Concepts and impulses

On this part of the blog you will find phrases, quotes and suggestions that have had an impact on my horsemanship and that I‘ve kept in mind ever since I first heard them. Maybe you‘ll find something that‘s appealing to you too. 

„Look at their hands“ is a chapter called in Robert Miller‘s book „Natural horsemanship explained“. He explains why a good horseman keeps his hands and fingers open instead of closing them to a fist. Buck Brannaman works the horse on a lead rope sitting in his open palm. Pat Parelli too teaches how important it is to have hands that close slowly and open quickly in order for the horse to understand. So be aware of what your hands (and the hands of your instructors) do. 

„Mind, flexion, weight, feet“. This is a formula taught by Pat Parelli. It helps you to see if the horse understands your request because this is the way the request travels in a horse. It‘s a great way to see and feel immediately if the horse is on the right track. 

Cowboy wisdom. Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt are the ones many concepts of horsemanship go back to. If you don‘t want to read their books, visit their websites and look at the quotations. These men knew the very nature of the horse and spoke many wise words.     You can tell by the attributes they give themselves: Ray Hunt's website doesn't say he was a master horse trainer, it says he was a master of communication. That's the essence of it. 

Relax. I participated in a clinic with Hanna Engström who is a great, patient teacher of the Academic Art of Riding by Bent Branderup. She raised my awareness of my body when riding and giving aids. I often unconsciously clench when I move my legs, shift my weight or do something on horseback to influence the horse. So how is he supposed to be relaxed and subtle when I get tense? I think it's vital to stay soft when riding, so it's a good feel we deliver to the horse.

"Set him up for success" (Pat Parelli) and "Make a winner out of him" (Buck Brannaman). It's our responsability to set a task up in a way that makes it easy for the horse to obey. We keep the horse out of trouble when learning so the horse experiences learning as something comfortable. 

"Offer him a good deal" (Buck Brannaman). We always start with a polite request. If the horse does not respond we get firmer. But we begin with an offer which is hard to reject. 

If you want the techniques - go to Pat Parelli. If you want the philosophy, go to Buck Brannaman. You will need both.

"If you give your horse what he needs, he will give you what you want." Doesn't need explanation.

"It'll probably take more than once but less than a million times".
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning” (both Ray Hunt). Cheers me up when I am feeling down and losing patience.

"Follow a feel". Buck Brannaman repeats this over and over again. I think it is one of the most important concepts of horsemanship. We need to offer the horse a feel (not a yank, a pull or a push) so he learns to follow a feel.

„Focus on the horse and his feet and not on what other people think“. 
Focus on what you want (so your horse can live up to it)"  
„Look where you want to go not where you don‘t want to go“ Leslie Desmond on focus.

„He did what you wanted and there wasn‘t a single look of gratitude or joy. He thinks you are unappeasable." Leslie Desmond addressed a rider at her clinic in Switzerland.  The horse's view is very important to her. We need to make sure to motivate the horse and reward the slightest try. Otherwise he'll loose motivation to work for us.

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