Have you ever become frustrated when someone is failing to understand and respond appropriately to your requests and communications? Have you ever experienced this in the saddle? For many riders, they noticed that, even more frustratingly, this often occurs when they feel their riding should actually be improving.
You’re not alone. Many riders begin to feel this way after they have taken action to improve their skills in the saddle. It could be that you invested in extra lessons, attended a clinic, joined Daily Strides Premium, completed the 30 Day Rider Fitness Challenge… Perhaps you have studied a little more deeply as to the hows and whys of particular aids and the timing of them. Whatever it is, you will have recently done something to take your skills in the saddle to the next level, but it actually seems that things are going backwards!
The first thing that comes to mind for many riders is their horses responsiveness, or the lack thereof, when they apply their aids. However, I want you to ask yourself, is it a responsiveness issue or a basic language breakdown you are experiencing?
Often we improve our riding, but fail to update our horse on the fact that the situation has changed
Now before we go any further, firstly I think it is fantastic that you are working towards better communication with your horse. But remember, your knowing what to do and then you doing it is only one half of the equation.
Your horse has not attended the same ‘study group’ and, if we think of our aids as a language, he has no idea that the dialect has changed…
Part of improving your skills in the saddle is to effectively communicate with your horse in order to update his ‘responsive’ and ‘listening’ skills as well. However, before you rush out and begin ‘retraining’ your horse, you need to first figure out exactly what he understands, and what has gotten lost in translation.
I suggest starting at the beginning with the basics. How effective are the simple ‘stop / go’, ‘steady’ and ‘turn’ commands working? Very often we learn how to better control our seat when directing our horse, however our horse is still listening for the ‘old aids’.
Next time you are in the saddle, work on establishing the basics again:-
- Half halt
- Moving forward and slowing down
- Bending and turning
From here, you will need to test how well your horse is truly understanding your aids. Knowing what he understands and what is being ‘lost’ will give you a good starting point to move on from.
- Test the walk to halt
- Test the walk to trot
- Test the canter transitions
- Test the ability to adjust the length of the stride
- Test how your horse understands the lateral aids
Once you know where you stand with your horse, you can then look at how you can begin to educate or train your horse to understand your aids, giving you both clearer communication in the saddle.
To help you with this process, I have created audio programs for you to download, for free, that will take you step by step through this process.