This made me think some more about the things I wrote about in my previous post. To me, the concept of getting ahead of the thought (that the horse might have) directly points to leading the horse with my own thought. I think, if done well, that leading the horse with my thought can avoid the common practice of correcting/punishing the horse for doing what I don't want, which only teaches the horse that - what I don't want. It doesn't really give the horse a good idea of what I do want, and can be frustrating for both horse and rider. If I can lead the horse with my thought, and clearly and consistently communicate what I want the horse to do, then this should make it easier for the horse to do it. The horse is actually looking to me to provide leadership - to lead with my thought - and if I don't do that, the horse has no choice but to fill in the gaps with its own thoughts. I think that's where a lot of the trouble comes in. A quote from the Mark Rashid book Whole Heart, Whole Horse:
[M]ost of the problems we see boil down to simple miscommunication between the horse and rider. And the vast majority of those miscommunications often boil down to the rider not giving the horse the direction it needs to perform the task properly, or . . . inadvertently taking a little mental break while the horse is still working. (p. 104)If I expect my horse to try to work with me and offer the best they can, I owe the horse some things too: having a clear idea in my mind of exactly what I want the horse to do at each moment of my work - not just "trot", but "trot exactly here, at exactly this pace, in this direction and with this destination". I know what I often do is give the horse a cue, the horse responds and then I stop giving direction - I don't keep leading the horse with my thought. Of course the horse is going to have to step in and make decisions. And then I'm back in the cycle of endlessly correcting what the horse does wrong instead of leading the horse with my thought to do what I want at each moment of our ride. This way of riding takes a lot more attention and, yes, thought, than how I was taught to ride, but when I can do it, results come, often in truly amazing ways.
Maisie and I are going to try out some different things today, and we'll see how that goes.