When it comes to riding, not all of us are lucky enough to own our own horse. Some of us, borrow horses from week to week from the school for an hour or so. We learn to develop our skills on different horses. It can usually be a challenge as consistency is lacking.
But if your paychecks don't allow you to have a horse of your own, I've come up with a list of different things that'll help your lessons go a little smoother.
-Bring your own tack-
Now I don't mean that you should go out and buy your own bridle, girth and boots. Let's face it, that's unrealistic for a horse that isn't yours. What is helpful, however, is having your own saddle. Something that is comfortable for you.
It'll add a little bit more consistency in your ride knowing that you're sitting on something familiar to you. Granted, the saddle must also fit the horse. If you usually ride the same horse, this might not be as much of an issue.
If you don't have money for a saddle or you ride too many horses with different conformations, bringing your own stirrup leathers and stirrups is also a great option. That way, you won't have to waste time finding the right stirrup length before your lesson. You just have to remove the school's stirrups, replace them with yours, mount up and start riding.
-Ride for the feel, not the horse-
My coach once said something to me that really made me think. Don't adapt to each horse, get them to adapt to you. Just because you're riding a more spirited horse or a lazy horse doesn't mean you need to change your riding style. You're in control and you ask them to conform to you. By the end of the warm up, you should have any horse carrying you the way you want them to. Sure your warm up approach will differ, but in the end they should respond the way you want them to. We all want a forward, carrying stride that can be easily manipulated without much effort. So why would we conform to a certain horse's bad habits? Get your horse to work and carry the way you want him to in the warm up. I promise you'll see a difference in the rest of the lesson.
-Tote it around-
If you're in the same position as me, then your barn doesn't have lockers available for their schooling students. This means that you need to carry your gear from home to the barn every time you have a lesson. Since there's no going around that, the best thing to do is keep it organised and easy to carry.
I keep everything in a tote bag. The size of those reusable grocery bags. In it, I have a bag in which I keep my helmet. I also keep my spurs and gloves together and my treats are in a resealable package. This way, everything has its place and it stays organised. Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing is looking for a missing glove and being late for your lesson.
So there are three things that have helped me throughout the years to make my lessons go a little smoother. I hope they help you too. If there are any other useful tips that you'd like to share, write them in the comments below. I'm sure we'd all like to read them.
Remember, just because you're a lesson student doesn't mean that you have to be an outsider. I know it could feel like that sometimes. Get involved with your barn and talk to the boarders while tacking up. We're all here because we love horses. No matter what your paycheck can buy.
Until next time, happy riding!