Thursday, December 12, 2013

15 minutes is better than no minutes

We have a dressage schooling show this coming Saturday. I know, I haven't mentioned that, right? I signed us up for Intro A, B, and C, on the theory that we should at least get out and get some miles, even if we've got more things to work on than I can count on all my fingers and toes. I'm hoping to stay in the arena and stay on Paddinton. Gotta start somewhere, right?

To ensure that we don't make complete fools of ourselves, I've been trying to squeeze in as many rides as I can - coming in to work early so I can leave early and ride while it's still light (no arena and no lights make daylight hours precious), sneaking in rides during a (long) lunch hour, whatever. I've been doing pretty well, and the rides have been productive, but last night it just wasn't happening. Work ran late, the boys didn't cooperate with the evening barn chores, and I was rapidly running out of daylight. No problem, I thought, instead of riding, I'll just longe him a little. Then I realized how dark it was and decided we didn't even have time for that. I almost decided not to do anything with him, but then I decided that even a little bit of something was better than nothing at all.

So we worked in-hand for 15 minutes, with a rope halter and a lead. And you know what? It was really productive!

We started off with yielding the haunches, focusing on getting the RH (his stiffer leg) to be more active. Then we worked on moving his shoulder over. As expected, he was sticky moving the RF. We worked on moving his whole body sideways when asked. Then we worked on a little leg-yield in-hand, along with stopping and backing up. I didn't drill on any one thing for more than a few steps - when he got it, I'd ask for something else. After 15 minutes, he was much more responsive moving left, focused on me, and working well. I gave him a pat and a cookie, pulled his halter off, and called it a night.

So even if you only have 15 minutes, or 10 minutes, or even 5 minutes, USE IT. Do something productive. Every little bit you do every day helps. Heck, sometimes I think those short-but-sweet sessions are better than an hour-long ride, precisely because you don't drill-drill-drill. You get in, you look for the positive response, you reward, and you move on.

What do YOU do if you only have a little bit of time to work your horse?

I am too cute to have to work for a living.


  1. He is too cute to work. Honestly Simon is such a drive for me, that if I really don't have time to ride then I can't go out there at all. As long as I can squeeze 2.5 hours of "barn time" (the fastest I can go with drive + ride + care), then I will concentrate on getting him out and moving and just picking one thing to work on.

  2. The older I get, the more I realize just how important good time management skills are!

    P.S. I got you in the blogger gift exchange and I will be sending out your gift tomorrow:)

  3. Heck, I gathered all the energy I had and rode Solo bareback in the dark for 10 minutes tonight. I wrapped the quarter sheet around us and we did some simple walk/trot work. Then I hopped off and showed him the new pigs. Never a dull moment...

  4. Sounds like progress is being made! When I only have a tiny bit of time, I'll usually just give up on productivity and do a long walk with minimal walk/trot/canter. If I absolutely need to be productive, I'll do a bunch of basics- lateral suppleness work and transitions mostly. Every little bit helps!

  5. Miles is pretty far away from me, so I'm in the same boat as Lauren -- 2 1/2 hours or I can't even think about going out!