All of your hard work on improving your riding is done with great intention. But the focus easily shifts to being about you.
It is easy to get so focused on improving your position and technique when riding and in the process stop hearing the conversation from your horse. All of your hard work on improving your riding is done with great intention. But the focus easily shifts to being about you and what you want to accomplish with your horse. All the while you are working so hard horse is sending you messages that are often ignored. Maybe they are noticed but looked at with annoyance, as you think your horse is misbehaving. Maybe it’s the toss of your horse’s head, quickening or slowing of gait or rooting through your hands. You may get easily frustrated trying to fix these “issues” when in fact your horse is trying to tell you that your hands are locked on the reins or maybe your legs are too tight on its sides.
I encourage them to shift their focus from working on themselves to instead develop a deep awareness of what is happening with their horses.
When working with riders I encourage them to shift their focus from working on themselves to instead develop a deep awareness of what is happening with their horses. I ask them questions about how their horse is moving and tracking and really try to get them to notice the nuances of their horse’s movement and way of going. I ask them to do this first without making any corrections to what their horse is doing. All I want them to do is become aware. Questioning more I will ask them to apply an aid like adding leg or using a certain rein and I again encourage them to notice the change in their horse’s way of going. Did the horse respond appropriately? Did they “hear” their horse’s communication in the response? If so, did the rider release the aid showing that they in fact, were listening to their horse? How did the horse respond?
When we learn something from experience we connect to that experience and remember it more.
I keep encouraging riders to test different aids out (within reason and while being safe) to see how it affects their horse. Then they can keep what is working and really remember and feel it because they discovered it. Unlike when being told what to do, when we learn something from experience we connect to that experience and remember it more. The other benefit of this approach is usually riders relax about “trying so hard to please” as they shift their focus from themselves to their horse. As they relax, the horse relaxes and thus there is an overall more pleasing and successful ride.
Give this approach a try! I hope it helps you develop a better feel for your horse and a more pleasant ride. Let me know how it goes! firstname.lastname@example.org