Soapbox: Routine

You know what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately? Expectations for our horses, and how reasonable those expectations are- and by extension, what we can do to make those expectations more reasonable.

I admittedly have very high expectations of the Frankenbean. I expect him to jump anything I point him at, perform at consistently high levels, and to behave in a calm and civilized manner. So how do I set those expectations up for success?

It boils down to spending lots of time with this view

Jump anything: create positive experiences for him. He came to me with a great deal of confidence (seriously forever grateful for the people who brought him along so wonderfully), and we work very hard to keep up that confidence. By creating a variety of experiences for him and setting him up to do well in all of those experiences, he knows that things will be ok even if they’re slightly different from the norm.

Snoozefest over the liverpool. It doesn’t really occur to him to look at it too hard.

Perform at consistently high levels: give him the fitness, support, and knowledge necessary. He can’t jump the big jumps if he’s fat, has sore hocks, and lacks adequate body awareness. He can’t give me truly obedient lateral work if his hind end is weak, he’s stiff through his body, and dull to my leg. Those basic building blocks of conditioning, health, and training MUST be in place for any sort of progress to happen.

Wearing the Hat of Knowledge to preemptively check for lameness

Behave calmly: manage his energy levels with a consistent routine. This brings me to the crux of this post, and is something that feeds into everything else I’ve already mentioned. Horses are creatures of habit, and creating a steady routine is key to creating expectations.

This view. Rain or shine, hot or cold.

Yes, Frankie is a naturally very relaxed dude. But we don’t take that for granted- we work with that to create a program for him that allows him to meet (or often in his case, exceed) our expectations. He is worked with enough intensity to build fitness, with enough variety to build experience, and with enough frequency to maintain/improve condition. And when he’s conditioned up fully, to maintain a healthy energy level- we all know that a truly fit horse is going to have a bit more fire than a tubby one, no matter how naturally relaxed that horse may be. When other adult responsibilities get in the way of maintaining that type of schedule, the two options that make the most sense to me are (1) enlist help, usually in the form of a professional or (2) lower our expectations for a bit until we can support them better.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying hopping on once a week, five times a week, twice a month, however often. Everyone is on their own journey with horses, and no two people are going to enjoy being in the exact same program! But the expectations must fit that program. The higher the expectations are on the horse, the more consistent and deliberate that routine must be to help them succeed.

I will now get off my high horse, and get back on my big brown high horse 😉

It’s time to get to work. PC- Liz

8 thoughts on “Soapbox: Routine

  1. roamingridersite 06/18/2018 / 9:25 am

    So true! What I can get away with toodling over 18” logs is not the same as asking for a full competition season and moving on up the levels. It isn’t fair to ask them for things they haven’t been prepared for.


  2. Avery 06/18/2018 / 9:30 am

    everything yes on this! Love it. This whole concept is something we all have to continuously remind ourselves of.


  3. Tracy 06/18/2018 / 9:37 am

    This is SO TRUE. When it’s show season, my focus is on my show horse because he has to be fit and schooled to perform. Moiya, on the other hand, gets more breaks because my expectations of her are to be happy, healthy and be able to do 10-30 minutes of flatwork.


  4. Liz 06/18/2018 / 10:59 am

    Well said! And I agree! This is why it took me ages to move into eventing and to move up in endurance. I’d rather be over-prepared and know we’ve GOT the thing than go out and “hope for the best”. The only time I “hope for the best” is with regard to things I have no control over like luck/weather. It’s so, so important to set our horses up for success in every way we possibly can.


  5. Alex 06/18/2018 / 12:05 pm

    I think this idea can be applied everywhere and it is a good reminder to think about. You can have all the expectations in the world for the results you want but unless you’ve prepared, those results are never going to come. 🙂


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