Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Lessons are winding down!

This week was the last scheduled lesson for the summer. Or so I thought. I have an awesome group of 5 teenagers and a few pre-teens. I have had some 10-12 year olds that have been returning every summer for a few years. I have some young 6-8 year olds that have started lessons for their first year. All of these youth have made lessons fun!

Some of the kids were brand new to horses. I even had a little girl from California, visiting grandparents here. Some of the kids didn’t know how to brush or to lead a horse. Some weren’t sure how to get the reins over the horse’s necks, let alone how to get on! Heels were up. Backs were slumping. Uncertainty showed. They just didn’t know what to expect. After the first day, they couldn’t wait to come the next day, and try a different horse! I am so lucky to have such good lesson horses, even if they have their “quirks”.

Consistency works. Dedication to weekly lesson works. Just a willing attitude! This summer, many of the kids have learned to post the trot, and even to lope! We have worked on going over logs in a trail pattern. We have worked on pivots and forehand turns and half passing. We have side passed the logs and backing through the logs, even backing in an “L”.

The kids learned balanced, as well as some Centered Riding techniques. We worked on simple things, like soft eyes so we see the world around us as we ride, and each other! We learned deep breaths to help us to relax as we ride, and to exhale so the horse hears the sound and relaxes also. We grounded our feet so that we can feel the whole foot in the stirrup. We actually put a little more foot into the stirrup than we thought we would. We found our seat bones by “marching”, first one foot out of the stirrup and lifting the knee, then the other foot. We didn’t work on intent, the word, as much, but then after I thought about this, maybe we did. By the end of the summer, I talked about how the kids should know what they want their horse to do and to have their horse do what was expected! That is intent. Have a purpose. We did that by have a pattern. We practice weaving through the poles and walking and trotting over them a lot!

The kids loved trotting the barrel and poles pattern. They love weaving through things!!! Poles, cones, logs. They taught me a lesson to always keep things fun. What is amazing is that they don’t even know they are learning to guide their horses. Kids (and adults) do so much better when they don’t “”try”. When we have a set pattern, or the kids try to do something at a specific spot in the arena, things sometimes fall apart. (Same with adults).

(Chick on Working Cow, now an awesome beginner horse!)

This reminded me of what Sally Swift, coordinator of Centered Riding, said. “Work or concentrate 75% of the time on you, as the rider, and only 25% of the time on the horse”. If the rider watches where they are going, and quits watching the horse, things go better! If I gave the kids something to do, like weave these cones going this way in the arena, and on the other side of the arena, weave the barrels, they did awesome! Many of the kids wanted to trot this pattern, as the walking was too simple and easy! Imagine that!

I asked some of the older youth to keep a journal if they wanted to, and to write some thoughts down. I wanted to hear about some of their “ah ha” moments when the light bulb goes off and we “get it!” I’m excited to hear what they wrote about and to hear their thoughts. I’m most anxious to know what their light bulb moments were! We call them “LB’s”!

This morning was suppose to be the last scheduled lesson for the summer. I added next Tuesday. It looks like these kids have come along for the ride. How about you?


gretchen said...

I love your blog. I'm really hoping to come over and take a lesson while I'm in NE at the end of the month.

I'm SO GLAD you are enjoying your summer lessons and I can't wait to pick your brain and get ideas to improve the lessons I am teaching, as well as improve my own riding!

Brenda said...

thanks, Gretchen! I really miss having you ride with me! I can't wait to show you all the Centered Riding techniques. I am really having a good, relaxed time! That is the biggest change in me, I think. I seem more relaxed. Whatever brain you can find, you can pick! lol See you soon!


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