How I Came To My Guiding Principles!
I am an average person who's always owned average horses.
I don't consider myself a competitive person, although I enjoy competing with my horse and I'm pretty sure he enjoys it too as he always tries his hardest when we are at a show. It's like he knows how important it is.
Maybe he's more competitive that me. Or he knows it makes me happy.
Growing up there weren't a lot of coaches in my area, and I couldn't afford regular lessons anyways.
I bought what videos I could, to learn from. Some videos had greener horses like mine but often they were riding a finished horse. Their explanations left out a lot of steps. Things that were automatic or natural to them, so they didn't think to teach them.
And of course, there was no way to ask them questions.
It was a long time before I could afford to take proper lessons and so I learned from the horses.
And I wasn't a natural at it. Thank goodness most were patient and forgiving.
When I was able to afford instruction, I annoyed many popular clinicians. I asked for more details on the timing, the technical aspects. I needed to understand, Why is it that way? Most of them had natural feel and timing.
"Just do it" they'd say, "you'll feel it".
But I didn't.
They could not explain what I needed to know because it came natural to them. They did not have to learn it.
They couldn't understand that not everyone felt the right time to give a cue like they did.
And timing is everything.
And I of course, did not know why they could not explain it.
Either because they were a natural, or they just didn't know.
So I just quietly felt stupid for not 'getting it'
and only my love of horses stopped me from giving up!
Principle 1: Attention To Detail
I am very analytical and detail oriented. I need to know what each body part is supposed to be doing, and when.
Over the years I spent a lot of time riding, analyzing, teaching myself to feel. Observing what effect correct timing had on the horses. And how it improved their lightness and responsiveness.
Luckily, I trained horses for a living, so I had lots of opportunity to experiment. And I taught, so I had a many riders to practice explaining things to. Many of them were also not naturals. And like me,
They Needed to understand Why first, not just How.
They were people from varied backgrounds, disciplines and experiences.
Because of the way I learned,
I can teach people that want to know more than just 'What' to do.
Anyone can learn how to ask. Some people can feel when to ask.
But when you understand why we ask, in a specific way, at a specific time,
then you can have a conversation with the horse.
In a way that the horse understands. So they can answer correctly.
Principle 2: Step By Step Foundation
Knowing How, When, and most important, Why that's the best way and time,
you'll understand how to put the cues together to help your horse perform any maneuver better.
You can help your horse be more balanced to reduce wear and tear and increase their longevity.
We all want our horses to be with us for as long as possible.
There are some shortcuts used to get a horse to perform a maneuver in less time.
To teach a horse to assume the position we think they should be in.
A long time ago I was taught that way.
But like a dancer or any great athlete, it takes time, and specific measurable exercises.
The horse has to build the muscles equally, to perform correctly.
It's important that we bring a horse along step by step.
Physically while we build them up and mentally while they learn the skills.
Only then can they become Extraordinary!
As a trainer I learned to break things down into small, easily manageable steps.
As a coach I learned this was just as important for the rider. Never assume either know all the steps.
And, as a coach, I teach riders to break things down even smaller if the horse is struggling.
The horse is never wrong, they just don't understand yet.
Principle 3: Support When 'You' Need It
I did eventually find coaches that were like me, that had struggled to learn, to do better, for the horse's sake.
But they are few and far between in this vast world of ours.
I am so thankful to be able to share what I have learned. To help others help their horses be better.
And you don't have to do it alone like I did.
The great thing about the internet is being able to have instruction available when you need it.
Within our courses, and safe, supportive communities, your questions can be answered.
This helps you to increase your understanding.
In some courses you can even get your videos reviewed so you learn what's holding you back.
Why Working Equitation?
If you haven't heard of Working Equitation, it is a multi-phase sport incorporating working or functional dressage, obstacles judged with the finesse and quality of dressage, obstacles at speed and the optional, but far less common, cattle work.
You don't have to compete in Working Equitation to benefit from it. It's also great cross-training.
But the reasons I love it, both as a participant and as a coach, is because it's Fun and Measurable.
Whether you compete (and get a score sheet) or not, the skills required help you to measure your progress.
This fits in really well with my attention to detail.
Because the first two trials are specific measurable tasks, it's easier to identify where they go wrong and break them down in to smaller steps. Steps that often involve groundwork as well, where you can observe what's going on from the ground without your body weight influencing your horses. Part of helping them step by step through the levels.
I want to help improve both the quantity and quality of Working Equitation riders.
It is such a fun sport, with good camaraderie and people who care about their horses and I really enjoy the improvements I see as horses are brought progressively through the levels.
The more I can help people to understand, recognize, and implement changes to the subtle things they haven't noticed, that are interfering with their progress, the more that will help their horses both in the short and long term.
There are a lot of little things, both with our own bodies, and our horses, that we are not aware of.
When we learn what they are through measuring, and observing the details, we can begin to use exercises to change old habits, improve on skills and build a solid foundation for the horse and the rider.
Working Equitation helps by giving us a specific task to complete, that can be measured. Then a plan can be formed as to what is needed to improve it. It often comes down to a lack of balance, either forward and back or left to right.
I believe if every rider took the time to learn how to achieve straightness and balance in both the horse and the rider, so they can perform their tasks with ease,
the world would be a better place for the horses.
Many people want a quick fix, but it takes time. Working Equitation is a Fun way to spend that time.
It is an excellent choice for online learning because of the measurable tasks, and the breakdown of skills involved.
Having the lessons online means you can access them whenever you need a review
and the community means you can ask questions to gain a better understanding.
If these principles resonate with you I'd love to share more with you.
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