I ride my guy 6 days a week. Mostly work though maybe a day of long/low walking easy stuff. I make myself wear jeans on the ‘7th’ day to discourage myself from riding that day. I love riding him though he can be a challenge. Would 7 days be too much?
BILL— Although you clearly love to ride your horse, I honestly am hard-pressed to think of a reason to ride him seven days a week. At the opposite end of the spectrum are novice adult foxhunters (usually males) who stereotypically ride to hunt and hardly ever in between. That’s a whole separate catastrophe for the horse!
I do applaud the idea of not schooling every single day and that you do stretching, relaxing work with him. In the best world, you would go beyond that. For a break you could do poles on the ground or even (gasp) jump small fences. If you don’t fear for your life, go outside the arena. A stroll around the field or a walk on the trail will suffice, but if you are up for it, dressage horses should be able to gallop!
Back in the day Susan had a very anxious thoroughbred off the track. We were told that when he ran even if he was in the lead coming to the stretch, as he came by the grandstand, he would turn his head to the right to look at it and subsequently be passed by all the other horses. The only race he ever won was at Suffolk Downs in a miserable snowstorm where visibility was so poor, he could not see the stands at all. The day’s meet was canceled right after that race!
When she discovered his total aversion to leaving the property, she devised a “mini trail ride” which while remaining in sight of the barn, took him on a circuitous route around trees and up-and-down over the back of the manure pile to give him some variety.
At the time we were leasing a small barn adjacent to a farm whose indoor arena we rented time in. To get there involved going down our driveway, traversing along the street to the next mailbox, and going up the neighbor’s drive to the arena.
One day on her way back from that arena, she had dropped the reins on his neck and expected him to make his usual right turn to the safety of his own driveway. To her amazement, he kept walking straight ahead down the road away from home. Out of curiosity she let him have his head and he traipsed into the unknown, eventually turning down a random street into housing development and eventually into a cul-de-sac. We never knew what had gotten into him, and he was never interested in repeating such a journey.
All that said, aside from a break from physical stresses, horse—just like people—need occasional breaks from mental stress. A day off or several days off in a row OR EVEN A WEEK can be really refreshing for them. There was the time before the prevalence of covered/indoor arenas and winter show circuits that horses routinely had time off built into their calendars. Since that is no longer the case, we have to go out of our way to remember to give them some R & R.