Monday, 25 July 2011

Heads up! Heels down!



Beautifully turned out and positioned, long legged equitation riders head up the placings at top shows this summer. Lessons spent without stirrups and in two point position pay dividends in the show ring. But have you ever considered the line between poise and pose? Dignity, calm and confidence stemming from an unmistakable wisdom describe a rider with poise. There’s an air of assurance that marks an informed horse person.

But the emphasis put on equitation “hows” and not the “whys” can amount to pose. A rider who poses has a veneer of correct position, without the underlying foundation of horsemanship.

I wonder if riders were educated earlier about the science of how horses think and learn as the priority to correct diagonals and straight backs, we might see fewer temper tantrums at the shows. It’s natural to lose it when we think of the horse as a machine that’s come pre-programmed with all the buttons in place. Perhaps if riders were taught to think like a horse and to consider carefully every signal or aid they send to that horse, there would be more harmony and less hassle. More sympathy and less stiffness. What do I intend to say when I use this cue? What does it feel like to my horse?

Maybe it’s the overestimating of our horses’ ability to reason and comprehend as we do that leads to used up and confused competition horses…

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