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What To Do When You Are Stuck in a Rut With Your Riding (Current Freebie!)
It happens to most riders at some point in their riding life... you feel like you've been happily progressing steadily over the years, and then you hit a rut. Nothing seems to be improving, and you feel like you just keep working on the same thing every day - without getting anywhere. What to do??
Here are 10 things you can try!
- Get some new eyes on you - Go ride in a clinic or two! Having fresh eyes on your problems can make a big difference. They might have some new ideas, or may make a comment or suggestion that will help you over the hump that you are in. Plus clinics are fun, and you can meet lots of new like minded people.
- Video yourself - Get someone to video your rides. Sometimes when you can actually see for yourself what is happening, you can finally make the changes that you need to in your riding.
- And now for something completely different! - Change the subject. Work on something different for a while. If you are a Dressage rider, try some jumping. If you are a jumping rider, try some competitive trail or endurance riding. Doing something different can alleviate any staleness or boredom that might be hampering your progress. When you come back to your serious training after a short break, you may find that both you and your horse's perspective have improved.
- Take steps to improve your overall relationship - Spend lots of time with your horse, just grooming and hand grazing him. Go out on relaxing hacks, and even take them to the ocean for a beachside gallop if possible. Make things FUN again!
- Step up your level of fitness - Some riding difficulties persist because of a lack of strength or fitness for either horse or rider. Commit to a program of rider strengthening, to make yourself a more strong and effective rider. And improve your horse's level of overall strength by following a progressive strength training regime. Many resistances you have been getting under saddle may be caused by a lack of topline strength in your horse. And with increased muscling over the topline, your problems may just naturally dissolve.
- Go back to basics - If you are having trouble with a specific movement, or any complex exercise, it can almost always be traced back to a hole in your basics. If you are frustrated with the quality of your transition from extended canter to collected canter, for example, you can usually fix the problem by going back a step and working on the quality of your basic canter, and your basic downward transitions - walk to halt, or trot or canter to walk. Improve the basics, and the harder things will come easily.
- Work on some more difficult exercises - Sometimes when you move on to the next level of difficulty, the previous level becomes more cemented automatically. For example, if you are having trouble with your canter to trot transitions - try working on some canter to walk transitions, or even canter to halt. Those require more engagement and collection from your horse. And when you work on them enough to make some improvements in that area (even if they are still rather rough), you will likely find your canter to trot transitions much easier. And if you struggle with 20 meter circles, try working on some 15 meter or even 10 meter circles. When you go back to the easier exercise, it will feel just that... easy.
- Approach from a different angle - If your horse is resisting and hollowing in transitions, rather than working on them incessantly and increasing the level of tension, do some basic lateral work... like turn on the forehand or leg yielding, and sneak some transitions into that work.
- Check your warm up - Perhaps your warm up routine needs revamping? Maybe experiment with some different warm up plans, and see if you can find one that works better for you and your horse.
- Ride a different horse! - Take a short break from your horse, and try riding a few others if it is at all possible. You can and will learn something different from each horse that you sit on. And you can take those new concepts, and try them out on your horse. If nothing else, riding some strange horses will increase your awareness. And it will often make you appreciate your own horse even more!