Sounds like a silly question, I know. Just ride longer! Ah…but there is more to it than that.
A rider I respect probably more than anyone else told me when I first got Gem to go into every ride with a single goal in mind. End when you reach it. If that takes two hours, so be it. If it take five minutes, ditto.
It stuck with me and is something I’ve always done with Gem whether that was out on the conditioning trail (pick my set pace and distance and even if everything felt amazing and was going super don’t be tempted into adding on just for the sake of adding on) or in the arena. I pick a goal for that ride and end when I reach it.
Lately it has turned into really short rides. The jump school I did was only 20 minutes total. She was being so good and jumped everything I asked that it seemed redundant to keep asking her. What was the point? She wouldn’t be learning anything at that point and it only left room for her to misbehave or for her to answer the question wrong and it seemed counter productive to keep going.
The thing is that I want to ride for more than 20 minutes. Not only for our fitness levels but because I love riding.
So what do I do?
We are working on the basics right now. Bend, straightness, easy jumps to convert her from her old default of always saying no to her new one of always saying yes. Not too long ago she wasn’t jumpable because she wasn’t rideable. For her to go into it and not say no or be squirrelly a single time was a big huge deal.
I’m trying to meld my belief of stopping once the lesson is learned with my want to ride for longer than it takes me to tack up.
Part of this rambling issue is also my fear of pushing her. She is so fun to ride when she wants to be. Once she gets pushed past that point it is really no fun at all and honestly pointless since everything goes right out the window and she is no longer rideable.
Like in the lesson. The first half she was awesome and we got a lot accomplished but then she got tired (see the whole issue above about only riding for 20 minutes) and she shut down and the entire second half was fighting her and trying to get her to just trot nicely once again. No fun. Not productive.
So when I’m on my own and she is acting the angel and everything is unicorn farts and skittles, I don’t feel the urge to push beyond that and ask for more. I save that for the lessons. Of corse this means Gem is super fit for riding for 20 minutes only. Not useful either.
I guess after all that rambling I’m just trying to figure this new behaving and rideable Gem out. I want to ride for an hour. But I also want that hour to be productive and not turn into a major fight.
I go into the ride with a goal: ride an exercise from the jumping book or jump through a small course or whatever. On days Gem is being a saint, she gets it on the first few tries and then I stop. What else should I do? Add in another exercise? Work her more even though we have accomplished our task for the day? Since everything right now is centered on straightness and bend it seems odd to accomplish that one way then turn around and ask her to do it another way.
Any and all suggestions are welcome! I’ll ask Trainer next time I see her, hopefully at a xc school this weekend if the ground dries out enough and the course is open, too.