Wisdom Wednesday

Stop teaching your horse to exercise a movement incorrectly. I know this is hard. We have been taught to keep going until it’s fixed or we “win”. The problem is that if we are riding a movement incorrectly (horse is not balance, irregular rhythm, loss of straightness) and we continue to ride the movement without fixing the error, we are telling the horse we accept that incorrect movement. If we keep forcing the horse to go until it’s correct, we are just creating tension and frustration coupled with physical exhaustion. So what should we do? First slow down. Keep downshifting until you reach the gait where you can regain straightness and balance then proceed. That may mean coming to a halt. Once balance and straightness are reestablished begin going up the gears. Don’t push for more than your horse is physically capable of executing. Ride for progress then stop. Progress is the SMALLEST improvement you can recognize. Take a break. Do not expect them to hold the movement more than a few steps in the beginning. Reward small tried with BIG praise. After a break (minimum of 90 second) ride another set. Or come back to the movement tomorrow. If you don’t reward the try, eventually your horse quits trying. Be your horse’s biggest cheerleader. Make a big deal out of small efforts offered by your horse. Your horse will try harder, have less tension and look forward to your interaction when they feel successful. Remember they didn’t volunteer for this. They are carrying us around for our gratification.

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