SO…when working online, at liberty or riding any horse I use my HorseSavvy Criteria theory.
1) First of all we have to have, find or re-find RELAXATION. With Bella this is a work in progress as we go up the gaits and this is because all horses are flight animals and getting faster, in nature for them, means they’re in danger SO getting a good, calm trot or canter is something we have to work on for them so that the gait becomes confident and we can see/feel that through the rhythm. If their gait is choppy and unrhythmic then they’re not relaxed.
2) Next I look for CO-OPERATION This is not obedience but it’s more about the give/take of the connected partnership of willingness. That they are listening (so am I) and we can work out this dance we can have together.
3) Thirdly I look for IMPULSION. This is not impulsiveness as again that wouldn’t have the rhythmic relaxation component to it BUT it’s the balance of go and whoa where both can be as light as a breath in or out or the lightest touch to the reins after the release of core energy. Impulsion shows through great balance and composed, regulated energy.
4) Lastly there is the element of FLEXIBILITY which shows in our work through STRAIGHTNESS.
I work on these Critera every time I work/play with the horses (mine or students ones) and not necessarily in that order but in the order the horse needs apart from RELAXATION which is first and foremost and what I start and end on at all times 😉
* Shelley – HorseSavvy