How Do We Build Connection With Horses?
Building connection with horses is a work in progress!
As riders, we seek softness from our horses at all times. Softness is defined here as when our horse is tuned in to us in the same way they are tuned into each other, like in a herd. They are in a state of awareness (without fear), of our subtle cues (our ask), and they respond willingly. You get the action you want from your horse and they are in that sweet spot, moving in a little place of comfort. The aid isn’t maxed out and if you asked your horse to move or do a bit more, they'd do so off of your small request.
- On the halter, backing up, pick a path & a speed for your horse to move. Then, ask for a bit faster step. How did they respond to your slightest ask?
- Progress to backing your horse up in a L shape. If they won't or there’s a line of resistance right past your baseline, then you’ve maxed the aid in your original ask. Go back and improve that, then add the variety again.
- At the walk. How little does it take to lengthen the walk and then slow the walk?
- Is the horse on auto pilot and not ‘In-Feel’ which indicates that the riding aid is not connected to your horse. If that’s the case, go back to your original ask and improve that, then try again.
These are a few examples to encourage you to be thinking about every ask you make of your horse. I play constantly with my horses. When you see me just riding or circling at one pace for a long time, you can safely assume my horse will go anywhere from there. There is no leaning toward home, no dullness on my leg, no pushing on the bit, it’s just right in that Active Neutral Sweet Spot. In my program, this is Connection.
Aim for this ~ each day, each ride, each time. And have fun doing it!
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