Let’s just start with an example.
I was at a show preparing my clients in the warm up ring. I began to watch other riders and a young woman caught my eye. I noticed how stiff her back was, and then I noticed her outside hand. Every 3 seconds she would jerk on her horses mouth. I watched this go on and on, and it was literally every 3 seconds!
Horses are one of the most pure and honest animals on the Earth. This saint of a horse was trying to figure out what this jerking motion meant. He started to curl his neck and fall behind the bit. Frustrated by his response she yanked his head straight up and kicked with both legs. Listening to his rider, he brought his head up.... But 3 seconds later she went back to the yanking. Was the falling behind the bit the riders fault or the horses? You guessed it, the riders!
I write about this in hopes to increase the consciousness of a certain horseman mentality. So many riders demand and control, but did you ever stop to seek out why your horse isn’t framing up, moving off your leg, or jumping? And if you asked the question, did you ever look at what YOU might be doing to create the ‘issue’.
There is an ‘ism’ I teach all my students. If something feels effortful with your equine then ‘Seek to Understand’. Unfortunately its human nature to blame problems on something outside ourselves, so naturally many riders don’t look at themselves as the problem.
Can you imagine a horse world where riders said the following:
‘My horse is going to fast, is my lower leg in place or is it gripping?’
‘’My horse is starting to stop at jumps, am I keeping my leg on or is he tired of bailing me out.’
‘My horse bits me every time I tighten the girth, am I doing it too fast, or is he in pain from the saddle?
Feel the difference. Jerk, 3 seconds, jerk, or ‘why’.