Lately on the blog I've been chatting about morning routines/pre-ride routines (depending on what time of day you ride) and why they can be an important part of creating a good learning environment for you and your horse.
Now, let's talk about how to build your own.
First, let's outline what a good routine is, and isn't.
A good pre-ride routine IS:
- Relatively quick
- Simple and easy to remember
- A mental checkpoint to take some deep breaths, re-center yourself, and prime yourself for a productive ride
A good pre-ride routine ISN'T:
- Lengthy or complicated
- The ideal routine for your barn-mate. Everyone's ideal pre-ride routine may be different!
- Something that adds stress to your life if you forget to do it
Here are some examples of what you may include in your pre-ride routine.
- When you arrive at the barn, sit quietly in your car for a few minutes and do a short meditation. Notice the sensations in your body while sitting very still in a comfortable position, or watch the thoughts that enter your mind without following them, like an observer. Or take a moment to remember something that you love about horses, and plant that memory like a seed in your heart, and let the gratitude spread throughout your body and out into the space around you. If it helps you, jot down in a journal what you noticed in your practice, or that seed of gratitude that you planted in your heart. You'll find that you're able to approach your horse with more understanding and curiosity if you're in a grateful frame of mind. That way, a good ride is just icing on the cake!
- After tightening the girth, sit quietly for 3 minutes and set your intention for the ride. Note, I didn't say "expectation" or "plan" - because this is a team sport, and your horse may not always be mentally or physically prepared to meet those expectations or follow your plan! Intentions are more how you will approach the ride, which is something that is in your control. Intention is more than just thinking about your ride. Intention adds power to thought, and helps you lead your horse more skillfully and confidently. It's the quietest aid we can use with our horse, but often the most effective.
- As you put on the bridle, repeat a confidence-building mantra to yourself. "We've got this" and "I've got you" are two of my favorites.
A pre-ride routine can look different for each rider, so experiment with what works best with you and most importantly, stick with it!