I would like to add some of my thoughts as they relate to my last post, Bareback & Bridleless – Stacy Westfall.
I am really big on achieving complete control over every part of a horse’s body. A broke horse will give me control over his body from his ears to his tail. I want to be able to control every step my horse takes.
But, riding is a partnership. So while I am able to control every step that does not mean I have to control every step.
I think that is very clearly demonstrated in the video of Stacy during her freestyle reining run. She worked the pattern with her horse, and he obviously wanted to do what she asked without any resistance.
Just because we are able to control every part of the horse’s body, does not mean we do not give up some of that control to the horse.
Once the horse learns his job, get out of his way and let him do it. This is not to say when he makes a mistake we are not there to immediately correct it, but we should be able to sit back and give subtle guidance and allow our partner to show off his skills.
That is why the best horse and rider teams make riding look so easy. They are operating as partners, working toward the same goal in harmony.
A simple example of what I am talking about is, say you ask your horse for a lope departure.
You allow him to try and lope off without support from your hands. Sure, he may throw his head up in the air, or get the wrong lead, but that is when you stop him, try it again, and this time give him support with your hands.
Then, try it again, and allow him to try and lope off without the support of your hands. Pat him when he gets it correct, stop him and help him try it again with your help when he does not get it correct. I never give up giving some gentle guidance with my legs, but I do not always need to be guiding the horse in his mouth.
It’s all about working as a team, with the rider as the teacher and not merely a dictator. Once you establish yourself and your horse as a team, you will be a happy rider, have a happy partner, and your riding will appear effortless.