Results Speak Louder than Works
The moment we buy or handle a horse, we become a coach and with that role comes the responsibility to train and care for our athlete to the best of our ability.
All training programs for athletes must have a foundation base of exercises that take into account the softening and stretching of body parts, improving balance, skills and mental attitude. It is also necessary to introduce new steps and lessons so that our athlete always feels they are learning something new.
As a coach, we bring in people with expertise to help us develop and prepare our athlete for vigorous sporting activities, ie chiropractors, physiotherapists, farrier, vet, dietician etc.
Foundation training is about constructing a solid base of knowledge that will always support use as we move forward with our horse training. We train the horses mind, not his mouth, training where we connect the reins to his feet.
First Contact – Body Language
When coming into contact with others, both horse and man rely heavily on our ability to read their intentions towards us (good or bad) before we make physical contact or we would not have survived this long.
Horses are reading us far more deeply and accurately than we realise for body language is their language.
Second Point of Contact – Hands
Soft hands – Soft horse
Stiff hands – still horse
*Our actions, mental and physical, always have an effect on our horse. All our actions are replicated in our horse.
We usually hear or say soft hands, soft horse and leave out the understanding of how our hands soft or still affect our horses state of mind, body position, his balance and well being.
Soft hands really means – loose and flexible wrists which then give us loose flexible elbow and shoulder joints which means our neck muscles are soft.
This allows our chin to move freely from side to side. Allows our chin to move up and over our shoulders.
Loose shoulders mean flexible spine, nice straight back
Flexible joint at the hips allowing our hips to disengage and move freely with the horse’s action.
Loose hips means less gripping of the buttocks, thighs and calves.
Less gripping means more positive seat cues allowing us to communicate more directly with our horse through our seat.
Lightness in the seat allows lightness in the stirrups which allows a rider to develop seat cues and open space for the horse to move into.
A rider with a soft and supple body can become a balanced and centred rider who then can have the ability to train and create a centred and balanced horse.
A happy horse is a balanced horse with a centred and balanced rider on him.
Important note to remember: How we handle a horse on the ground is how we ride. It is absolutely identical so a soft and supple body is also needed to achieve our ground work exercises as we transfer the ground work exercises up to the riding position of the rider.
The ground work exercises prepare our mind and bodies for riding.
Stiff hands – stiff horse. Holding or gripping the reins too tight will:
- Lock our wrists
- Lock our elbows
- Lock our shoulders
- Lock our spine
- Lock our muscles
- Locking our neck and chin
- Locking our hips
- Locking our knees
- Making us squeeze too tight
- Making us tilt forward
- Making us lift our heels
- Making us lose our seat cues
- Making us lose our centredness
- Making us lose our balance
- Making us block our horses movement
- We hold our breath making us send nervous energy into the horses body
- Making us lose our leadership role (understanding leadership)
True leadership is about overcoming fear and to maintain calm and confident throughout the process in order to move forward.
I’ll continue this article tomorrow, I trust you understand the important relationship between what Stiff hands – stiff horse mean. If you have any questions or comments just reply to my posts or if you simply wish to see my training videos check out my Vimeo site below…
I wish you happy and safe riding, Shane