WHY AM I BACK AT THE START?
During our final clinic of 2019 we had the pleasure of seeing a horse and rider combination who we have been involved with since we began our very first series of clinics. Unfortunately, this year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for both of them, meaning they have been unable to remain consistent in their work together due to a wide range of circumstances.
The horse in question is willing in nature, but also very sensitive and can suffer from anxiety, which has also affected her health and temperament at times, hence making the journey extra interesting (I’m sure the mother in question may have used many different words to describe it throughout!). This culminated, very unfortunately, in a recent accident, which although we were very relieved to hear neither horse or rider were badly injured in, both were again shook in their relationship and confidence in each other.
Even before the session, the anxiety and frustration of the rider could be felt, and very understandably so, particularly as since these unfortunate events had unfolded their work together had been somewhat limited. This reflected also in the horses’ behaviour as she showed behavioural signs that hadn’t been seen since our very first meeting several years ago. A short time into the session emotions were still evident and running high and the rider exclaimed ‘I feel like we’re right back at the start…’
Firstly, everything we ask of our horse relies on a basic concept. Even the most complex of movements or patterns relies on the consistent execution of a basic aid or a combination of the basics. As we progress, it is easy to allow our basics to wane if we don’t continue to revisit, recheck and re-tune them, after all, if you don’t continue to practice something, although you may not have forgotten how to do it, your execution may be less than perfect when you decide to attempt it again sometime later. The longer between practices, the more tuning it will take to recover the function.
For example, during my teenage years I was fairly competent at playing the piano, however, if one was put in front of me today I wouldn’t be able to comfortably and fluidly play a tune, even one which I had previously been good at. That being said, it would take less time to refresh my skills than to teach someone who had never played at all.
Secondly, every one of us is playing that good old game of ‘snakes and ladders’ throughout our training. You climb those ladders and get lucky with the dice for a while, only to hit a snake and slide right back down a short time later. It’s just part of the journey that we need to be prepared for, plus, during those fleeting highs all the lows fade away and we are lost in elation, that feeling as equestrians we strive for.
Lastly, my response to the rider in question…
‘Are you back at the start?’
⭐Could your horse maintain a steady rhythm? Could she release, stretch and breathe during her work?
⭐Could she allow you to direct her and tolerate pressure from the legs?
⭐Could she execute accurate figures in the arena?
⭐Were her transitions pushing from the back or was she pulling from the front?
⭐Could you release the rein and have her comfortably follow the contact?
⭐Could she work long and low without losing balance or tempo?
⭐Could you trust her to regain her composure when she became unbalanced?
And as she demonstrated all of these, the answer was ‘no’, she could not. So when you’re feeling disheartened, discouraged or things haven’t quite gone to plan, ask yourself if you’re REALLY back at the start? And regardless of where you’re at, be prepared to figure out which basic aid(s) can help fix your issue.
🦄HERE’S TO REACHING YOUR GOALS BY REVISITING, RECHECKING AND RE-TUNING! 🦄
CADENCE HORSE TRAINING
Striving to maintain an encouraging and inclusive culture among fellow equestrians. We're passionate about all things equine including behaviour, biomechanics, training and horsemanship!