Top 5 things every rider should be able to do, regardless of discipline:
1- Ride one handed: this comes in handy for countless situations, will refine your seat and leg aids, and is the mark of an educated horse. It’s important to be able to direct rein with one hand, which is different from neck reining.
2- Open a gate on horseback: obviously, getting on and off at every gate on a ride is exhausting; and totally unnecessary. Refine your horses understanding of moving his front and hind end and get him gentler and handier by working a gate! Don’t shy away from a little challenge!
3- Move a cow: you may never realistically need this skill in your life, true, but there is no feeling like being able to move stock on horseback. Improve your communication with your horse and build his confidence! Show your horse there is a reason behind the movements we practice by putting them to work.
4- Gallop: this is a tough one, seeing as so many riders are reluctant to even canter. But being able to gallop takes your relationship with your horse to the next level. Practicing dialing their energy back up and back down improves safety, control, and confidence. If you never allow them to gallop, what happens when you’re in a gallop you hadn’t intended to get into? Embrace the speed. Remember when it used to be really fun to go fast?
5- Ride on uneven terrain: get out of the comfort of groomed arenas and ride out on different footing. Lots of different kinds. Enjoy the scenery and improve your horses balance by schooling on hills, trails, fields, and whatever else you can get access to. Keep training fresh and interesting, build better strength and coordination and avoid mindless drilling in an arena. You’ll find your performance in the arena dramatically improved!