• Jenny Gardner

Set up for success

“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”

Roy T. Bennett

This week all groups met for theory due to the flood situation. Studying theory is an important part of developing your riding. Discussing it together can help deepening the understanding. I’m grateful we have the opportunity to do this as part of our group lesson program. But I do hope everyone still have their heads above water, and next week we will be back to working on the practical execution!

“Without theory, practical application always remain uncertain.”

Francois Robichon de La Gueriniere

When introducing new concepts to the horse I try my best to add one idea at the time. Sometimes that means doing it the first time from the ground, to create the movement in the horses body without the added stimulus of the rider, who may or may not be giving mixed messages. One example is first introducing connection on the lunge with a young horse. Another, sending your green horse through a jump chute. Or first teaching rein back and turn on the forehand (diagonal aids) in hand. The goal is to set your horse up for success. Attach something new to something he already know. Create an opportunity to release and reward, increasing the likelihood of him offering the same response again. It's the release that teaches. Build new desirable habits by adding progressive questions that your horse is able to answer correctly. Create a situation, an environment, that makes to right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. This will build confidence in both of you.

Compare that with over facing your horse and then punishing him for failing. You will run head first into an argument. By your design. This would be the outcome if you ask for something your horse is mentally unable to give you. Is the environment too stressful? Something triggering his basic, biological flight response? If you're expecting your horse to go against his true nature I dare to say you're unfair. The horse can learn to expand his comfort zone with time. Requiring him to give it up before he is ready will break his spirit. Then there is the physical aspect of course. Is he strong enough? Mature enough? Have you taught him each basic cue that together create the aid you use? Build the foundation first.

We can also fail our horses by not asking enough. By allowing unhealthy habits to linger or form. Usually this is founded in an avoidance of challenging ourselves as well. We rise and fall with the expectations placed on us. We have to hold ourself to the highest standard so that we can be the best possible rider for our horse, to help him blossom. Remember, at its core good riding is basically good ergonomics, heathy biomechanics, allowing the horse a healthy life as a riding horse.

Here is to hard work, pleasure in the journey, satisfaction of progress and growth, longevity and joy!

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