Is your horse in a rush? (Part 2) 4 more tips to SLOW DOWN, tone down your horse’s tension and tune in to your aids.

Horse tension and relaxation – over and over I’ve seen how these really matter in horse learning. Your horse’s emotional state determines how easily he learns – absorbs and acquire skills.
Like cruise control, “self-carriage” in pace describes a horse neither rushing away (accelerating) nor slowing down. He stays within an imaginary box of the rider’s relaxed aids, without having to be held there.
If the horse is hurrying, he’ll be showing some degree of a prey animal’s flight response.

Behind the Bit

Once a horse discovers how to escape a rider’s noisy or inconsistent hands, he may auto-hide behind the bit, even with a rider of educated hands. … He’s found an escape route that works and behind-the-bit becomes his default whether or not the threat is still present.
“Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice shame on me”. So the saying goes. Like horses, people protect themselves from further hurt by avoiding confrontation, love or risk.

Did I say that? Communicating intentionally to horses.

As I entered the office of a friend the other day, I interrupted him as he was dictating into his computer. We’d chit chatted and swapping a few stories, before he realized he’d forgotten to turn off the dictation feature. It was awkwardly funny to hear him read back our conversation from his screen, word … Read more Did I say that? Communicating intentionally to horses.

“How important is it to bond with my horse?”

I’m asked this regularly. I may dig a little deeper, “Tell me what you mean by bonding.” If bonding means to you: my horse feels safe and relaxed in my presence my horse understands me – my movements and cues are predictable  I’d say that’s very important! However, if you’re hoping for your horse to … Read more “How important is it to bond with my horse?”

Hazards, horses and helmets

What’s the best choice to control risk in working with horses? Researchers surveyed 1,700 horse people (owners, riders, and enthusiasts). The #1 choice? Helmets. Training was low on the list. “People working with horses seem to simply accept the tradition that equestrianism is high-risk”, said a speaker at August’s U of Guelph Equitation Science conference—a … Read more Hazards, horses and helmets

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 think “If a little is good, more is better!   Are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting? Who knows where the “two-finger rule” for fitting bridle … Read more Nosebands – how tight is too tight?

Riding bareback: when natural is not necessarily better.

That bareback beach riding bucket list experience – a tender moment for the rider, yet perhaps differently “tender” for the horse… In several recent studies researchers have confirmed the benefits of pressure distribution thanks to saddle trees, making them a better option than the localized pressure from some treeless saddles or riding bareback. With the … Read more Riding bareback: when natural is not necessarily better.

Reading horses (and people).

Lindsay Grice stable aisle

Researchers observed equine  body language and facial expressions  in a grooming study, comparing these visible responses  to what’s under the surface – blood cortisol, oxytocin levels  and heart rate. As a coach, I encourage riders to read their horses –to check in every couple of seconds with how their signals are reflected in their horse’s … Read more Reading horses (and people).