Common mistakes. Part II.
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Sunday, June 19, 2011 09:48 PM
Continuing the conversation from the last blog. This time I am going to discuss some of the mental aspects of training horses.
Riders are:
  1. Not able to recognize - when horse runs through the aids and when horse is behind the aids - is the same problem
  2. Wanting to "execute" the movement for the horse instead of "asking" the horse to do it
  3. Afraid to "mess" things up
1. Obedience to the aids This dilemma caught my eye when I attended "The Mane Event" in Red Deer and was auditing Dr. Cesar Parra's lesson. The riders couldn't send their horses forward promptly enough and when they finally did they couldn't stop on command. Working with riders at the clinics I noticed too that horses who were lazy to the leg were as bad at slowing down when riders finally made them go forward enough. It is like these horses are not accustomed to take cues from their riders. While they are very relaxed they are dull to the leg and require a lot of kicking. When they get excited enough to start moving well they are dull to slowing down aids in the same manner. Riders need to recognize this pattern and work with their horses very consistently on overall obedience and speed control.
2. Execution versus Request If you want to look quiet and graceful while you ride your horse recognize this simple fact - all the movements are executed by your horse and your job is only to ask for them and stay balanced enough so it is easy for your horse to do it. If you end up kicking, pumping your upper body, leaning in, pushing with your seat you are "executing" the movement for your horse. Do not fall into trap of "helping" your horse because the big chance you will not help him at all but only disturb and get in his way. If your horse is not executing your request he is either not listening, not understanding or it is too difficult for him.
3. Create a mess to find the clarity Riders are very often quite afraid to make mistakes. They are reluctant to find out if there more their horse can offer. For example, in lengthening of the trot a rider is afraid to ask her horse to increase the stride length dramatically because the horse may lose the balance or brake into canter. If you never ask your horse beyond his balance point you will never find out where the point is. If you look at your horse's or your own mistakes as a material to work with, to improve upon, you will not be afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes is a vital part of training a horse. Very often things do not work out the way the book says they should. You must be willing to explore different options and realize that some of them may not work. As long as you are fair to your horse, courageous to admit the mistake and learn from it, see the right thing in a mess you created, praise your horse for it and ignore everything else you will be building a meaningful relationship with your horse. He will become your partner and friend in this never ending journey toward the perfection.
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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