Boredom. I don't know about you but as I've been attempting some sort of rider fitness regime I've found if I do the same exercise two days in a row I get bored, I don't put the same amount of effort in and I soon give up. It's boring. I also ache like mad as I've worked the same muscles hard for two days straight! So with Erik struggling a little recently after fracturing his pelvis and finding work quite tricky I've had to massively alter his training regime to help him mentally and physically.
I admit, as a rider I can get a little stuck on a 20 metre circle trying to perfect it, but let's face it there is no such thing as perfection! Plus unless you vary exercise you don't get a very good all round work out. Now Erik is difficult as he cannot be lunged, unless you have a death wish so that is out of the question! However, I need to vary the work each day to prevent him becoming tired as his muscles become very fatigued, very quickly. So last week I really tried my best to shake things up, both for him and for me!
Monday we did lots of stretchy work in the arena! Plenty of walk to warm up, nothing too difficult but just allowed him to loosen up, warm up his muscles and I really focused on getting him in front of my leg. We mainly focused on canter, as this really loosens him up and gets him thinking forward.
Tuesday was happy hacking day! We had a little pootle down some quiet country lanes, which he actually really enjoyed. Usually he is really tense on a hack and quite spooky but he seemed to enjoy a walk out! I choose to do it quite early in the morning so it was nice and quiet! I'm not completely bonkers! Mentally this allowed him to have a rest, look at some different scenery and experience a ride where he wasn't going to be asked anything difficult. It also allowed him to recover after all the stretching the day before! Just in case his muscles were sore!
Wednesday we headed back into the school this time using trotting poles to help him engage his hind quarters and pick his legs up! I just started with one pole as opposed to a set of them. I focused on rhythm and relaxation in both walk, trot and canter. This worked much better than I imaged it would! By the end of the session he felt so much looser!
Thursday another happy hack! Friday it was time to go back into the school and do some more stretching to finish off a good week, but this time my main focus was on the trot work. I usually do try to put him in the field a few times a week (he's not the most sensible horse when turned loose so it's usually only for an hour or two), but with all the rain it's been treacherous so I haven't risked it! The weather was slightly better at the weekend so he had a little turnout on Saturday and Sunday (when he decide to lose a trek boot which cost over £100 each).
I have to say, by varying his routine and focusing on different things in the school I've seen a much happier, relaxed Erik both mentally and physically. By differing the work each day I have managed to give him a more 'all round' work out and allowed him to recover between sessions, reducing fatigue and the recovery period.
I would definitely urge everyone to look at their riding routine and see if you can change it a little. Do you get stuck focusing on one issue all of your training session? Do you hack everyday? Do you only concentrate on the trot and forget to use transitions? Really think about mixing it up, especially if your encountering a problem... you might just find it fixes it!