Horse show rules, pasture fence lines and living well between the limits.

The latest horse show rule books were delivered to my mailbox.
These are the rules. These are the ring dimensions. These are the tack restrictions.
With clear, well laid out rules-of-play, we’re free to push the limits of excellence, within the limits of the rules of the ring. With clear, well-laid-out fence lines, horses are free to buck, play and graze.
I guess a “you-do-you”, “follow your heart” view of the world doesn’t really work, regardless of how cool it sounds in a song lyric or Disney movie…

Responding to Pressure – horse and humans. Part 2

We’re always horse training – there’s no neutral. I encourage riders to be mindful of each moment – on the ground or in the saddle, catching those little resistances and using them as horse training yield-to-pressure opportunities …The payoff is my horse is less likely to say “no” when the pressure’s on. Fewer costly wrong leads, added strides, or seconds lost in speed events.
What about humans? 10 months of pandemic pressures have squeezed many of us emotionally, financially, relationally and physically. When I’m feeling squeezed by circumstances, what does it bring out in me?

Horse tack. Nosebands – how tight is too tight?

Standard equipment in English disciplines. Training equipment in western. While nosebands are designed to prevent bit evasion, in the horse business, we’re inclined to default into thinking “If a little is good, more is better! Glad to see that Equestrian Canada has added a 2021 horse show rule addressing nosebands. The question upstream from noseband “restrictions” – are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting?

Horse training tack – new year, new horse show rules

I’ll be speaking at Ontario’s Grey Bruce Horse Day this weekend – The Science of Bits, Spurs and Training Tack: How we choose, use and sometimes abuse them.
In light of this, and of the annual unveiling of horse show rule amendments, I was glad to see that Equestrian Canada has added a 2021 horse show rule “restricting” (pun intended) tight nosebands.

Responding to pressure – horses and humans. Part 1

I’d hedge a bet that most riders would say it’s more satisfying to be in the saddle than beside the horse, on foot. But if the reason is because it’s SAFER on your horse’s back, groundwork in yielding to pressure would add to the everyday enjoyment of your equine partner!
Does your horse ever…
• Knock you with his head, smearing your horse show jacket?
• Tetherball around you, calling to his buddies after unloading from the horse trailer?
• Snatch your arm almost out of the socket, diving for grass?
• Swing around at the mounting block?
• Chew on the lead shank (or your hand) when you’re holding him at the show ring?
Do you look for opportunities between horse show classes to hand him to your “groom” (code – mom, dad or significant other)?