Saturday, 29 August 2009

What, where, when and how!

I loved working with Connor and his hunter.
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We've just come back from a week in Ireland. We did a four day clinic with a day off either end. Some people were in for one day, some for two days and some for four days, so all in all we got to work with fourteen riders and their horses. I learnt stacks!

Pretty much every time I do clinics nowadays, at some point I become really aware that I only have about one thing I know about horses. I use it in every job but it does sometimes gets thinly disguised as different things. So I may be doing a loader, or I may be helping someone get their horse to stand still at the mounting block, or I may be helping someone do a move that I don't even know what it is, or even how to do it myself, or I might be helping a horse understand the bit, or I might be messing about at home playing around with the balance in my horse, or anything really, picking up a youngsters feet for the first time, or the second, or just picking up a youngsters feet - it's all the same stuff!

So whatever the job what is that thing - I'd say it is that you want to keep your horse feeling safe. Working with that anxious or fleeing horse, in the immortal words of a friend of ours, 'is at best a waste of time'. Over the last few years I have learnt so much about horses, but still one thing that I found out years ago stays the same - if I set up the boundaries and stay in charge of the movement, then I get the best out of my horse.

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I heard Harry Whitney say, 'The horse needs to know what, when, where, and how'. I've worked out that if I get that lot in place most things go well, and conversely, if things are not going so well, I've left at least one of those jobs up to the horse, for sure.