Equine related blog that appeared on my personal blog a few days ago.
You can find more from my personal blog about my life in the self employed, world and my adventurous activites outside of riding, at http://ljmonelife.blogspot.co.uk/
Having started riding at 3 years old and just kept on learning since then, I’ve long ago forgotten what it’s like to be new to the world of equestrianism, and everything that goes with it. I’ve been round a few riding schools, loaned and then owned ponies and horses, done riding holidays or just spent the holidays riding at home. I’ve got a pretty good handle on how horses tick and how to find a solution to most problems I’ve come across, from just the years being around them. Add to that the numerous courses, webinars, books and clinics and that gives me a really well stocked tool kit.
I haven’t stuck with just one trainer as I haven’t yet found a one size fits all programme that really does suit everyone. Not only is every person different, every horse is different, and that makes every horse and human partnership truly unique. I can’t remember how or when I learnt some of the things that I now just know, or do without thinking. I can’t remember anything about my life as a 5 yr old but I’m sure that some of the things I learnt all those years ago, are still with me now. They aren’t things anymore…. It’s just the way it is….
A recent lesson showed me that there are plenty of things that I probably now take for granted, and highlighted why I tell all my students to ask me any questions, even if it seems daft. My client had messaged me to say that the horse she part loans was lame so she may have to cancel her lesson if he wasn’t right by the time it came around. Knowing she is quite new to riding, very new to horse ‘ownership’, and had been having trouble with putting on and taking off the bridle (the horse has been pulling his head away, getting the bit stuck behind his teeth, with all 3 of his riders) I suggested that she keep her lesson in place, and I would go through this with her instead.
She doesn’t yet ride him when she is there on her own, as she isn’t confident with the tacking up, getting on, etc so she agreed this would be a good idea, as this would help her start to feel confident enough to hopefully do some riding between her lessons. So I first asked her to show me how she would go about putting the bridle on, she approached the task a little nervously, in part knowing that the horse has been reacting negatively, and in part because being watched makes most people uncomfortable, but there was nothing wrong with how she got the bridle ready, approached the horse, popped the reins over his head and offered the bridle towards his face. The horse sharply pulled his head up and turned away…
At this point for me, with my tool kit behind me, I would ‘just’ try again and with time and patience would have the bridle on. But I realised it’s not ‘just’ anything. For me this reaction isn’t a ‘thing’. I’d barely have to give it any thought before I could start creating a solution, and it wouldn’t unsettle me to have to do so. There is so much I would be doing without thinking about it, as instinct from years around horses, that a new rider/owner is unlikely to be doing and wouldn’t be aware of.
I took the bridle and worked with the horse for a few minutes, all the time explaining what I was doing and why, especially those things that are difficult to see happening, and also any reaction I noticed in the horse too and what this means. Then I gradually handed over the reins (pun intended) to the loaner and coached her through being able to put the bridle on and off several times. By the end of the session she felt more confident, and by asking questions throughout she had learnt a lot of information that will be useful going forward, in a variety of situations.
One of the main questions that the rider asked was about where to find information to help her learn more and wether there was a specific path I thought was the best one to follow. My advice to her was the same as I would give to anyone at any level, asking a similar question. And that is to remain open to new learning, keep asking questions and to read as much as possible.
I read a quote somewhere that masters are simply beginners who kept on beginning.
So to everyone out there, no matter what your sport, interest or passion, keep on learning. Never assume you know it all. Keep asking questions. If someone, be it a friend or a trainer tells you something, don’t take it on face value. Ask questions! Why do you do that? Where did they learn it? How do you do it? If they don’t have an answer it might encourage them to grow too. Then READ READ READ. You don’t have to do something just because your trainer says so. Try it, read about, practice it, and if it doesn’t sit well with your moral compass, or doesn’t work for you right now, store it away in your tool kit. Maybe, further down the line it will be useful, or with a few other pieces of the puzzle it will make sense.
A few books I would suggest anyone read, if they haven’t already, are linked below. If you want to get the books please do go via these links, it costs you nothing extra but I get a little commission from Amazon!