When I say that I ride the same pattern over and over again in training, the most common question is, “Doesn’t the horse memorize the pattern?”
In this podcast, I explain:the reasons I teach with simple patterns how using the same pattern with different techniques can help you understand how the technique influences the horse why switching patterns when horses anticipate the pattern actually robs you of a great training opportunity.
There are three stages that horses and riders go through if they ride my four leaf clover pattern over and over again. Riders who commit to moving through all three stages create a situation where both horse and rider realize, it was never about the pattern at all.
It was about improving communication.
Are you willing to be out of sync with your horse to make progress?
In this podcast, I talk about the idea of moving faster or slower than your horse as a concept that exists both physically, and mentally.
When physically riding a horse, it makes sense that you could be
’ahead’ of the horse's motion, ‘with’ the horse's motion, or ‘behind’ the horse's motion.
When riders learn how to ride, they are taught to move with the horse at all times. What if the next level of learning happens when you aim for another position?
I also share how this ‘ahead’, ‘with’, ‘behind’ can also show up mentally when working with your horse. A listener shares a success story that illustrates how getting ‘ahead’ can bring a horse into a state of being ‘with’…and it feels truly amazing.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just read a book or see a demonstration once…and just do the new thing with ease?
The reality is often quite different. I would even go as far as saying that the process is backward from what we desire.
Take the example of changing a current habit, where you release the rein, to a new habit…a slightly different release point.
First, you must gain awareness of the new release point. Maybe an instructor or a video suggests this change.
When you go out to practice…you will often realize AFTER you have missed the timing…that you were late.
Eventually, with practice, you’ll get closer and closer to the timing, maybe you'll even notice DURING…but you’ll probably still notice you’re a moment late.
Then, with enough practice, you’ll see the proper timing BEFORE the moment approaches…and you’ll release with perfect timing.
The challenge is that both the ‘after’ and the ‘during’ stages feel like constant mistakes. And you can choose to view them that way, or you can view this as the practice you need to finally achieve your new habit.
This podcast was recorded while I was on a long, ‘non’ specific ride.
I categorize riding sessions into four different types to increase my awareness and effectiveness.
I often teach students how to do short, very specific rides. You’ll hear why in the podcast.
This could be a pep talk for how to ride for time and effectiveness…AND it could also be considered ‘permission’ to do long, nonspecific rides for enjoyment.
Self-concept is how you perceive your behaviors and abilities. It affects your motivation, attitude, and behavior. It is possible that your self concept is slowing you down more than your technical skills.
Signs your self concept might need an upgrade:You have trouble staying motivated to work with your horse. When you do work with your horse, you see mostly what isn’t working. When you do have success, you quickly have thoughts like ‘this is a fluke’, or ‘I won’t be able to do it again.’
Improving your self concept is more than just thinking better thoughts. It is a skill that you can learn. I give real life examples that clearly illustrate the power of this concept.
Have you developed the skill of evaluating your rides?
The skill of evaluating yourself is highly valuable. It improves your ability to be fully present during your ride, it makes you more coachable when you receive instruction, and you get results faster.
If all this is true…why do people resist evaluating themselves?
The main reason people avoid it is that they haven’t learned how…so they default to criticism and self judgement.
Evaluating yourself is a SKILL that you can develop. It is a process you can learn. In this episode, I explain the value, the challenges and offer two tips for overcoming the resistance to evaluating yourself.
A listener asks a question about changing her horse's pushy, fidgety behavior on the ground. She asks, “How can I deconstruct a behavior or a reaction and rebuild a more favorable behavior?”
This podcast discusses the difference between training (or retraining) and deconstructing or rebuilding. During training or retraining, the horse is often learning the building blocks that create a solid foundation. Once the horse understands these building blocks, the concept of deconstructing or rebuilding is the idea that those foundation ideas can be rearranged to create many things. Listen to learn more.
A listener asks how to correct her mouthy horse and how to keep mouthiness or biting from happening in the first place. In this podcast, I explain why biting happens, the most common problem I see people making, and I give actionable instructions on how to be more engaging, interesting and clear.
Learning how to prevent this behavior will also teach you a skill that is useful and transferable from groundwork into ridden work too.
A listener asks how she can sit the lope or canter without popping out of the saddle. She says, “I seem to pop out of the saddle quite a bit…Some people ride so quiet in a saddle, others seem to come up out of the saddle as their horse moves. I can't seem to sit to him as much as I try.”
In answering the question I discuss: how the horses build affects the rider, how the horses training level impacts their ability to ‘lift’ or carry a rider…and how if this is lacking it makes the horse difficult to ride smoothly, the stages where it is more approprate to sit lightly vs deeply...and several ways you can improve your seat.
What would you do if your horse started to lie down while you were riding?Horse is interested in rolling in water, mud or sand. Horse is itchy from sweat or bugs. Horse is colicky. Horse has discovered that laying down is rewarded.
Here are some reasons a horse might try to lay down when riding:
In this episode, I cover these and a few more possibilities and I share the cue that both discourages, redirects…and is the ‘end’ cue for horses that are trained to lie down on purpose.
A listener calls in, “My question is about how to create forward without creating negative tension.” This starts a discussion on how riders often bring tension to the session, including both their worry about causing tension AND in their cue system application. I discuss how my cue system changes between colt starting and more advanced movements, including the idea that sometimes the 2nd grade version contains more energy.
I include an actionable ‘test’ you can perform the next time you lead your horse from the pasture or the stall, as well as a discussion on stretching the horse's comfort zone. Finally, at the end, I pull it all together by describing how I use relaxation as a base I return to.
A listener asks a question about her mare, who at first appears, “…very good and calm, until she's worked out what it is we're doing and starts to anticipate.” The answer involves understanding the riders' role in both the calm and the anticipation, identifying how anticipation can look different between hot and cold horses, and a training exercise to help adjust what the horse is anticipating.
A listener asks a question about the different levels of contact between dressage and reining. On the surface this seems like a question about a horse accepting the change between the two…but I took the answer much deeper than that.
I explain how the rider's opinion of contact changes the horse's experience, and two specific reasons I think riders feel challenged around contact. I give many examples of how horses can report their experience of contact, and I share the specific order that I train my horses in that allows them to view contact as support…not correction.
I also touch on bridleless riding and the idea of self carriage and the feeling of riding a fully adjustable horse.
A listener expresses a desire to build relationship and connection with her horse and asks, “what does my horse really like to do?”
In this podcast, I discuss my views on the learning process in general, what role physical talent plays in the enjoyment of learning (hint: it's not what you likely think), and the idea that the concept of what is ‘hard’ and what is easy might be something to take a closer look at.
Why do I pursue so many disciplines with my horses? I answer that in this episode too.
What is the first thing that comes to mind if you picture a horse keeping its ears back? Do you think aggression? Pain? Doubt? In this podcast, a listener asks for advice on working with confident young horses that often keep their ears back. I outline two groups of words that I typically use to describe these horses including skeptical and focused. I also share two rules I use to keep myself safe while creating a situation that encourages the horses to have more pleasant expressions during work.
1. rough, boisterous play."this ridiculous horseplay has gone far enough"
A listener asks a question about a horse that bucks when being lead. I discuss two main concepts; how the rider views the horses maturity age and the concept of ‘earning the right to be near me’ (and me earning the right to be near them). I also share tips on how I address this and how I prevent it from becoming an allowed way of thinking and acting.
A listener calls in and asks reports that she can only touch her nine-month-old foal if she is holding food. In this episode, I describe how this situation might be viewed differently from the horse's perspective…and how the caller might even be coming across as sneaky or suspicious. Then I describe one way to set up a situation where the owner can practice showing up and taking actions that will reward specific behavior in the foal. This exercise will increase the amount of emotional pressure the foal can handle, which will make touching and future training easier.
“I’m terrified to ride her. I'm terrified to be in the pasture with her. I'm terrified to screw her up. I'm scared to get on. I've tried to ride my old horse to gain some confidence back. But at this point in time, I'm scared and I want to find the joy I used to have in riding. Any help would be great.”
While answering this listener question, I discuss the difference between a physical threat causing discomfort or mental thought causing discomfort. I discuss separating physical danger from what it feels like to experience your mind creating an emotion. I also share how to identify a ‘clean’ emotion, so you can decide if it is useful or if it is holding you back.
Help! “My horse “flinches” at everything. I mean everything – including me sniffing. Somedays are worse than others. My trainer has kindly talked to me about it being me. I try so hard to be relaxed and positive, but I will admit, I am a bit “on guard”. Any tips for this situation!?!?!?!?!”
I have certian situations where I feel this same way and I’m sharing the exact tool I use in this situation. I explain how it allows me to feel more in control and prepared, gauge my level of tension, and desensitize myself and my horse to startling noises.
A listener asks a question about ‘changing the story in your head about a horse…and knowing when it's time to move on.’
Often times, the story we have in our head is a mixture of fact and story. Separating out the facts is useful. Pretending the facts don’t exist, so we can pretend to have a different story, is not useful.
It IS natural to have one story about a horse that does change over time in a healthy way.
The phrase ‘not the right fit for me’ is also used, which could point toward several things, including the idea of a horse ‘fitting’ you or having a temperament that you enjoy in a similar way as your best friend.
Finally, I bring up the way that I would approach looking at this question if I were exploring it myself.