Sunday, 6 November 2011

Did I Say That?

Photo courtesy of Mcphail Equine Performance Center

As I entered the office of a friend the other day, I interrupted him as he was dictating into his computer. We’d chit chatted and swapping a few stories, before he realized he’d forgotten to turn off the dictation feature. It was awkwardly funny to hear him read back our conversation from his screen, word for word. Mindless, abstract thoughts recorded in black and white.

I think I’m more intentional about the signals I send to the horses I ride than the words I speak in casual human conversations. I’m fascinated by the work done at facilities such the Mcphail Research Center in Michigan. With motion sensors, force plates, saddle pressure mats and rein tension gauges, they measure the messages horses are receiving from riders and tack. Check out the projects they’re working on 

I often ask clinic participants to share with me exactly what aid they use to request a leg yield, left lead canter, to raise or lower the neck or to shorten the stride. Specific techniques may vary but if we can’t put it into words do we really have a plan? Would we ride any differently if we knew our aids were being measured by sensors?

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