What would you say if I told you that 90% of the time your horse does exactly what you ask it to do?
Generally we focus on our horse and try to make it do what we ask of it. We are often quick in criticising the lack of response and the seemingly disobedient horse that continually ignores our aids and signals we apply on a regular basis.
We work hard on getting the horse to listen to us and perform to its best when at a competition and of course behave when we are in a lesson or out on a trail ride.
After all we have spent a fortune on riding lessons, watched endless hours of training DVD’s and read every article on dressage and jumping exercises in every book there is, so we are the expert and we expect our horse to acknowledge that. To top it all off we feed it every day, look after it and love it more than we love ourselves. So surely it’s not asking too much!
Well if that has been your view up to know I hate to burst your bubble because guess what?!
Your horse is doing exactly what you ask of it and even more, it is a direct reflection of who you are on every given day!
Now I know that might come as a shock and many of you don’t like that idea but before you turn off your device, just give me a moment to explain.
There are two ways in how we communicate with our horse; one is through our body language the other is through our energy.
Body language is formed by our thoughts and our ability or lack of balance. We have all heard of a balanced, independent seat which means being able to walk, trot and canter without stirrups and reins. Basically being in harmony with our horse and riding without interfering with the forward movement.
Our thoughts impact our body language. If we feel confident and comfortable, we are more likely to sit up straight and stay relaxed and focused which in return translates to our horse that we are the leader and our aids are given clear and fair.
If on the other hand we are being yelled at in a lesson or feeling nervous at a competition our body language becomes compromised and full of tension so our horse only interprets the communication that gets through, which is often a pulling and clamping which results in a tug-o-war and endless fighting, making both horse and rider feel uncomfortable and scared.
Energy is the way we feel about us and our environment. Have you ever noticed that when you are angry or stressed that your horse generally is a lot harder to catch then when you are relaxed and full of love?
Your horse picks up on your energy just like you are picking up on other people’s energy.
Have you ever entered a room where two people just had an argument? Even if you don’t know that they had the argument you feel it and it’s not a good place to be. Well your horse is no different; if you are angry or stressed it’s just not nice to be around you.
So let’s cut our horses a bit of slack and start to acknowledge that we get what we ask for and therefore we start to pay more attention to what they are trying to tell us.
Your horse is a perfect reflection of who you are at that given moment. You need to see them as a valuable feedback rather than the enemy who tries to make you look bad.
Step 1. Spend time to work on your seat and balance.
Step 2. Pay attention to how you feel. Use visualisation to get your thoughts positive and on track.
Step 3. Take a moment to calm your breathing and centre your energy before getting near your horse
Step 4. Use your horse as honest feedback on how you are doing
Step 5. Leave your ego at the gate when you riding your horse.
Step 6. Be open to learn and improve all the time, no matter how experienced you are.
Step 7. Learn to forgive yourself and your horse for your mistakes in the past and move on.
Horses are so much more than just a companion and friend and even more than a competition partner. They are here to teach us about ourselves and help us to learn and grow - we just have to be prepared to listen.
Enjoy the journey.