Progressing together

It is amazing how horse and rider influence each other, both mentally and physically

  • #technique

Watching a horse and a rider work together, we realize right away if they have formed a pair for a long time or if they still do not know each other and have just started working together. In fact, harmony is evident when it is there. We often see horses ridden by someone other than the usual rider, changing their attitude and being in a state of 'alert' and 'listening' to understand who they are dealing with. The influence we exert on our horses is such that even our faults are reflected on them. If we stiffen, our horses stiffen; if we are anxious, they become anxious; if we are in a hurry, they hurry; if we are relaxed they are relaxed... and so on. Similarly, horses compensate the hassle created by the wrong gestures of the rider, by becoming defensive: for example, if our hands are too strong, the horse will become stronger in turn with its mouth to defend itself from the pain our hands are causing. If we raise our hands too much, it will raise its head unnaturally; if we use the spurs all the time, after a while the horse becomes 'deaf' to the leg and does not react to any of our actions. Oftentimes, we are not aware of these behaviors and the consequent reactions of the horse.
​The influence we have on our horse can thus be positive when our position in the saddle, our actions, and our general attitude are correct, or negative when the position, use of aid, and attitude are incorrect. When our horse reacts in a way that surprises us and tries to escape our actions and our control, the first thing we must ask ourselves is: are we doing something wrong?

Whatever our level of riding, we have to do what we do at best. This way, the horse will respond positively and we will be ready to take a step forward and progress with it.
Here are some ideas to focus on:
- Get rid of all fear, tension and worry that distract you from your goal. Fear, in fact, is unnecessary and harmful. If you are concerned because you do not feel up to what you are going to do, take a 'step back' and concentrate on an easier exercise or movement.
- If anger, worry on the external environment, emotion, or fear take over, you cannot be clear-headed and your actions become excessive, unnecessary, random.
- Focus on what you are doing, on 'here and now'. Check our position in the saddle, correct your faults, breathe deeply, relax.
- Before performing any action, reflect on the goal you want to achieve.
- If the result you get is worse, or at least different from what expected, you did something wrong and, as a consequence, the horse did not understand.
- Look for the cause of your mistakes and solve it. Only then, can you move forward with your horse.
- Always start with very simple requests and expect the horse to respond with serenity and security.
- When you feel that the horse is confident, you can ask for something more.
- Face any problems calmly and patiently. Being tough and strong does not lead to any positive results; it rather worsens the situation.
- Even if you are an amateur, try to put maximum precision in what you do: try to understand your horse and act according to its needs to obtain accurate responses.
- When problems occur, try to understand them before acting again.
- Respect the rules of progression. Do not skip any steps. Each improvement is the result of careful progression.
- Do not make excuses and do not place the blame on others but yourself: take responsibility for your failures and seek the cause within you.
- Each one of us is able to accomplish their goals. We only need to be self-confident.
​- Progress is first and foremost a mind set. Failure does not exist, it's just one more experience.