Yup , that’s what I tell my students if it gets their horse in a working mode while ridden.
I recall back when I was studying in England for my AI certification I learned so much about riding. You had to be a part of the barn life , chores etc , have lessons , burst through comfort bubbles right and left and do this 6 days a week. And on the odd saturday we had schooling shows.
OMG barn work and show in a day, half day actually!… so warm up, NOT!
I had this one horse Biggles, a grey gelding, that I was to show. He was not my charge horse but we all knew his rep. Cold backed! Yeah!
Well this day I proved a lot to myself… not how I would do it now but then I was young, in college, and dong what I was told. It was a grade and a certificate on the line. Had a lot riding on my outcome.
So my AM chores were done and I was needing to get to my dressage test time and so had groomed Biggles early , had to tack up after a quick brush off and yup hop on and yup hang on! HOLY….!!! well Im still here so it all worked out. Honestly I dont recall if he got me off or not. I know I had a time with him but dont think I came off.
I went in and did my test and it was ok. I dont even remeber my score. I didnt care I just knew I needed to do what I had to do to get him to chill through it.
Muriel Harris was out head master in charge of the program and she was having a ball with the American style of equitation. I was not a show rider so it didnt bother me to not look perfect, like a china doll. She liked me as I was more of a ride by the seat of my pants rider , who hunted and rode a variety of horses in uncontrolled situations, so I had good instincts , what I call servival instincts! Literally!
Anyway the whole experience of that one Saturday of my time(6 weeks) there was so telling, Obviously as I can still recall the events. As Muriel told me before I went into my test and durring a lesson after the show…yeah I had to ride him again… and again, and again… she said, ” losen up!!!! I dont care what you look like nor does he , he just need to be ridden how he needs to be ridden, now get on with it!” She was a no non sense person!
Biggles was a huge influence on me…. I know why Muriel had me on him often. She knew I had it in me and she was right . By the time I was done I had him pegged and others as well.
So, comes my attitude of justice. I dont care if you ride on your head if it gets your horse to travel in a fluid forward frame.
I thought of this whole expereince today as I was on route to teach lessons . One lady very much uptight to be perfect and had some fear issues etc etc, so I knew I needed to recall on my own past to pull her forward.
I also thought of my own Sarah especially and Popeye who I have been bringing on as they developed not on my schedule but theirs. I have been serching for a real connection for Sarah and her riding and have made huge progress but deep down know I need to think for myself an acknowledge my little voices. I have great instruction with my horses, yes i get lessons too! but ultimaltey as I tell my own students it’s your horse and when they, we, are not there it up to you to make it work so make it your own. We cannot be a mirrow image of our instructors, we are not them. We surely can learn from all, lick and chew and use our own minds to make it work and find the puzzle pieces that are missing.
I thought on this and made a dicision as I drove and recorded a reminder on my phone to write this blog about my thought pattern.
**to go with my recurring thought re sarah, its recurring for a reason. I pride myself in being well educated horseperson , up to date, a good thinker, and listener (especially with my eyes). I instill confidence with ease.
**Im the best judge of my horses and know how to balance things. I needed to remind myself to trust my own expertise, (The Hybrid Method), and just do it! Even instructors are human! We should NEVER forget that…
**Follow their feel and feel my way through.
**Allow a “2 way conversation” to take place. Allow questions to be asked and anwers to be acknowledged, never ignored.
** Never forget where you came from.
Got thinking about this and wanted to clarify a bit. I don’t want to promote not listening to or trying to mimic your, our instructors. Its how we all have to start and then we develop our own styles. What I do want to promote is this:
My head is saying try something different. Push a little bit to let her see what it is you are looking for. Dont blow her away by doing too much but go to where she can explore the new frame desired not only in walk but in trot.
Open hands , closed hands? Hands to the side and high , or low? soft outside rein to allow the bend , or maybe a more steady feel? Or maybe one way its one way and another its another. Seat position??? How does it effect her if I move this way? No thats not good, shoulder dives in, how can I correct it? Leg, one or both? don’t stiffen, push sideways, open a hand/ rein(direct), raise a hand? Let the contact go and not play the game of holding her stiffness.
You see this is what I mean. Eventually we are all in our own little world and need to be able to work things out on our own in our own way., in full conversation with our horses.
Remember to be just in your responses and reward tries.
In the typical english riding world a relaxed back is not advocated, but if it gives the feel to the horse of release and they do then DO IT!
Who cares? Your horse! The only one who should really matter!!
I hope this makes sense. It took me a long time to get so I saw and accepted the “holes” in the most vested of my foundations methods and sought to fill those holes with other methods in order to find harmony and the best communication per horse, not to mention body awareness.
Now with each of the three main methods I encompass in my work with horses, I can confidently say I have the bases covered. What ever might be missing , needs a tweak, Ill stand on my head!
So go ahead and “Stand on your head!” if it gets the message across and you have a horse under you who is free, fluid and happy.