In this podcast episode, I answer a question from a listener who is preparing to start their horse under saddle and has questions about the progression from a rope halter to bits with shanks.
Progression with a focus on understanding the purpose of each tool.
Consideration of the horse's understanding level, motivation, and emotional state
Direct and indirect cues are explained
The importance of technique over the choice of equipment.
I also offer three questions you can ask yourself that will point toward your understanding of your goal, your technique, and your horse's understanding or lack of understanding.
A listener wrote in that she recently got a new trail horse, and she said, “he's supposed to be a "super finished" trail horse.”
But he is not acting the way she imagined a finished trail horse should…
Which brings up the question: What is a finished horse?
There are many categories that can be used to evaluate a horse, and often there are different levels within each category. In addition, ‘finished’ in one area doesn’t necessarily mean finished in other, more basic areas.
In this episode, I explain the two most common versions of ‘finished’ and how to define them.
I also share how my view of ‘never finished’ has also positively impacted my relationship with my horses.
Early in training, or early in introducing a new concept, it is an EXCELLENT idea to reward the smallest try.
But here is the question.
When do you start expecting the full answer?
This is where people often get stuck.
In this podcast, I explain the challenge that comes along with only rewarding the smallest try, ant two common thought errors that keep people from aiming for the final answer.
Subtle shouldn’t mean incomplete…but if you’re not careful, that’s what you’ll teach.
It is remarkable how well horses can learn to read a rider's seat cues.
In this podcast, I explain how I use my seat cues to communicate with my horses, including how these seat cues can naturally develop.
A seat can:Follow the motion Get ahead of the motion Get behind the motion One hip bone can be more on top of the saddle-to the left or right One hip bone can be leading or behind
These can be used in many combinations to communicate in detail with your horse.
In this podcast, I start at the riders' head, and talk all the way down to the seat bones. Listen first to get and idea…and the second time, sit on a chair, ball or a tolerant horse and follow along with my descriptions.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you have probably heard me say, “Your horse is asking you questions.”
Sometimes people will reply, “My horse isn’t asking questions…he is making statements!”
In this episode, I explain how horses develop limiting beliefs, what useful beliefs are, and how viewing something as a statement vs a question matters.
Your horse asks questions with his body.
When a horse is being ridden, the questions they ask look like; break of gait, speeding up, diving in, falling out, reversing directions, getting stuck in reverse…and lots of other behaviors riders often label as ‘problems’.
Your horse's questions reveal his temperament.
Your horse’s questions reveal his training level.
YOUR interpretation of his behavior reveals your thinking.
The questions you ask will impact the information you gather and your entire riding experience.
Often times, the question “Am I doing this right” Or “Is this correct?” is a lightly veiled, “Is this wrong?” or “This is probably wrong…” or some variation.
You’ll know by the way it feels in your body.
One way to improve your rate of learning is to ask high-quality questions.
High-quality questions are rarely answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
High-quality questions are more specific, and inside answering them, the solution is often revealed.
In this episode I outline when the question, ‘Is this correct?’ might be useful, and I outline clear criteria for when I ask it…and how I answer it.
I also explain why it isn’t a question I ask regularly, and the method of questioning that I find much more effective for increasing awareness and creating change.
One goal when riding is an increasing consistency in your horses' response to your cues.
This will only be possible when YOU are consistent with the application of, and release of, the cue.
The quickest, most reliable way to develop this is by keeping things simple and repeating them: riding a pattern.
But then what?
And how can you know that the cue is being strengthened...not just the horse memorizing the pattern?
In this podcast, I outline
- where to go next so you can ensure the horse is, indeed, responding to your cue.
- the difference between steady pressure and rhythmic pressure
- groundwork examples
- ridden examples
- common mistakes people make
It is important to rely on repetition at first to gain consistency.
This builds a solid foundation you can return to any time you need a successful ride.
Then you can begin to do things with more authority.
Then you can do things in different locations.
Then, you can refine the communication and ask for the same thing in multiple ways.
Have you ever wondered, but how do I get him to do it for longer?
Maybe you want your horse to keep loping until you tell him to stop.
Maybe you want him to stand until you ask him to go.
Maybe you show in western dressage, and your horse keeps popping his head up during the free walk…and you want him to keep it down until you ask him to bring it back up.
A big part of getting a horse to maintain something starts with the horse’s first response.
Repeatable comes before maintainable.
Repeatable is key.
In this episode, I use three examples of where teaching something to be a strong, first response is key to future success.
If you have a question about this, go to my website and either leave a voicemail message, or email me at [email protected]
Training a horse involves creating a language between horse and rider.
It is very common for a horse to be somewhat guessing at the answer at times during this process. Your response to their best guess, is what helps them narrow down to the one correct answer. If you are consistent…
This language includes your cue system: how you use your legs, seat, reins, voice…and the way you show up: focused, unfocused, etc.
If your horse is unsure, he will often guess from some of the things they have most recently been rewarded for….or what he likes best.
NOTHING HAS GONE WRONG.
You are refining a language with a HORSE.
If you stay consistent, the horse will use a process of elimination to determine which answer is the correct one.
If the horse is CONSISTENTLY guessing the wrong answer…then they are confused, then you must change something to help them get closer to the correct answer.
Listen to this episode for the full explanation.
Simply put: a pattern is a planned ride.
When you ride with a plan…you’ll begin to show up consistent.
The more consistent you are…the easier it is for your horse to become consistent.
The magic of riding a pattern, especially a simple, boring pattern, is that it allows the rider to begin to observe their habits and their horse's habits. The most common habit often revealed is a riders' lack of preparation in transitions.
The opposite of riding a pattern is riding randomly.You’ll make last-minute decisions. You’ll cue quickly…and with very little preparation. This will reflect in your horse as resistance such as head tossing, etc.
How can you tell if you are riding randomly?
How would you benefit from riding 10 minutes a day on a ‘boring’ pattern?
What might you learn?
In this podcast, I discuss two ideas, the challenge of asking questions, and ‘why bend?’
The theme of this season of the podcast is, “No question is too small.” Today, I explain:why riders don’t ask more questions why the teacher might hesitate before answering what the moment of awkwardness could really be
why you might skip bending why you might half-heartedly bend how bend increases safety and reduces bucking, rearing and bolting why bend improves balance advancing: the balance of bend and straightness
Do you have a seemingly simple question you’d like to ask?
Email me, you can even stay anonymous.
Ask your question because others will learn from it. Often times people don’t realize they have a question, until they hear it, and immediately identify with the question.
One major difference between the early rides on a horse, and the more finished rides on a horse, is the way the cues are used in combination. In this podcast, I describe cues as ‘doors’.
The beauty of watching an advanced horse and rider is that the cues seem so subtle that they are often hard to see.
This is true whether you watch dressage, where the rider maintains a level of contact throughout, or in reining, where the contact on the reins appears very light.
What these share in common is a subtleness.
The process of training a horse involves making things clear, and then refining those cues.
If your horse seems confused, hesitant, or resistant, it is possible he is not clear on which ‘door’ is open. Today, I explain why this could be happening and how you can determine your next step.
If you are consistently taking action, and you recognize that you are having some success, but not at the rate or speed you anticipated.this episode is for you.
Today, I’m sharing three reasons it can feel like the training process is going slower than you thought it would. LIsten, to each description, take action on the third...and you just might find that you are making more progress than you think.
Many riders experience doubt, tension, or frustration when riding because they are unsure of themselves, or are confused by their horse's response.
Many horses exhibit resistance and behavior issues because they are confused.
In this podcast I discuss:
Common reasons riders unintentionally give conflicting cues.
How and why the cue system changes as a horse advances in training.
The importance of diagnosing if your horse is confused or resistant.
Simple changes can profoundly improve your connection with your horse.
If you would like help communicating more clearly with your horse, check out my Resourceful Rider program (click here)
When I hear a rider say, ‘I’ve lost the connection with my horse.” I see red flags go up in my mind.
The vast majority of the time, if I were picking a number, I’d say about 80% of the time, that I hear this AND SEE the horse being ridden…I see CUE SYSTEM CONFUSION.
When you use your reins, or apply your leg, or shift your weight, these are like individual ‘words,’ that when combined become sentences.
Your cue system with your horse is a language.
When a rider is unclear with their cues, it makes sense that the horse would be unclear about the correct answer.
If the horse responses to a cue from the rider in an unexpected way, the rider must determine how the language became muddled or confused to produce this.
But you won’t be able to do this if you think you have a connection problem.
Every time you want to say ‘It felt like I lost the connection with my horse’ I want you to replace it with “I lost the words to communicate with my horse.”
The best news is, you can learn this language. And your horse is open to listening.
I have the beautiful privilege of speaking with many people who love horses.
The majority are women.
Many of them are pursuing their horse dreams in the second half of life.
The tipping point where I meet many of these women is…the stage where they are stepping into action to pursue their dream.
In this episode, I explain the challenge of pursuing your dreams with your horse and I share, a very vulnerable moment that I frequently witness.
I hope that by explaining what is happening, I can help normalize it.
And although it is a very, very vulnerable spot…I very much hope you experience it.
In this episode, I discuss how quickly horses begin to recognize patterns of behavior, and I answer a listener question about working around feeding time.
While these may seem unrelated, I think the contrast highlights how incredibly valuable it is to recognize how you view your horse.
Do you view your horse as a dependent in constant need of care and looking after?
Or as highly capable?
Are you judging their physical ability?
Their mental ability?
A combination of both?
Confidence and self-confidence are both important.
But if one skill rules them all, it is the belief that you can trust yourself.
Confidence comes from a Latin word which means "to trust"; therefore, having self-confidence is having trust in oneself.
Self-confidence is an emotion that you generate without any history to back it up or external evidence. It's based on the belief you have about yourself. It comes from thoughts like, “I will figure this out.”
Confidence is supported by experience and external evidence.
In this episode, I use the simple example of haltering a horse to illustrate how many times riders begin to collect evidence AGAINST themselves if they are not mindful of their thoughts.
As I talk through the haltering example, imagine how something more complex like riding is full of these opportunities.
At the end, I offer a physical experiment you can do to teach yourself to watch your thoughts more closely. You’ll need ten pennies or pebbles and some increased awareness.
Today, I’m answering a question that came in about bitless and/or bridleless riding. In the episode, I explain: common mistakes people make when considering bridleless riding the importance of understanding WHY you want to ride bridleless assessing your horse's understanding based on past training the differences between bit-less and bridleless riding when I begin introducing bridleless cues how bridleless cues are different than bit-less cues how to create your own checklist to reach your next bridleless goal how to double-check your work (and keep yourself safe) And, my #1 take away after riding bridleless at a high level for 20 years.
Today I’m answering a question that came in regarding two horses owned by one person. One horse is very responsive to pressure, while the other is more bold and brave…and doesn't respond as much to pressure. The caller shares how this is causing her a challenge.
In my response, I explain:the importance of establishing YOUR view of responsive vs reactive MY view on responsive (which includes ‘responding’ by not avoiding pressure) emotional pressure vs physical pressure the idea that people tend to naturally sensitize or desensitize and why the potential pros and cons of combining riders who like to sensitize and sensitive horses the importance of understanding YOUR view on pressure the ‘test’ I used before riding a horse that shows me their understanding of emotional control (expressed through a physical test)