Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Riding Plans for the Week

OK, time to get serious! Stephens Forest ride is this next weekend. Not just a trail ride, but a CTR, Competitive Trail Ride. I just went to play with my granddaughter Makenzie this weekend, and didn’t ride my horse. But she is so cute, and I just had to go see her! But that meant less time on my horse.

OK, now stay on track, I tell myself! Quit talking about Makenzie. Quit thinking that you just left her 5 hours ago, and you won’t see her for another month or so. Quit thinking about how much you enjoyed playing with her and making her laugh. Quit thinking about how much fun she is! Ok, if I must, but I’m not liking it.

Back to this coming week! How am I going to get my horse, Finny, ready! Poor guy, he isn’t conditioned as well as he was in June. I gave him some time off in August, but I did ride him for the 4 days during my Centered Riding Instructor’s Course. Then I gave him another 2 weeks off. I have only rode him a few times since! But one of those rides was a short trail ride, very short.

Well, I think I’ll do exactly what my friend, Tammy, is going to do. I am going on this CTR and enjoy the scenery. I’ll enjoy riding with my friends. I’ll concentrate on the obstacles and perform them as well as we can at the moment. And I will work on just staying relaxed so my horse is relaxed.

I will work on 2 things this week. I will work on adding some longer rides to my daily workouts. I can’t stress myself knowing that my horse isn’t as legged up as he should be. That would just make him feel my stress, and in turn, not stay relaxed. I have just defeated my purpose then. I will work on how I will get my horse to relax at this CTR. A Centered Riding basic is Breathing. Deep, belly breaths. Breathing relaxes a person. Breathing relieves tension. Breathing slows a person’s thinking down. AND, Breathing relaxes the horse.

I will work on deep breathing each time I feel any tension in my horse. I will take 2 or 3 deep breaths before I mount. I will center myself, pause, take deep breaths, and mount. I will repeat the deep breaths before I ask my horse to walk off.

As I approach an obstacle, I will breath slowly and deep, inhaling with long, deep breaths through my nose, and exhale very slowly. As I perform the obstacle, I will pause, take a few deep breaths, slowly perform the obstacle, taking as many deep breaths as I can remember to do, since I know I’ll be concentrating on the obstacle and not on breathing.

Any time I feel my horse begin to become anxious, and he let’s me know this by chomping on the bit, I will breathe deep and slowly, exhaling out my mouth with a little sigh. I need to “allow” my horse to focus on my breathing and to mimic my breathing. I need to “allow” myself the time to take his attention off of what he is focused on and what he becomes anxious about. As my horse feels my breaths, and feels my more relaxed body, he will begin to realize that there is nothing to be anxious about.

I need to boost up my ride times. This week, I will add some longer rides, but I’ll remain conscience of my horse’s condition. I definitely don’t want to ride hard and make my horse sore, whether it’s a soreness in his legs or in his soles, as he is barefoot. I will just start riding him an hour in my conditioning regime. Walk, slow trot, walk, long trot with alternating posting and 2-pointing, walk, a little loping. Then I start this all over again until I have ridden an hour. During any of this, I break up the arena work by doing serpentines, going over logs, working on 2-tracking or half passes, small circles, large circles, etc. What I don’t do is just circle the arena, staying on the rail. I’ll try to only be in the arena if we have rain.

When I have the time this week, I will take longer rides to the fields. None of the fields have been harvested, so I will ride the waterways. I have a 5-6 mile area of waterways that I zig zag and travel to put in the distance. I ride the waterways at the walk and trot, and the different scenery adds some excitement to our rides. I will see how conditioned my horse is by trotting him until he is winded, then walk until his breathing recovers, then we pick up the trot again. This walking and trotting helps us to cover more ground. I also feel that this alternating walking and trotting mimics how we usually end up riding at the CTR, especially when we are behind time.

I plan on taking another short trail ride this week, but I will add some waterway work before I go on this ride, so that I end up with a 10 mile ride for the day. I will probably ride the first 4 or 5 miles at home, in the waterways, at the walk and slow jog, then I will go out on a trail, and ride at a little faster trot. This will be mid-week, so the day after this ride, I will probably just walk the waterways. The following day is travel day, and once I’m at the CTR location, I will take a short trail ride, maybe for an hour.

At the CTR this weekend, I will make sure to give my horse longer warm ups and cool downs. I will try to be on him ½ hour before start time, just walking him around. At the end of the day, I’ll give him some extra walking time after we have unsaddled.

Hopefully, this ride will have cooler temps, NO rain, no slick trails, and calm horses. This ride will be calm for me because I will be practicing my deep breathing and my horse will remain relaxed. That’s my plan for the week. I’ll let you know how tomorrow’s ride goes!

Come along on the ride with me. With Centered Riding, this conditioning and CTR will be fun! What a journey we will have!

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