Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thinking your way to a good ride...

Years ago, when I was riding Harv at First Level, we had a problem coming down the diagonal at the canter, where we were supposed to trot at X. At shows, and sometimes at home, I would ask for trot and Harv would just canter smaller and smaller and smaller. He could really do a tiny tiny canter for such a large horse, but it was a problem!

 I worked with several instructors who had me try different things...

  • Relax
  • Start posting
  • Stop gripping
  • Make my seat heavy
  • Make my seat light
Nothing worked. 

Then someone, a friend, said "When you want him to trot, just think TROT."

It worked. Don't ask me how. Maybe I made some minute unconscious body adjustment as I thought "TROT." I think it must be partly that. But  that sensitive thoroughbred Harv was just a tuned-in kind of horse. It really seemed like he heard me.  It helped us synch up.

It's a technique worth trying, at least for transitions (can't imagine it would work for a leg-yield!). But canter-halts, canter-walks, trot-halts, halt-trots? Maybe. 

Try thinking it, and let me know if it works.


  1. When I came back to riding after 20 years out of the saddle I worked with a good friend on her impeccably trained dressage horses and she taught me to think the aids. As far as she was concerned, half halt is a thought, not anything physical, and I've been doing it for the 12 or so years since with wonderful results.

  2. This is a very awesome article Thank You for Sharing Thoroughbred Analytics

  3. I think horses always read your mind. My horse almost always does what I'm thinking before I ask for it. It drives me crazy. But now that you've brought it up, I'm going to try it deliberately and see if I get better responses to my transitions.

  4. Actually, it does work as a leg yield. Saw Mark Rashid teach a 16yr old kid how to do it for the first time during a clinic. Had her focus on when the hind leg leaves the ground (rider's hip rising), then imagine that foot stepping to the midline of the horse. That girl was able to control it and do a wavy (on purpose) line down the center of the arena. It was amazing.

  5. This is great. I was thinking about the fact both my horses trot pretty assuredly (one being a Friesian), so I would not share that problem. However, a long time ago, I borrowed a friend's 14.1hh Morgan x Arab mare for a dressage lesson and learned what a REALLY, REALLY smooth, collected canter felt like. This little girl could practically canter in place (would have been nice for learning a pirouette I guess). So, yeah, I had to THINK TROT. And, sometimes, the transition was so smooth I almost couldn't tell which gait we were in. Ha!


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.