The Partnership between horse/human is delicate and like all good friends you have to take time to really listen to what each other has to say, this way you learn to truly have a conversation and each party of the partnership can learn to enjoy and trust their friend more and more.
In these pics I am having a conversation with Big Storm. There is absolutely no way I am going, nor want, to argue with my friend but I also want to help him to learn to listen and trust me in new situations more (or even situations he’s not recently familiar with).
The saying ‘take his idea, make it your idea, trust together’ is the one that goes around my head all the time when with my horses (also with my husband and friends!
Stormy decided he needed to back off from something it was the noise of the stream going under the road at this point). I took his idea of going backwards and asked him to do it a wee bit faster than he was thereby making it MY idea and he relaxed and when I asked him to move forward he did so nicely.
I’d understood his point of view, took it, worked it and allowed him to change his mind and follow my idea .
Here I asked him to turn right, he wanted to turn left so I took his idea of going left and asked him to do it faster and a full circle thereby coming back to the starting point of my original request of going right which he did easily.
It’s almost a distraction technique by using their thoughts, allowing them to fulfil that thought and be free to take my request/thought more easily. With horses that have a strong will, which can also be a sense of worry, allowing them to have a say in the interaction you can dispel that worry about something (which would lead to a worry about you and your partnership/leadership).
The pics below show our 2nd ride from above and us going away from home and his herd mate Tara and we see a huge buzzard flying from post to post along a fence. I acknowledge what he has seen (pic 1) and then turn away from it to release any tension (pic 2). After a bit I turn him purposefully around using a hindquarter yield and go back towards where we turned the first time and the buzzard area and we go further this time and because we have more trust we manage to turn another way, over a stream and jump back all with relaxation, confidence and a good connection :
Balance is needed for riding, especially bareback riding but balance is also needed in others ways. We may have to think of balance between our work and leisure times, balancing our family and horsey time and also balancing our inner self with our outer self but also we must think about balancing time we train our horses, time we relax with our horses and time we have fun with horses. Balancing the time we spend with our horses, no matter what our goals, is a wise move towards a happier partnership.
Awareness is being in the moment, knowing what is going on around us in the environment and also inside us, our feelings. Focus is having a plan. I use Mental focus and Body focus
Mental focus is basically our thoughts. Good mental focus involves taking a plan and breaking it down into smaller steps, visualizing those individual steps so that our bodies follow that picture and building it all up to have the plan in action.
Body focus is knowing about and using body language. Knowing the way our body moves, with energy and purpose.
What you need to be aware of when around your horse are things like where your body is in relation to his, is he pushing into your personal space, is the environment safe, where are other horses in the field and how are they behaving! All these things take awareness and if your horse sees and feels your awareness and confidence then he can be confident that you’re looking after the situation.
With awareness and focus we learn to know how the horse moves and where the horse is likely to move to. They understand body language very well so it is us that needs to learn how to use ours better to help us become in better harmony with them.
Once we’ve learned about awareness and focus they become second nature. It’s like driving a car, when you start you have a lot to think about such as checking the mirrors, changing gears, which foot for acceleration or braking and indicating left and right, and also where all the other car users are. Also all the smaller things such as keeping windows clear for vision, checking the petrol and oil, making sure the engine is running smoothly and many other jobs. It seems overwhelming to start with but soon we do it all instinctively, and this is what learning invisible horsemanship is like too. Once we learn how to be aware and to use our focus well it all becomes second nature.
To have a horse confident in us because we’re aware of everything and so focused we don’t get side tracked is the mark of someone our horse is happy to follow.