The photo: Tammy’s horse Dana lines herself up at the mounting block and invites Tammy to get on – as does my horse Bobby and every other horse ridden here. What business have we got getting on if (1) that willingness isn’t there to line up at the mounting block? and (2) if they cannot respond softly to a rein for you to ask them to line up at the mounting block?
Every step of saddling, bridling, preparing to get on their back and then getting on their back needs to be in your horse’s Comfort Zone if you want to Fast Track your way to riding together as one being.
In this previous lesson we worked on communication in the bridle. We released any old resistances or frights or traumas about using the bridle to communicate and then we established simple communication with the bridle – forwards, backwards, left and right – unweight the front feet, head down please and nose softly in.
In this lesson we are going to use our rein communication to actually do something. This should show up any holes in your communication together with the bridle – holes that I personally would prefer to fix BEFORE I get on my horse.
I work with a mounting block because, after working on horses’ sore backs for a large part of my working life, I use a mounting block whenever I can, to avoid pulling on their spine – plus I am a heavy rider these days.
Step One: We are looking for our horse to be happy to line up at the mounting block in a position that we can easily mount from.
Step Two: We are looking for our horse to be easily manoeuvred around the mounting block using the reins with softness and understanding – demonstrating that they understand the feel of the reins softly AND that they feel co-operative about being lined up for us to get on.
Maybe some of you are wondering why I have this emphasis on using the rein when it is becoming clear in the riding seat simulation work that body position for steering your horse is the foundation of how we ride? That’s because whether you are riding on a loose rein or riding collected – the rein is a back up to your body if any further explanation is needed. And in collected riding, the rein becomes a part of the whole body communication.
Like everything you have been doing, you could well be working through the three stages again – following your good feeling feelings and using all five of your Feels in the early warning signal that something is Not Quite Right, for change.
1. RELEASE as your horse releases emotional stresses around a person about to get on their back, which could involve waiting for quite a while for The Chew.
2. RE-LEARN or learn to line up at a mounting block nicely. Even if you don’t use a mounting block, this is still an excellent exercise to do.
3. RE-PROGRAM this task into your horse’s Comfort Zone on AUTO-PILOT.
I had an eye opener when I did this lesson with Bobby one day. Bobby mostly lines up to the mounting block (except when he says things like “I want bridle-less today so I can teach you something different”).
He lined up to the mounting block beautifully, but was heavy with the reins when I was moving him around. So at each place where he was heavier than I was looking for, I stopped and waited for The Chew or I “met and melted”, then stopped and waited for The Chew or I stroked the reins to explain that I was looking for softness and then I stopped and waited for The Chew.
Man, we did a lot of processing.
He released all kinds of old resistances from the past and then afterward we had the best ride with reins that we have ever had – sooo… light and sooo… forward and the most collected we have ever been together.
So doing whatever it takes to get that lightness happening in the reins is a very good deal!
Preparation for mounting is a simple explanation of what we are looking for at the mounting block.
There are two parts to this lesson: the following video PLUS an audio below that. (The lesson referred to in the video is your this one. )
As we are preparing to ride, getting deeper into the layers of “pay attention to each other so that you can keep each other safe” becomes critical to your safety and confidence with each other.
Two minute audio. 🙂
Written Version of the Audio
Throughout all the upcoming lessons preparing for riding and actually riding, you will hear me over and over again reminding you about the “pay attention to me and I will pay attention to you so that we can keep each other safe”.
The baby horse lesson about the Release Re-learn and Re-program making it possible to literally release all the old traumas and UNSTUFF your horse, is so critical to your confidence and your horse’s confidence in the saddle, I suggest that you decide to notice any time when your horse’s attention is not on you and do something about it.
“Deciding to notice” something is a powerful psychological tool. Drum roll here for extra attention to this statement.
“Deciding to notice” is a powerful psychological tool for yourself.
When you decide to notice something – then from then on, you will notice it.
So WHEN you notice that your horse’s attention has left you, do something about it.
If they are loose in the paddock or field you can combine games. You can just smooch or clap your leg gently or do whatever it takes to get their attention on you, or you can do something like play an advanced My Grass Game combined with mirroring occasionally to get your horse to keep their attention gently on you.
If they have a halter on and you lose that feeling of connection, if you lose that awareness of gentle attention on you, then do something about that too, maybe even walking to the horse’s hind end like Val did with Topacio in Lesson 25 (that’s your Fast Track Lesson 34).
I was walking with Sunny yesterday and she was all hyped up and I had to turn around and go back a dozen or so steps, every time I felt her focus leave me, before she really relaxed and focussed on me.
These habits are the ones that will keep you safe, on the ground and specially in the saddle.
So take a moment now, right now… to decide to notice when your horse’s attention leaves you and decide to make a habit of doing something about it, on the ground and then continue that into your ridden work – THAT is an important key to keeping you safe and keeping you connected for beautiful riding together.
In your next lesson we look at low, medium and high energy work and bringing some specific high energy into your horse’s Comfort Zone, so that you KNOW they can handle high energy on and around them before you’re in the saddle.