Riding is about energy. You have to be able to direct it. Energy when riding is as dynamic as energy we use to power our lights and cars. It has many forms when riding and knowing how to ‘manage the energy’ enables the rider to direct the horse more fluidly. Energy is motion. You and your horse need to move together. Try this exercise in your training ride to create sustainable energy in your horse. That means the horse goes more or less for while at the tempo you set until you change it. Depending on their age, training level and ability this may be a very short distance or long distance or anything in between depending on the horses’ gaits and personality. This has also been called ‘self-carriage’. Let’s pick the trot. Trot forward and then shorten the trot a few strides by following less with your arms and calves and using your abs muscles to squeeze and release and create some half halts. Then release your body and relax and go with your horse at the tempo they choose. Let your hands have a weightless grip on the reins and gently move forward an inch or so but hen be quiet and following hovering over the withers or pommel of the saddle. Do this every other letter three times to the right. Then change direction and go left and ask for the shortening of stride every other letter to the left. Evaluate how your horse reacts. Does he get quicker? Does he get slower? Does he get steadier? Does his weight on the bridle lessen? Ideally you want your horses’ trot steadier and connection lighter and more consistent. Then try to mix this in with walk trot and trot walk transitions. Shorten up the stride and ask for a walk and then go forward into the walk and shorten the stride again and then release the horse into a forward swinging walk. See how light your aids can be then mix the walk forward and back with a transition up to the trot. Does the trot feel steadier? Was the transition almost like you though it and the horse did it? Try mixing up the walk trot transitions three loops around the arena to the left and then three to the right. Practice the free walk in between to stretch the horses back. Follow the head with your hand and encourage the horse to reach down with a light outside rein contact. Now pick up the trot and then canter. Can you canter and shorten the stride in the canter with just your half halts – abs squeezing off/on and the outside hand or outside ring finger just squeezing releasing the rein ever so lightly and the horse responds? Then after the shortening of stride just release your body and go with the horse. You may only get one or two tries at this on a long side at first but that’s OK. Instead of thinking of gaits as fast or slow think of them as energy you guide and encourage moving at different tempos. It’s like a song that goes slow and then speeds up but it does so effortlessly. You want to be able to guide the energy of the horse with this exercise. Try it and see how your horse responds. You might like being an Energy Master!
Stay tuned for next week’s Two-minute Training Tip! If you need help building a training plan you can always email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our YouTube channel, revelationfarm.com for upcoming events. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RevelationFm!