Now that you have gotten started with riding lessons, I bet the horse bug has bit you even harder! Do you have horses on the mind all the time now? Even in between lessons?
Horseback riding isn’t like other sports or activities that you can easily practice at home. If you don’t have a horse, it is obviously impossible to practice horseback riding! There are things you can do to continue working on your horsemanship even in between lessons, with no horse available!
Exercise is one of them. Doing cardio workouts and exercises like yoga that improve body awareness and flexibility, will help you in the saddle. Dressage Rider Training (DRT) listed a few great
You can also practice specific things, like making sure you are sitting and walking in good posture. Looking up with your shoulders tall and eyes ahead of you. The Fitness Tribe has an awesome breakdown of good posture basics and some basic exercises to improve your posture.
One of the first things you heard when you took your first lesson was to keep your heels down, right? Practice this by standing on a step on the ball of your feet and let your heels drop down. Over time, you will get more flexible and it will help you to keep your heals down when you have your feet in the stirrups.
Some people forget to keep a grip on their reins while they are riding, they will ride with their fingers too loose around the reins. This leads to problems when your reins get too long and then it is hard to steer and stop without moving your arms around all over the place.
You can practice this at home as well. You don’t even need a pair of reins, use a belt or a piece of yarn, anything that fits in your hand comfortably. Put it through your hand just like your reins. Practice loosening your grip to lengthen and shorten. Remember once they are the length you want you to squeeze your grip closed firmly again. When I say firmly, I mean that if you had a ball or coin in your hand it wouldn’t fall out. It should not feel like a clenching grip. Remember, in real life, the bit in your horse’s mouth is at the end of the reins, so we need to be gentle!
Crack a Book
Read about horses! I don’t mean just books and magazines about riding specifically. If you are reading this, you must have an interest in the way my program works. In my program, I’m trying to teach horsemanship as well as riding! Hopefully, you have found a program that also sees the importance of seeing the big picture of all that is involved with horses, besides just riding. Reading and learning as much as you can is a great way to spend your time thinking about horses when you aren’t riding.
Start saving money for horse stuff! Even if you don’t plan to buy a horse anytime soon, I bet it won’t be long before you will be wanting some of your own equipment. Brushes, saddle pads, etc… Saving up now for some tack and supplies will be a good experience. That way when you go shopping at the tack store for your simple things, you can get a feel for how much it would cost to buy everything you would need if you did want to own a horse.
Attend Clinics and Expos
Attend horse expos, and audit horsemanship clinics. You can learn so much just from watching other people ride. Horse expos are a fun way to learn because in one place you can find a variety of training demos, as well as rows and rows of vendors selling horsey stuff!
Ask your instructor if they have on farm shows for you to come to watch. Look into the local show circuit and go watch a local show with a friend.
Every Little Bit Counts
The more time you put into your horsemanship journey, the faster you will progress. In all aspects of horsemanship, it’s not just all about riding! I’m trying to put you on a path where you understand that horsemanship, knowing the nature of the horse and how to care for them, is just as important as riding!
Try some of these things during the week in between your lessons. I bet you will enjoy yourself and also learn a lot too! Before you know it you will be at the barn again.