Filed in Category: horse training
A Horse On The Edge … again
Just wanted to write and let you know that I had a brilliant ride this morning and I think I finally get it! I would love some feedback on my thoughts below if you get a chance.
After my ride I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of what I had felt and why it had felt so good, and what I came up with is that it seems to be all about keeping the horse 'with' you... both their attention and their intentions. Sometimes you have to wait for them to come back, other times you have to encourage them, sometimes you might have to be firm, and other times still you might have to go with them before they are prepared to come back to you - it's all a judgement call at that moment (through feel).
It's also seems like it's about finding an understanding of where that particular horse is at. I think the issues with my mare come from her not trusting me... she doesn't trust me not to push her when things get tough (either physically or mentally/emotionally), because I have done that in the past, I have overfaced her both in terms of work (physically tiring/boring), and in terms of confronting 'scary' situations, and she would rather take over before we ever get to that point.
Today when we got to a spot just like this she thought to go against me (because she was unsure) and I just focused on the feel she was giving me rather than going against her in return. She hopped a little, and tried to take the rein from me, but I just held the initial pressure and said (through my feel/in my mind not verbally) "no, it's not okay for you to take over here, if you would just try and work with me then you will find that I am not going to force you and it will be okay". At first she just gave physically (lateral flexion), but I could still feel her energy and attention going back out of her shoulder (if that makes sense), so I kept my focus until I felt her relax and her attention moved out in front of her face. Of course, once her mind came back in the direction I wanted to travel she stepped out that way of her own accord (I didn't have to ask). After that she seemed a lot more content, and much more in-tune with me and we had a pleasant ride the rest of the way.
Interestingly, at no point today did she appear cranky or angry. When she did protest a little I might have described her look as bothered, but it didn't have that really negative appearance.
I would love to know if what I am saying here makes sense, or fits at all with your experience of these things, or if I might be missing something here. It felt really profound to me, so hopefully I am not sounding like a crazy person!
Thanks and regards,
What you have described is what I was trying to convey to you in my last answer to you. You have to sort out where a horse's intent is and make it clear that you are on their side. A horse is only ever trying to do what he thinks is his best option. When he does something we don't like, it's only because we have not convinced him that our idea is better. Sometimes the convincing takes a quiet word and other times it results in a full blown argument - most times it is somewhere in between.
I'm very glad you had such a good ride and feel things are becoming more clear to you. There will be good and bad rides to come, but every one of them should help you learn something you can use to help your horse.