LET your horse be your greatest teacher
Your horse ALREADY is your greatest teacher – but are you a dedicated student? Are you constantly gleaning the wisdom that your horse is imparting to you in every moment and every stride?
I think we often are taught to become afraid to listen to what we are feeling and what our horses are telling us in our riding, as we are told to do it THIS way, like it’s a rule written in stone and sent down from the heavens. We are taught instead to only look for the answers from our instructors, coaches or the learning's imparted in classical literature, or what the famous superstar coaches are telling us to do.
And while they have a wealth of experience and mastery under their belt and listening to them is absolutely where we need to learn our foundational and theoretical knowledge, (the more theoretical and biomechanical learning you have the better you will progress). BUT, if we are not listening to our horses and carefully understanding the feedback that he is giving us in the moment, then we are keeping ourselves apart from the most important feedback loop in our training, with no exception. 🐴
So how do you become a student or a better student of your horse?
Every time you ask something, you need to know HOW you asked. And monitor, WHAT happened. You need to study the aid and effect. Did the aid in this way work? To what degree? Was the question fully understood? Was there an element of confusion or frustration? If yes, where did this occur. What could I tweak or understand to know what the horse or I need in order to do this better? What happens if you lighten your hand? Adjust your seat bones?
To become the best student of your horse and partnership, become prepared to experiment and learn what works BEST for you and your horse! You might find that the recipe is slightly different for each of your horses. Trust that experimenting in this framework won’t break your horse!
"When I became a student of the MOMENT TO MOMENT in my riding with my horses I really started developing my ‘feel’ beyond my previous limitations. I became more aware of exactly how my seat bones were affecting my horse (in practice not just in theory!), and how each of my horses best likes me to sit to have them able to follow my seat effortlessly. I experimented with how my breath can assist in half halts and transitions, and I discovered just how incredible at learning horses are (they say we are the more intelligent species, but I’m not so sure!)!
I realised that Varekai needs me to lighten my seat like an almost rising trot seat for the canter transition and to take an inward breath, but that Ranger needs me to be more consistent in my seat weight for the transition.I realised that when Varekai is confused and feels like something is contradicting what he knows to be correct, that he has a distinct way of letting me know – and I have learnt to quickly check now when he tells me: did I ask wrong? (and apologise if I did. He holds me to a high standard this horse and if that’s not a good teacher I don’t know what is!); or does he need me to break it down to him and explain that this is a build-on and the requirements are adjusted as we progress?
I became prepared to experiment with my theoretical knowledge. As a kinaesthetic learner, this has helped my riding and development of my feeling and timing beyond all my previous learnings. It finally enabled me to embody what I previously knew - but wasn’t executing with the finesse that I was looking for.
The added bonus for me was that I discovered the magic that my horses bring when they feel like they are being understood and able to communicate with me in the moment! They are liberated and motivated by being able to communicate and be understood. ✨
This ability to develop a two-way communication where we are learning from and for each other becomes the single best way to develop a willingness and ‘passionate effort’ from your horse that I have yet experienced! It is truly game-changing.Are you a student of your horse? Do you already use this in your moment to moment interaction with your horse or is this something that you can develop now to start taking your riding and partnership to the next level? 🎓
Let me know in the comments! Happy riding, Love Stef xx
Hello! I'm Stef Winwood and I’m a Dressage rider, breeder mindset coach and anti-motivational speaker, combining my lifetime of riding and teaching with my NLP training for riding success. I am so passionate about helping riders like you transform your riding results.