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Ways to Spice Up Your Ride

This article is from the November 2020 Horse Deals magazine.

Chances are that if you’re bored, so is your horse. Get motivated and switch up your regular riding routine with the following suggestions.

1. Stretch It

Dedicate a whole ride to improving your horse’s stretched frame in all paces. Encourage the horse to maintain forward rhythm and stretch through the head and neck. Your chosen discipline will dictate whether you maintain the contact through the stretch or ride totally on a loose rein.

2. Go Stirrupless

Participate in No Stirrup November and build those muscles by dropping your stirrups. This is a perfect exercise for improving your balance and seat.

3. Ride Bareback

If stirrupless isn’t enough of a challenge, ditch the saddle altogether and ride bareback. You’ll be able to refine your leg and seat aids as a bonus. For trustworthy horses, go one more and ride bareback in a halter, which will ultimately test out how much you rely on a hand to bit connection.

4. Train Something New

Before you saddle up, think about what the next attainable training goals are with your horse. Are they ready to be introduced to a new movement, or a variation of something they’ve currently mastered? For example; if your horse has nailed three-loop serpentines, maybe it’s time to ride a four-loop, then five.

5. Polework

There’s a polework exercise for every discipline and every purpose. Keep in mind what you would like to improve in your horse. Is it rhythm, hind end engagement, reducing or increasing stride length? Set up two or three exercises on the weekend to keep you motivated throughout the week.

6. Competition Test Run

Treat one of your rides as a competition test run. Warm up as if you were there, then ride a test, workout or course from start through to finish, without stopping to correct any mistakes. You can then pinpoint what needs to be worked on and how you could warm up better.

7. Ride with a Friend

Everything’s more fun with a friend! If you agist, try to tee up a ride with a fellow agister or float your horse to a friend’s. Besides being fun, training with other riders means you can bounce ideas off each other.

8. Gridwork

If jumping is something that interests you, create a gridwork set-up to improve your horse’s rhythm and jump. Mix up stride numbers and fence-types for variation. Remember that jumps don’t have to be maximum height to improve your horse’s training.

9. Trail Riding

Get out of the arena and out on the trail. Trail riding is a great way to stimulate your horse’s brain while also improving fitness. If you don’t have access to a trail, a stroll down the driveway or in the back paddock will reap the same benefits.

10. Novelty Games

This one is a winner for the young or young at heart. Relive your pony club days by setting up novelty games such as pole bending, egg and spoon races, or an obstacle course.

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