On Their Own

The rider can be trying to help the horse too much.

It can get to the point where the horse isn’t being asked to use their own mind and expression. Everything is coming from you: The energy, the work, the timing, the feel, the lightness… It’s like a teacher who asks a child to solve 4+4 and before the child even has a chance to think about it and perhaps count on his or her fingers, the teacher says, “8!!” As if they just couldn’t wait long enough for the kid to respond.

When they’re not given the chance to answer questions, they won’t try. They’ll think, they’re just going to answer it for me anyway! Just like with music, the pauses are important. After we ask our horse, or other animal, to do something we need to not rush. The snappiness, the quickness, the flashiness, all of that, comes after they have learned and fully understand a concept.

We can’t, for example, teach our horse to spin and on the first day of teaching, say, “Go! Now! Spin!” The single motions still need to be there and isolated. The horse will have to work through it. That doesn’t mean we don’t follow through or let them fall asleep during the spin, there just has to be some processing time. The horse should do his or her own thinking, working, and moving.

Without these pauses, we end up doing all of the work vs. simply saying something and the horse doing it all on their own! We don’t want to be that teacher answering the student’s math problems all through their education. It would be silly and tiresome to have to help them through their tests and every future math problem, simply because we never let the child figure out how to count, add, subtract and divide on their own.

Unknown Photographer


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