2005-12-07 23:27 #0 av: Rebecca

If you watch a very well schooled horse and a very educated rider, then you won't see the rider getting heavy with his aids because it has all been done in the past, and the understanding is there.



 Once upon a time there was a story that if you rode your horse perfectly, patiently, correctly, right from the start, then nothing ever went wrong, each day was another little step in the progression that lead to Grand Prix greatness - and if you did meet with any problems or resistances, then it was because you had hurried too fast, and the answer was to back off and go back to doing something simpler.

It's probably a useful story for the average rider, because unless you know exactly what you are doing when you confront resistances, then you can make the situation much  worse, and it can be dangerous for both you and your horse. Though with most horses there will be a point where they say, 'I'm much more comfortable doing what I like, and I'd rather not make the extra effort...' If you genuinely want your horse to go to the top, then it's probably time to take your horse to a professional.


My experience is that most riders in a lesson situation do their best to avoid resistance, they avoid the confrontation - whereas really as a trainer what you want to do is find the horse's problems, what are the things the horse finds difficult, because if we can work the horse through those problems then that is where the most improvement is to be had.

Resistance is something that a good rider gets good at dealing with.

Most people think that if there is resistance, then something has gone wrong. You do have to be careful because there is a definite line there. What you are doing, is trying to take away the horse's capacity for evasion. A horse learns that there is an easier option - easier than what you want him to do - so the horse has the choice, his easier option or your harder one, and he'll try and take the easier option.

When the rider starts closing that option off, and taking it away from the horse, you are getting into a difficult area, you have to make sure you don't block off all the horse's options all at once and put him under too much pressure because then his brain can't cope and he can't think about what he is doing, that's when he starts jacking up and running sideways. You have to watch that you don't get to the point where the little switch in the brain turns off and the horse is no longer sorting things out.

The skill of the rider is the skill of taking on resistances in order of priority.

The first thing before you even start putting any pressure on the horse is that the horse accepts the rider. Now in 99% of cases this is not a problem but occasionally we will get a horse that is so green that you have to be very careful about putting any pressure on him because he not entirely sure about the rider on his back.

The next thing that the horse has to accept is to go forward. Even horses that are working at a higher level can sometimes have a problem going forward, and it is sometimes not understood because the quality of a horse going forward is not related to its speed, really it is the horse's attitude, and the horse's desire, so it is a mental thing not a physical thing.

It's the willingness to respond. You can have two horses travelling at the same speed, yet one is quite happy to go forward for the rider, the other rider has to work very hard to keep the horse going. One horse is thinking forward, the other is not - even though they are both travelling at the same speed. The horse that is thinking forward is the one that will become lighter to the aids whereas the horse that isn't really forward will become heavier. I find quite often when I am teaching people and trying to get their horses thinking forward, that the riders feel uncomfortable riding the horse in a quicker tempo and they feel uncomfortable putting pressure on the horse when the rider feels that it is already travelling at the speed they feel comfortable with. Once you get the horse thinking forward, that changes a lot of other things about how the horse goes. When a horse has not been made to go forward, and the longer the horse is allowed to go without being asked to go forward, then the greater the resistance will be because that horse has had that avenue of resistance open to him for such a long time. The easy option is not to go, he's always taken that and he feels very comfortable doing that - horses are creatures of habit, and often when an experienced rider gets on a horse like that and says 'today you are going forward' then there can really be fireworks.

You'll see horses kicking out at the whip, trying to jack up - very often the poor pupil who is watching all this is horrified, because their horse is seemingly going worse than it was when the owner was on. As an instructor you have to be very careful to explain to the rider exactly what you are doing when you are working through resistances. With most horses you can work through their resistances, and the rider sees the improvement within even one session. Often at a school you'll see a horse that looks as if it is going quite well, then an experienced rider will get on the horse and will find resistances that maybe the owner was unaware of - or maybe the owner was just carefully avoiding and working around. After the experienced rider has worked through those resistances, you will see how much better the horse is going - then you can really start to work the horse through his resistances.

I think that is part of the definition of working the horse through - working the horse until he is physically and mentally at his best. With a young horse you want him to understand to go forward and straight, and you want the horse to come round and onto the bit, and swing and be soft through the back. That's the first step, then you can say the horse is through, now we are ready to move on and do a little more, introduce some lateral work, try to maintain the quality through the transitions. When the lateral work is coming along he is ready to take another step and become a little more engaged and collected. The first step is to work the horse through and have him thinking forward and accepting the aids, and straight and balanced. When you are riding a horse, if for instance the horse is resisting the rider's aid to the right, then the aid gets stronger. So the encouragement for the horse to obey, whether it is to bend, or go forward, is that the aid will get stronger. If the horse doesn't do the right thing, the aid will get stronger still, the horse will start to get uncomfortable and he will try and seek an answer to the situation. The answer that the rider encourages is the one where the horse yields and softens, and then the aid becomes lighter. That's what all our training is based on. You put the leg on and the horse does nothing, then the leg gets stronger to the point that the easy option - to ignore the aid - is actually harder. You say to the horse, if you don't go forward, I am going to use my leg, I'm going to use the spur to make you terribly uncomfortable, until it is easier for you to go forward. It's the same with bending. You use the rein, you put pressure on the horse, you try to encourage the horse to yield, and as soon as you get something there that you feel is heading in the right direction, you move to a lightness.

Often you will get horses that are quite used to very strong aids - if you have a rider that has been quite strong, but never strong enough to get a response, then you are going to have to be stronger again before you get there. Horses can just become used to people smacking them with the whip, so instead of it being an aid to go forward, the whip becomes something the horse accepts and just puts its ears back every now and then. To actually change the horse and make it go forward, you have to hit it harder until you get the change. As soon as you get the response, you can start refining those responses, and refining the aids, and that is where the lightness comes from. I think that's where people get confused about resistance. The rider should look for lightness, but lightness doesn't come because the rider starts nice and light - the lightness comes through the horse's understanding of the aids. If your horse is running along like a tank, and you want to slow it down, it's no good sitting there thinking 'I must be light'. The horse must learn to come light.

If you watch a very well schooled horse and a very educated rider, then you won't see the rider getting heavy with his aids because it has all been done in the past, and the understanding is there.






Datum för publicering

  • 2005-12-07