Home » Create Routine To Encourage Calm
Editor’s Note: Heels Down Mag asked riders to tell us what three things they think everyone should do every ride. Our editorial team selected five finalists’ essays, which are being published this month. One winner will receive an EIS COOL shirt ($92 value).
By Gracie Lynch
Routine is defined as a sequence of actions regularly followed. So often we change it or just throw it out the window for our convenience. I am as guilty of this as much as the next person, but it’s something our horses crave. Whether it’s consistent feeding times, turn out, or our riding routine, I believe if a horse knows what to expect they will be calmer, healthier, and more productive.
I’m a leisure rider, for the most part, with hopes to attend some 4-H shows in the future. Therefore, my horses are not in a rigorous training schedule by any means, but if they know what to expect they will preform better in any situation. I just recently acquired a new mare so my time has been spent establishing what is expected of her and creating a routine that fits her personality and skill level. These are things that I included in
developing my routine with my new mare, Ellie.
Focus on groundwork
I work with my horses on the ground before each ride. It could be as simple as a
few minutes of lunging or working with an obstacle. When you work with a horse on the ground before you get on, you can assess what your horse is feeling. If your horse won’t walk calmly on a lunge line you can prepare yourself for the fact that they most likely won’t want to walk calmly under saddle.
I think some sort of stretching should be done every time you work with your horse. If
possible I work on stretching before, during, and after my ride. Although, I think stretching is important and should be done as much as possible, you need to have your horse’s complete trust for a lot of stretches and you need to know your horse before you attempt anything that would put you in a compromising position. I like to use Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horses by Jec Aristotle Ballou as a reference to find stretches and other exercises to fit the horse I’m working with.
With my last mare, I focused a lot on stretching before, during, and after a ride since she had trouble with past injuries. With my new mare, I haven’t been doing much more than lateral flexion until I can assess her capabilities better.
After every training session I try to take time to do something that is calming for my
horse as well as myself. This can be something as simple as hand grazing or another good grooming. I believe that giving a horse some time after a ride to relax and enjoy themselves while still being with you helps build your bond with them and promote trust.
I am not a trainer or expert horsewomen but these are things that I believe are important to include in every training session or ride. I hope hearing about some of my routine with my horses will help you as you develop your own.