Lately there have been a number of Facebook posts from horse trainers I follow that speak to me. Normally horse riding/training posts are interesting in a general sense, but lately there have been a good number where the topic du jour feels particularly relevant to my situation. Two quick examples:
Denny Emerson’s posts about negotiating aids:
“When I was starting out, years back, the situation here, a green, resistant horse, not yet quiet and confident in the connection between the seat, leg, hand—-It would have made me nervous, stronger in my hand, stiffer in my arms—
Then, if the situation escalated, as would have been almost inevitable, I`d have gotten more frustrated, would have been thinking things like, “Mare, damn it, do what you`re told”, and I`d probably have gotten into at least a strong argument, maybe a fight.
I say this because I see this so often with younger and greener riders and trainers, not knowing how to quietly negotiate, more likely to go to force, even draw reins, standing martingales, stronger bits, the remedies we seek out of ignorance and frustration.
It takes time, plus good direction from a wiser trainer, for the less experienced to simply learn how to softly negotiate, and be willing to take the extra weeks and months to build into the horse trust and strength and understanding of the aids.
Too many riders go all their lives without making the transition from force to finesse, but it doesn`t have to be that way.”June 21
Jane Guzman’s post about relaxation:
“I rode Xuxa this morning. She is getting so much stronger in her back and beginning to take a longer stride. Something bothered her during the schooling session. It could have been the noise of a horse in the round pen, could have been an insect bit,could have been the other horse leaving. How knows. It does not really matter what scares a horse – the important thing is how to deal with spooks. I think the only way to truly train any horse is with a consistent, firm, fair program. Relaxation is firstly rider mental relaxation – confidence in your position and aids, next physical relaxation. If you are not physically relaxed the horse will pick up on your tension and never mentally relax. Only when the horse is mentally relaxed and tuned in to the rider can one develop physical relaxation in a horse. One may start a schooling session thinking of specific training exercises – but ride in the moment.”
(emphasis in both posts are mine)
|Story of my life
From Equestrian Memes
On Thursday’s lesson, we really focused on having Hemie connected to the left rein – no matter which direction we were tracking. This involved some counter-bending, blocking the right shoulder from falling out, and being square through turns. But overall it was successful, without any issues from Hemie.
We also focused on really getting him in front of the leg, which was especially hard at our stretchy trot where he was going fast with his neck way down but nose behind the vertical. My inclination was to slow him down first, when Laurie actually had me kick him on to better connect with the reins before slowing down. It took a leap of faith, but worked. That’s something that I have a hard time doing on my own in practice rides.
I am starting to really pay attention to my stress level/anxiety/tension when I ride, as a way to address Hemie’s. So far, I find that if I take a deep breath and relax, Hemie will do the same within just a few strides. I’m going to continue to be mindful of it because I suspect it holds the keys to better and faster relaxation – for both of us.