Thursday, 14 September 2017 10:58

Part Three: Riding Above Fear | Anna Blake

This is what we knew then: It started with a dream of dancing hooves and a flowing mane. He was strong and fast, and you couldn’t tell where he stopped and you started.

This is what we know now: Your horse is frightened and you know it. Or you’re frightened and your horse knows it. And it doesn’t matter who started it. You’re here now.

(Part One explained how a horse’s anxiety gets confused with disobedience when we don’t listen to his calming signals. In Part Two, we redefined fear. Now we call that emotion common sense.)

Then Corey left this comment:

So the only few lines or paragraph I would have liked to have seen …is the one describing all the methodologies out there one can try, with time and patience and constant forgiveness, before sending a misunderstood horse away to yet another home where lordy knows what will be done to him. IMHO……..

Okay, here goes. If you think this frightened horse is almost within your skill range and you have the aforementioned time and patience and constant forgiveness… or if you have acquired a huge dose of fear common sense but think your horse would be okay if you relaxed…

Begin here: Make sure your horse is sound. No, really, have the vet check him over. Call a chiropractor who does acupuncture. If the horse is the problem, he usually has a problem. Then, be safe. Wear a helmet. Remove your watch and work in horse time. Take good and kind care of both of you.

Anxiety is normal on both sides. Pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t the same thing as releasing it. Acknowledge the weird balance of dread and enthusiasm. Forgive each other again. Then know that this process will take some time.

Words matter. Negative corrections aren’t effective. Yelling “NO!” is a dead end. It isn’t instructive to horse or human. It’s right up there with yelling “Don’t be afraid!” or “Quit grabbing the reins!” or “Stop running!” Telling yourself or your horse what to not do is like trying to deny reality. Instead, create a new reality by using simple, clean, positive words like “Walk on.” “Breathe.” “Well done.” In other words…

Less correction. More direction.

Start at the beginning. Is there resistance during haltering? At the first sign of anxiety, pause and breathe. Humans tend to speed up when we get nervous. Before we know it, we’re wrestling with a thousand-pound flight animal, when slowing down in the first place could resolve the anxiety on both sides while it was still small and manageable. Go slow.

Then do something mysterious. Take the halter off and leave.

When you both volunteer for the halter, proceed to ground work. Ask for something small, like walking next to you, but you stay out of his space as much as he stays out of yours. Walk together independently. Take time to get it right; let him test your patience.

Think less about whether he’s right or wrong, and more about what your senses are telling you. Practice being less complacent. What are his ears saying? Use all your senses to “listen” to your horse. Soften your visual focus by using peripheral vision to see a wider view of your surroundings. In other words…

Less brain chatter. More physical awareness.

Listen to his calming signals. Cue his movement with your feet instead of your hands. Laugh when he gets it right, and even more when you do. Keep at it until both of you have let go of all the breath you’ve been holding. Then feel the anxiety begin to shift.

Stay with ground work for as long as you want. Build confidence by ground driving and doing horse agility. Your horse doesn’t care if you ever ride him again. Your relationship isn’t defined by proximity; it’s defined by trust. If you don’t share confidence on the ground there’s no reason to think it will magically appear when you’re in the saddle.

When it feels right, groom him and tack up. Go for a walk in the arena and stop at the mounting block. Check the strap on your helmet and climb the steps. Lay a soft hand on his neck and if he’s nervous, breathe until his poll releases. Until his eyes relax. Until he is peaceful and your belly is soft.

Only go as far as the beginning of anxiety and stop there. Release it while it’s still just a flash of an idea.

Then be mysterious again. Step down and go untack him. Remember where you started and celebrate the progress you’ve both made. Know there will be setbacks, so let this time be precious.

Find a good ground coach. Someone who is calm and breathes well. Then take tiny challenges, one after another. Slow and steady, throw your leg over and sit in the saddle at the mounting block. Breathe and feel your thigh muscles. They might need some air, too. Remember you love your horse and melt what is frozen. Dismount without taking a step and call it a win.

Next time, take a few steps. You don’t need to feel like you’re alone on the high dive… ask your ground coach to click on a lead rope and walk beside you and your horse to start. Take baby steps so everyone succeeds. There is no shame in working as a team. Then climb off before you want to.

Think rhythm. All good things for horses happen rhythmically: chewing, walking, breathing. All bad things come with a break in rhythm: bucking, bolting, spooking. Good riding for the horse means rhythm so that’s your first concern.

You can count your breath, focus on your sit-bones like a metronome, or ride to music. Whatever you like, just so it connects your spine to your horse’s movement in a slow, confidence-building rhythm. Then walk on.

When emotions arise, notice them. Refuse to demonize yourself or your horse. Breathe until the feelings get bored and leave.

This is the secret: Remember that science says that a horse’s response time is seven times quicker than ours? While they come apart ridiculously fast, they can also come back together quickly, if we ask them to. Humans believe in a snowball effect; if the horse shakes his head or any other small infraction, the inevitable end is a train wreck.

It isn’t true. If you take a breath as soon as you feel anxiety in your horse, and he will do the same. Other days, your horse might notice you go tense and blow his breath out so loud that you hear it and take his cue.

It’s a partnership; sometimes we carry them and sometimes they carry us. It doesn’t matter who starts it. Just so we all come home safe.

Then one day you notice that the dark thoughts are rare. Instead, you’re distracted by something bright and shiny. It’s your childhood dream, balanced with common sense, right here in real life.


annaprof150Anna Blake is a horse advocate, equine professional, award-winning author, and proud member of the herd at Infinity Farm, on the Colorado prairie. She trains horses and riders equine communication skills and dressage, and writes parables about horses and life. | Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

 

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Published in Trot On Blogs

British eventer Phoebe Buckley talks frankly about her coaching and the thinking behind it.

I am sure you are all wondering why the hell am I am back? Don’t worry you lot aren’t alone! I am asking myself the very same question as I sit hear headphones on, drinking coffee, trying to spell and grammar check as I write!!! Truth is I have missed writing. But that isn’t why I’m back… And this is very much a one off, I promise!!

It is very hard to believe I started writing blogs over 3 years ago and wrote my last blog nearly 7 months ago. The reaction my ramblings received from you amazing people blew my mind! From the blogs I have been offered work writing regular blogs and even articles for several magazines, crazy hey?!?!?

At the weekend I got asked about my coaching and my thinking behind the way I coach. I waffled on about some crap because I wanted to get off the subject of me. Those that know me well will be able to tell you that whilst I can tell a good story, I actually hate talking about me. Mostly because I am very uninteresting.. But also because I’ve learnt that you learn less from talking and more from listening, even if what you learn isn’t knowledge.

Sometimes what you learn about the person you are by listening to talk, is invaluable.

But having waffled on about some crap and swiftly getting off the subject of me, I couldn’t stop thinking about the thinking behind my coaching... What is it I do?

I know I have the reputation (please don’t think I am being arrogrant when I say this) of getting people and horses to achieve things they would never have believed was possible. But how? This is what I came up with and what I wished I had the courage to say at the weekend…

Its all about balance. In every sense of the word.

• The first thing I look for when I meet new people or horses is confidence, how do they carry themselves? Do they sit or stand square and do they look me in the eye with confidence? That’s the first balance I have to tip…

If the balance of confidence isn’t tipped towards the positive side you are fighting a losing battle. I often tell unconfident people who I am coaching, to look me in the eye whilst talking and to stop looking like an apology. -  You won’t get very far in any walk of life without confidence. Full stop.

• Then I look at how brave they are, this balance is (IMO) the most important. Bravery comes in all forms, I’m not talking about someone who is gung ho and happy to gallop flat out everywhere! I’m talking about if someone/a horse is brave enough to listen and push themselves out of their comfort zone if I tell them to. If they will grab the bull by the horns and have a go.

• Then I move on to looking at their actual balance, you don’t have to be a great or even a good rider but if you have good balance and don’t interfere a horse can do its job. Some people naturally have it, some have to work at it.

• Then I go on to attitude, a good attitude is invaluable. A bad attitude is easily got rid of.. Either the person/horse changes it or they leave. Simples.

So there it is... My ground rules for not only coaching but LIFE.

Be confident, you’ll get nowhere in life not being confident. And if you aren’t confident, pretend you are and wing it. It’s what most people do.

Be brave, you’ll regret the times you weren’t brave far more than the times you’ll regret being brave. Trust me I know, this weekend I was on a bad stride to the last  fence after a foot perfect round on the xc, every ounce of me screamed be brave, slip your reins and kick. I didn’t.. I wasn’t brave, I held on to nothing and hoped for the best.. And we fell.. Don’t be me, be brave.. Don’t fall and if you do fall, fall trying.

Have balance, life is about balance.. Sometimes it isn’t easy to manage, but practice makes perfect. Play as much as you work, it’s more important than you will believe.

Keep a check of your attitude and the attitude of people around you. If it isn’t good, change it or get rid. Nothing good came from having a bad attitude. Fact.

So remember life is to short to not be confident, not be brave, not have balance in your life or a good attitude… Oh and also bad sex, coffee, men and horses…

Over and out all, until next time. Take care XX
P
Re-published with kind permission from Phoebe Buckley|Blog
Published in Articles

British eventer Phoebe Buckley talks frankly about her coaching and the thinking behind it.

I am sure you are all wondering why the hell am I am back? Don’t worry you lot aren’t alone! I am asking myself the very same question as I sit hear headphones on, drinking coffee, trying to spell and grammar check as I write!!! Truth is I have missed writing. But that isn’t why I’m back… And this is very much a one off, I promise!!

It is very hard to believe I started writing blogs over 3 years ago and wrote my last blog nearly 7 months ago. The reaction my ramblings received from you amazing people blew my mind! From the blogs I have been offered work writing regular blogs and even articles for several magazines, crazy hey?!?!?

At the weekend I got asked about my coaching and my thinking behind the way I coach. I waffled on about some crap because I wanted to get off the subject of me. Those that know me well will be able to tell you that whilst I can tell a good story, I actually hate talking about me. Mostly because I am very uninteresting.. But also because I’ve learnt that you learn less from talking and more from listening, even if what you learn isn’t knowledge.

Sometimes what you learn about the person you are by listening to talk, is invaluable.

But having waffled on about some crap and swiftly getting off the subject of me, I couldn’t stop thinking about the thinking behind my coaching... What is it I do?

I know I have the reputation (please don’t think I am being arrogrant when I say this) of getting people and horses to achieve things they would never have believed was possible. But how? This is what I came up with and what I wished I had the courage to say at the weekend…

Its all about balance. In every sense of the word.

• The first thing I look for when I meet new people or horses is confidence, how do they carry themselves? Do they sit or stand square and do they look me in the eye with confidence? That’s the first balance I have to tip…

If the balance of confidence isn’t tipped towards the positive side you are fighting a losing battle. I often tell unconfident people who I am coaching, to look me in the eye whilst talking and to stop looking like an apology. -  You won’t get very far in any walk of life without confidence. Full stop.

• Then I look at how brave they are, this balance is (IMO) the most important. Bravery comes in all forms, I’m not talking about someone who is gung ho and happy to gallop flat out everywhere! I’m talking about if someone/a horse is brave enough to listen and push themselves out of their comfort zone if I tell them to. If they will grab the bull by the horns and have a go.

• Then I move on to looking at their actual balance, you don’t have to be a great or even a good rider but if you have good balance and don’t interfere a horse can do its job. Some people naturally have it, some have to work at it.

• Then I go on to attitude, a good attitude is invaluable. A bad attitude is easily got rid of.. Either the person/horse changes it or they leave. Simples.

So there it is... My ground rules for not only coaching but LIFE.

Be confident, you’ll get nowhere in life not being confident. And if you aren’t confident, pretend you are and wing it. It’s what most people do.

Be brave, you’ll regret the times you weren’t brave far more than the times you’ll regret being brave. Trust me I know, this weekend I was on a bad stride to the last  fence after a foot perfect round on the xc, every ounce of me screamed be brave, slip your reins and kick. I didn’t.. I wasn’t brave, I held on to nothing and hoped for the best.. And we fell.. Don’t be me, be brave.. Don’t fall and if you do fall, fall trying.

Have balance, life is about balance.. Sometimes it isn’t easy to manage, but practice makes perfect. Play as much as you work, it’s more important than you will believe.

Keep a check of your attitude and the attitude of people around you. If it isn’t good, change it or get rid. Nothing good came from having a bad attitude. Fact.

So remember life is to short to not be confident, not be brave, not have balance in your life or a good attitude… Oh and also bad sex, coffee, men and horses…

Over and out all, until next time. Take care XX
P
Re-published with kind permission from Phoebe Buckley|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:03

A Beginner's Guide To Horse Riding

One of the best hobbies or sports to enjoy (and that I am obviously a big fan of) is horse riding. Not only do you get to enjoy social time and bond with your horse, but you get to enjoy time outdoors and also get pretty strong and fit in the process. It can help to grow your confidence, as well as help you to develop new skills, self-discipline, and perhaps even carve out a career path for you. So if you think that horse riding might be for you, read on.

Why Get Into Horse Riding?

Some of the reasons why have been outlined above; it is fun, social, active, and gets you outdoors. Horse riding is a really unique activity. It can be a really beneficial sport both physically (mucking out horses is hard work, as well as riding them), and mentally. The bond you can have with a horse or pony is unlike any other. Getting out in nature can help with mindfulness, as well as relaxation. So can be good for anxiety sufferers and those with depression.

Who Is Horse Riding Aimed At?

The wonderful thing about horse riding is that it is suitable for a whole different variety of people. You can start as a young child, or take it up as an adult. You might be seeking to have a relaxing hobby, or prefer to have a hobby that taps into your adrenaline junkie nature. All of these things can be said of horse riding; how much you do will just depend on you.

Isn’t Horse Riding Expensive?

If you want to get serious with horse riding, then it can prove a little pricey if you are thinking of getting your own horse, or looking at steel building prices to house your horse or pony in your own stables. But there are many different options, depending on how involved you want to be. Group lessons at an equestrian centre are the most affordable option. Then if you become passionate about it, it does become a bit of a lifestyle change. So the cost doesn’t seem high as you are always at the stables or with the horses.

How Much of a Workout Do You Get?

If you’re looking at horse riding as a pretty relaxing way to get outdoors, then you do need to bear in mind that horse does not do all of the work! You do get a pretty good workout out horse riding. The main areas it works are your legs, thighs, abdominals and glutes. It does really get your heart racing, though. So if you think you need to lift weights to workout; you’d be wrong.

How Easy Is It To Go Pro?

There are a lot of competitions for all horse riders. So whatever level you are at, there will be competitions for you to enter. Then you can see how things go from there. If you take a real shine to it, then it would be fairly straightforward to become a professional (along with lots of hard work and determination, of course).

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog


 
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