I'm Starting To Feel Like A Hermit

I ride alone a lot.

Rachel and Toby moved to a new barn, Jenna took Max home to recover from his injury, and most days I'm not even able to get to the barn til about 7pm, which this time of year is pitch dark. Everyone else has already been to the barn during the daylight hours and I'm left alone, in the dark.

So I ride alone, in the dark. Thankfully our arena has lights. But when you ride alone all the time, it's easy to get into a rut.

I fear that I've reached the rut.

I find myself doing the same exercises over and over again, and I know that I've developed some bad habits in my riding! Dino is getting bored with our arena work, and is finding every excuse he can to spook at things. The guy doing yardwork across the street, Jenna opening her trailer, birds, trees, and cars have all become things that need to be run away from, immediately. I am not amused. Unfortunately, trail rides are out of the question for now because a.) it's dark out 90% of the time when I ride, and b.) there's usually no one at the barn to wait for me to come back, or call 911 if I don't. I don't have a lot of extra money to spend on lessons, and no riding buddies to watch me and give pointers. So what's a pony-loving girl to do!?

I come to you, my wonderful and resourceful readers, for advice. What do you do when you get in a riding rut? Do you go to a specific book for new exercises to practice? If you can't take lessons, do you share videos online? Coordinate barn time with other riders to watch each other ride? How do you switch up your ring work to keep you and your pony interested and making progress? Or do you know of a local dressage trainer who will give me lessons in exchange for food? I'm a REALLY good cook.

Suggestions are welcome!


  1. you move to maryland and have your bestest friend watch you as you ride and ride with her. Want a free horse btw?

  2. There is a book called 101 Horsemanship & Equitation Patterns by Cherry Hill, I bought it when I was showing on a circuit predominated by AQHA people though not breed specific. Also 101 Jumping Exercises by Linda Allen has a whole section dedicated to pole work. If you have the time to set up poles.

    Otherwise I'm probably not much help, I ride usually 3 or 4 days a week and 2 of those rides are lessons, the 1 or 2 days a week that aren't I usually drop my irons and do all our flat work with that. I usually try to dedicate some time to executing the USEF Equitation Tests that are flatwork specific (counter canter, figure eights with change of direction simple lead etc.) those you can look up at USEF.org.

  3. Rachel and "The Punisher"November 12, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    TAKE AWAY YOUR STIRRUPS! It is "No Stirrup November" after all. Hmm, I wish it wasn't so freaking far, otherwise Toby and I would find a ride to come ride with you guys :(. I'm in the same rut. I have a two hour window in the morning that I can see the Tobester and he's usually so muddy that there's no time and motivation to ride. And there's no one around ever. Or if there is someone around it's a random boarder that sees their horse once a week. Frustration!

  4. @Jen: how about you move to PA? ;) we actually might be looking for mike in the spring if we can get our financial situation under control, but right now no can do on the free horse.
    @L.Williams: thank you for the suggestions! i'll check those out!
    @Rachel and the (oh so intimidating) Punisher: for realllls we miss you guys! I think we definitely have to plan on doing a hunter pace or something together next year.

  5. What about lunge line or ground driving, or google "western trail course" and setup a similar one, it normally involves obstacles like-walking over a tarp on the ground, make a square on the ground with rails and ask horse to turn on haunches/fore w/o stepping out of the square, there r tons of obstacles that u can set up & its great b/c it makes the horse think! Hope this helps, im in the same boat as u are,darkness & nobodys around!


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