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Brianna's Blog Post # 6
5 Tips to Avoid a Battle
(Me and the Dragon mare, taking a break)
In any relationship there is bound to be arguments. Great minds may think alike but they do not always agree. The relationship we have between our horse can not escape this principle of agreeing to disagree. We are inevitably going to find ourselves in the midst of a battle where neither of us understand what the other wants. The follow 5 tips are to be applied when you realise that a battle is about to pursue. These tips are a personal aid to my own frustration when I can not seem to communicate properly with my 1000lb partner whom I have affectionately nicknamed Dragon Mare and who is the sole inspiration of these tips.
Tip #1 - BREATHE! yes thats right, breathe. Its important to breath. When I stop breathing I tend to get a little tense about the situation and a little angry. This sounds simple but after working with numerous beginners it no longer surprises me when I encounter a rider whose face is turning blue. When we start to get frustrated our breathing becomes short and short breaths make our muscles tense. We all know that if the rider is tense than so is the horse. Learn to breath with your horse and use your breathing to not only encourage yourself to relax but to encourage your horse to follow your breathing and relax as well.
Tip #2 - Check your self, do a self evaluation as you are riding around. Are your heels down, are your hands soft, are you BREATHING, are you sitting up and looking around (not staring down your horse). A self check insures that you are doing everything you can/and or know to convey a clear message to your horse even if he doesn't seem to be receiving it.
Tip #3 - Take a break! Instead of digging and digging and digging at your horse for the correct response, take a break! Its not going to ruin everything if you drop the reins and take a walk around the arena. Look at your surroundings a bit, take a BREATH (breath…) admire the outside world for a second or so. Then regroup, re-evaluate your position, and your method of approaching the situation. Then ask for the correct respond again.
Tip#4 - Break down the idea, The saying goes “if it aint broke dont fix it” well if it’s not working its probably broke...so fix it! This is fix your method so your horse isn't convinced it is simply madness. Take the goal you are trying to achieve and break it down in to a simpler form. Give your horse building blocks that will eventually turn into the final product. Take a side pass for example: The side pass is simply using your leg to ask your horse to, instead of walk forward, walk side ways. I use the fence to prevent forward motion and apply one leg for movement. Then I use my hand to guide the horse in the perspective direction. The first attempt will never be perfect. Its a rough draft of what is to come. With time the attempts will get easier and the movement will be more precise with less guidance from the rider.
Tip #5 - Patience! This is the biggy! Be patient! Humans are not born patient, we want everything now or as soon as possible. This is the same when we ride. When we start teaching something to our horse we simply expect that they will get it in that one ride. Unfortunately, just like us, horses take time to learn. If you aren't getting something right one day, then end the session on a good note and resume the teaching another day. Do not press the issue until you are both mentally and physically tired. Tiredness weakens both rider and horses ability to function appropriately. Thus, again, if the rider is not right then neither is the horse. So find that good place to end, take a deep breath and know that there will be another day where you are both fresh and ready to try again!