Last night I took advantage of some beautiful 93* temperature to jump my spotted creature.
Warming up, he felt extremely stiff, particularly to the left, where he was bulging his shoulders against my aids and not flexing at the poll as much as I wanted. My first instinct was to overbend him then in that direction until I got the release, which I would then reward with an instant release on my part. But a couple laps around the arena of this didn’t seem to be making much difference.
Bring on the light bulb moment- instead of trying to add some resistance to the mix and wait for him to yield, I should remove all resistance, let go with my elbows, and make the left bend and poll flexion a happy place to go.
And what do you know, about 1/4 lap later he was chewing and soft and stretching into the contact, and kind of bending left as well.
Just goes to show that it something is not working, it can be well worth taking a different approach. And that there are plenty of situations where less is really more. How ’bout that.
Every horse is unique in the way it responds to training, so even though we as the rider are a constant variable, we need to be able to adjust to the horse we are riding that day, in that moment. It’s part of the maturing as a rider to be able to recognize the changes that need to be made, and make those changes tactfully and without holding a grudge. I’m definitely still learning, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to ride a horse that allows me to learn from my mistakes.