I’ve been doing more ridden coaching recently and a pattern I’ve noticed is many problems are solved when the rider is more clear about what they want.
A Horse’s lack of energy very often matches the riders lack of energy. Said rider may be flapping their legs etc but the actual energy emanating from the rider is a bit lacklustre. Add a bit more oomph to the rider and you get a bit more oomph from the horse!
The same goes for the more lively horse. If the rider can lower their own energy they will find it easier to contain their horse’s energy.
Then there’s the specifics. When you’re asking for forward with your seat and legs yet you’re hands are ever so slightly pulling back. If you’re pulling back just the tiniest bit that’s a stop/slow down signal to your horse. If he’s an “energy conserver” you’ll be struggling for forward; if he’s a bit of a hot head you’ll get what comes out as a tantrum-he’s confused!
You give an aid, you move a leg then a hand……. did you mean to give two separate aids? Or did you mean to give a hand and leg aid as one aid? Those things will get you different outcomes.
If you give a leg aid and lift a seat bone, you’ve shifted your weight, did you mean to do that?
There are multiple ways your body can shift when you what you think you’re doing or asking for become something else. So it’s really important that you as the rider can take responsibility and be really clear about your intentions to your horse.
If you don’t get what you wanted, ask yourself if you definitely asked for that or if maybe you were a little unclear.
This is why as riders it’s super important to work on your body awareness. Being able to recognise your own patterns and notice when things move a little off kilter is the key to refining your aids and being clear with your horse.
I do this in lots of different ways with my clients, from Gym Ball work to exercises involving bands, different planes of movement and often just really focusing on the basics.
How do you train your body awareness?