08
Sep
13

Teaching Feeling

Yesterday, I taught a riding lesson to a young adult I had seen ride several times, and whose horse I ride for her a couple times a week.
She is shocked to see every time that I ride her horse, that her horse looks light and goes round. (her horse is not light, but I ride her very forward).

When I started riding her horse, she told me the horse had a hard mouth. She asked me to always ride with the running martingale adjusted short. (*I ignored this, and rode without it*).  After riding her horse for her for several weeks she asked me to give her a riding lesson.

I asked her what she wanted to get out of her lesson, and she said that she wanted her mare to go with her head down. She knows how uncomfortable it is for a horse to go with it’s head in the air, and I agreed. I told her that she is already a good rider, but instead of given her instruction to do things differently, I might just give her a different perspective to think about things.

While we were walking to the riding field together, she explained and showed me how her horse pulled on the bit and ignored her when she tried to pull the horses head down. I think this is a common misconception that you can pull the horses head down. At this point as I watched, I realized that perhaps she didn’t really understand the motions of the horse at the different gaits. So I explained the four beats of walk, the thrust of the hind legs, the corresponding swing of the belly, and the movement of the horses head.

This is all very complicated. I praised her seat, because it is important not to hurt the horses back while we are riding. But her hands need to move with the horses mouth or she will keep building a tension between her horse and herself, and it will be hard to get the big mare to relax her head down.

We did this at the trot too. Instead, explaining that the angle of the elbow opens and closes as she sits and stands in the saddle. the horses head doesn’t move. but if her hands move when she sits and stands, then there will be the same tension from the walk, and her horse won’t want to put her head down and relax.

I let her try again in canter, explaining that the head moves in canter similar to the way it does in walk and that following the mouth with the hands is important. The same way when she dances with someone, you move with them, and if you don’t you collide with them.
And although she did just fine with riding and the concepts, I don’t think she was satisfied without an immediate result. I hope she takes another lesson and I can help her with these fundamental principals of harmonious riding.

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