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Maintaining focus while riding more than one horse

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  • Maintaining focus while riding more than one horse

    A friend of mine who runs a rescue and gives lessons to troubled kids lets me come out and ride on the weekends, and occasionally on weekdays if the logistics work out. Depending on who is sound, who already got worked, and so forth, I can usually pick among 8 horses. I obviously don't have time to ride all of them in one day, but I usually ride between 2 and 4.

    I've been getting video of my rides the past couple of weeks, and I noticed that my riding is significantly better for the first ride than subsequent ones on the same day. It's not horse-specific, since the same thing happened when I rode them in a different order. I have the impression that the extra saddle time is good for me, and I still am doing better than I had been the previous time I went out to ride. Any tips for maintaining focus? I'm pretty fit, so I think it's more attention-span related rather than physical stamina.
    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.

  • #2
    It probably is athletic stamina. I don't know what sort of riding you are doing for how long, but every horse has to take a little bit of a toll on your endurance for the day, just enough to effect it with out making you sore/tired.


    • Original Poster

      I'm referring to riding English or Western in the ring, working on my seat, doing some arm and leg exercises. My primary discipline is vaulting, and I've often done a 3 hour group lesson and a 1 1/2 hour group lesson back to back, then rode a couple of horses afterward!

      Also, the 2nd and 3rd rides (this last time) were almost the same quality on my part, rather than the 3rd one getting even worse, which I would expect if my muscles were getting exhausted. The weather is getting warmer, and I'm still acclimating to it, so that might be a factor. It is possible that since I'm using new muscles/working them in different ways, that I am getting more tired than I realise. I don't feel tired or sore afterward.
      Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


      • #4
        I ride a few different horses, two of my own and then there are four more that no one rides that the barn owner appeciates me taking out. I'm not working at the moment and figure extra saddle time is good for me.
        I know that sometimes even after the first ride, my riding is not as effective. I get bored and lazy
        Most of the ones I ride are fairly green and sometimes need a lot of help to navigate things that are easy on a broke horse. Some needing more help than others I get so into the ride I don't notice how tired mentally and physically I'm getting!
        I try to take the more difficult horse first and the easier ones after, or mix it up by putting around on the trail and getting them out that way. If I work on leads with one, I might work on having a nicer stop on the next. Western pleasure with one, then english tack, crossrails and small jumps with my mare. I try to get out of our ring and meet up with friends too. I mix it up as much as possible to keep it fun. While I love my horse time, I'm not cut out to be focused on a task for hours on end


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, Teresa! I'll save the easiest ones for last! It has been a bit repetitive, since I'm working on fixing some specific things in my position primarily. I can ride Western or bareback instead of English if I like, and can roam around the property, but there aren't any real trails within riding distance.
          Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


          • #6
            Save the easy horse for last.

            I ride three. One is mine, I usually ride him last because If I feel like I am done after two I remember that *my* horse also needs to be ridden so I *have to* ride. If it was the other way around I would end up skipping out on the last horse ...... because, that one is not mine.


            • #7
              I am opposite of you guys- I ride the easy one first. It gets me in a "riding is fun and relaxing" frame of mind before I get on the difficult ones. The easy horse is like *my* warmup. LOL. Then I feel like I've already accomplished something, and I'm on a roll.

              Although, on days where I can tell that I'm just not going to be that motivated or into it, I'll ONLY ride the most challenging horse and give everyone else the day off. No sense in forcing myself to be motivated when it's just not gonna happen. And since they are all my own private horses, I am cool with them having days off. We're not in a hurry to go anywhere.


              • #8
                Don't underestimate how mentally tired you may be getting as you go along.

                During my summers in high school I rode up to 6 a day. Two things helped me.

                First, I made an effort to approach each one as a blank slate. The fact that I groomed all of my own helped. There were "punctuation marks" between each horse, with the pre-ride groom and tack up a chance to get into the zone with the one horse at hand.

                Second, I made sure I developed a rather wide repertoire of things I could do or work on with each horse. The wide repertoire kept me interested. It also helped me ride each horse as he needed that day. By staying mentally flexible, I could give each horse a really custom ride.

                This is how I do it now even for one horse. Everything else stops when I ride him. I have a plan for today, a 30 day plan, a 5 year plan... and yet I'll work on the issue he presents to me in that particular ride.

                All this is also to say that "putting the meter back at zero" for each horse is a habit you can develop with practice.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat


                • #9
                  Maybe you could maintain "freshness" by alternating disciplines. Horse 1; Dressage. Horse 2; jumping. Horse 3:Trail ride etc etc.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._