Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Not Soft at the Start . . .

All of my horses know what it is to be soft, and responsive, and together with me.  But there's a gap in my riding and handling - with all three horses, it takes some time during our work sessions for the softness to come through, and it really should be there from the first moment.  Since all three horses know how to be soft, it's clearly a problem in the way I'm presenting myself to the horse in the beginnings of our work sessions - I'm not offering them the softness they need to respond in kind.  Although I'm clear about what I want, I expect I'm too "declarative" at the beginning, rather than offering the horses softness from the start.  And remember, softness isn't about being wishy washy or unclear, it's about offering the horse a soft place to be together with you in the work.  I need to draw them into the feel without fuss or muss . . . this can be as simple as how I hold the lead or how I pick up the reins - there needs to be no abruptness - no "sharpness".  Sharpness, or being overly declarative, can get the job done, but the softness that I'm looking for is missing.  I'll have to see what I can do about that . . .


  1. Just a thought. Start your softness from the moment you get up. Think about doing everything softly - pouring your coffee, washing your face, etc.

    It helps me.


  2. Yes....but...sometimes muscles take a little time to loosen so softness can be offered. I'd expect a little warmup might be needed.

    Don't beat yourself up too much. The above applies to both you and your horses.

    1. I try to start things out on a loose rein and just ask for stretching down and forward - it's when we engage that things sometimes get braced instread of soft at the beginning . . .

  3. When I was a teenager I read a book called "Schooling the Young Horse" that I haven't been able to find again, but I remember it having many good things to say about working with horses.

    One that I remember that affected me profoundly was the author's speculation that since the invention and mass production of the automobile, many of us have gotten used to be heavy handed in our driving, and that this carries over to our riding.

    Ever since I read that I tried to drive the same way I want to ride - with a relaxed body and quiet, soft hands and legs/feet. It's interesting that it makes a difference in my "journey" - whether in the car or on the horse. :)

  4. Horses are very sensitive creatures; trying to stay ahead of them requires a great deal of self discipline- which I usually fail miserably at.


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