Getting fit to ride

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Richard Shrake, the AQHA judge & clinician told me once that horseback riding (if done correctly) was MORE exercise than swimming. I believe it. By following Sally Berry suggestions I am riding everyday and I feel it. Pat Parelli talks about turning it on and off…bringing your life up in the saddle to go forward and how to quit riding to stop. Think about a Michael Jackson move in time to the horse’s feet. Well, I’ve been doing that and my lower back feel’s older than my 55 years. I’ve started a stretching routine daily and stomach crunches in hopes of building up strength. I have a 3 step ladder I use around the house and I’ve been bringing it in front of the TV and putting my foot on the top of it and stretching. It’s lower than a stirrup but close. It’s been really bothering me that in my quest to become a better horsewoman, I have to always use a mounting block. My foot doesn’t come close to reaching the stirrup. I am out of shape…

In Sally’s latest email she addresses this issue and also my question of how to motivate a left brain introvert to follow the rail and maintain gate.

Hi Val

Thanks for your update – great that you are progressing through your programme!

Regarding your question, with your horse slowing down when you correct her back to the rail. You are on day 2 of your pattern so it may take 4-7 day repetitions of the pattern for your horse to ‘get it’. To help her if she slows, rub her ( as a thanks for slowing down, alway better than charging off, and one day you will want to add in downwards transitions so you don’t want her to feel wrong for it) and then go back up your phases to ask for trot. Just keep repeating until you notice a difference, then quit. Something you could also incorporate is following the rail, but stopping in the corners for a rest (incentive), then trot to the next corner – this incorporates a ‘point to point’ in your follow the rail pattern. At this point I wouldn’t add treats at the corners – ideally we want her to ‘get’ the pattern via communication and repetition, rather than her dragging you to the corner to see if there is a treat there, but not being mentally engaged in the pattern. Once you feel she is understanding the pattern, you could put the occasional treat in corners as additional incentive – does this make sense?

Let me know how you get on.

Great that you are commited to getting fit – Pat talks about mental, emotional and physical fitness, for ourselves and our horses! Good for you! There is no problems with using a mounting block (actually better for your horse’s back – and their responsibilities to stand still next to it) – but getting good at mounting and dismounting from both sides will be beneficial physically for both you and your horse!

Saw the snow you are having – today in Florida it was pretty hot – somewhere in the 70s. Sirocco had to have a little wash down after being ridden :-) It did not feel like winter today!

Best wishes


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