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Picture Quote 7 – ‘To find lightness…’

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The main aim of everything we do with our horses should be Relaxation and Lightness. To have so good a connection that our thoughts are our cues…how light and fabulous would that be.

This is why practising everything with consistency and always offering that LIGHT CUE is how the horse will get to see it and take it. If we forget to offer it how can he take it?

So, if  when riding we always use our focus (thought) first, then our energy and body cue (bring our life up and look where we want to go), then our weight aid and leg aid and only the rein when needed we’ll find that we start using our reins less and riding our horse becomes lighter and more intuitive.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Picture Quote 6 – ‘Don’t make things complicated…’

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Exactly what it says on the ‘tin’….KEEP IT SIMPLE. When you ride everything  is about moving the feet…forward, back, left or right AND combinations of all of these…SIMPLE…but not always EASY :)

I’ve found a good way to practise my own body dynamics for riding is when I’m out walking. I simulate the move I want to try out with my horse BEFORE riding him and it really helps me to know what he will be doing with his feet so that I don’t get in his way when I ask him to try a manoeuvre. It’s worked so far for shoulders-in, hindquarters-in, leg yields, transitions, turns, sidepass, turns on forehand and hindquarters and simple lead changes. I have also done flying lead change simulations so that hopefully one day that will happen too and my body will be ready for it.

By getting my own body dynamics together with how I know my reins and legs move and support my horses body then hopefully it should be simple to get the move I am trying to do.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Training Tips: What is Savvy and how do you get it?

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Horse Savvy to me is having the ability to ‘read your horse, his behaviour, his moods, his play’ and also being able to have ‘a calm, spontaneous response to an unexpected situation’.

Savvy doesn’t just sort one problem out, it is about remembering and comparing an accumulation of experiences that develops over time and it is this that brings confidence and savvy around horses.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Training Tips: Keep it FUN

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It’s hard to remember to keep the fun in training but it’s really important to do so for our horses and for the relationship we are trying to build.

Learning to task for a while and leave things on a good, fun note so that we can return and progress another day is a great way to keep things in perspective. You will often find a day off training helps to give the horse time to think on what he has been learning and come back with renewed interest and understanding of the lesson.

What is not so good for the horse is to task repeatedly over and over and over in one day trying to get perfection. This can bore and sour a horse to where they become robotic and I feel it is mild form of ‘forcing’ a horse and then they are less inclined to come back the next day with a smile on their faces OR if they are an introverted horse they can come back robotic or shut down.

SO..keep your training progressive but also fun.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Training Tips: Leave your emotions at the gate

I’ve written a few articles on subjects such as Intent, Focus, Breathing and Space to show ways we can get connected to our horses but the ONE thing we need to learn is to ‘Leave our emotions at the gate’.

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Don’t bring your anger, upset or fear to your horse. Try to leave any negative work or home issues at work or home. Being in the now with your horse is what works the best. It also means that whatever happens in your session don’t bring any emotion apart from love into that either. Don’t be angry with your horse for doing something you didn’t ask for, don’t bring frustration or fear to the session and always finish on a relaxed positive note.

Bring confidence, awareness, focus and love in all you do with your horse and most of all ask with clarity and without any emotional baggage.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy(See Previous Articles for other subjects)

Picture Quote 5 – ‘Listen to your horses ideas…’

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Communication is a two way thing and to have a great connection to your horse you need to listen as well as talk. This might mean that you don’t do exactly what YOU want at times but you will get to do your thing with a better attitude if you allow your horse to have their say about something or to allow your horse to have some input on what you do together.

We need to watch and understand if the horse is saying something to us. We can see this by watching and learning how to read their body language for any tenseness or relaxation in their eyes/ears/neck/nostrils. It can also show in their back, stomachs and whether they’re calm and rhythmic in their gait or choppy and tight or whether their tails are quiet or swishing.

Horses talk more with their body language so it’s up to us to learn how to use our own bodies to help create  more harmonious silent communication.  If we learn body shaping dynamics to create our ‘conversations’ then the horse will ‘read’ and see what we are saying very well, with this and breathing/energy concepts we and our horses can become so connected we’re not sure who is leading who in the horse/human dynamic.

 

 

Picture Quote 4 – ‘In Horsemanship….’

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YES….our horses are our teachers and we need to learn to LISTEN to what they’re saying to us. Their feedback when we ask something of them is the part of the conversation that is crucial to how we interact with them. Whether that feedback is positive or negative we need to take note and learn how to have more positive conversations. Is the feedback telling us we asked the question correctly or incorrectly for them? are they saying that they do or don’t like something? Are they saying they understand or is it saying they don’t understand?

I like to think of it as going over to my best friends house. I always try to take something to the meeting, it’s polite and nice to give and receive. I always try to have time to have a ‘catching up’ conversation with my friend, say hello to the rest of the family and animals and then have a conversation about what we’re going to be doing, where we are going etc. This is called communicating and it takes two or more parties to have a conversation.

For me, it’s the same when I visit our herd, or when seeing friends or students herds too. I introduce myself, ask them how they are doing, check them out by stroking them all over, taking in whether they’re relaxed or anxious and then asking if they want to be connected to me in that moment. If they walk off I ask again but make sure I ask in an even softer way maybe, if they’re anxious I do my best to find a way to introduce relaxation into the conversation so that they realise they can be calm and happy around me.

So, to learn what our horses are trying to teach us we need to really listen to what they are saying through their body language and find ways to have more harmonious conversations and a willing partner in our equine pursuits.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Liberty Challenge 10

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Beginners: start online in walk then trot
Intermediates: go to neck rope in walk or trot
Advanced: work at liberty in walk, trot or canter
Fun: try riding it (w/t/c)

Challenges Online/Liberty/Ridden:

  1. Front feet & back feet in hulahoops (or walk over)
  2. Trot over poles on tarp
  3. Trot/canter through scary corridor
  4. Jump
  5. Trot through weave pattern
  6. Transitions through narrow corridor (walk in/halt/backup/trot out)
  7. Walk/trot over bottle bank
  8. Walk/trot fig 8
  9. Walk/trot through curtain
  10. Trot through arch or jump hoop jump
  11. Sidepass over or near an obstacle
  12. Walk through water feature
  13. Ground tie (immobility/halt) and extreme familiarisation with objects around horse

 

Liberty with Solly

 

Ridden with Solly

 

Tips:
Try and test all the obstacles to make sure you and your horse know what to do at each one, make sure you reward for the slightest try and as you advance you do more with each obstacle, either stay longer, transitions or all at a higher gait throughout.

Once you know what to do with each obstacle then put them together as smoothly as possible as a course (if online then keeping a ‘smile’ in the rope as much as you can).

Set it up the best way for your area so it doesn’t need to be in this order or this shape.

Do not push your horse through or over things, accept what he gives you and teach him more as you go along. Repeat as often as you can for a horse that is a slow learner and make sure you mix it up often for a horse that gets bored quickly.

Remember it’s supposed to be fun….for you AND your horse :)

Training Tips: Practice makes perfect

Storm and me practicing leading from behind123

 

The best tip I can give anyone doing anything is that ‘Practice makes Perfect’, that the hard work of learning something you’ve been taught well is to go over and over and over it until you get the muscle memory of it in your body and your mind.

It’s like when you learned to drive, or use a computer. To start with you were unsure and unused to what to do to make things work, how to start, stop, turn in the car, how to download, upload, find search engines, keep files for photographs BUT you learned one thing and did that for a while, then another question came up and you learned how to do that and did that for a while. Soon you were doing those first few things without thinking about it but you kept on asking questions and learning more about your car or computer until the first things were easy, light and you didn’t think about it and the new things integrated easier and faster.

It’s the same with Horsemanship. Learn your ABC’s, practice until you don’t have to think about it and then as questions about where you stand, what the horses feet should be doing, what kind of energy you need keep cropping up find out what you need, listen to your horses feedback and practice the right thing when you figure it out.

It’s the muscle memories of the practice that make everything happen when you need it to in circumstances such as in a lesson or in an emergency.  When you need to do something new in a lesson all the homework you’ve practiced doesn’t need your mind to think about it so practice opens up the door to progress. Progress for learning, for lightness, for relaxation, for ease of cues, for your thoughts being in tune with your horse, for everything you do with your horse.

SO, practice, practice, practice and if you are not sure you’re doing something right or you need more information to progress then have a lesson or watch the dvd and upload more data to your biggest muscle, your brain.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

Picture Quote 3 – ‘Always end on a good note’

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Not only end on a good note but start on a good note and take that all the way through each training session.

Always work towards having relaxation in mind, body and emotions for you and your horse and if something gets a bit too much or worrying for either of you then find that relaxation spot again, do something you are both good at doing  to relax together, even if that thing is just hanging out or grooming, and  that might be a good place to stop.

Relaxation is the KEY to calm, happy training as an unrelaxed, inattentive horse  can not learn what you’re trying to teach, they will only learn that learning is worrying and they’ll be less inclined to try the next time. SO…for teaching new things take it all really SLOWLY to allow the good stuff to sink in.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy