Patience and empathy

by petros on February 22, 2011

I’m often aware when watching riders schooling their horses or warming up before a competition that they feel under pressure to ‘make the horse’ go in a certain way that they perceive to be the desired one.  This can lead to frustration if the horse demonstrates resistance and all too often riders resort to using brute force that ultimately only produces more problems and less cooperation.

In schooling our horses and preparing them for competition we need to be sensitive to the difficulties they might experience.  Resistance to the aids or to a particular movement may be a result of genuine physical inability to perform it at that moment in time and stage of development.  It can also be that cognitively the horse is not able to understand our instructions.  It’s our responsibility to establish a common language of understanding with our horse which we can then use to explain and guide him through the more complex coordination required for the more demanding exercises. This way of thinking and riding invites the horse to ‘let us in’ and for the aids to be allowed to go through his mind and body without resistance.

There are no short cuts, it takes time, patience, skill and by being empathic and sensitive to our horses needs we can achieve better results, consistently good performances and happier horses and riders.

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