I am sure that you’ve heard me say this before 🙂 – the foundation for fast tracking horse and rider together as one being, is a deep Comfort Zone with you on your horse’s back.
The exercise in this video lesson, that I am smilingly calling The Way of the Child, gets you onto your horse’s back in a beautiful way that creates an opportunity for that incredibly deep Comfort Zone and I love it, love, love it.
It’s a brilliant exercise for releasing old upsets for horses that had a less than best possible start to riding and it’s just plain delightful for a horse like Oliver on the video, who was OK about riding, even quiet – but just delightful to get an incredibly DEEP sense of comfort and have him humming with happiness about the human being on his back.
AND I am sure when you watch the video, you will be able to imagine starting a young horse with an incredibly deep Comfort Zone like this.
You can also use this exercise to work on a horse’s claustrophobia for float training. Horses are natural claustrophobics, so anything that prepares horses for float training is a good deal!
The original idea of for this wonderful exercise has come from Carolyn Resnick’s Toolbox – thanks Caroline! There is some extra video footage on this lesson in the Forum.
Keys to Success
1. It took nearly 40 bales of hay to build this U shaped platform, three bales high and two bales wide for stability because of that height. Oliver is 18 hands tall. Those of you who want to build something similar, I expect that you will get away with two bales high and only one bale wide, which is only 12 bales. We had access to some crappy old hay from the floor of the shed for the underneath layers.
2. If hay isn’t going to work for you, then get creative about a safe and stable platform that will have you up high and able to be very relaxed. Keep in mind that the “picnic” feeling for the horse with such an excess of hay in front of them is, I think, a significant part of the success of this exercise. I know someone who used two tables for the sides and just had the hay in the front section. I look forward to photos of creativity please!
3. As with everything, follow the feeling good – stop and retreat from the Not Quite Rights and wait for The Chew. If you are waiting for The Chew for a long time, that will be for your horse to release an old emotional upset.
4. Because I am not so athletic at my age as I used to be, this creates an opportunity for me to lay all over Oliver in baby steps that do not challenge my athleticism. If you were more athletic than me, then you could put yourself into the mind of a child and get creative up there. 🙂 🙂
5. Now here is the most important success tip of all. Look for the feeling of lightness of spirit, look for the happiness together, look for the freedom to both be together like that with no time pressures or need to do anything at all – look for the Way of the Child. This lightness of spirit is something that Oliver is asking for in everything that we do with him. It is this lightness of spirit that is going to give him his expressiveness in the wonderful dance that dressage can be.
This is one of the lessons I extracted from Fast Track for the Foundation course, which is why that name on the video. 🙂 There’s also a lovely montage of photos of Lloyd and Oliver humming together doing this exercise, under the heading of this lesson, on the forum.
Your next lesson is about preparation for mounting – about being able to have your horse line up and stand still at the mounting block and maneuver around it softly with the reins – plus there’s an extension to “pay attention to me please”. See you in Lesson 66!