Awesome Riding Lesson Plans
Lessons and exercises in the arena can be the building blocks for many important principles about training and riding.
The lessons I will present here will be organized and I will present them in what I feel is their order of difficulty. Although, depending on you and your horse or mule’s; level, style of riding, training, and his god given abilities and of course any possible issues, you may find some of them to feel very basic and others to be more of a challenge.
Always Remember: It is the quality of the ride that is so much more important then just getting through the lesson!
Sometimes we focus on reaching the end of the lesson and forget about the quality in which we ride the lesson.
I will never be able to stress enough, on taking your time and do the simple lessons as correctly as you can before you move on to the more difficult or in depth lesson patterns.
Be sure to study the lessons in your private time and ride them over and over in your mind before you enter the arena. Visualization is the best way to gain the most benefit out of your work outs.
How do I tell if I am riding my lessons correctly?
- Look down once in a while at your mount’s shoulders, neck, poll and eyes during different transitions. Be sure not to move your head, just use your eyes to glance down.
- When you ride you could watch yourself in large arena mirrors on the arena walls, if available.
- Ask a qualified rider to watch as you perform the lesson. Ask them to critique to you what they see. Good or bad, ask them for feed back.
- You could ask some one to record your ride on video tape, then later you can watch it repeatedly to check how you are doing.
- You should work with a qualified instructor as often as you can.
- The key is to develop a feel for when things are being ridden correctly or for when they are ridden incorrectly by using all of the above techniques.
Ask yourself these questions
Can I feel the contact in both of my reins correctly?
Can I feel both of my seat bones? Is there correct left to right balance in them?
Does my mount feel relaxed are his ears listening or is he tense in his back?
Does the front to rear balance feel proper or is my horse heavy on their forehand, is their their back hollow or croup high?
Is my mount’s rhythm consistent and regular, instead of him being choppy, by speeding up or slowing down or breaking his gaits inappropriately?
Is he behind, above or properly on the bit?
Am I posting correctly and am I on the correct diagonal?
Is my mount picking up the trot smoothly or cantering on the correct leads in a relaxed fashion or do we need some work on our up transitions as well as our down transitions?
Can I feel when my mount is on the wrong lead or preforming a four beat canter or lope?
Can I feel when my mount is walking in his front and trotting in his rear?
Can I feel when my mount is doing a pacey walk?
Can I feel when his inside hind leg is going to land?
Be sure you work the lesson in both directions.
Work the lessons in both directions to work both side of the body for even muscle building and both sides of the horse or mule’s mind, we all know how one sided they can be.
When ever you can take your horse or mule off the rail. The real reward of your learning and training is when you can preform the lesson in an unenclosed flat spot in the pasture.
Even though some of these lessons will seem more suited for a reining animal or a dressage mount, ALL horses and mules will benefit from ALL of the lessons. The western reiner or performer that can be a run away or lazy and strung out, can benefit from the proper form and collection work in many of the dressage type lessons. The dressage mount that is tight and tense can be suppled and loosened up by some of the classical western type lessons. Be sure to experiment and enjoy the benefits they will offer.
You should repeat the lessons as many times as is appropriate for your horse or mule. Some times he will learn a lesson quickly and easily, other times he may need several repetitions to grasp the lesson and to do it well. Do be careful not to create boredom for them, some things like lead changes or repetitious backing, can create problems. These type of lessons should be worked on at the end of your lesson when he is sufficiently warmed up and mentally prepared, then you can ask for some of the more advanced moves. Transitions like circles or shoulder ins or outs are the heart of your lesson plan and training and should be repeated often but do not get carried away.
What should you do when things go wrong?
………and they will.
That is just part of your horse or mule’s learning curve, one step forward two steps back, do not let it discourage you.
- Go back and review your lesson and all of its transitions.
- Be sure to practice the lesson in both directions. Sometimes, because of a weaker or stiffer side or possibly a more crooked side, your mount will have trouble doing a lesson to the right but may have no issues to the left and vice versa. Use this to your advantage and refine your skills and the opportunity to apply your aids in the good direction and then go back and do the hard direction with a better idea of what may need to be done to help you horse or mule do it correctly. I have learned in my years of riding, that working on the right usually improves the left.
- Do a simple version of the same lesson, for example maybe instead of doing it at a canter, turn that canter in to a walk and do the pattern, then build from the walk to a trot and then the canter. You can create many variations of the same lesson this way and make all the lessons even more valuable to your training.
- Some times you may need to be prepared to move back to a very simple lesson, to create forward movement, relaxation, acceptance of contact or a response to your driving aids from your mount. Some times you may need to do simple circles or side passes to improve on your animal’s straightness, lateral work or collection.
- Some days work on something your horse or mule does very well. Maybe it is as simple as a walk – trot – walk transition. Work on the purity of the gate, your form and your mount’s form. Never feel that you are wasting your time. I have seen very high dollar trainers work on walk trot transitions with Gran Prix riders. The basics will always benefit your horse or mule.
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