that one's on my mind because Christmas is on the way. Beautiful, glitter-ful sparkly decorations brighten up the barn especially as the days shorten and the nights get longer, giving the horses something to stare and snort at as they walk down the aisle!
I'm sure you have many other situations that are better with friends and their horses. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite horsing around moments!
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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Now is the time to re-evaluate your goals and path to riding success!
If you’d like a structured, but personal tool to set goals, take a look our Goal Setting for the Equestrian: A Personal Workbook. The pages are designed for you to set and keep track of your progress over the course of a year.
Included in the book:
- design your overarching goals
- long- and short-term planning,
- debrief your special events such as clinics or shows
- reflect on, plan and evaluate your goals
- sample goals and pages
The Workbook is available for instant digital download so you can print the pages right off your computer. There is also the option of a paperback version if you’d rather have a professionally bound book to hold in your hands.
Eight Legs Plus Two: A poem.
5 Common Horse and Riding Myths: Do you regularly find yourself explaining/educating/justifying/rationalizing/defending your “horse habit”? Then this article is for you!
Good Day For A Little Horseplay: Snort, snort, snort, SNORT! My gelding couldn't tell me in any clearer terms how much he was enjoying the moment.
Living in Flying Changes: I wrote this short poem after a wonderfully exhilarating night ride.
14 Reasons to Love Horseback Riding: There must be hundreds of reasons why people enjoy horses and horseback riding. Here are fourteen.