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?

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)?

Equitation Whisperer?

Our horses, in their unique design, respond to subtle signals preceding our deliberate cues. Another reason, besides great equitation scores in the show ring, to practice quiet seat and hands is to make it easier for the horse to detect these subtle pre-signals Intentional cues will go unnoticed in sea of random, meaningless rider movements—the turbulence of flapping, pumping or clenching that a horse will learn to ignore.

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?”