CFN – This Column of “Spirits in Unity” is being published by CFN for the community of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry.
Giving your horse responsibility is a great way to increase his confidence and his emotional fitness. The more you micro-manage him, the more insecure he becomes, or at least it does not help him became calmer or smarter.
There are parallels in the human world for this as well. Have you ever worked for a boss who likes to micro manage your work life? Do you begin to feel insecure and second guess yourself? Do you think such bosses do it to actually make you more insecure and therefore more dependent on them?
You can help your horse become more fit on the ground and in the riding situation.
On The Ground
One of the best ways to give your horse responsibility on the ground is by using circling patterns, either on line or at liberty.
After you send the horse off on the circle, you need to relax and do nothing and allow him to do everything. By staying in neutral, you are releasing any pressure on him and letting him know that he is doing the right thing.
If you are constantly reminding him to keep going, then you are not in neutral. It is his responsibility to keep going in the same direction, same speed and same gait. If he doesn’t, you need to do something about it, but the key is to wait until he stops or breaks gait. Then change the direction, bring him in and then re-send him on the circle again.
Getting your horse to touch down on things or go in a weave pattern around cones etc. helps to build responsibility because it is his responsibility to stay in motion until you are don. If he stops or changes gait, wait until he does that and then correct it by sending him again or changing direction.
Freestyle riding, or riding on a loose rein, is a powerful way to develop responsibility mainly because you are riding without contact or without any reins at all.
Practicing riding patterns such as following the rail, clover leaf patterns, etc. help develop responsibility. Only pick up the reins when your horse strays from the Pattern and gently put him back on it. Then go back to loose rein and trust that your horse will follow the pattern.
Remember that the goal whenever interacting with your horse is to get him to calm, connected and responsive.
For all those people who give horses loving homes, and for all those kids who are wishing for that special partner, may all your dreams come true also.
Whether you are just a horse lover, have dreams of owning a horse someday, or already have one, I hope these columns will give you some insight into the true nature of these magnificent creatures. I hope you will find them both informative and inspirational.
Be part of your horse’s dreams, not his nightmares.
May all your dreams come true,
Garry “Horsetalker” Meek