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The Elements of Horsemanship

Cementing a foundation

You will always hear me rabbiting on about foundation, making up that foundation are the essential “Elements”. Hence why one of our classes is called “Essentials” which focuses on all things Ground work. Everything we expect to do in the saddle we should be able to do on the ground first – if we can’t do it from the ground how can we expect to be able to achieve it in the saddle. We need to teach our horses to become learners and at the same time teaching ourselves. Through this groundwork we can better understand how a horse moves, where do his feet go and in what order and how do we get the timing right. This all then translates to the saddle, the horse has a chance to understand and so do we as his teacher and leader.

Now…. What I see often, and this is inherent in the horse world across all horse sports. Many don’t have a handle on the basic “Elements” of the sport they are participating in, because they don’t practice them….

If you need to side pass in a class and you don’t practice this, how do you expect to do it in the class. If you can’t use your legs and neck rein to steer your horse when roping how do expect to rope. Training means training – not trotting around for half an hour. People generally do “ok” in their chosen sport but they can never progress to that next level, because their foundation is broken or incomplete.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and participate in competitions until you have things right, I 100% encourage it, you should be challenging yourself and having fun at the same time – I’m just saying practice the “Elements” of that sport/competition.

Eg. Backing, side passing, leg yielding, being able to bring energy up and importantly - back down again. A very wise man once said – “the better your horse goes backwards and sideways, the better he can do everything else” (Pat Parelli).

Going out and participating is the best way to “Test” your skills. What are your strengths and where are your weaknesses…. A lot of the gaps can and do come purely from nerves, you get tight and forget your horsemanship skills (classic example = me) What I learned at a recent training day is that my stops were poor, my horse pushed through my hands, I have focussed on this before and thought I had it good, but I proved there is still a gap in my foundation there. There were other things as well and it’s not until you put yourself under some pressure that these gaps show through.

We have a 3 day Easter clinic coming up and we will practice all of the various “Elements” or skills that will help you achieve your goals no mater your discipline.

So I encourage you to book in, we will do some mini tests to pin point the skills that each horse/rider needs to focus on. This is suitable for all disciplines from the Dressage rider to Cowboy dressage, from Ranch Riding to Trail Riding – one size fits all :)

This is a very supportive environment – our aim is to help people on their journey and create great partnerships.

We want to aim to get our horses balanced and I’m not talking about them not falling over – I’m talking about getting them weighted correctly on all 4 quarters – getting their whoah = to their go, getting them centred between our hands and legs. We are striving for fluidity and balance – man it feels so good when you get it right!

If this interests you then I encourage you to book in for 3 days of solid learning!

Not to mention there will also be some fun in the evenings with roping (no horses involved), BBQ and talking horses.

Thanks for reading and happy horsing