This is a huge subject and is one of those eternal quests to find a better way to be with our horses....
Stepping out of the traditional belief systems surrounding horsemanship and riding can be so challenging to many people, especially if you are surrounded by others who are still deeply rooted in those methods and opinions. I have found it to be a process, like walking a long and winding path which passes doorways to new and interesting concepts and approaches.
We may open any of the doors, as many as we feel drawn to, and step through into this or that system or method, staying there until we find that there is still something that doesn’t quite complete the picture. Then we retrace our steps to the pathway and continue until we reach another door that looks interesting enough to draw us through it. So the process is repeated and in so doing we are building our own approach and understanding, something that feels inherently right and comfortable when we apply it to our lives with our animals.
I have dived through many doors over the past years, even traditional methods have undergone some huge changes in my lifetime (not necessarily for the benefit of the horse or our relationship with them). In more recent years I have been drawn further and further from the belief that horses are here to do our bidding and we must be obeyed. This is an approach that I never found sat well with me and I now welcome the changes that are beginning to be recognised as hugely beneficial and that guide us to view the horse as, at the very least, our equal partners and to take it a step further, to view them as our teachers and to learn to listen to their messages and have conversations with them.
Recognising that horses are all individual characters, as are people, and that they need to be treated as such, can make a vast difference to the relationship between us in as much as we will be prepared to vary our approaches and learn to look and listen for signals that they are giving as to how they are feeling, about how we are around them or what may be giving cause for concern – or even better, what we may be doing correctly. In allowing the horse to have a voice and some input into how we proceed with them, we enable a freedom and energy to flow through them without resistance. In this state we find that their movement and responsiveness and ingenuity are allowed to develop and we see the true beauty emerge in all aspects of their being and their interaction with us.
This doesn’t just relate to riding them but has to begin and to become integrated in just being around them, handling them and then proceeding to groundwork and in handwork before contemplating riding. The best relationships are developed from the ground and only when the horse indicates that he or she is ready to be ridden do we take that step on the journey.
Which leads really nicely into..
I strongly believe that the basis of becoming a good rider is to develop a truly balanced and relaxed yet light position independent of the hands, (the balance is relevant in all physical planes), to learn to move in harmony with your horse and to remain connected on all levels. For this we need to develop our own awareness in the physical, mindful and spiritual states.
It is essential that we understand our own bodies and are aware of where we are blocked and tense and to seek ways to learn to relax and restore the energy flow to those areas. Only when we have achieved a truly balanced way of riding can the horse be free to show the beauty and flowing energy of their paces and movements.
The next step is to acknowledge how our mental state can affect the horse and to recognise our characteristics, whether we are confident or nervous, like to control or go with the flow, are strong willed or likely to fold under pressure…. The list goes on.
Continuing with the theme of giving our horses autonomy, this is also applied when riding, it is, therefore, necessary that we can learn to trust and have faith in the inner knowing of our mounts and are connected with them on all levels to enable us to respond to the messages they are sending and to enter into a conversation with them.
I appreciate that this necessitates a giant leap and change of direction from what we have traditionally been taught but the results, when we are patient enough, are profound and have the ability to take us to levels of energy and joy that we have previously not even been aware of. The sensation of truly being at one with your horse, if only for a few brief moments, is something never forgotten and creates a desire to continually strive to find it again and again.
As you may have gathered, all this is a long way from conventional riding tuition and you may expect a variety of approaches to help guide you and your horse to a different way of being together.
I have endless patience and am experienced at working with all ages and especially those who struggle with confidence issues.
I will give special attention to helping you develop your position and feel and to guide you to a sympathetic riding style that allows a two-way communication between you and your horse. From this solid foundation any route can be followed maintaining the advantages gained from listening to your horse and having awareness of yourself....