Friday, July 10, 2009
So a student of mine is having some trouble keeping her horse balanced. She emails me today and asks "why oh why her horse won't pick up the right lead and why he won't turn correctly to the right." So today I watched her ride her horse today and the problem was so stinking simple. She was looking down. She was looking down to check his leads, looking down to watch his shoulder. Where her eyes went, the horse's body went. When she looked down her horse dropped his inside shoulder.
People don't think about like they should. And subconsciously, we are ALL guilty of looking down at one time or another. She didn't even realize she was doing it. Horses are VERY sensitive to our weight and when our eyes go down, our heads follow, then our shoulders. When you jump your trainer always says look up or look at the next fence, it's because if we were looking AT the fence the horse would say "HEY! What is she looking AT!!! I have all this weight on my forehand and now I'm freaking, I can't jump and, and..." CRASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Same with barrel racing, you look at that barrel too early and CRASH!
Do this experiment with your horse. Trot around in the arena and just turn your head and shoulders, 99% of all horses IF they are actually paying attention to you, will turn and follow the direction that your weight is tipping towards.
Be AWARE, if you having issues with your horse's body or shoulder dropping in, or if they won't pick up the correct lead (and it isn't medical related) that it's probably YOU. Stay balanced and LIGHT in your seat, keep both of your shoulders level and keep your head up! Watch with your peripheral vision. Another exercise that is REALLY helpful is just plain close your eyes. You'll never feel anything quite like it. After about 10 to 15 seconds of your eyes being closed all of your other senses kick in to high gear. You'll feel their back move, their legs, their mouth. It is an incredible exercise that ALL my students to at one time or another. It helps with balance and helps you to FEEL your horse and not LOOK at your horse.