Training Tip: ‘How good is your Connection’

How good is your Connection to your Horse? and do you test it?

Can you connect from the shoulder, to his front feet?
Can you connect from in front of your horse?
Can you connect from the hips, to his back feet?
Can you connect from behind?
AND can you connect to all these places in walk, trot and canter AND from both the left and right?
Can you also do that online AND at liberty?
And can you then take that connection into your riding?

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

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Training Tip: Challenge your Connection

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Once you have a good connection with your horse can you try connecting in different ways?

Why not try sitting down the whole session or standing up on something (stay safe or at liberty for this one) or get longer and longer ropes for distance work. If you are only used to using a 12′ line then try a 22′ one and if you use a 22′ line then maybe try finding a longer one. I know that once my own connection got better on longer ropes my Liberty work was better too.

Testing things is a great way to bring in variety to your play sessions and a great imagination is good too.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Training Tip: Consistency vs Variety

“Consistency is a great teacher BUT Variety is the spice of life”

Solly in the pics is circling with jumps. When I stand still he can jump two jumps on that circle = Consistency.
When I start walking doing ‘moving circles’ we go to the next jump up = Variety.

We can stand still or move depending on whether I want to give him either consistency or variety…change his direction and we can get both of those on the other side too…great opportunity for fitness training too :)

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  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

HorseSavvy Training Criteria

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Relaxation (confidence & rhythm)
Cooperation (willingness)
Impulsion (balance & energy)
Flexibility (straightness)

My 4 HorseSavvy criteria basics are what I use for a good session with my horses whether it’s long or short. Finding each of these main 4 things in all that we do is important but the first one, relaxation, is the key to all the others being good.

Relaxation is needed in all things to help the horse learn, a worried horse cannot learn.

Cooperation is what is needed to have a partnership, a bond, a connection and our breathing/energy/body cues get more and more invisible for that connection to be great.

Impulsion is when your whoa equals your go, on a scale of 1-10 impulsion is a good 5, easy abd light to go, easy and light to halt.

Flexibility is where your horse is equal in muscles to his left and right, to have this symmetry is vital for straightness in all you do and allows you to not have to use your reins to keep your horse straight.

When riding or just playing these things are good to keep an eye on.

(Pic shows Solly doing a relaxed levade over a jump, cooperation with my ask to not jump it but to lift his front legs and gently pop them over the jump and halt…this shows his lightness to go and also to halt. His flexibility and straightness is shown by the ease he does this move and how well he sidepassed towards me to get the obstacle from under him)

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

Training Tip: “Walking your Horse Out”

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There are many reasons you might want to walk your horse out instead of riding out. Your horse may need fittening up or he may be unrideable but okay to walk out so it could be great exercise physically and fun mentally for him. You may be working on getting a better relationship with your horse so walking out would really help you bond OR you may just enjoy walking your horse out.
Sometimes, when a horse is sceptical or worried about being out hacking it can help to walk out in-hand regularly to familiarise to different surroundings, sounds, sights and smells. Once you get used to things you can always decide to mount and ride a bit and if you are riding you can always decide to jump off and walk a bit too.
 

For Solly and me, walking out in-hand is really helping us to bond in an unfamiliar environment, it helps us look at things together face-to-face where I can read him better. I also have two ageing dogs and this helps give me my much needed exercise. I really enjoy walking out and it’s great to have my good friend Solly out with me.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

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Training Tips: “Spontaneity”

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SPONTANEITY:

Using kind consistency with our horse training is a super way of helping our horses learn, some horses love a good solid routine. But it can often become boring if overdone and some horses hate being bored SO we need to learn the art of becoming balanced between being CONSISTENT and SPONTANEOUS.

Yesterday I wanted to do something with the horses but with the weather being on/off I didn’t plan anything, in fact I didn’t even take saddles or bridles. When the weather stayed dry it was a ‘LETs DO IT’ moment and I took the opportunity and played/rode both boys with what I had….rope halter and reins for Solly and used those reins to make a cordeo for Stormy. The pics  show the end of a completely spontaneous play/riding session.

What was lovely was that the boys were up for it too and because I had no plan, just wanting a good feel with everything I did, it felt GREAT. Think the boys enjoyed it too <3

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

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Training Tips: “Thoughts on Collection”

21743355_1112526915545234_6815195849651235949_nWe hear a LOT about ‘collection’, being ‘on the bit’ and ‘engagement’. What exactly is this and how do we find it?

The picture above is a sculpture of a horse in ‘self-engagement’. It clearly shows how the whole horse is lifted up, balanced, light and engaged. Engaged from the back hooves, up through the body which lifts the belly and ribs and lightens the forehand and neck which automatically brings the upper neck and head towards the chest with the poll highest.

Look at the fabulously smooth line from the hocks to the ears over the horses back…beautiful. The symmetry of the trotting diagonal legs, they’re matching in line and energy and finally the high poll of the head and the proud headset.

SO…how do we attain this with a bridle?

Well for me I work with ground work first, helping the horse to become more symmetrical left and right, lateral flexions, and once they have the balance with that then I work on asking for longitudinal flexion, long and low to find relaxation across the top of the spine, through natural horsemanship techniques.

With the balance working left and right and then with a relaxed low head, which helps to stretch the back and neck and build good musculature there, it is THEN that I start to ask for that relaxation with energy from the hindquarters to help create the powerful ‘engaged’ feel and look of the horse you see in the picture.

It can take quite some time for a horse to be fit, muscles with relaxation do not happen overnight, it’s asking the horse to ‘body build’, to have a strong, flexible core and to be able to hold that posture for longer and longer. To be able to find this core strength is great and once done well on the ground then we can work on the same principles and training techniques when riding. The horse gets a stronger body with fit muscles which helps them to carry our weight well.

Putting ourselves on the horses back changes the balance of the horse so working on techniques that allow the horse to then find the energy and power from his hindquarters through to the poll over his back when ridden is hard, the reins really have nothing to do with it. The reins, when working correctly, are used to help refine the cues and are taken up when they become slack due to the horses head NATURALLY becoming higher, lighter and proud. Pulling the horses head in through the bridle/reins is an incorrect way of finding ‘engagement’…it is merely a ‘headset’ created by the hands. Engagement is created through the horses core strength, fitness and balance through working from back to front, hindquarters to poll. Every horse knows naturally how to do this when they play or show off with other horses. They often don’t do it for long unless a stallion so to achieve this for us to ride is an art not just one technique..

Our training should help fitten the horse through the ground work, to help them find self-carriage so that they are relaxed, flexible and able to carry us. For us to then ride ‘quietly’ and get out of the horses way so that he can do just that when being ridden is how ‘engagement’ occurs.

In addition to all of this, WE need to be fit enough through core strength and self-carriage to be able to ride such a wonderfully fit and healthy horse.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Training Tips: “Stirrup-less”

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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.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Training Tips: “Listening to your Horse”

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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.

This is what made Stormy inattentive….

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  • Shelley – HorseSavvy

 

 

Training Tips: “All Round Horse”

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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.

  • Shelley – HorseSavvy