You made it through the week! You already did the hard part. Today is all about an easy and relaxing ride and making sure you end your work week with your horse on a positive note.
After today, the plan is to let your horse have the weekend (or whatever two days it may be) to just relax and be a horse. Let him do his thing with his horse friends, let the weeks work "soak in" so to speak. I know it may sound crazy, but I have found if you end your week on a positive note and then give your horse a couple days off, your lessons really do "soak in".
Even though this is our easy/fun day, we still want to do a good warm up. Remember, this is a safety issue. You need to figure out what you are sitting on that day and how he feels.
Even though we aren't going to be working on our new exercises, we need to make sure our horse is responsive to our aids before we go off and forget about serious work for the day. Check the brakes, steering, gas pedal, etc..
You Aren't Off the Hook
You aren't off the hook for working on your skills! After your warm-up, spend 10 or 15 minutes working on whatever it is that you have been focusing on as far as yourself this week. Maybe it was your two point position, sitting the trot, no stirrup work, etc. It should make you feel good to know you have been putting just as much effort into improving yourself as improving your horse's skills.
Taking responsibility for improving yourself in the areas that need improvement is a huge thing when it comes to riding. Remember, when we have an issue with our horse, a miscommunication of some kind, it's most likely an issue of something we are doing wrong rather than the horse being bad.
The saying that "the horse is only as good and well trained as it's rider" is absolutely the truth!
So, Now What?
You warmed up, and our horse is right on. You practiced your own exercise for the last time this week, and now, it's all about relaxed, easy and fun activities! Enjoying your time with your horse and reap the benefits of the communication you improved as you worked all week long.
Get Out of the Ring!
If you have been working in an indoor, ride him the outdoor arena instead. Even better, take a ride around the property with a friend. If you have the opportunity to get out in the woods on the trails, that is even better yet! As I have mentioned, a change of scenery will do everyone good!
You could even do your 5th day ride bareback if you feel safe riding your horse bareback. As long as you will be able to still do a good warm up, and your 10 or 15 minutes working on yourself.
Why Aren't We Working on Our New Skill Exercises?
The reason we do a fun, easy day on the 5th day is to keep our horse a willing partner. Remember, many of the things we ask of our horses don't come naturally to them. It is a constant struggle for us to try to figure out how to "speak their language."
Drilling the same exercises over and over is good to a point. It's how we improve, but if you don't consider your horse's mental well-being, you are working against yourself.
You want to keep your horse fresh and interested in his work. That way, when you tack up, you are hopefully throwing your leg over a willing partner and not a reluctant one.
It is our horse's jobs to do what we ask of them, safely and obediently. It is our job to try our hardest to be sensitive to their well-being, both mentally and physically, and to make the right behavior easy, and the wrong behavior hard. It is our job to try our hardest to "speak their language."
What Did You Learn This Week?
Hopefully, you learned that it helps to plan your rides. Hopefully, by thinking through your exercises, you have learned a lot about where you and your horse stand and what you are good at and what areas still need improvement.
Hopefully, you have set your goals and broken them down into the steps that you need to achieve them with your horse.
We need to be our horse's leader. Remember, horsemanship is a journey, so never stop learning! Just look at all you've learned in these last five days alone.