Try a new discipline with your horse!
I dare you! I’m going to write something rather dramatic here…brace yourself.
You don’t want to get brainwashed into thinking your discipline is the end all and be all of horses. It’s NOT.
There’s a lot to learn from different disciplines and different saddles. And, the chance to explore some different types of horses who do different jobs. It’s fun, and a way to mix things up. If you are lucky enough to have a horse of your own, trying new disciplines with your own horse is a great way to beat the monotony of training.
So YES – switch it up! Without revealing my true age, (I’m 22. Not really), I’ve had some amazing experiences on horses in tons of different disciplines. I grew up riding balance seat, a term I rarely hear these days. Field hunters, jumpers, cutters, reiners, Icelandic horses, gaited horses, and dressage horses followed over the years.
Some things are constant across all horse disciplines:
- Positive reinforcement works.
- Performance horses are in tune with their riders and move off your legs and seat.
- Contact is not a bad thing. Even reiners, with their loose reins, have contact due to the leverage of the shanked bits.
- Horses should work from their butts to the bit. It’s not just dressage, it’s every horse.
- Well trained horses have excellent brakes. Great for those times you are wondering “WHAT THE HECK” is happening under you.
Every discipline also has grooming things you can learn, too.
- Curious about long tails? Spend some time with Saddlebreds and marvel at the work (and genetics) involved.
- Long manes? Almost every Western rider has tips for you there.
- Roached manes? Head to a polo barn.
- Regular manes? Jumpers for tips on how to use scissors, hunters for excellent braiding tips.
- Clipping? Any performance barn in winter has clipping down to a science.
What being in a new saddle can teach you:
- Balance. Think you are balanced in your western or dressage saddle? Try some jump tack. Hello, hamstrings.
- Communication with your horse. Western saddles are thick and dense, so you best be clear with your leg and seat aids. Conversely, do you fidget around in your saddle a bit? Might get some changes or passage out of a dressage horse.
- Respect, and possibly some humility. So you’re a Grand Prix rider? Bet you slide off a cutter. So you’re a reiner? Try your hand at popping over some fences.
Basically what I’m saying is that sometimes, you gotta get out of your own way and try something new. Bring your horse along for some different adventures for even more fun.