We had the opportunity to ride with some really great folks this past Saturday at our Winter Series, Refining Our Horsemanship Clinic. Everyone was trying hard to understand what their horses needed from them. Sometimes it was a doing a little more to get a horse to search. Sometimes it was doing a lot less to give the horse the opportunity to show how much they can do for us. We worked on becoming aware of when we had succeeded in getting our horse to think about what we wanted. Then, we worked on the timing of our release for that thought.
When we rode in Ray Hunt’s clinics he would talk about how to look and feel for what it takes to get the horse to understand what we’re asking. He talked about how sometimes it would take all we had to get our point across but, other times, it would take the littlest thing and they’d be right there. To us, refinement in our horsemanship has taken the form of seeing how little we can do. Looking for ways to get our thought to become their thought. Changing their mind and then getting out of the way so our horse can do our thing their way. We’ve worked on becoming aware of our horses feet and how to get in time with them.
At the clinic, I watched Amy ride a horse that was struggling with his right side. This gelding was always wanting to look left and pushing his shoulder and rib cage out to the right. He is 10 years old and had been in this frame for quite a few years. When Amy first began her ride she thought it would take quite a little time to get him out of such a strong habit. But, to Amy’s and our surprise, the gelding came through after just a little bit. Amy’s timing must have been fitting to what the he needed. She must have felt what the gelding was thinking he needed to do and changed his mind. The straightness that Amy offered must have felt good to the him because once he knew through Amy’s release that it was okay to travel that way, he stayed there on his own. Amy’s experience helped. She knew what she was looking for. She would allow the gelding to run into his own pressure when he wasn’t right and would release as the gelding thought about getting right. Amy’s timing was good…..according to the horse!
Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt showed us years ago that feel, timing, and balance were the keys to creating good communication with our horses. It was true then, it’s true today. We don’t need to look for anything else!