Going back to some basic’s is always a good idea as the foundations of good horsemanship and riding are doing the simple things well and then with excellence.
So today Solly and I did some good freestyle riding….stirrup-less and with the reins laying on his neck. I find this sort of basic thing really improves my balance and focus and helps me see how well my riding connection is.
Listening to what horses are telling us is an integral part of horsemanship. It helps to keep us as partners as the conversations we have together should be two way, it also helps keep us all safe.
We must remember that no matter how much training, how good our horses are or even how great our connection that horses are prey animals. Some have a huge flight instinct and some are calmer, some run before they can think, others think before they can run. Their innate behaviour is not going to change with training but hopefully through good techniques and helping them to learn how to relax and respond rather than get hyper and react will help them become more rounded and centred and what I think good training should do.
Today I was out playing with some techniques online with big Stormy….he just could not connect to me in one part of the field so I got him to where he was connecting back to me more then retreated to where he felt more responsive and happy. I knew he would not be concentrating in that spot if I decided to ride there so went back to where he was listening to me and rode there.
The next time I go out I will address this issue more as I find it fascinating to be able to take the time to help him (or any horse) that needs more approach and retreat with an issue, so they start to focus and become soft and relaxed and can listen to me because the ‘worrying thing’ is not longer a worry.
Over the years of learning and teaching Horsemanship I’ve realised more and more how much of what I do is about the pure foundation for the horse. Setting them, and ourselves, up for the future of what we want to try with our horses.
Taking something as basic as familiarisation with objects to working well with extreme familiarisation for Le Trec. Knowing which rein controls which foot and how to achieve soft, light turns or invisibly cued leg yields.Having such a good connection with your horse that you can use a cue as light as a weight shift for canter leads.
I feel that Natural Horsemanship techniques are the key to the main foundation of EVERYTHING I do. It isn’t something that should be thought of as a solo technique, something that will only fix a particular problem or for those that only want to do NH.
Anyone wanting a relaxed horse in jumping, a precise horse in dressage, a willing horse in Trec or a flexible pony for pony games then Natural Horsemanship can help and work along side other training techniques for a great all round horse.
Not able to ride?…..Ground work is a invaluable as a training place and can be a lot of fun.
It can help with finding your horse/heart connection, communication refinement, starting lateral work, Smooth transitions from body and voice cues and much much more. If you can get the conversation going well on the ground with cues that will work when in the saddle then riding work is half done already
Here, Solly and I, work on some ‘spook busting’ with a ball. You’d not believe how scared he used to be of this but how far he’s come from persistent consistency with it.
Being away or bad weather makes it hard to find CONSISTENCY with training yourself and your horse, I know that scenario all too well BUT consistency doesn’t necessarily mean working on something every day, it can also mean working on something in a consistent manner.
Being consistent with your cues, your energy, your focus and your feel of love is still consistent and if you practice that with your horse you will soon find he will give you consistent replies to the questions you ask.
Yesterday Solly and I, apart for 9 days through teaching and weather finally had some US time and this is what happened…..like we’d never been apart.
Having a great connection with Mr Solly has been something we have worked on for a long time, it wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always smooth and it wasn’t overnight.
The connection we have through that training has brought us trust, lightness, focus, flexibility, harmony and confidence together.
We use all the training we have together daily without even thinking about it, it is now a good muscle memory for us both (brain and body), safety through gateways, confidence and relaxation with ground work, liberty, agilty, riding and much more.
The ability to place a foot of your horse is a great skill to have. It shows you can have an individual conversation with a foot and also that you and your horse are very well connected.
“You get to his mind when you talk to his feet and you get to his feet when you talk to his mind”
If we take that knowledge from ground work to ridden work it will advance our connect-ability to our horse, not only for refining tasks but for refining the way we have those conversations with our horse.
Working on placing feet today when riding through using direct or indirect reins at the right time for the horse. Being able to place a foot where you need it to be helps the horse balance up for what you’re asking him to do, it shows you’re partnering up with him for those tasks and that will really help keep the mental, emotional and physical connection to your horse…he will really notice that and be able to offer you more.
Shelley – HorseSavvy
Talking to the individual feet of the horse is very important.
Can you ask for just one foot over a pole? Does your horse follow a feel off the rope and halter to know which foot you’re talking to?
Also the same when riding….Do you know which rein controls which foot….what a direct rein is? what an indirect rein is? what a support rein is? what a neck rein is? but more importantly do you know where your weight should be to make moving each foot easier for your horse so that you can partner up and have more harmony?
I love finding fun things to do with individual feet, it really gets into the horses mind.
Cross training with your horse is a really great way of using one discipline to help another.
For instance in this video Solly and I are working on our canter simple lead changes through a serpentine shape in a 20×40 dressage sized arena.This is helping us to find lighter, smoother transitions, self carriage and engagement of the hindquarters and more accuracy in our curves and straight lines.
All of the above is also preparing us for cantering jump courses and it’s fun to work on one thing knowing it will benefit somewhere else.
Carrying on from my last post about Cross Training, today Solly and I took the serpentine ‘Simple Lead Changes’ to the jumping area. Keeping to the pattern we did some nice trot to canter changes between the jumps.
The main things I was looking for was for me to do less with my reins and body, more with my focus and energy and for the little pieces of the SLC’s to become easier, smoother, lighter and quicker.
Taking time over the small, individual parts of the ‘whole’ pattern really does help to create a better foundation for that pattern.
I love popping over a few jumps to have fun with Solly but I also find it very useful to help with our impulsion.
The jumps require focus and energy, flexibility and straightness and it helps to teach us to be able to shorten and extend strides, to have light, smooth transitions and a great focus.
There are many ways to help with finding true impulsion that you can use such as using circles to quieten a extroverted, impulsive horse and to use long straight lines for under impulsed introverted horses. Having something your horse likes to do will also help keep the training session fun and help give you a wonderful focus together.