It's a total bummer, but rain happens when you're riding! So, ride in the rain, already! OK, if it's a miserable downpour of cold rain and I cannot see my horses ears as I sit in the saddle, then I will be a weenie and go to the barn. I'm not fond of cold rain.
But the best way to teach your horse to go well in the rain is to ride in it when it comes. Of course, you have be safe. If the footing is slippery and the horse is sliding out from under themselves, then don’t risk the soft tissue damage. Head back to the barn and just give an extra long grooming.
If you do ride in the rain, keep it simple. Go around the arena, do some large 20m circles, and maybe cancel the lateral work for now. Just splashing through the puddles may be all you can do with your horse.
Some horses do not want to go through puddles. Some say it's due to not knowing the depth of the puddle or because it has a different color than the arena and could signal a hole they do not want to step into. For those horses you plan to get closer and closer to the puddle until your leg keeps them going through the puddle.
This is a great exercise if your horse tends to drift off the long side and you never really could fix it. The puddle becomes our training aid. Some horses go through the puddle and, my-oh-my, does their trot get high and lofty!
This is a chance to practice continuing that big trot for a few steps with your calves after the 'lift' from the puddle. It will be helpful as you teach more collected and thrusting trots to see that you can create just from your calves and seat what the puddle caused the horse to do.
Then there's horses like one of my mares who loves to thunder through the puddle and create as big a splash as she can. More tack cleaning for me, but so much fun for her so I don't stop it. I also have learned with this same mare that if there's the threat of rain, I better cover her ears with a bonnet. If I do that, she will not shake her head because she doesn't like rain on her ears. (I don't like water in my ears either so I don't blame her.)
You can even use puddles for forwards and back—speed up between the puddles and then leg yield away from them and back to them.
Of course, you also have to think about the barn manager... Going through the puddles tears up the arena so you may want to avoid them to keep the arena in good condition.
Whatever you do with your puddles - use them as training aids, see how far you can get them to splash or avoid them altogether – try singing in in the rain! Your horse won't tell if you’re a little off key!
Stay tuned for next week’s Two-minute Training Tip! If you need help building a training plan you can always email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out revelationfarm.com for upcoming events. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RevelationFm!