Monday, 26 November 2012

Error Free Horse Training

You likely have a list of a few things you’d like to delete from your horse’s repertoire. From rooting the reins out of your hands to biting at the lead shank to slipping a trot step into a flying change.

“In almost all training, situations, the most effective way to “delete” behaviours is to prevent them from being expressed.” Dr Andrew Mclean, internationally respected equine researcher, author.

We’re always training – there’s no neutral. I encourage my students to be mindful of each moment they spend riding, catching those little resistances and using them as a training opportunity, rather than letting them slide by under the radar. Try to interrupt the behaviour as it starts, each time, until it’s finally erased. If not, it will undoubtedly show up later under a pressure situation like a horse show.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Equestrian “luck”

Horse psychology insights: for a winning edge in the show ring and in life!

"The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck."
— Anthony Robbins

As a rider, how do you prepare for your success? There are few sports with more variables than riding. We have a 1000 lb., partner that doesn’t speak or think human. We have judges with preferences. Weather conditions vary. Competition environments vary. And even the patterns, courses and test required vary.

In the words of Regina Brett “Over – prepare” then go with the flow.

Here’s some tips I find helpful…

1. Read more. Insights from horsemen of varied disciplines. Reputable web sites reporting the latest research in equine health and training. The more I study the facts, the more loosely I hold to the very traditions that might be holding me back.

2. Practice the tough stuff. I gravitate toward doing things that come easily and avoid the things I’m not particularly good at. Trotting around an oval in an indoor arena will not yield the same dividends as asking my horse the tougher questions - specific lines, tighter turns. Transitions and lateral movements at specific points. Thinking about, testing, trying and reviewing the concepts I’ve read about.

3. Analyse, watch, feel and study my horse. Reflect on the details of my riding. We’re always training, never neutral.

4. Studying those I respect and doing my best emulate the qualities I admire.

5. Saying no to many good things in favour of the best things. T.V, Facebook, aimless socializing, shopping, magazines – too much mental candy makes for mediocrity.

6. Take a break. Pushing ourselves causes stress. Adrenaline levels rise to the challenge. A regular amount stretches and challenges us - good for us as long as it’s balanced by rest. Living in a constant state of alarm increases cortisol levels. The result? Equestrian burnout.