Insiders Guide: Group Riding
Pro and Non-Pro articles written by Jen Jonas of Jonas Performance Horses (Pro) and Sharon Jones of Be A Better You (Non-Pro).
Together, they are J&J Reining Inc. Both Jen and Sharon are believers in continual learning – if you’re not learning you’re not growing.
“Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth” – Ken Robinson
Jen: Show season has wrapped up for the year here in Ontario and perhaps you think “Now what do I do with my riding time?” The answer: You ride! Always keep your eye on the next year’s shows, so you can prepare.
I think you can never have enough preparation. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail as they say. I love always having something to work on!
Watching other people ride and also paying attention to what I do, I don’t think you can ever do too much of things like getting your horse more balanced between your legs and hands, working with the horse to improve their lateral work, getting more response out of subtle moves, and working on how you present yourself showing in the pen.
Working on these aspects creates a more confident athlete (the horse) and Competitor (you)!
I ride a lot solo as I train my own horses and the horses I have for training, what I do miss from the warmer seasons is when we have clinics or simply ride with my group!
The benefits of riding with a group are:
• We learn by watching others – watching others we can check in our what we are doing; I love to help people gain that self-awareness and better connection with their riding and their horse
• Riding with others and keeping an open mind to our own strengths and limitations, we gain knowledge and are motivated to improve.
For me, it’s inspiring to ride with people who not only share in your sport but also share in your passion. As a trainer and coach, I am open to always learning too – the group will trade ideas, thoughts and stories of our past, present or future rides!
• Connecting with good friends and making new ones when we open up to a group riding session.
• At the end of the day isn’t that a great way to spend time with your horse – I think they benefit from it too!
Sharon: I always go through a bit of a slump after show season, I miss it – I miss the hustle and bustle, the thrill of showing (although for me my show plans were thwarted in 2020, although it made time for us to focus on our show!) and I miss the people.
When Jen suggested we do a group session I jumped at the chance. It’s opportunity for me to keep my horse in tune with trailering and different facilities!
Jen and I had hosted a fabulous webinar series with Gil Friedman over the summer, his program ‘Peak Performance’ was enthusiastically received by a group of people who wanted to gain control over how they showed up in the show pen. When Jen suggested this outing and that it would be about the rider’s presence and focus in the show pen, I wanted to put what I’d learned with Gil in to practice.
There was a great turn out for the session; Jen is an incredibly focused coach and trainer and put us each through our paces, using my own nemesis pattern, pattern 8. Jen reminded us of show pen strategies and directed us to do certain parts again if we didn’t execute it to the best of our ability.
I loved observing the others ride and reflecting on my own riding. One of the biggest things I keep having to be reminded of and Jen will concur: ‘Look where you’re going, and sit back’.
Personally , I can’t wait for the next one!!!
Image credits to Doug Jonas. Facility credit: Fletcher’s Horse World