Energy!! I don't get it. Please help me understand.
First let me give you a little background.
I haven't been around horses very much. My grandfather had 2 horses that my grandmother wouldn't let anyone ride. Neither would my mother. When my mom was little, she watched her uncle get dragged to death by a horse. That was my grandmother's brother and they both have been terrified of horses every since. My grandfather only used his horses for pulling a wagon.
I have been fasinated with horses every since I was little. Mainly from watching westerns on TV. But, I have never really saw anyone ride except while passing them in a vehicle or on TV. When my brother was given some horses a few years ago, I somehow connected with 1 of them, an 8-year-old mare, and that same fasination that I had when I was a kid took over. So I had him to teach me to ride. After a few rides I realized that he was just about as green as I am. I wanted to learn more than he could teach me, so I started taking lessons.
I have been taking riding lessons and love being on a horse. I have a great instructor and I understand everything she is trying to teach me except the part about using your energy.
In my first 2 lessons she kept telling me to make the horse move off my energy instead of using my legs or reins. I told her that I didn't understand and she tried to explain but it just wasn't clicking. She explained that I already was using energy to stop. I gave her a blank stare when she said that. She went on to explain that I was using my energy to make the horse stop simply by relaxing in the seat. Once i stopped moving so did my horse. I understand that part, but how the heck do you use energy to get a horse to move. I just don't get it. I can get him to move off my legs, using reins, or by clicking. But moving off energy, i keep saying to myself if I hold a light bulb in 1 hand and duracells in the other, I still won't have light. It just isn't clicking, so someone please help me understand. I guess this is part of her natural horsemanship training.
I have gotten so frustrated with this energy thing that somehow I feel that I am wasting my instructors time and mine and I haven't been back for a lesson in a few weeks.
Please help me. I know that there will be different views from different people which could make it seem like a debate. But I don't care as long as the end result is that I understand this energy thing.
Sorry for the long post and I hope I didn't make anyone as confused as I am.
Dorothy, I've been riding horses for over 40 years and I have yet to have an instructor tell me to use my energy to move a horse from the saddle. Spurs, yes, crop, yes, legs, yes, seat, yes but not energy. I don't believe in that, I believe it's the horse's job to carry me and do what he's told by my cues. I sit down, cue him to walk or trot or lope and I expect him to do it. I'd find another less......."rainbow stew and unicorn farts" instructor.
I think what your instructor was trying to get at was not 'energy,' but 'intention.' If a horse is very in tune with you and very light to your aids, then you can use a small shift in your seat to tell them what to do- like you did to make them stop, by stopping your own body first. For example, if you have the intention to turn, instead of reaching down and pulling the rein, you would shift your weight to the left or right and turn your body the way you want to go, therefore focusing your 'energy' with your intention to turn. If the horse doesn't turn, then you use your other aids, such as your leg. But intention comes first- ask, then tell, essentially.
When I'm helping my little sister with the 'asking' part, I explain it to her by saying that she needs to set in her mind where she wants to go, so that the horse can follow. If she's looking to walk straight ahead, she needs to focus on that and imagine herself going straight ahead, then, if she feels the horse's body deviating from that path, she should correct them with her leg and seat.
I'm not sure if this is what your instructor is saying or, if it is what they're saying, why they're asking this of a complete beginner...
Does she mean your body movement / placement?
I would take it to mean you move your body with the motion of the horse. When you stop riding, the horse should stop, when you are poised and riding with the horses motion, the horse should keep going as well.
Kind of like say when the horse walks your body rocks with the horse's motion. In that case you are following the motion of the horse. But the horse should follow your motion as well. Like dance partners. You shouldn't physically be trying to rock the horse into motion, but rather following his motion so that he is following your lead like a dance partner.
I don't know if that is totally correct, but that would be my interpretation. Heck, I could be totally wrong. I have been riding for almost 20 years but never really took lessons and I am only now beginning to realize that I don't just follow the horse's movement but he should also follow mine. Like dance partners is the best way I can describe it.
This is just my interpretation.
When you're riding, your body does things based on what you do. Looking in a direction can make you turn even eevverrr so slightly with a miniscule amount of weight - but a horse feels that. When you want the horse to slow down, your body is preparing for that even before you're asking. It's weird, but she's asking you to be more of an active rider. So start trying to think of "trot" or "walk" or "canter" or "circle this way" in addition to activating your cues. Your horse will feel your intention by the subtle things your body does in preparation to do whatever it is you're about to do.
No idea if that makes sense!
Exactly, I understand every thing you just said. I understand shifting my weight in the seat, to make him turn, that's mostly what I do. but I'm totally lost by making him go off my energy.
But let me explain, just because I haven't been back in awhile for lessons, I still ride my brother's horse. I had been on here reading for months trying to absorb as much information as I can. From reading on this forum is what made me decide to take riding lessons. I only want to do trail riding.
I never thought I would be 52 and taking riding lessons.
Dlady, don't you just love the obscure? Don't despair - it's the norm for me to look at new concepts with a big question mark over my head until I can figure away to understand them on my terms.
My take on it would be that it may help to think of it in terms of focusing ahead or riding towards a goal rather than 'using energy'. You're going to still use your physical aids of weight, hands and legs but your concentration is no longer directed at getting the horse to move for the sake of getting it to move but more at getting to a specific location in a specific gate (say down to the end of ring going from walk to trot part way there or going over a trotting pole, etc). Once you look at it that way, you'll probably find yourself seeing that the use of the aids becomes more second nature to you.
I'm beginning to understand a little better now. Going to my brother's tomorrow for a ride and will let everyone know how it goes.
1 more question. In terms of feeding, what the HELLO is a flake? I have access to a few acres that I can fence in build a barn/stable on if I ever decide to get a horse. That will be a few months down the road. I want to be armed with a lot of information before I take that leap.
I'm assuming that you mean a flake of hay. Have you ever seen a bale of hay? When you cut it open, it will generally fall apart into sections. Each section is called a flake.
It might help to write down some of these suggestions/ the main points and run them by your instructor, to see if we're on the right track with this. It might help them to specify what they mean in a way that will make more sense.
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