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The benefits of training your horse on an outdoor ride.

Training a horse isn’t always easy. Whether you’re practising the basis or you’re training on the highest level. All levels have their own challenges. In addition to those challenges, you can also choose for different forms of training and you have the choice whether you do this indoors, outdoors, on the road or perhaps even during an outdoor ride in the woods. Despite the fact that the preference of most riders is still for an indoor or a closed arena, training your horse on an outdoor ride is extremely valuable.

Why do we train in an arena?

When we are actually training our horses, and therefore focus on improve movements or teaching our horses something new, it is important to make choices where you’re going to train this. A closed arena is ideal when you want to train your horse in “freedom” for the first time. Also, a closed arena often gives a "safe" feeling so that many people, and therefore horses can also relax more. Training in an arena also has the advantage that you can often influence the soil so that you can realize the optimal training conditions. However, not everything can be trained in an arena and for the variety and mental state of your horse it is good to move your training occasionally.

Benefits of training on an outdoor ride

An outdoor ride is often seen as a “getaway”. Something you can do for fun with others or just with your horse. You can just completely relax while your horse, with his ears forward, is cheerfully walking through your surroundings. Where a startle reaction of your horse in an arena can cause tension, the same reaction in the forest, for example because of a passing dog, does not matter and the relaxation returns quickly. On an outdoor ride it can, of course, also be quite exciting. Especially if you have a horse that does not know this yet and has to learn how to behave on an outdoor ride. That is precisely why it is good to go on an outdoor ride. You can train an infinite number of things outside. For example, there are a number of points that you train automatically:
  • - Mindset
  • - Flexibility in focus
  • - Relaxation
  • - Better balance
  • - Interest
Do you have some trouble with bending through the length? Search for a forest with some easy winding paths. Is your horse physically okay but does he lack some strength? See if you can find a spot with some light hills. Is your horse perfectly fine, able to focus and relax? Then you can even do the exercises on an outdoor ride that are requested during competitions. By asking these exercises in another place, without forcing it onto both of you, you ensure that there is more relaxation. If it’s not going well, no man overboard, you still have the whole way to try again. In addition, you horse often doesn’t have the support of a fence, so you will find out sooner where you have to focus on in your training. On outdoor rides it is way easier to train strength, speed and flexibility and suppleness through the body, because the surroundings are asking for it. As a result, it is never really a one-sided training outside. Those one-sided workouts can cause insufficient muscle recovery or tear the muscles because you always appeal to the same body part. Even if you've trained in a closed arena, you can choose to go on an outdoor ride afterwards for a cooling down. Because of that variety in environment, you ensure that your horse remains interested. You can imagine that every time that same round gets pretty boring over time. Did you train indoors? Then go outside with the cooling down, fresh air does both a man and a horse a lot of good! By changing environments, your horse often becomes more attentive which means that you have to actively keep your thoughts with your horse. It’ll ensure that you can get back into the 'here and now'.

Conclusion: Alternate indoor training with outdoor training

If you have the opportunity, get out there! Cross that threshold and enjoy an alert and happy horse, nature and companionship. Choose a different outdoor ride than usual. For example, do you always go to the forest? Then go to the beach for once, or go on a ride through the village. Of course, ALWAYS take your safety into account and the safety of your horse and others. Are you going out? Then make sure you know the traffic rules! By applying a change of scenery in your training, you can ensure that your horse feels like working again and that you can put just that point on the i's. As a result, you too can get so much more energy and joy from the training.

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