Friday, 29 July 2016

Yielding to pressure – you, not your horse!



“Just get back on! You don’t want to lose your nerve.”
“Why not enter the trail class?  You’re at the show anyway.”
“Are you coming out on a hack with us?”
Well-meaning invitations, but sadly, invitations into situations  for which neither you nor your horse are quite prepared.
Have you ever felt pressure to push the boundaries with your horse?
I am a professional bubble-burster. As clinician and coach, I act as the voice of caution. As a show judge, I can only wince.
We’d never suggest a friend commute into Toronto with unreliable brakes and steering.  Yet, it makes me sad to see at a few horses at every show,  in the pressure cooker of an unfamiliar environment without the tools needed for the task.
I’ve been there- felt the pressure from a  friend, a coach, a client.  The time I’ve spent  rebuilding confidence in myself or my horse inspires me to help other riders and horses rebuild theirs. Systematically installing the buttons to move the horse laterally, lengthen and shorten stride, connect, collect and halt.

Friday, 22 July 2016

When evidence collides with tradition: part 2


Traditions run deep in the horse world. From tack to training, to the terms we use ...WHY? - I figure it doesn't hurt to ask! Hey sometimes I've found there's a good reason - someone way smarter than me "invented the wheel" and doesn't need ME to re-invent it :) So I'll keep asking...
Like the new bride whose husband asks "Why do you cut off the ends of the roast before you cook it? — that's the best part!" She answers, "That's the way my mother always made it."
So when the guy raises the question at Christmas dinner, mother in law shrugs, "that's the only way it will fit in my pan!"
What about you?- anything you do differently with your horses
after doing some snooping into the research? Or with a few years of wisdom under your belt?

Monday, 18 July 2016

That’s just the way we’ve always done it…”



Traditions persist in the horse world. Does anyone know why flat classes traditionally start on the left rein?  I caused a little stir recently, at an open hunter show by starting on the right rein in an equitation class. Can you think of other enduring  (though puzzling)equine traditions? 


Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, until evidence leads us to look outside. I do like how AQHA is encouraging judges to mix up the gait calls and direction of flat classes. I do this regularly when I judge and appreciate it as an exhibitor. Ring sourness is a problem with show horses. Horses learn by association, anticipating what’s next. This is classical conditioning – the same principle causing my cat to appear at the sound of the can opener.