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What to do when your horse gets bored?

boringWhen novice riders start a new method, then - after practicing the basics a few times - they often say that "their horse gets bored".

Now, most of the time it's a projection of our own 'boredom';

  • When we are only practicing the 'names' of the exercise and not really the 'essence', that might lead to loss of interest.
  • Or when we are only concentrating on the WHAT of an exercise and not on the WHY, that might also lead to a 'dull' training.
  • Boredom also comes from if we start to compare with yesterday. When we start to expect: when we stop having an open mind for all the tiny details, when we stop being just interested in what happens, when we stop having a beginner's mind, when we stop appreciating. 

Start With Why

Boredom can come from not really knowing WHY we do WHAT we do.

But we should never lose sight of the essence, and always start with why.

Also, it's about not knowing the Bigger Picture;

Not knowing where we are right now, what’s coming next, and what we're heading for.

That might make you feel aimless.

Now when you don't know why you do what you do and where to go, how would your horse know?

Maintain a Beginners Mind

Another reason that boredom arises is, when we lose curiosity.

Now when we’re doing the same exercises each time, of course, it's really easy for it to feel quite as a "routine".

And it's very easy for it to lose a sort of its "freshness".

So it’s really important to maintain a “beginners mind”.

To keep an investigating mind.

It’s when we’re doing the exercise as though it’s the very first time.

Not expecting.

Not anticipating.

When we do the exercises in this way, appreciation can naturally arise.

So be curious!

Allow more details to unfold!

Let the hidden lessons come to you!

Only then we will find what the old masters sought!

A Solid Foundation Is Key

A third reason that we get bored about the basics of ST - which is groundwork - is when we are too eager and too hungry for the "fancy exercises".

But groundwork is like the footings under a house:

Under every house is a foundation, and these foundations are footings.

Most of the time we take footings for granted, and sometimes we can, when a common footing is okay to carry a standard house.

On the other hand, when the house is unique, or when there's a soft zone under a part of the foundation, there can be trouble:

Even 2mm of uneven settling is enough to cause cracks in masonry, tile, cement or plaster.

The devil is in the detail!

It's the uneven 2mm that will cause the most trouble!

The same with horses:

Even 2mm off track in the basic exercises of groundwork is enough to cause cracks in the advanced groundwork exercises, and in longeing, work in hand, riding, or ST at liberty:

  • Without a proper balance, suppleness, and shape in the basic exercises, our horse might stiffen himself in the advanced exercises or lose the cleanness of the gait in the trot or canter.
  • Without a good lateral bending, forward down tendency, and stepping under of the inside hind leg (LFS) close to us, we'll never get a proper LFS on the bigger circle in longeing.
  • Without a nice yielding on the inside rein in groundwork, our horse won't give us the bend, then we'll never get our horse searching towards the outside rein in work in hand.
  • Without a proper preparation in groundwork, longeing and work in hand, chances are, that we'll have to deal with too much imbalance whilst riding.
  • Of course, liberty is a great place to start, but when it comes to ST at liberty, we want to do the lateral movements, piaffe and pirouette at liberty, thereforeit might take a lot more development time if we don't shape the quality in groundwork first.

So if we think there's a problem ahead in the advanced groundwork, or in the other training pillars, we know we should go back to basics, and kill the monster when it’s little!

Widen, Broaden, Deepen Your Fundament

Straightness training

Every time we made the base wider, we can rebuild the exercises with even more quality.

In time, the ST pyramid gets wider and wider at the bottom! 

It will always have a solid foundation on which we can rely!

We can always fall back on this solid foundation.

So we see the basics as an opportunity to widen, broaden and deepen our fundamentals.

And remember: the beauty is in the basics!

From Boredom To Excitement

Once we get the basics right, we start to experience the opposite of boredom which is:

Excitement!

Because:

  • ST has 5 training pillars: groundwork, longeing, work in hand, riding and liberty
  • and in each training pillar we can practice over 20 basic and advanced exercises,
  • which we can all do in walk, trot, and canter,
  • in collection and extension.

This means, there are many, many variants available.

How exciting!

So it's up to us to school ourselves as a true horse trainer!

And then we'll find out one day, that we cannot decide what to train...

Because we have too many options....

Which don't fit all in one hour....  😉

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