create the perfect post ride routine
Become a better rider. Have a thriving horse.
Does your current post-ride scene vary based on whatever pops into your head?
Squeezing in a reward for your horse when you remembered to grab the carrots out of the fridge.
Maybe some days you end up as wandering mess because you used up all your brain power on the ride… That pattern looked easy on paper.
Or worse those days when post-ride activities are dictated by how grumpy or impatient your horse is… Cue horse pawing in the cross ties while its owner scurries to untack before a total meltdown happens.
If you said yes to any (or all) of these don’t worry I’ve been right there with ya. It wasn’t until I actually took the time to set up a great post-ride routine and stuck to it that I realized just how beneficial it could be. Don’t get me wrong I don’t do all of these things perfectly every single time I ride (I’m more of a variety is the spice kind of girl) but I have found that doing them even imperfectly is still beneficial.
It’s time to tap into your own post-ride routine to maximize your progress with your horse. Once I found the perfect (read do-able) set of habits to end each ride, I was amazed at how much progress I was able to make with my horses. Not to mention how much happier they were about riding. I can always tell when I start getting too lax on my routine because Rudy is quick to show me where I’m slacking. Its good to have an expressive horse that tells you the extra steps are really paying off.
The perfect post-ride routine
1. Thank your horse
Taking extra time to groom their favorite spots, cool down and stretch out their muscles, put a little extra liniment on. Show those hard-working horses some love. Remember a true thank you is about what feels good to the one receiving it so tune into what your horse really appreciates.
2. Organize Tack By use
Set yourself up for your next ride to be off to a good start by putting tack away organized in the order that you will use it next time. You would be surprised how much more appealing it is to squeeze in a ride when you know exactly where everything is and that it is all set to go. No more getting sidetracked in the land of missing tack.
3. Stretch. Stretch. And then stretch some more.
By stretching out the muscles that you use for riding while they are still warmed up you will maximize your flexibility and minimize any soreness. You will also build more awareness of what muscles are working hard, what ones may be holding too much tension, and what ones where MIA. Remember our horses mirror what we do. For example if you ended the ride with shoulders that are sore from holding tension it likely means that your horse was also holding tension through it’s shoulders.
4. Take good notes
I like to keep a riding journal to track the exercises that I did with my horse and what areas were difficult for us. Jotting down what exercises she liked best/did a stellar job on is also helpful. Then I can use this info to plan out activities for max fun and progress on our next ride. Stay tuned for more details on how to use a riding journal to maximize your progress. I’m putting together a post for next week that dives into how to optimize your notes to set yourself up for worry free riding.
5. Comprehensive Clean-up
Clean-up ALL the spaces that you used. Remembering to sweep up the last spot your horse was standing in is pretty easy. But what about that present he left in the arena or the trail of footings down the isle? Leaving the isle, arena, tack room, etc, clean and organized keeps things much safer and saves a ton of work later.
6. Schedule your next ride
It’s easy to put off riding if you don’t set a specific time for it. I don’t know about you but I tend to say yes to way too many things and my riding is usually what gets shuffled around when my time gets tight. By scheduling my next riding date in my planner and sticking to it like any other appointment it gets way easier to fit more riding into my schedule and still get everything else done.
7. Take time to be grateful
Right after riding energy and emotions are usually running pretty high, which makes it the perfect time to channel some major gratitude. Even if you’ve had a less than perfect ride appreciating the lessons you are learning will help to put the setbacks into a perspective that is useful. Gratitude can also ward off worry. If you’re one of those people that spends more time worrying about your horse than actually riding (or worse yet you spend time worrying while riding) you can change that by tapping into a gratitude practice. For more ways to get your gratitude vibes buzzing check out this post here.
While many of these tips might seem pretty basic you will be amazed at how the benefits add up once you start putting even a couple of them into your routine. Taking a little bit of extra time to let the ride set in has increased my progress way more than I ever expected. Don’t get me wrong its not all hearts and flowers here. But I can say I do a lot less worrying and my horse is a heck of a lot happier when I take the time to follow-up with a great post-ride routine.