End Your Session on a Good Note

inspired riding Jul 29, 2021

How often have you heard your instructor say, 'let's do that exercise one more time'?

While repetition is useful in most cases, it's really important to know when you and your horse should find a happy stopping point in your ride.

Many riders trust their instructor to make the decision to end the session for them, but what if you have a voice inside of you that says, you know what, that was good enough and I think I've reached my capacity for learning for today.

Are you able to voice your opinion in those instances? If it feels uncomfortable to say it out loud, just let your instructor know that you want to focus on quality training and you're concerned that if you push yourself, things might not end well. That should open up a conversation with your instructor, so they can help you figure out when those good moments happen, in order to stop and praise your horse and yourself!

Can you notice when your horse is also feeling like they're telling you they are done? This can be a tricky thing to decipher, as you might need to tactfully change the subject and offer something else that they definitely excel at in the moment. If you decide to come back to the exercise where they were becoming resistant and they are still having a hard time, then they were most certainly trying to express to you that they certainly had enough for the day.

The worst thing to do is to get in a battle with your horse. You want to create opportunities where your horse offers to do things for you, rather than you begging or forcing them into it. That's when trusting your intuition and your horse becomes critical to the learning process.

An overworked and underappreciated horse will only become resentful and might even lose their sparkle in their movements. I want you to learn how to feel when it feels just right and say to your horse in a very expressive way, "Thank you! You've got it!"

Once you've decided that was the moment to end the session, you can either hop off and hand walk them cool, or take them on a long and relaxing trail ride, or immediately give them a few treats from your pocket. It's really about whatever works best for you and your horse! And it might change from day to day.

Here are some common things that can happen when you're riding to help you find your end moment easier...

  1. Your horse is searching for the right answer to a question you are asking in a variety of It could be as simple as asking your horse to back up on a straight line. If they aren't having success for the first few times, but then get it done really well the next time you ask, you can end the session there. Seriously.
  2. If you're riding along and your horse has been doing everything beautifully for you and you feel like you want to do just a little bit more. End the session before you ask for that next Don't get greedy. If your sessions end sooner than the horse expects, they will usually offer you more in the next session.
  3. Your horse is feeling frisky and crow hops a few times, but then settles down for you. I would suggest asking your horse to just do some very basic patterns where you know they will have success and then calling it a day. This will help them feel more comfortable and know that they won't get drilled or punished for simply expressing extra

I know there are a lot of people who say that the horse should be pushed to extremes if they aren't being compliant, but I feel just the opposite. I think of how willing these horses are to let us sit on their backs and when they buck and actually manage to keep us on their backs, they are just trying to let off steam and express themselves the best way they know how.

If we punish them for being themselves, it's unfair.

And please remember, your horse is doing his or her best to tell you something. It's better to take a step back and even hop off if you need to, so you can figure out exactly what your horse needs.

That's one of the best lessons to learn. You can hop off if you're nervous about something and it won't do any damage to your horse. It's better to get to the root of the issue than try to soldier on and run the risk of injury for either of you.

Are you sensing a theme yet?

Shorter sessions will benefit you in the long run. Of course, it's wonderful to have variety and be able to build up endurance. I'm not saying all of your rides need to be twenty minutes.

I'm just suggesting that when your horse is learning something new or having a hard time with something, it's best to end the session sooner than later.

I hope this gave you something to ponder. I would love to hear how you know when to end a session.

May the horse be with you. Always. 💕🐎

~Beth Lauren Parrish

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