It is amazing how horse and rider influence each other, both mentally and physically
Watching a horse and a rider work together, we realise right away if they have formed a duo 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 own faults are reflected onto them. If we are rigid, the horse reacts similarly, if we are anxious, it too becomes anxious, if we are in a hurry, so will the horse be, if we are relaxed, it is relaxed, if we are strong with our hands, it will become strong with its mouth, if we constantly use our legs, it will react by resisting … and so on. Similarly, the horse compensates for the annoyance created by the incorrect attitudes of its rider by assuming in turn defensive behaviour: we are often not aware of all of these behaviours and the subsequent 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 aids 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 to the best of our ability. 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:
- Dispel 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 and random.
- Focus on what you are doing, on the 'here and now'. Check your position in the saddle, correct your faults, breathe deeply, and relax.
- Before performing any action, reflect on the goal you wish to achieve.
- If the result you obtain is disappointing, or at least different from what expected, you have done something wrong and, as a consequence, the horse has not understood.
- 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 confidence.
- 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; rather it worsens the situation.
- Even if you are an amateur, try to invest maximum precision in what you do: try to understand your horse and act according to its needs to obtain precise 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 our 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.