3 step process to getting your horse “back on track”
There are a variety of reasons as to why you need to get this 3 step process in place.
- Your horse or pony has been out of work for a while
- spelling in a paddock
- you have been on holidays
- recovering from injury
- your saddle has not fitting properly and there is a better option
After analysis of the issue, you can start this 3 step process of which we have had a lot of success.
1. Lead your horse or pony in halter and lead over a series of poles and around a series of obstacles like set out in the images. What we are trying to achieve here is to get your horse or pony focused on the “puzzle “ on the ground so they need to lower their head and look at what is on the ground in front of them.
Physically this stretches the whole horse or pony out as much as practical and allows their bodies physiology to work as efficiently as possible. Plus the fact that they have to lift their legs to clear the poles.
This is like you and I walking up stairs, it is harder than walking on the flat. It really helps engage the whole of horse or pony to be active and it is done in a balanced way , as the shoulder, thorasic part of the horse” middle” and the hind all have to work together. It really helps build their core strength up and gets then stretched in a balanced way.
So what is important to understand is that we are addressing the mental side of the horse or pony getting them focused and more connected to you plus physically, we are getting them doing specific stretching and core strength exercises.
I suggest start doing it for about 10 minutes and at a good pace. The trick is to get the horse to go over the poles doing the work not you. Most horses really enjoy this as it stimulates them mentally but also gets them active in a controlled way to build them back up and getting them “ back on track”
2. After you have completed step 1 a number of times, then you can continue the process but with the saddle, girth and saddle cloth on. Hopefully they have been checked to ensure best selection of items and best positioning as well. This is vital, as I have said a number of times, near enough is not good enough.
No need to attach the stirrup leathers and irons here as you are not riding at this stage. Once again under halter and lead, you become better connected to your horse or pony but also you are allowing then to feel the difference in the saddle, saddle cloth and girth that you have changed for them.
You can not tell them you have changed anything, they have to feel the difference, the new environment you have created for them. It is vital that you do this before getting back in the saddle as it allows your horse or pony to relax and fell less pressured. So you have the mental benefit as well as the physical benefit.
Once again I would be doing this for about 10 minutes and several times over the following days. Your horse or pony will then tell you that they are ready for the next step which is you in the saddle.
3. You have completed the ground work and a solid preparation, now it is time to get you in the saddle. Your horse or pony is more relaxed, they are stronger, better core strength and more connected to you as you have been working with them on the ground.
They also know what is expected with the poles and obstacles so the only difference will be you in the saddle. Absolutely essential that you use a mounting block to get on( see our article about mounting blocks here for more information )and then proceed over the poles and around the obstacles like before.
Your horse or pony will have to work harder as they now have you on top of them but they are stronger , more focused and less anxious. Once again a 10 minute session to start with is fine and then gradually build up and increase the time over the coming days. Quality over quantity.
Then you should be ready to resume building in to your normal riding routine. This exercise is brilliant for all horses and pony’s as it warms them up , stretches them and mentally gets them focused ready for the task ahead. It is also great for cool downs as well.
In terms of the designs and patterns, you are in charge here, design something that is fun for you as well as creative. The more fun it is , the more you will do it and the more your horse or pony will enjoy it also.
Getting your horse or pony back on track in a controlled and measured way is vital to ensure they are the best prepared they can be for the task ahead.