Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Question

As I'm plugging away at this series of posts on "Working Towards Softness", I feel I should ask a question. I'm obviously no expert on any of this, and can only try to describe what works for me with my horses, or things I'm trying out. Every day I learn more, mostly from my horses, so for me it's all a work in progress. I think I want to try to write these various exercises down because it helps me cement and develop my own understanding and it's fun as well to try to figure out ways to communicate what I'm thinking to others. I've got ideas for more posts - here's the ones I expect to be working on so far, all under the "Working Towards Softness" title:

A Photo Essay (1)(done)
A Photo Essay (2)(done)
Why I Don't Use Gadgets (done)
Simple Things (done)
Simple Exercises Without a Horse (done)
In-Hand Exercises
Leading Exercises
Basic Under-Saddle Softening Exercises
Focus Exercises
Patience and Self-Calming Exercises

Another benefit to me is that the comments people leave advance the conversation - I always learn something and when there's a dialog it's a lot more interesting.

I guess what I'm asking is whether this is interesting to you the reader. I love doing posts about my rides and what my horses are up to, but I also enjoy trying to write about these broader topics. I'm enjoying it and hope you are too - and you can help me advance in my horsemanship by commenting, asking questions and adding different perspectives. That's what's fun about this horse blogging community - there a lot of people out there with a lot to offer. Let me know what you think.


  1. Oh, yes, Kate it is most helpful all your writings of the horse. Some of your posts I have gone back and reread again. You are very good at explaining what you are doing with your horses and the Mark Rashid clinics, love them, keep writing; I love it and find it VERY helpful!!!

  2. Hi Kate!... Always happy to read the posts, I do read them more than once, and find that there is always something of interest. Your idea to ask for comments, very brave! But would be happy too. I am not a fan of to much technical stuff, but you have a serene way of putting it. Its fun.

  3. I too find your posts quite enlightening and very interesting. I am not riding very much now because my dressage saddle does not fit ME and pitches me forward. I am not in "the right place," so my lessons are on hold. I am watching a lot of DVDs and old videos, reading everything I can get my hands on (including books and magazine articles I've read before--but now I'm reading with new eyes).

    Your posts help me because softness and bracing are two things I've been working on with my OTTB. Through reading your blog, I see where I am going wrong (I'm expecting too much too soon AND "giving the wrong signals"). I am also thanking my lucky stars my horse is so patient with his clod of a mother ;o)

    Keep writing!

  4. I enjoy your posts too as they remind me a lot of many of experiences I have had. When you have been riding for nearly 50 years--and luckily with dozens of excellent trainers--it's all to easy to forget some of the "tricks of the trade." It's always good to read about someone else kind of experimenting her way along in this journey called horsemanship.

    Love the pics of Lily's grooming below. She seems to be charming everyone.

  5. I sure like what you write...especially when you have photos of what you are doing. Informative and motivating.

  6. I always enjoy reading about how others are training their horses. It takes a lot of trial and error to find what works with my mare, so the more tricks I have up my sleeve the better. :)

  7. You probably know I'm looking mostly for tips in the saddle - rein control, leg aids, seat. My biggest challenge is truly understanding what you are describing.

    I often go back out with my horses and try to feel what you're writing about, and sometimes I do. Other times I recognize that it's still beyond me. But someday it won't be.

    At least I hope so.

    Others are probably far more advanced, so it's likely just me. Sometimes I'd like to just see a post on only one thing. Hands, for example. Or legs. I know you are working all three aids, but I can get lost in it. Just a suggestion from a BIG fan. :)

    Does this make any sense?

  8. Kate these posts are great! The only problem is that I really have to set aside a block of time to read them so I can absorb the information. So I don't always comment on every post but doesn't mean I don't appreciate them all.

  9. Breathe - that does make complete sense. It's hard for me to break it down like that because it's become all one thing for me, but it may be a good exercise for me - thanks for the suggestion. And I don't know that you're less advanced than the rest of us - I'm not so sure I'm all that advanced myself the more I learn!

  10. Kate-you are excellent at your description so it's easy to understand what you are talking about/explaning, etc. I enjoy your knowledge and thoughts :)

  11. I like the stories about your horses and the waxing philosophical about technique and training. Both are great! I always know that I am going to read something thoughtful and contemplative when I visit and that is what I love!

  12. I love the technical posts & the more philosophical ones. It's really fun to hear what someone else is doing with their horses & how it's going. I agree with Breathe, sometimes I think it would be nice to have the elements broken down even more (I know it's different when you're the one doing them). Lately I've been trying to see what it is I do with my hands, if I'm pulling back when Mosco softens. In the past we had a big pulling problem - caused by the combo of extremely green/spooky horse & intimidated rider, and it's much better now that we've just started riding after a LONG break. Anyway, all that to say that I do find it helpful when you talk about the technical bits like that, because it gives me something to think about when I do ride. And it's very refreshing to hear your perspective on how you train (and what you've learned from Mark Rashid) because to be honest, it's not that common a perspective in the horse world. Having discovered what it's like to partner with my horse and not smother away his personality, I'm really enjoying this new relationship!

  13. Do carry on! The simple straighforward approach you have and the fact that you arre able to put it into words is great.Your ideas and techniques all seem very good to me and why not share

  14. Kate - I enjoy your posts - they make sense to me and it seems to me like you come at all of this from a viewpoint that I share - that horses are willing to do so much of what we ask, we just have to ask in a way they understand. Because you are kind and patient, I can really use your experiences to help me with mine. Thanks for sharing what you know/are learning.

  15. I love reading your posts Kate! Your descriptions of what you feel and how you're getting there is very motivating to apply that softness to my own life AND riding. I'm going to try to apply your concepts and approach as I rehab my mare back over the next several month. Like others, I've gone back and read all your Mark Rashid clinics. Even though he's a cowboy and I am very much a Hunter, his concepts truly transcend disciplines and I can see the same horse-centered approach come through in your own work and writings. Keep up the great work... I'm a huge fan!

  16. Thanks to everyone for your supportive comments - but always remember that your comments/addition/modifications on what I write about are always much appreciated - I think we (or at least I) learn more together than we could ever learn by ourselves.

  17. Kate, you are a very good writer and your posts are enjoyable to read. As well as finding them interesting, they are useful. Please continue!
    I share your feelings on learning from blogging - it's a great way to get advice, learn from others, share highs and lows, etc.
    Thanks for all of your posts and comments.

  18. Kate, I was thinking earlier that I must post a comment to say how much I am enjoying your posts. So keep it up and I will comment more. I am riding more now and really appreciate your thoughtful observations.

  19. I love your posts!!!! I may not comment on all of them, but I read every single one. :-)

  20. poniesathome - welcome, and thank you for commenting!

  21. Kate, I didn't comment on this post at first but I had to come back to tell you that when I was warming up at the horse show this past weekend I was thinking about your exercise re: softness without the horse. I was trying to feel whether I was releasing or pulling back. Excellent food for thought!

  22. It's very helpful and very interesting, Kate.

    As a relatively inexperienced rider (at least in terms of formal training), I find your posts clear and easy to follow. I don't always remember enough to do everything right, but you always give me something new to try.

    Bar says I should follow them a little closer. :)


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