It is a common goal for most riders to develop their skills and improve their riding technique. This can often be achieved with the help of riding instructors or coaches, however; lessons and clinics can be expensive. Here are some ways in which you can develop your skill and technique in-between lessons.
Watch And Learn
The expression 'watch and learn' can often be true to horse riding too. By watching other riders we can pick up new techniques and methods. Watching professional riders can be inspiring; many professional riders have youtube channels with tutorials on the best techniques and methods they use in their riding life. Watching a rider who is a similar ability to you or a little more advanced can be beneficial. Try observing another rider and consider what corrections or tips you would give them. Then consider if you make the same mistakes whether you can make these corrections yourself.
When coaching, a riding instructor can see both you and the horse clearly from the ground. This makes it easier for them to spot mistakes and suggest corrections. You can gain the same benefit too by observing yourself. Many arenas have mirrors or reflective glass so you can see yourself. Try riding in front of the mirrors, observe yourself and see if you can make any self-corrections. Whilst doing this, think back to 'watch and learn.' Alternatively, ask a friend to film you whilst you're riding. In-between exercises, take short breaks to watch the videos and try to correct yourself.
Another way you can practice is by buddying up. Plan to ride with a friend and make aims for what you are trying to improve. Your buddy can point out any mistakes your making. If you aren't sure what you need to improve on or how to improve; ask your instructor what improvements they think you could make. Having a riding buddy can be extremely helpful - they're almost like stand-in instructors! If you don't have an equine buddy don't worry, any friend is great for the job. For example, if you know you are likely to lift your hands too high when riding or let your lower leg slip back sometimes - ask your friend to remind you to keep your leg underneath you and your hands lower every few minutes or so.
Get The Practice In And Out Of The Saddle
Many exercises that aim to improve your riding position are targeting specific muscles or muscle groups in your body. For example, you may try the exercise that involves standing up and out of your stirrups. This exercise aims to improve leg and core strength. Whilst it is important for you to practice these types of exercises in the saddle, you can still improve muscle strength out of the saddle. Similarly, many gyms, leisure centres and personal trainers offer sessions that target the same muscles that are used for riding. Some areas of the UK even have equine pilates!
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