I learned the biggest lesson in horsemanship from my mentor, Ed Rothkranz.
Horsemanship Greats teach their students first and foremost,
and is the problem solver for a lot of issues horse riders and horse trainers have.
Little did I know, this lesson is the biggest mistake most horse people make and don’t even know it.
Ed was an amazing teacher.
What made him so special was the way he could break down something very complex and make it simple.
He wanted every student to be able to go home and have a course of action to try with their horses so they could function without him there.
This leads me to the most basic but most profound lesson he ever taught me!
He said, “Most trainers will have you focus on the horse’s head. Next thing you know you are fiddling with the reins all the time because you are worried about their head. This is a mistake. You should not worry about your horse’s head, you should worry about their feet! The feet are where you control your horse from, not their head. If you focus on the horse’s head you are only building up one muscle: their brain against you.”
Every Great Horsemanship Master I have met or read about since, talk about the same exact lesson: get in time with the feet and you’ll get the whole horse, mentally and physically.
Getting in time with the horse’s feet will be a life-long quest for you. In my own experience, when I really take the time to get my timing better, my relationship with my horse evolves very quickly. When you are in time with their feet you are speaking their language. It’s like any relationship you have. If you become engaged with what the person has to say, it shows you are interested in them, and in turn, they become interested in you.
Here is something for you to try:
Ed explained it best. At a walk, he would have you call out when the left or the right hind foot was coming forward. He would have you call them out for a moment, then call out left and right again to see if you could keep the timing. To help those that were having trouble, he would say, “when the shoulder on one side was going back that was when the hind leg of that same side was coming forward”.
Another tool he would use is to have the rider take their feet out of the stirrups and let their legs loose so they could swing naturally with the horse. When the rider’s legs would swing naturally with the horse, they would discover the right moment to put their leg on the horse in time with his hind-legs.
Questions or Successes? Share in the comments below- that is where the real magic happens and I read every single one!