In any sport, at any level, athletes are likely to hit a training plateau. This is a point that you have worked hard to get to but are unable to move past, whether it be because something is not clicking, you’re not going outside of your comfort zone, or a myriad of other reasons. When it comes to horseback riding and training, these can be very complex sports and there are certain ideas or concepts that have to click with both you and your horse before moving forward. Here are some ways to try to push past the dreaded plateau:
-Be realistic about your situation. Ask yourself some basic questions such as: are you in over your head? Is there something you’re not understanding? Are you or the horse getting bored with what you’re doing or trying to do? Is the horse not a good match for you? (Not every horse and rider mesh well and it’s very important to be honest with yourself about this). Basically, ask yourself what’s in your way.
-Try things differently. Adjust the exercise or activity so that it is more or less challenging, depending on your situation, or try doing something more familiar to find your groove again.
-Take a break! Do something fun, like a trail ride, focus less on the training aspect of things, and just enjoy riding your horse again. I find that this is something incredibly important in the training process. Don’t forget why you ride in the first place.
-Ask for help. There is no shame at all in asking for help if there’s something you feel you’re not ready for, don’t understand, or can’t get past. A trainer can get you to push past the plateau and move on to bigger and better things by helping you accomplish your current goals and by setting new ones with the tools to achieve them. Hiring a trainer can also help you better your understanding of the process and your knowledge of training as a whole, regardless of your discipline. At the end of the day, your horse will thank you for reaching out!
There is nothing at all wrong with hitting a training plateau, it happens to everyone, but the worst thing you can do is not admit it to yourself as this will leave you feeling frustrated and stuck in a rut. A trainer is a great tool to make things happen, but you also have to be patient with yourself and your horse while at the same time not being afraid to push yourself as that is where you’ll end up finding success. We ride because we love it and we love horses; try not to forget that during the training process. It should be challenging, but fun!