In spending the past year with all of these masters of horsemanship, I began to see a very simple pattern evolving. The complexity of riding comes from the rider never really understanding how the horse thinks from the beginning. They then, as a result of misunderstanding the very basic law of the horse, create a very complex process of communication between themselves and the horse.
“Riding should be simple, like peanut butter and jelly” is what my mentor, Ed Rothkranz told a student once. it is the mental stress of thoughts and expectations on self, that create the complexities of something that really shouldn’t be stressful or complex at all. I was once given a book by one of my professors in college called “Complexity”. The whole book talked about how everything that was complex was really very simple, that all life forms had the same basic geometry and patterns that in the end, really only gave the illusion of complexity.
THE NUMBER ONE BASIC LAW OF THE HORSE that transcends all time, discipline and philosophy is:
THE HORSE WILL ALWAYS RESPOND TO THE GIVE
This message really was hammered home for me when I was filming Terry Church. My mentor, Ed Rothkranz was always talking to people about “the give” with the horse. Every master I watched this past year was talking about “the give” with the horse. But when I was watching Terry teach, the concept actually made me laugh out loud! Terry, doesn’t talk much when she teaches, she asks a lot of questions. She will set things up for the rider to feel something happen and then ask them what they think happened. Over and over again, she would set it up for the rider to give to their horse and suddenly, things would get better. She would then ask them what just happened and it was so interesting to see people who had spent their entire life around horses struggling to define what had just happened.
Giving is about the horse’s desire for the release of pressure, no matter how it needs to happen.
People often confuse giving with gentleness. Buster McLaury really enlightened me to gentling your horse into the danger zone. Gentleness without real understanding of the ONE BASIC LAW OF THE HORSE leads to ineffectiveness and ultimately pushiness that is VERY dangerous for the human.
The horse will seek release no matter what. Wherever that release is, they will find it, even if that means to heck with you. They will endure pain, shut down mentally, contort themselves, take over mentally and physically, push and lean against you, whatever it takes, to get that release even if it is only for a split-second moment.
Have you ever found yourself so focused on a goal you weren’t listening to your horse?:
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