What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Begin noticing where the ups and downs are happening
- Take responsibility, rather than looking for a quick fix
- Learn to Balance Your Aids Correctly
- Using a Split Second to Smooth Out Your Riding
Do things feel a little ‘touch and go’ when it comes to your riding? You touch on how you want it to feel, but that feeling is all too brief. It’s there for a few strides and then it is gone again. Would you like to maintain that feeling for longer? Smooth out your riding?
This episode is focused on learning how to influence your horse more to create a more balanced, smoother ride for both of you. A more polished finished to your riding.
Horse Riding is Never ‘Done’
I want to begin by warning you of a trap that so many riders make the mistake of falling into. They finally ‘get’ something in their riding; and they then think that their work regarding that topic is done.
Horse riding, by its very nature, is never ‘done’. It is ever evolving. There are challenges at every level that will lead to us having to re-navigate past topics from your new perspective or where you are now.
Very often the key to overcoming new challenges in horse riding is going back to the basics – and applying those to the new challenge.
Begin by Noticing Where the Ups and Downs are Happening
You can do this by paying close attention to your rhythm and tempo. Notice where they are lacking. Can you maintain both consistently through a movement? Can you maintain them through a transition? At what point are they changing? Is this every time, or only in a certain place or on a certain rein etc.
A second way you can become more mindful about the basic quality of your rhythm and relaxation is by ‘testing’ your riding on a straight line. When you are riding a longer straight line, perhaps on the road or trail, how well can you maintain? Do things tend to become faster, or slower. Is there more or less tension the further you travel. Or, is there a greater sense of ease?
You can also pay attention to your aids and you in general in the saddle. What influence are you having with your riding? Is it positive or negative.
Remember, you are always influencing your horse, regardless of if you are intentional about it or not. Therefore, it makes good sense to become mindful on what you are doing – and making that influence a positive one.
Taking Responsibility, Rather than Searching for the Quick Fix
When you do begin to notice where things are not being well maintained, the second trap a lot of riders fall into is thinking that there is a ‘quick fix’. A different bit, or a new noseband. A change of martingale, or feeding plan…
Keep in mind that often the easiest thing to ‘fix’ is the most obvious. You, the rider!
Showing up and claiming ownership of your riding, faults and all, is an important part of becoming a responsible rider. It is also the one thing that you truly have control over when communicating with your horse.
Looking in and taking ownership of the fact that you are consistently either positively or negatively influencing your horse will go a long way to smoothing things out. Keep in mind that your thoughts are also influencing your horse, so be mindful.
Yes, sometimes you may have to change the bit, or martingale, the fact of the matter is that you are the single greatest influence. So my advice to you is to check in with yourself first!
Learning to Balance Your Aids in Your Riding
Each of your individual aids, the ways that you communicate with your horse, are part of the bigger picture of an overall conversation. No aid should be used alone, and as a whole, the proportions are always changing as well.
Balance, by definition, is ever shifting. The balance of your aids in your riding is an ever-changing way of maintaining the conversation with your horse.
What worked for one transition may have to be refined and ‘tweaked’ a little for the next. What goes into each transition with you and your horse is different and what comes out of each transition is different. Your aids need to be applied with this in mind.
Think of it as being a large pie or pizza. The ‘My Ways of Communicating with My Horse’ Pie. Each aid has a slice. These slices are continuously changing in size and proportion depending on the circumstances of each movement or transition. If every thing you do on your horse was shown on one of these pies, you will see that very rarely are any two pies the exact same.
Your responsibility as the rider is to tailor each communication with your horse so as your aids are balanced for what he needs at that exact moment. This will happen all through the ride.
Using a ‘Split Second’ to Smooth Our Your Riding
As a rider, I am sure that you are familiar with how important your half halt is. It is the rebalancing of both you and your horse, throughout your ride. But, another place we can have a huge influence over the smoothness of the overall ride is within the transition itself.
You are riding transitions the whole time in your riding. A transition is simply a change. Straight to bend, long to short, trot to walk… Everywhere.
So, it makes sense to work on smoothing out the transitions themselves in order to even out the whole ride, doesn’t it?
Inside of every single transition, there is a split second where you have the power to begin smoothing things out.
Every change needs a catalyst to make it happen. In riding, this can often be described as pressure or tension. Your job through the transition is to find that ‘split second’ where you can smooth out what was needed, the catalyst, in order to make the whole transition appear relaxed.
Start thinking about and looking for that door of opportunity within each transition as you go forward. If you want to find out more, you can join me on the 2nd of June 2018 in my upcoming workshop on Relaxation in Your Riding.
Links mentioned in the episode:-