• Do you sometimes feel like all your schooling sessions are the same? Have you run out of new ideas? Do you feel like you’re not improving anymore, but can’t really be bothered to do anything about it?
• When you go to the yard, do you rush to get your horse tucked up in bed, so that you can get home and have some quality time with your feet up?
• Do you see your hacks as more of a, ‘I should take my horse out because it will give him variety’ rather than, ‘Hoorah, it’s the weekend and I can go out for a lovely ride!’
• Have you stopped challenging yourself in the saddle? Do you stay well and truly within your comfort zone?
You love horses – otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this feature – but for some reason or another, you aren’t loving your horsey life right now. There could be a number of reasons why you might have become stuck in a rut – the miserable winter weather, rider nerves or perhaps you’re too busy in other areas of your life right now. But you’re not alone, for many riders find themselves lacking direction. You may feel that you’re not improving in your lessons, your hacks have become boring and now you rarely step out of you and your horse’s comfort zone.
Whether you are at a total loss about what to do next with your riding or simply want some new ideas to spice things up a bit, we can help. Here are some great ways to improve your time at the yard with your horse, from hacking and schooling, to clinics and shows. Make 2011 a fun year for you and your horse, but first, identify the symptoms of being down in the doldrums.
If you answered yes to any of those questions above, then it’s definitely time to freshen things up a bit. And even if your answers were all nos, then check out Horse&Rider’s guide to great riding anyway.
SPICE UP YOUR HACKING
Give your hacking a kick-start this year and have some of your best-ever rides out
• Buy an Ordnance Survey map of your local area and see if there are any new bridlepaths you can try out.
• If you normally ride out with the same liveries every time, then why not ask someone else to go for a hack sometime? It’s a good chance to get to know someone new and fun for your horse to socialise with different horses.
• If you have a friend who lives near enough to ride to, pop in for a cup of tea on your way.
• Ride school movements out hacking to keep your horse mentally stimulated. Do some leg-yield or shoulder-in along the bridlepaths, or practise transitions and lengthened strides.
• Why not take your horse on holiday? Check out our holiday features in last month’s Horse&Rider.
• They say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, so wrap up warm. You won’t enjoy your ride if you are battling the cold, so invest in some very good cold and wet-weather gear.
• Challenge yourself a little bit every time you hack out. Pop over a log, go for a short canter if you usually only trot, ride up and down hills or go off the main track a bit, so that you get the chance to ride on more challenging ground if it’s safe to do so.
• If you have transport, make the effort to box somewhere different. Or why not meet up with a friend who is stabled at a different livery yard and let them take you on a new adventure?
• If you don’t have anyone to ride with, post up a thread on a horsey forum asking for hacking pals in your area. Check out www.horseandrideruk.com
• If you don’t have any transport, get together with some yard friends and share the cost of transport. Check the tides and go to the beach for a gallop or head off somewhere completely different.