Should I Stop.....or Ask for More
I get asked this question often. To be honest, I ask myself this question often. Unfortunately, there isn't one right answer to this question. If we stop to soon, we may miss this opportunity to give our horses and ourselves a chance to excel, to feel a little more. On the flip side, if we ask for more, we could push it a little too far. Instead of ending with a great feeling of accomplishment, we may end with the thought of "I should have just quit while I was ahead".
I recently had two scenarios. I was riding my arab mare, Tinsel. If you follow my FB page, you know I speak of her often. I am not going to go into all of her history during this blog cause I want to stick to the topic. She has been with us for three years now and she has taught me quite a bit. I believe she was disconnected quite often meaning she was asked to move her hindend around and look at you. She tends to freeze with her head up. Helping her to connect throughout her body has been our main goal. Anyway back to the topic of this blog.
We started on the ground with asking her to trot with her head down. I won't go into detail, but I do not use any mechanical devices to achieve this, I do believe groundwork is very important and the type I do releases bracing patterns and helps the horse find a weight bearing posture. What I have come to realize is that we still feel different when we are on the horses back. Groundwork prepares the horse for riding, but when we are on their back it is a different feeling for them. In other words, you can't fix all your riding issues from the ground.
So how does this relate to the topic? Tinsel can trot online with her head down, but as soon as I got in the saddle her head would go up at the trot. I tried a few different things that were not working. Normally when I ride I try to keep a connection through my reins. As soft as I could be I would ask her to trot and her head would go up. We'd trot for a bit and go back down to the walk.
I asked myself the question - Should I stop or ask for more?
In this scenario, I asked for more, but this time I kept my reins completely loose. This is not something I normally do as I just mentioned. Again the topic of rein contact could be a whole book. I want to mention that this is not how I will continue to ride her, but this is where we are today. She is not ready for contact and that is okay.
To my amazement, she trotted off with her head down!!!!. We did a few more transitions and than we stopped. What a great feeling! Some days you are going to ask for more and achieve these results. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Other days you will ask for more and you should have quit. Pat yourself on the back for learning a valuable lesson!
There is not a written recipe for horsemanship. We have to feel the horse. We have to know where we are that day. If we allow ourselves to fail, we will improve from a lesson learned. If we learn a lesson, than it was never a failure to begin with.