(a few of) MY THOUGHTS
- Little things that you may not even be thinking about mean a great deal to your horse. From the moment you set your intention towards catching your horse on through the acts of haltering, saddling, bridling, and finally mounting not only should your full attention be on your horse but your actions should also be respectful. Your relationship is a partnership. Yes you own 51% but it is still a partnership. Do you put your halter on without a lead rope? How would you like it if someone grabbed you by the chin and drug you around? And when you set your saddle pad on do you start it forward of where it should be and slide it backward until it's in place so that the hair is laying down in the direction it grows? The same thing goes for smoothing the hair under your horse's girth . Would you like it if someone ruffled your hair up over your head from behind and then shoved a hat on it. I think most Riders are aware that the courteous thing to do is cinch your horse up lightly at first and then tighten the girth again before you mount but what about the act of mounting your horse? Do you ease your weight down into the saddle in a fluid movement or do you drop your weight like a ton of bricks? Think about a 50lb child jumping onto your back with all of its weight or bouncing up and down on your shoulders as you carry them. Perhaps these are things you've never thought about but believe me, your horse has.
- Riding with purpose. In our partnership with our horses hopefully both you and your horse know that you own 51%, but that comes with responsibility. From the moment you go to catch your horse, have a plan and a goal in mind for the day. You have to be flexible as situations arise but start with a plan . Where is your partnership weak? Start incorporating exercises that can help your horse overcome those weaknesses or that can help you become a better leader. Be honest with yourself about where you fall short and seek the help you need from someone competent to give it. Above all else I hope you never blame or punish your horse for your inadequacies. No foal was ever born hoping someday a human would strap a piece of cowhide to its back and then climb aboard.
- Strive to ride your horse from back to front. Every transition, upward or downward, begins with your seat, followed by your legs, with only 20% involvement by your hands with a soft feel.
- What does it require to balance a manure fork upright on one of your fingers.....balance, timing and feel. The same three elements are required when riding your horse.
- Your emotions cannot be brought into your interaction with any horse you are riding or training...EVER. if you cannot leave your emotions out of the equation, unsaddle and go to the house and start again tomorrow. Both you and your horse will be the better for it.
- So many horses come to me with loading issues. For the sake of your horse, please try to understand that your are loading their MIND, not their BODY. You are asking them to trust you to do something extremely frightening to them. They are no different than a small child with a fear of the dark. Think about how you would help your child overcome that fear.
- When restarting a troubled horse you have to slow everything down, not only what you're asking of them, but yourself as well in your very core. The more troubled the horse is the slower you have to go and the smaller increments you have to break things down to in order for them to be able to process, relax, and move forward.