Learning to give and take with your horse is most rewarding. I have been re-learning how to ride and in doing so I am also moving the lessons I have taught Cookie on the ground to those same lessons while riding. This is quite the challenge as I am doing all of this while riding bareback.
Each lesson is taught from the beginning just as it is on the ground. Each attempt she gives me, I give back by releasing the pressure. As I get better in my riding, she gets better in each lesson. I sometimes review things on the ground either before or after my ride to help the lesson sink in though not often enough to allow boredom to set in.
Regardless of where we do our lessons, there will always be give and take and there should be. Some days your horse may be a bit "off". I don't mean as in physical discomfort or pain I mean off as in la-la land. Their attention is not totally on you. They may be day dreaming or they could very well be bored, or maybe just sleepy. Your horse may not always be 100% attentive, so you have to wake them up in some form or fashion if you plan on doing any kind of work. If your horse's mind does seem to be in outer space, I suggest cutting them some slack. After all being at 100% all the time is exhausting. Maybe giving them an extended time off from work will help to refuel their bodies and minds.
If your horse is primarily used for showing, jumping or something specific, perhaps you could give them a break by taking them out on a trail ride a few times a week. This will help motivate them by stimulating their minds and senses. Doing something different wakes them up. It may just be what is needed to get your horse's attention back on you.
Horses give to us many things and although the only thing we can give back to them is the best health and welfare we can offer, the next best thing is a vacation. In some parts of the U.S., horses do get that vacation during winter time. Although some show horses are kept in barns under blankets and even body clipped in order to be able to show during winter time.
Do we tend to expect that 100% I mentioned earlier because our horses show on a consistent basis nearly all year long? I often wonder if those horses ever get a vacation or if their minds wander off of the task at hand. I can't say for sure, but pondering this is interesting.
I always try to consider my give and take with Cookie. I don't ride as often as I would like, and though we exercise every other day if not every day, she gets her down time and ample opportunity to do what she loves best and that's mowing the lawn.
She has given me a great many things and the best I can give her right now is all the love and care I can provide and all those vacations on the lot with the greenest grass.