The 5 things...


you should do every time you ride

If sad­dling up switches you on to au­topi­lot, it’s time to check back into re­al­ity and take five. We’re not talk­ing about min­utes, we mean the five es­sen­tial ac­tions you should take every time you ride

1 Make sim­plep (and vi­tal!) safety checks

Be­ing safe, that’s a no brainer right? But how many times have you sad­dled up with­out check­ing your girth, do­ing up your chin strap or don­ning high-vis ahead of a hack? These are just three sim­ple safety mea­sures you can make every time you ride that could, at the very least, pro­tect you from in­jury and, at most, save your life. Here’s a men­tal check­list to en­grain on your brain: Check your girth Wear a rid­ing hat and keep it se­curely fas­tened Check your tack for loose stitch­ing or dam­age Check the weather fore­cast (es­pe­cially in win­ter) Check your horse has four se­cure shoes Wear high-vis (there’s never an ex­cuse not to) Tell some­one where you’re go­ing and for how long you’ll be gone Se­cure ID tags to you and your horse Charge your phone and take it with you

2 Havee a ggo at be­ing mind­ful

Mind­ful­ness is best de­scribed as a thought process that helps us pay at­ten­tion to ev­ery­thing go­ing on around us and within us. Think it’s all mumbo jumbo? Think again. By adopt­ing mind­ful­ness tech­niques, you can tap into a height­ened sense of aware­ness. So why is this use­ful for rid­ers? It’s use­ful be­cause it means you might just spot or sense an is­sue, or recog­nise a change in your horse’s phys­i­cal or men­tal well-be­ing be­fore it be­comes a prob­lem. It’ll also help you to en­joy your rid­ing more. As Lisa Ek­lund, founder of The Mind­ful Eques­trian in the US, ex­plains, mind­ful­ness is some­thing you have to prac­tise but it can help to trans­form your ev­ery­day life. You can be­gin be­ing mind­ful in small ways off the horse at first, such as in queues at the su­per­mar­ket check­out. “When the line isn’t mov­ing, it’s one of those sit­u­a­tions in which peo­ple can feel re­ally frus­trated and where mind­ful­ness can help and be prac­tised,” says Lisa. “You can use mind­ful­ness to bring your­self back into the mo­ment and be more peace­ful. Pause and take slow and steady breaths. When you pause and breathe like this, the paus­ing gives you time to stop and think of a thought­ful re­sponse to a sit­u­a­tion in­stead of re­act­ing emo­tion­ally. It won’t make the line go any faster but it will give you time to be present in the mo­ment and get some per­spec­tive.” The same ap­proach can be ap­plied to rid­ing.

3 Make sure to plan

A lit­tle plan­ning goes a long way and brings about a whole host of ben­e­fits that can help your rid­ing, what­ever your level, abil­ity or dis­ci­pline. So, what do we mean by ‘plan­ning’? A pre-ride plan can be as sim­ple as de­cid­ing what route to hack or jot­ting down the aim and struc­ture of your next school­ing ses­sion. It’s this sim­ple act of plan­ning that can help to fo­cus your mind on what you want to achieve (which makes it more likely you’ll achieve it), stay on track for your goals and save you pre­cious time. It can even help you to main­tain con­trol and nav­i­gate prob­lems. For ex­am­ple, imag­ine you’re aim is to school your horse on Thurs­day even­ing. You have a dres­sage com­pe­ti­tion com­ing up and you need to work on those cen­tre lines. Your plan might look like this (check out our notepad, right). How­ever, if you fail to plan, you might get stuck or dis­tracted at work, ar­rive at the yard to find the arena is packed with peo­ple, end up rush­ing to muck out be­fore you ride (get­ting slowed down by chat­ting to peo­ple on the yard in the process) and end up rid­ing for 30 min­utes with ab­so­lutely no pur­pose what­so­ever. Take our word for it, plan­ning is good and feels great. Give it a try this week and see how much more ef­fif­fi­cient you be­come. Your horse will thank you for it, and so will your fu­ture self.

4 Fac­tor in a warm up

Warm­ing up and cool­ing down, whether you’re a horse or a hu­man, are es­sen­tial if you want to avoid in­jury and get the most from your rid­den ses­sion. But they’re of­ten the first thing to get cut short and are cer­tainly over­looked when it comes to hack­ing. Most of us are straight out of the yard gate and on our way. A sim­ple warm up, for ex­am­ple, can be­gin at the point of groom­ing when the act of groom­ing it­self, par­tic­u­larly over your horse’s back, can get his blood flow­ing. Once on board, it’s then key to start work­ing gen­tly and grad­u­ally, ideally on a loose rein in walk. Walk your horse in a long and low out­line but, if you’re hack­ing, this might not be ap­pro­pri­ate so con­sider whether five min­utes in the school or in an area of your field would be the safest place to loosen him up. The next step is to move for­ward to a slow trot be­fore us­ing some ba­sic lat­eral work to im­prove his flex­i­bil­ity, sup­ple­ness and the range of move­ment in his joints.

5 Take a mo­ment to be grate­ful

Rid­ing horses is a priv­i­lege but who thinks about that every time they hop on board? And did you know that a mo­ment of grat­i­tude could even help to im­prove your rid­ing per­for­mance? Nope, we didn’t ei­ther, but a 2014 study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Ap­plied Sport Psy­chol­ogy* re­vealed that grat­i­tude can in­crease an ath­lete’s self-es­teem, which is an im­por­tant fac­tor for peak per­for­mance. Olympic Games here we come! What’s more, tak­ing stock of the ben­e­fits your horse brings to your life can also help you to feel hap­pier and more re­laxed. In fact, some ex­perts be­lieve in the trans­for­ma­tive pow­ers of keep­ing a grat­i­tude jour­nal, the sim­ple process of writ­ing down a few things you’re thank­ful for each day.

A mo­ment’s grat­i­tude can have a pos­i­tive im­pact on your rid­ing


Every time you ride… Be­fore hack­ing, add these to your list…

Check all your tack’s stitch­ing be­fore you get in the sad­dle

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.