There Is A Lot More To It Than People Think!
I believe that people truly think that riding horses is simple. You learn, “X”, “Y” and “Z” and then you are a rider and you graduate from lessons.
Getting Horse And Rider To Speak The Same Language!
I say “speak the same language a lot in my lessons. It is something that applies to riders at all levels. No matter what it is you are trying to get the horse to do if you don’t know how to ask correctly, you are not going to get the horse to do what you want. He will have no idea because you aren’t speaking the same language yet.
Learning To Speak The Same Language As Each Horse Takes Time
This is the thing that you really never stop learning. Each time you get on your horse to ride, you are having a conversation with it with your aids. If your aids are correct and clear, the horse will answer you appropriately by doing what you want. When you have a “lightbulb” moment on a horse where suddenly you figure out what it’s supposed to feel like, that is speaking the same language.
Each Horse Is A Little Different
On a basic level, all horses speak the same language. Depending on what disciple they are trained for they might vary slightly. Just like people though all horses are different and communicate with their riders differently. Being able to get on and immediately speak the same language of a horse you have never ridden before is hard. Some people never get to that point. Some people are so obsessed that is what they work their whole lives toward(people like me).
This Is Not Something A Trainer Can Specifically Teach You To do, It Is All A Matter of Feel
Sure, I can teach you the correct position and how to apply the aids effectively. Horses are not machines though, it’s not like once you know how to push the buttons you and your horse will automatically speak the same language. There is so much more involved, feel and timing.
Being aware of what the horse’s body is doing underneath of you and knowing how to respond. I can tell you what to do and how to do it, but you have to relay it to the horse in a way it can understand.
Sometimes You Just Never Will
Since we are all different and have different strengths and weaknesses in our riding, as well as just our energy and personality, you should not expect that you can easily speak the same language with every horse.
If you are a nervous rider, relaying nervous messages to a nervous horse, that horse would be better off with someone who was more naturally relaxed. Not that you can’t learn to ride the horse it is just going to take you longer to learn to speak the same language since you are so different, to begin with!
We can all work hard to be the best rider we possibly can be. Horsemanship is a journey remember? It takes a lot of work to become a good horse person. That doesn’t mean that you should expect that you will get along with every horse perfectly. You may be able to learn to ride him better, but there may be a different rider who gets right on and they and the horse just click. That doesn’t mean you aren’t as good of a rider, it just means that you aren’t as compatible.
That is why when buying a horse it takes a lot of trying out to decide on one that is right for you. If you pick one based on looks or breed, but you just don’t get along, you are setting yourself up to struggle.
You will always have bad rides and tough rides on your horse. They will be fewer, farther between, and not nearly as bad if you get a horse you can more easily get on the same page, and speak the same language with.
Not every person is going to get along with every horse, they might learn to deal with each other and get the job done, but will never be as successful as a better horse and rider match! Like some people aren’t meant to get along but can learn to tolerate each other, and other people never get along ever, no matter what. Same deal with horses!
Case In Point
I will use myself as an example, many moons ago we had a mare named Spunk. She was the unexpected foal of another one of our horses. A chestnut mare, with lots of chrome and a flaxen mane and tail. She grew into a flashy looking horse. One of those ones that you wish would have stayed a large pony instead of growing into a small horse… Flashy large ponies tend to be worth a lot more than flashy small horses. Sorry getting off-topic, she was flashy but too small for me.
My friend broke her to ride. I think he put two months into her. She was going around pretty well for him. As much as you would expect from a baby horse. She never looked tense, or grumpy at all. She had a lot of energy she didn’t know what to do with, but that was just a baby horse thing, not an issue.
I did groundwork with this horse before we sent her to get broke. In doing that I never felt like the mare and I really clashed. She had a high opinion of herself and I had to bring her back to reality, but I felt like I did a pretty good job and accomplished what I wanted to. She was mannerly enough to get right on the trailer when she went to the trainers and she had never been off the farm in her life.
I Could Not Ride This Horse To Save My Life
We just did not get along. As far as under saddle goes the two of us were not going to work. Obviously, I could have kept riding her and just forced her into what I wanted. That would have just led to a lot of crappy rides and me having negative feelings toward the horse. It also would have probably created tension and an attitude that might not be there is she had a rider she got along with better.
There was nothing wrong with the horse or my riding, we just naturally did not get along.
She did have a happy ending! I gave her to my friend who had a working student who took her on as a project. They got along well and she was sold on to someone who loves her and is successful with her.
Spunk and I could just never learn to speak the same language.
Zelda And Kemerton
My two horses Zelda and Kemerton were very different personalities, body types, not at all alike. I naturally could speak the same language as them pretty easily. As they progressed in their training, the fact that we had that natural “click” made the hard stuff easier.
That’s The Goal- To Speak The Same Language
Our goal as riders should be to do the best we can to learn to speak the same language as every horse we ride. Some we will be more successful with than others.
We will learn from every one of them and from riding the horses that you have a harder time speaking the same language with especially. If we take what we learn on them and apply it to the horses we really click with, think of all the progress we can make!
Keep on keepin’ on. Riding horses is a journey, not a day trip!