• Jenny Gardner

Don't be a Debbie downer

Do you lift your horse up, or are you a party pooper? I'm talking connection. Maybe spiritual, maybe through the reins. Same thing really. Our goal is to help each other be the best version of ourselves, the encourage curiosity and expression. To make everything seem possible and the work there joyful. When you ask your horse to try something and he gives you his best guess, do you say YES, THANK YOU for the effort. Sometimes our hands becomes "Karens" by accident. They keep finding faults, judge, and micro manage. Nothing is ever good enough. They block. They shoot every attempt down. "No, not like that! Let me do it!" Killing self carriage and accountability.

We all know we are supposed to ride back to front. Hands should receive not take. Energy is directed not controlled. Like Steinbrecht said "Ride your horse forward and straight". We all know it in our heads, but it can be hard to get our bodies to comply. Our nature as apes is to use our thumbs, to grasp everything in front of us. Manipulate things. Horses teach us to feel and to give.

I find reminding myself daily that reins are primarily for verifying helps. The reins are for feeling the hind legs, assisting in creating and maintaining alignment, not for neck adjustments. We try to get the neck longer, extend it out of the shoulder rather than pulling it in and up. The goal, down the road, is RELATIVE ELEVATION, as in poll in relationship to croup. The hindquarter sinks down and the front is elevated. Lifting the forehand with your hands while you sitting right behind the shoulders makes less sense when you consider the big picture.

Think about it like this. The rein aids are one of the three groups of aids, and since it takes many lifetimes to develop skilled educated hands we better get cracking. Use them by all means, a slack rein does absolutely not equal a soft hand. Try this. Pick up your reins. Focus on improving YOUR ABILITY TO FEEL, to gently hold the bit, to feel the hind leg. To follow the horse without interruption. Don't think of the use of the reins as a way to change where the horse is carrying his head. Begin to receive information. Address any concerns with the rest of your body, rather than your hands. The change in the front should happen as a result of the change we create in the rest of the body. Try to adjust your perspective. Get the party started!

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