Uh…what was I saying again?

"It's a bear!"

As in my lessons, it is easy to get sidetracked in these blogs.  Yesterday, I had originally intended to use my video clip with Scott Hassler to stress how valuable it is to videotape lessons, shows, and practice rides.  It is difficult to override my admiration for trainers I deeply respect.  Now that I got that over with there is another theme to explore in the same clip.  If you didn’t see the clip, it is located at the bottom of the last post.

A common theme, especially with adult amateur riders, is how to handle a situation when a horse gets tense or spooks.  It is not uncommon for a student to give me a list of the items or situations that cause their horse to spook.  It is sometimes difficult for me to get the student to override their concern for these particular scenarios, and instead focus on the behaviour the horse is exhibiting when it encounters the fearful object or situation.  An example would be, fear of a mounting block in the corner of the arena.  The horse shies and runs sideways each time it approaches the mounting block.   Here it comes….”He’s afraid of the dang mounting block!”,  followed by kicking and fussing.

The mounting block, in this case, is immaterial…it could be a dog, a bucket, a plant, anything… the focus should be the loss of rhythm, and the falling in on the inside leg.  This is something that can be corrected.  You cannot predict every object you may come across in your horse’s life and train him not to be afraid of it.  You can instead, train him to move correctly on your aids, and soon his trust will build when he realizes that your decisions have kept him safe.  Having a conversation with your trainer about why he doesn’t like mounting blocks, hats, etc. is nice, but not conducive to fixing the problem. 

This is more aptly stated by Scott, in the video when an unseen person drops some folding chairs while I am cantering Lucy.  There is a sudden “Bang” and Lucy immediately tenses up (she doesn’t look that tense but she felt it!)  He calmly reassures me “There are no noises…just her body- if her body gets nervous, ride the body”.  He offers the disclaimer “This sounds so easy from the ground.”  But this is what we must aspire to.  Ignoring the stimulus, controlling our adrenalin and riding the horse’s body.  If the horse’s body is stiff (from fear) ride it the way you would ride a stiff horse.  Don’t add in the element of panic.  Nobody’s saying it will be easy.  It will take time, but the first step is visualizing.  Then practicing……then one day….Bang!!!!…Nothing.

14 thoughts on “Uh…what was I saying again?

  1. Why do I always feel you are talking directly to me 🙂 I have to say watching the video posted not long ago of the pro handling the spooking horse was inspirational to me maybe you can find that ans post it I ‘remember the riders name :)He just stayed so calm and I could see how reassuring that was.Now if only I can do that myself….

  2. I think visualization is so under-utilized. . of course I use visualization to imagine all the awful things that COULD happen, to my detriment. I am trying very hard to imagine nothing but good things, but I’m not exactly an optimist.

    I am often impressed by the way that my very green husband handles horses, especially some of my very hot TB broodmares, with absolutely no fear. I think it’s because he doesn’t have two decades of being trampled in his memory to draw upon while they are dancing about. Sometimes experience can be a drawback 🙂

  3. I agree!! At one of the barns I teach there are usually beginner lessons going on at the same time I am teaching and I can’t even watch as everytime someone is learning to canter I think the horse is about to bolt or someone’s going to fall and get dragged! I’ve seen too many accidents and I’m always so worried about them I sound like an old lady… I have all the respect in the world for the people that can teach beginners because I too feel that my experience gets in the way of that!

  4. This is great!! This post is pretty much what my life is about! I’m convinced that my horse is going to spook which really takes away from the relaxation that I’m SUPPOSE to have in the saddle. I keep telling myself that it’s fine, but what my heart says and what my head says contradict each other.

    1. Thanks for coming by! I’m going to check your blog when I get done here! I love your blog name, wildponybeast! I too get caught up sometimes convinced that a horse will spook, but I try to remind myself that I already took the chance by getting on so I might as well go with it! Thanks again for the support! Us bloggers have to stick together! = Suzanne

  5. This is so true and so worth repeating ad nauseum. I so often observe the same situation: “My horse is afraid of…” So often, all we need to do is focus on riding the horse beneath us THAT VERY MINUTE. Not the horse we wish we had, the horse we THOUGHT we had, the horse we had 5 minutes ago or the horse we’ve been told we had. Sometimes, we need to follow our horse’s lead in order to lead them and live in the moment. Dang, I could turn that into a whole post, hmmm, maybe I will! Thanks for your observations!

    1. Thanks for your input! With people I just start teaching I hear a lot “he isn’t usually like this” which I understand as they don’t want to be misjudged, but it is really irrelevant what normally happens, you can only ride what is happening at that moment! I will read up on your blogs, I love eventers! Good luck with Solo!

  6. Excellent Article!

    If I could write like this I would be well chuffed 😉

    The more I read articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there might be a future for the Web. Keep it up, as it were.

    1. Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for hosting the Carnival! I am new to your site but it looks great! I am going to spend some time tonight perusing! Your studies in nutrition and holistic health sound interesting! Thanks again! – Suzanne

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