If you're following along over at The Mindful Rider: January Rider Challenge, you may have already read this one:
Ten good steps! That's all it takes!
Last night while teaching I found myself using the phrase "Getting ten good steps is better than getting an hour of mediocrity" and this morning I find it's sitting in the back of my mind, becoming my mantra of sorts.
Often as riders we strive for consistency and conditioning, pushing for X number of warm up minutes and X number of times through the test movements or around the arena, or even X number of times down the "spooky" trail (or past the scary mailboxes!)
Today (and maybe everyday!) I challenge you to try to push yourself and your horse to actually ditch the planned goals, or if not ditch them, put them on the back burner.
Find ten steps, in the moment, that are full to the brim of quality. This could be ten steps of forward trot, through a transition, of collection or even ten relaxed steps from a greenie. In fact, even five steps is enough. At the end of these steps, make sure there is no question in your horse's mind that they've done something amazing.
Walk your horse, scratch him, treat him, or (my favorite) hop off and let the ride end there! Horses should be rewarded for putting forth some extra effort in the moment, and often times we're a little too focused on our goals, short or long term, to see that all it takes to keep our equine partners happy and continuing to progress is reward for that extra effort.
In fact, let's take this a step farther and do the same thing for ourselves today! Take ten steps with your core balanced and engaged, ten steps sitting "the big trot", ten steps without nagging with your leg (guilty!), ten steps with your eyes up and focused. Bring yourself into the moment and focus on your own quality, and then give yourself a big pat on the back! This isn't "cutting slack" or abandoning goals... it's rewarding ourselves and our horses for intermittent extra effort, which ultimately begets more of the same behavior, and I guarantee it will pay off in the long run!
What were your horse's ten best steps today? What were your own?