Bring it back to basics
I know we all strive to get to the top or we have our goals but sometimes in riding we get lost. We focus on where we want to be rather on where we are at. Slow down and enjoy the moments.
Every little “trick” movement is based on our basics. Just because our horse can do a flying change or a half pass doesn’t mean it’s done correctly. The root of our training is based from the essential basics you train your horse to know. These basics must be continually schooled in order for greatness.
You must train your horse daily based on the typical training scale. If you don’t have a piece of it, you won’t go far. In training your horse daily, you should have suppleness, desire to move forward, a good connection, control of the tempo and rhythm, and the horse’s desire to come back to a half halt. Does your horse respond to your right leg in a leg yield or your left leg? When you say go, do they? If you are beating yourself up (or upset with your horse) ask yourself this, Did I really get my horse listening to my aids?
When you feel things are not going as planned, take a step back. Start from the walk. Work on the tempo and relaxation. Can you change the tempo of your walk? Can you halt with a relaxed horse? Can you walk on again with acceptance of the leg, acceptance of connection, and with relaxation? Try at the walk to do a steep leg yield. If their haunches fall behind, half halt them back so they can stay behind the shoulders. If the haunches are leading, work on getting the shoulders over more with your outside aids. If you have mirrors, even better, then watch yourself in the mirrors as they cross their legs.
If you feel you have control of the walk, try a few transitions. Walk-Trot-Walk or Trot-Halt-Trot. Find out what works best to warm your horse up. I have horses that seem to give their back more with minimal trot and then proceeding to canter. I work transition in the canter with in the gait until I truly feel the horse has given in their back and accepting the aids. These are all the things you work on prior to even attempting more advance movement. If I feel like I’m still having trouble at the canter I will simply go back down to walk. Start with transitions and leg yields in whatever gait you feel loosens your horse up best. Always remember, Collection is the last step. Why go to the end if you truly don’t have everything else?
If they aren’t responding to the legs work on turn on the forehand or turn on the haunches. Have someone on the ground help you. The ground person can easily reinforce the movement as you put your leg on to get your horse to respond positively.
These are only a few tips to try. All in all, work on the feel in your riding so you can know when your horse is truly with you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Any eyes on the ground is better than none. Stay consistent on schooling your basics and you’ll be where you want to be in no time. Patience is everything! And most of all…. Just have fun! Happy riding!