I’ve learned so much about horses by watching them. Coaching, training, judging -I make my living observing horses and riders.
As a coach, I act as a mirror. My eyes circle from the rider’s signals to the horse’s response – speaking back what I see – choosing words as descriptively and simply as I can.
I often ask riders to reflect on their cues by describing them out loud. For example, what is your precise signal to ask your horse to accelerate? Or your aid for a canter departure? Pretend you’re teaching a non-horsey friend the location, technique and amount of your aid. If my student struggles to put it into words, she’s likely sending a fuzzy message to her equine partner.
Teaching has made has made me more intentional in my own riding. Carefully thinking through and verbalizing (without horse-trainer jargon), exactly HOW I ask a horse to do this or that, in a way the rider can replicate!