I watched a Youtube video recently that challenged riders to spend an extra five minutes with their horse to improve their relationship and connection. I found an extra five minutes in various areas of working with my horses, including while grooming, conducting groundwork exercises, and working outside the ring during each ride.
During grooming, my routine used to be what I like to call, “The Big 3”: pick the hooves, brush the dust off their coat, and pick any shavings out of their mane and tail. This would allow me to get each horse groomed and tacked up in ten minutes or less. While this is an efficient method that I still use when I find myself in a time pinch, I realized that I can spend an extra five minutes in this area to deepen my connection with the horse. I’ve taken this extra five minutes to use the curry comb, add polish to the hooves, and spend more time detangling the tail. This also allows me to look over every part of the horse’s body for cuts, scrapes, or bumps, as well as noticing how the horse responds to touch across certain areas of their body. These five minutes also allows me to address behavioral issues that may come up, such as the horse being pushy or hogging my space. I find that this helps reaffirm my connection with the horse because it is a period of time dedicated to relaxation..
I have committed to finding an extra five minutes to use groundwork before almost every ride. Sometimes it’s as simple as a few quick walk and trot transitions on the lunge line, whereas other times I may take twenty or more minutes to lead and lunge from both sides and work on asking the horse to move away from me. By spending an extra five minutes on the ground before a ride, I have found that I feel more in tune with the horse and confident that we are on the same page before I put my foot in the stirrup. It also allows me to find those little bad habits that can easily be corrected through a few simple groundwork sessions. This helps not only my confidence in the horse, but their confidence in me as well. It lets me look the horse in the eye to assure them that we understand each other.
I have always been a huge advocate for riding outside of the ring, no matter what discipline the horse is used for. I have taken an extra five minutes during each ride to walk around outside the ring, even if just for a simple cool down. If I’m having a hard time translating what I’m asking the horse to do, I will take a quick five minute break and walk a lap around the property to just clear my head and allow the horse to relax. If the horse is feeling a little tense at the beginning of the ride, those extra five minutes outside the ring can relax their mind and body immensely and set us up for a successful ride.
By adding an extra five minutes to my session with a horse, I have found that I have a better understanding of, and deeper connection with, that horse. Some days, I add an extra five minutes to my grooming, groundwork, and riding sessions, but if my time is limited, I at least add five minutes to one of those three areas.
What is an area you have spent an extra five minutes on with your horse? Is there an area that you think could benefit from an extra five minutes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
Until next time,