The Five Essential Elements of any Horse's Training Routine February 22 2015
We’ve all heard that routine is good for the soul, like chicken soup, or sleeping in. If you happen to be in an Owner/Trainer/Rider situation, you can apply this rule to your horses training and you will find even horses love routine! There are at least five elements of a good saddle seat training regimen that are guaranteed to give your horse some confidence.
Insist on having at least one day of long lining in the training routine. Long lining is an exceptional way to really hone in on your horses relationship with a bridle. This is a method of training where you have your horse in all the equipment needed to hook them to a jog cart and drive (minus a breast collar) and have them walk and trot (and sometimes canter for horses that tend to be nervous about cantering) around you. Think of it as if you were lunging them, but of course insisting they wear their bridle and push up to it. This close space training method makes seeing your horse's reactions to turning left and turning right while pushing them up to the bridle much easier to SEE. Feeling it beneath you when you ride is important, but let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t even know what the whole package looks like until we see video from a show! It’s also good to give a horse a day to not pull a cart or drag a person around on their back, while still being able to accomplish some “training.”
This is like endurance day at the gym. A day or two of driving in the routine is another great method of building up your horse’s strength and endurance, a necessary piece of the puzzle for reaching the next level in their training. Any athlete has to have the physical wherewithal to learn a sport and that is the same for a horse. If carrying your butt around is too physically challenging for them just from the standpoint of walking around with your added weight, you won’t be able to stay on them long enough to really teach much without exhausting them.
How often you should, could, or need to ride your horse will really depend on their level of development, their needs, their fitness level and more. A good rule of thumb though is that riding a horse twice a week is a good foundation. Some younger horses that have the fitness, energy, and a need for constantly reinforced learning should be ridden more often, reducing their other forms of training. Horses that are well along in their training and already know their job can be ridden once a week and spend the rest of their time focusing on some of the other aspects of their training.
Lunging or Turning Out
This is a great way to get your horse out of their stall if they don’t have a pasture to play in or to get them to stretch their legs and raise their heart rate while also giving them a break from having a bit in their mouth, or equipment on their backs.
A Day Off
Just like people, horses need days off too. Let them stay out in the pasture with their friends or bring them in to lay down in their cozy, cushy stalls with some extra special treats to eat just for being adorable because they are your horse, but more importantly because they are your friend, your confidant, your partner in crime, your secret keeper, and the four legged love of your life.
While all of these are good tactics to building a training routine, perhaps the most important thing of all is to know your own limits and to seek professional assistance when you are stumped. It is in your own, and your horse’s best interest to get them into training with an experience horseman or woman in your industry/field of riding to keep your horse happy and to keep you safe if you’ve found a figurative (or literal) hurdle you can’t seem to get over.
Have any other general training tips or methods to share? Let us know in the comments down below!