You may have seen recently I was featured in Your Horse Magazine. It is a regular feature they run about how people fit horses around their jobs. Those that have read it have asked me how I do fit so much stuff into a day/week. The answer? Good time management. This is definitely something that helps when trying to get multiple ponies worked throughout the week and keeping them all on track with their individual training.
So, how can you do it?
Firstly, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog; make a training plan. If you know what your goals are you can then look at what your schooling/exercise plan needs to entail in order to get there. That way you know exactly what you have to achieve in each session so you don’t waste time just going round in circles (unless your plan was to work on circles…) and you can plan this across the week looking at what time you are likely to have each day to get things done. There is no point pretending you are going to school for an hour 5 times per week when you barely manage to ride twice per week now, it clearly isn’t going to fit with your lifestyle.
I will use my driving pony Douglas as an example. Douglas had been chilling out in a field for a couple of months before he came to me so one of his initial goals is to improve his fitness and endurance. Then as he is a driving pony to encourage him to use his back end more to give him more power and finally to work on his manners/schooling as although he isn’t particularly naughty he can be a little cheeky, doesn’t like to halt and we are still figuring out each others cues.
So, Douglas’s plan looks like this.
Monday: I have a little time but not much so we lunge, do plenty of Canter work, Poles and little Jumps. This is his cardio and building muscle and as its on the lunge just 20 mins is enough to tire his little legs out.
Wednesday: Usually have a little more time so I will either long rein or go out in the Carriage. If I’m short on time I actually long rein pretty much at a trot for 20-30 mins (sneaks in a cardio session for me too!) or we walk, trot, do circles and practice our halt and groundwork if I have more time.
Friday: Usually similar to Wednesday. Or I do what I didn’t do on Wednesday so if I just took him for a trot I will do groundwork and a little schooling and vice versa.
Weekends: We are starting to get the Carriage out (it’s just too much faff if you don’t have much time during the week!) and do our schooling session for that.
I’m finding that although he may have only done less than a couple of hours work though the week, it’s all relevant to his Driving work so he is primed and ready to go. Fit from the lungeing and long reining, and on the aids from the groundwork etc. It’s like we’ve been doing the same stuff all week, which we haven’t but they have all been relevant to getting out driving at the weekend.
So I know the majority of you aren’t drivers but this was just an example. You can apply the same thing with your own horse. Maybe lunge sessions, ground work (The Equitation Science work of Andrew McClean is great) and faster and shorter ridden sessions when you have less time through the week and then longer more advanced schooling or hacking etc. at the weekend when you have more time.
Then there's looking at whether you would be better getting up early and training your horse before work? Or maybe arranging lessons on week nights when you need the motivation to ride!
I apply this theory to my own fitness routine (I can highly recommend long reining as a double whammy!) Just looking at what I want to achieve and how much time I will have on given days.