Dear Jessica, I attended one of your clinics recently and was very impressed by the way you 'read' horses. I watched a lesson in which the horse began almost out of control, and it was amazing to see the changes in him as you changed the rider's position and aids. If you can, will you please explain more about the changes you made? I especially liked what you said about the importance of being a quiet rider or riding quietly, and I think I could use this with my own horse at home, but I want to know more about it. I was sitting far enough away that I couldn't tell exactly what the rider did to become quiet, but I could certainly see the results! My trainer says that you probably asked the rider to do nothing with the reins, but I'm not sure about that. What do you mean by being a 'quiet rider'? I wanted to ask at the clinic, but you were so busy and I was just an auditor.
Thank you, I loved the clinic and horse-sense!
Hi Danielle, I'm so pleased that you enjoyed the clinic. Next time, come up and say hello -- yes, clinics are busy, but I'm never too busy to answer questions or explain what I'm doing.
The 'quiet riding' I was teaching was simply this: the rider needed to relax and have PASSIVE contact through her seat, legs, and reins. This doesn't mean dropping the reins and taking the legs away from the horse, it simply means establishing good balance. A balanced rider -- as opposed to a gripping rider -- will be more comfortable in the saddle, and will be able to achieve a position in which she can go WITH the movements of the horse, interfering as little as possible with the horse's natural movement.
Riders often try to do too much -- they imagine that they aren't "riding" unless their seats, legs, and hands are active all the time. It's actually much easier on the horse, and leads to a better quality of movement, if the rider can become truly aware of the horse's movements, and can then be aware of when she is workign WITH the horse, and when she is working AGAINST the horse. In the case of that particular rider, she was definitely trying too hard! When she relaxed and allowed her body to flow with the horse's movement, and used her aids only when necessary, and lightly, the horse -- as you saw -- was able to relax and flow forward in all three gaits and during transitions.
I'm glad you saw the changes -- for me, that's the most exciting moment of each lesson, when the horse and rider are able to relax and begin to work together in harmony.
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