Best Way to Teach a Horse is to Teach Yourself
Ok, please tell me I'm not the only one who gets frustrated when our horses act like a donkey. And I know we won't get anything accomplished when we are fight.
So if anyone is like me at all, what do you do to keep yourself calm so you can deal with your "donkey"?
Don't take it personally and smile.
I certainly know that feeling.
In fact only on Friday did I have one of 'those' rides. Spighi's brain was still back eating his hay in his stable, and not between his ears in the arena! For a horse training Medium level Dressage, we did not even have a stop/go/turn button.
I ended up just riding walk, halt, rein back, walk etc transitions and got off.
Saturday, I got on and rode him like nothing had happened the day before. A few times he tried to intimidate me into getting angry at him - giving him an excuse to carry on like a headless chook, but by just sitting quietly, putting my leg on and giving the rein while taking a few deep breaths and thinking happy thoughts, he got over it.
We all have 'those' rides. I can't tell you how many times I have gotten on my horse a week out from a big competition, to have it's mind completely gone and just want to yank and kick and have a big tantrum over it!! Anyone who tells you that they never feel frustrated is a liar.
The difference between a good, feeling rider, and a person who just rides, is that a good rider will be able to separate their emotions from the ride, and just ride it out. A good rider has a toolbox full of tools to deal with different situations, and is able to select the correct tool immediately.
When my horse loses his brain, wants to take off, threatens to rear and is a general pain in the backside, my favourite 'tool' is to simply sit quietly with my leg on and a very light contact, and just wait it out. Then ride forward as soon as he settles.
I had exactly this type of a ride yesterday. My boy was in his extremely stubborn mode, it was hard to even get any impulsion at the walk and he said he'd rather ignore my leg completely... I started feeling increasingly frustrated but, as soon as I understood that I have used my whip unfairly once, I took deep breaths, walked on a loose rein and, understanding that I had a complete logjam in my brains, I dismounted and asked my trainer for a little help with him. While they were working, I calmed down, observed how a professional treated his issues, and then got on a gain to start over with a fresh approach. We managed to end on a good note, which to me seems the most important thing of a hard ride.
I try to keep in mind what the great Alois Podhajsky, director of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna (the Lippazan stallions), once said. * "I have time." * I take that to mean that I don't always have to have "good" behavior. I have time to teach better responses to my cues, I have time to figure out better ways to give those cues, and I have time to let him figure out he needn't be a donkey. (Now if I could just transfer that attitude over to dealing with my kids!!!)
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