18 Oct Habits of Successful Riders
by Sophie Warren
One thing you may notice about top-level riders is the routines and systems that they implement into their daily lives. Whether it be riding habits, habits in the stable yard or habits throughout their whole life and routine with regards to health and fitness or time management.
Habits and systems can be very valuable for time management and good habits can ensure a focussed and productive ride.
When you watch a top rider during a training session they very rarely just ride around the arena or dos endless circles. You will notice that they are always riding to a specific point. You’ll also notice that they are always riding exactly what they feel underneath them – constantly reacting and adjusting their ride accordingly.
Many riders will have habits in the stable yard that they practice daily as well. For example, the cross ties at home get swept every single day when the last horse has been worked. Halters and bridles areaways hung in a particular order and gear is cleaned frequently.
This means each day when I begin my riding in the morning I have a clean, organised tack room with everything in its place. This allows the riding process to be smooth and efficient, changeovers between horses to be fast, and leaves me with a clear mind to think about my riding plan on each horse.
10 Habits you can implement:
- Leave your working area tidy after riding each day.
- Clean your gear frequently: this not only means it will last longer but it also takes less time to clean it to competition standards when packing for a show!
- Practice good mounting block etiquette: always ensure your horse stands still and only walks off when you ask.
- Ride your corners. If it is a circle it is a circle, if it a corner make sure it is, in fact, ridden as a corner!!
- Plan your school figures and ride them accurately every single time.
- Make a riding plan each week, or for the days leading up to your next competition: this helps to give you a guide as to what you do with your horse on any given day. Remember to remain flexible though as your horse’s progress, the weather, or even how you are feeling may mean an adjustment is required.
- Drag your arena frequently and keep a clean arena/riding area. Make sure all spare gear is packed away neatly.
- Change your jumps, poles, cones or any other exercises you have set up on your riding area at least every couple of weeks to freshen things up and give yourself some new things to test and practise.
- Ride at home in the same gear you use at a competition: This way everything will feel as similar as possible for both you and your horse when you go to a competition.
- Check your self-carriage!! Every ride. Multiple times. And don’t forget self-carriage is relevant for rhythm, line, straightness through the body AND posture!
Sophie is a professional event rider, horse trainer and coach. She has represented Australia and had many successes at the highest level in eventing across all of Australia’s major events.
Some more Habits from Team T&R:
Chloe Gee – 2* Eventing Rider
HABIT: Writing out a schedule or plan for each phase of my events, or a time plan for when everything gets done. I.e. what time I need to put on the Equissage, what time I’m going to tack up and so on. I always write it down on a notepad or whiteboard as it takes a lot of stress out of the preparation, and gives a plan to any of your helpers/grooms/mums/dads so they know what’s going on!
Caris & Britt from Leeara Park
HABIT: Train in the rain and wind sometimes – you never know what show day will bring!
HABIT: Believe in yourself and you will succeed. Just ride your own line and don’t worry about the others around you.
Lucy Galovicova from Kentaur Performance Horses
HABIT: Never change any of your gear at the last minute!!!
Bayley Thomas – Lokenzo Park
HABIT: Successful riders are disciplined. They ensure they ask the horse the same way expecting the same results each time and not slacking on it to cause confusion to the horse.