Sunday, February 14, 2010

Savvy Club Answer

I found this answer on the Savvy Club Q & A (Level 3 Freestyle).
Interesting isn't it - oh the question was do do with a horse being aggressive and dominant and emotional when riding on a trail ride (towards other horses) but fine if she was on the ground (like he forgot she was riding him)....

The more challenging the horse, the more savvy you need. Are you working through the Harmony Pack step by step? If not, please do so, diligently. While you can have a good level of respect on the ground, once you get on his back there are certain things that can start to erode this...loss of balance, fear / unconfidence, rough handling of the reins, holding back on two reins, pulling, rough use of reins, lack of phases when using your legs or hands, lack of strong enough focus, etc. etc. Lots to think about!! Given that you are working on all of this and by your question you actually are showing a good degree of savvy (chasing / following, etc) there is still one other thing to think of while on a trail ride. Here's how it usually goes... You set off on the ride, everything starts off well because you've prepared your horse and yourself on the ground. Gradually, things start to get a little worse, mainly because you start chatting to your friends, looking at the scenery and you lose connection with your horse. Worse still, he loses connection with you because you're all he had! The loss of confidence translates into fractious behavior, jigging, increasing insecurity and as a result... shying, spooking... LOSING IT! The question therefore is... "how can you maintain your connection with your horse while on this fun ride with your friends?" Of course there's many ways and depending on your level of savvy, you'll have more strategies. First of all, use things that will engage left brain: backwards, sideways (for a mile or two if necessary!), turns involving disengagement, stopping and grazing, stepping over things, backing over things, getting the person in front of you to keep your horse off his tail (so you don't have to hold back on two reins.. very claustrophobic and seriously disturbing for horses!)... etc. If you are riding with people who would think you are stupid / a nuisance / a dummie / a weirdo for doing this, then STOP RIDING WITH PEOPLE WHO PUT EGO AND JUDGEMENT AND CRITICISM / HUMILIATION IN FRONT OF HORSEMANSHIP! When we do savvy trail rides, we commit to everyone being involved in the horsemanship process so we create rest stops (savvy stops) and little games along the way to keep people and horses connected, left brain and calm.

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