We are all feeling the pain of the current lockdown due to COVID-19. Being stuck at home most of the time gets monotonous and tedious for you and your horse. Due to the pandemic all equestrian events have been closed and life for a competing rider isn’t very eventful. However, you can use this time to improve your riding skills and relationship with your horse having much more time to spend on things you would usually skip over. We found some great boredom busters that will not only change up your training in the arena but sharpen you and your horse’s skills at the same time.
Pick a Small Goal and Achieve it
You could try stopping with your shoulders aligned with a certain french post. This may be easy at a walk, but what about at a trot and canter? After that why don’t you try doing it with a graceful stop instead of a crash landing by the post?
Do Something Better, Not Faster
Try to get your horse to transition from a walk to trot smoothly without him raising his head. After mastering this you could try downshifting from trot to walk, instead of trot, pause, then walk.
Staying still for a lot of horses is a challenge. Why don’t you try getting your horse to stand still for mounting and stay still until you give him the signal to walk?
Cones, Cones and More Cones
The amount of patterns you can make with cones is simply limited to your imagination. You can play games like ‘in and out the windows’, challenging yourself at how smoothly and accurately you can ride the pattern.
You can also ride around obstacles and barrels. Try riding forward between two barrels, stop, then ride back between them.
Use Different Signals
There are a lot of different ways to signal to your horse the things you wish him to do. You might find that by trying other ways your horse responds better to your directions. If you usually ride direct rein, try neck reining. If you normally neck rein why don’t you try using weight or leg cues. Make it play work for your horse so you both enjoy it as a game, and remember your goal is to always use the lightest cue possible.
Ride With a Tune
This is really fun to try. You can try to match your horse’s stride to a tune or work up a dance routine to a favourite song.
Ride With a Loose Rein
Put your horse into the contact and tempo you are after, and then gently drop the reins. See if he can maintain his frame and rhythm for a few strides without your reins.
Work on Rhythm
Focus on big relaxed steps which means you have to focus on letting your seat relax and move with your horse. You could even close your eyes or have someone lead your horse while you close your eyes. Shrug your shoulders to test if you are holding yourself stiffly. Test yourself to see if you can feel when each of your horse’s feet hit the ground.
Most importantly mix it up, try something new and have fun!
Information Credits: Equisearch.com article on ten horse arena work boredom busters