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How to start out the ride
I have heard many times that the first 5-10 min of your ride is critical to how the rest of the ride will go. So...my question is, what are some things that you do during this first part of ride after mounting? Any specific things I can do/work on with my horse besides just walking around arena to warm him up? My boy and I are new to each other and we are still developing our trust/leadership! Thanks
My horse had a habit of walking away after I got on, and being fidgety when I was trying to get on. So to get him out of the mindset that getting on meant walking off, I started laterally flexing him before we moved a muscle. This fixed the problem. I also try and do some turns and make sure he's feeling light and supple and moving off my leg. Also try and determine which mood he is in that day. Other then that, I just walk around at a working walk and lightly trot the first 5-10 min.
First, welcome to the HF. Great question, and I will also be following this thread.
I've always observed my horse from the time I put the halter and lead rope on and throughout the saddling process to get an idea of where his attention is, and it better be on the task at hand. If not, we will be doing ground work until he can stand politely at the tie for grooming and saddling
Next, if he/she is "with"me, I'll mount up. Again, observing if they are paying attention and standing politely and not walking off after mounting until I decide that is what we are going to do. Again, if all is well we move onto our next exercise.
I do lateral flexing on both sides until they are giving me the response I am looking for and we have trained for. Usually, a couple of times on each side if they are "with" me. From that we do disengages both sides and then cross overs . Looking for obedience and lightness. From there we will do a series of walk ons and back ups, always looking for that lightness and quickness in response. If I'm waiting for others we'll do a little walk/trot transitions and trot/walk.
Usually that's about it, and takes about 5 to 8 mins depending on if they are mentally with me. Fortunately, because of many hours of conditioning they are usually with me when I first call them from the pasture. But if it's been a few weeks since we've been riding, it may take a bit longer. Love those horses!
There are tons of things you can accomplish during that 5 to 10 minute warmup time. Like pbeebs said, first and foremost, don't let your horse get away with not listening to you. I stopped counting how many people have gotten hurt because their horse decided to wander off when they were trying to mount. Standing like a statue is a must. If a horse takes advantage of you there, he's going to do it everywhere.
As for walking, initially you want to let the horse walk on a loose rein, but there's no reason you can't mix in a few halts and get him listening to you. If you can get a horse to halt on a loose rein using just your seat, you have good communication with your horse. Other things you can do are lots of big circles, serpentines, changes of direction, shallow leg yields. If you know turn on the forehand and turn on haunches, you can do those too at the walk.
Another thing I like to do is to walk my horse in squares. At first, halt in each corner, try to make a 90 degree turn using just your inside leg and outside rein, and then walk on to your next corner. After a few times, keep the walk through the turn. Add in square figure 8's so your horse isn't always stepping into the same rein. You will find this exercise will get your horse engaged and stepping up from behind to the point where you will feel his shoulders come up, and you will find the reins feel like they became longer each time. This is your opportunity to take up the slack and establish the contact needed to get your horse into a nice working trot.
Plenty of things you can do at the walk. I'm sure others will ring in with other stuff you can do.
Eeek, In all honesty the first 5/10 minutes of my rides are spent wandering around on a slack rein in no apparent shape or exercise.
I always considered my mares reactions the first time I shorten the reins and ask for a contact to be the indicator of a good ride or not. I usually get a good one. xD. The idea of schooling in my warm up was not one I had consdiered. Yes, my horse walks off while I mount.
Am definately going to pay attention to this thread. I'd sub it, if I knew how.
I watch and gauge how my horse is going to be when I'm bringing it up and tacking as well as mounting. If it walks off on me I get on and off about ten dozen times until it gets the message. If it's a spooky horse I walk it past all the 'scary' arena areas and work on getting it relaxed and calm, as well as focused. If it's a broke one, I walk/trot around and do circles (small and large), whoa a bit, and just let them loosen up, I know pretty much then what kind of horse I'm getting that day. I've never really used their warm up as a schooling exercise though. Usually I just use it to get me and the horse on the same page and in tuned with one another. IMO the schooling comes when I know what horse I have under me and that we're both communicating efficiently. Now if they do something bad while warming up I'm gonna spend some time schooling them lol
I SHOULD do like Walkamile describes. And I do some of that. For example , if while coming up from the pasture, teh horse is dragging behind on the lead, and stops to think about the friends he left behind, I will do a little tuneup on "lead up prompltly" " don't go past me", " back up lightly" "no grazing on the leadline" "stop and wait for me going through the gate" and turn to face me when I ask, " and move your shoulder over, please" "NOW!"
usually that takes very little time, and we are walking along anyway. While tacking up, I will often get Z's attention and ask him to just cock his head and give me his eye, just for heck of it.
He's good about mounting mostly, but when I am ready and ask him to move off, if there is any kind of sucking back, I pop him one, right at the get go. He should remember that my leg says go! so the whip giving my boot a loud snap is enough to wake him up.
I work on getting him to be responsive off the leg, like one warning, then he'd better move noticeably faster when I put the leg on again. and in writing this, I realize that I actually have allowed him to get rather dull lately because of my own dullness . But, that's for me to smarten up about , so I can help him.
The first 5-10 minutes of the ride should be spent walking on a loose or long rein while the rider focuses on aligning her body and loosening up!! The horse should be given this time to warm up his own limbs in a good 4 beat walk.
I always start my rides at the bottom of the training scale, regardless of the horse. Once everyone is limber I think about Rhythm, Suppleness/Relaxation, Contact, etc... Never do I rush or try to "start where I left off" the last ride. Each ride is its own separate entity!
Many mentioned first thing is NO moving at all while mounting. My horse is usually pretty good about this but sometimes he does slowly start to walk (usu back). What are some of the things you do when your horse starts to move off? Esp. if there is no halter and lead, just bridle. If I do have lead on I make him quickly trot circles but when I only have bridle on I am not sure what to do.
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