Recently my feed has been flooded with images and films of unhappy horses. I’m not sure why 🤷🏻♀️ and tbh it’s not been a fun place to be, but it’s got me thinking as I’ve seen riders force and push and laugh and call the horse names, “𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒅𝒐 𝒑𝒆𝒐𝒑𝒍𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒊𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒂 𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒔𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒘𝒔 𝒔𝒊𝒈𝒏𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔, 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒐𝒓 𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒍 𝒅𝒊𝒔𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒆’𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒔𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒎?”
So firstly, if your horse shows these signs it could be a sign of discomfort or pain; your first priority is to get there thoroughly checked over by a vet, a body worker and by a good saddler, never discount this behaviour as “just naughty”.
Once you know that they are clear and in their own body happy, what could it be?
For me as a coach when I see a horse not following the pattern of “happy behaviour and movement” the next place I will ALWAYS look is the rider. What is happening with the rider that may be creating this pattern.
Let’s think logically, if a badly fitting saddle can create this behaviour and movement, a badly fitting rider most certainly can, and although it’s a tough one to swallow, as riders we don’t always fit great on our horses.
Resistance within the horses movement or behaviour is commonly linked to a rider that holds resistance in their own movement patterning, if we are unable to allow the flow of movement to travel through our body and place our selves into self carriage we become a clamp 🗜️ around our horses that stops the flow of movement through their body too, and this shows up in behaviours and movements such as:
• tight neck and jaw
• hallowing their back
• roaching, bronking, bucks
• rearing, resistance to moving forwards
• twisting, curling, over bending one way
• resistance to correct lead leg, correct bend
• lack of forward movement from hind legs
• pulling, rushing, falling forwards
• resistance or ignoring the leg aid
• running too fast, not moving at all
+ a lot more
As you can see the list is endless when it comes to how our bodies affect our horses way of movement, for some riders these responses can be “𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉” by using more aids elsewhere, if their horse bends more to the left, use more right leg and hand, if their horse hollows and resists “𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒚 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒔 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒐𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒏”, the patterns are then hidden under these aids until they move up a level or ask for more and their horse then says “𝐧𝐨” a little louder.
“𝑨 𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒔𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒚 𝒈𝒐 𝒊𝒏 𝒂 𝒃𝒂𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒅 𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒓𝒖𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒊𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒓𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒔 𝒃𝒂𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒓𝒖𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒈𝒆”
“𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒂 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒔𝒆 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒂 𝒄𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒓𝒊𝒅𝒆𝒓”
These words should be in every school and every tack room in the world in my opinion, along with
“𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒂𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒔𝒆, 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒅𝒐 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒃𝒂𝒅, 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒄𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒍𝒚 𝒐𝒓 𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒄𝒊𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒍𝒚 𝒘𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒂𝒏 𝒂𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒄𝒕”
So what do we need to do when our horse shows even the smallest sign that we may be making it hard for them to achieve what we are asking?
Again we must get them and their tack check thoroughly, and once that is cleared we need to pause and start to work on ourselves, On & off our horses.
Having a coach with a deep understanding of human movement is key 🔑 to unlocking what may be causing the resistance. BUT, you also need a deep understanding of how your body feels and moves, you need to be able to know what straight feels like, what muscles love to be strong 💪🏻 and what muscles of yours love to be lazy , you need to understand how to create balance in your body off your horse, know the feeling of what true stability in your pelvis and spine feels like, and how to then take this onto your horse.
You also need to understand your bodies “trip wires”, when it gets tough what does your body do to counter balance that, do you grab with your hands, shorten your left side, grip with your calves, if you have video footage of your horse resisting whilst you’re riding them, watch you 🎥, watch what happens to your position, your legs, your hands, your hips, where gets “stuck”, where grips, where collapses.
Then when you feel the resistance you will have knowledge of how to re-balance yourself to help your horse, how to not just “push them through it” but how to 𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰 them to 𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 what is being asked of them through correct body balance and alignment.
Don’t get me wrong, this does take work, it takes a small amount of time each day off your horse to work on yourself, DM me if you want to know how you do this, hint “I teach this stuff” 😉, but the improvement in your horse will be HUGE, not only will they be happier but they will move better.
“Because if we move better our horses move better”
So next time your horse shows anything that needs “more” of something to correct it, pause and have a think “what could I be doing to create this”.
Some Monday Motovation for you