Riding a horse on the flat can get boring quickly if you do not change up your routine on a regular basis. Many horses will get bored and some even will start to pick up bad habits, such as falling into the inside on corners, if your flat work lacks the variety it needs to keep the horse's mind engaged.
Bending exercises will make your horse more responsive and more flexible. Asking your horse to perform circles, serpentines and bend in the corners of the arena while you are working your horse on the flat will help keep him supple to your cues. The more bending and circle work you do, the better your horse's balance and responsiveness will be. If your horse is bending correctly, his entire body will bend in the direction in which you are telling him to bend. This means that he should be curved from his nose to his hindquarter.
Ask your horse to change gaits frequently and unexpectedly. Make sure to vary your position in the arena when you request transitions, so that your horse does not associate one specific spot with being asked to slow down or speed up. Smooth transitions are an essential skill for a well trained horse, especially one who you plan on competing on during competitions. Transition work also will help improve a weak hind end as well as help improve your horse's responses to your cues.
Adjusting the Gaits
Your horse can adjust his speed and the length of his stride within each gait. Practice getting your horse to slow down and speed up without breaking gait. Practice asking him to extend his strides within the gaits as well. Extended strides mean the horse will reach his legs out further and cover more ground without speeding up.
If you compete in horsemanship, dressage or equitation, then you already know that you have to practice patterns to achieve good results during competition. If you've never tried pattern work, it can be a good way to add an extra element of interest and challenge to your flat work. Books of patterns are available from various sellers and practice patterns also can be downloaded online from an assortment of different sources. Mastering different patterns will help alleviate boredom, and improve your control and your horse's responsiveness.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.