In her new book, HOW TWO MINDS MEET: THE MENTAL DYNAMICS OF DRESSAGE, Beth Baumert explains how to optimize the use of your “thinking mind” in order to become a better learner in the saddle and provides techniques for maximizing mental and emotional harmony with your horse. Here she tells us why we need to have “the will” to achieve every task, every movement:
Horses don’t understand negatives. They do not understand I hope she doesn’t…, I wish she wouldn’t…, Don’t do this…, I’m afraid that…. They don’t understand mental or emotional garbage—for example, I hope he doesn’t refuse the fence, because I want to get out of this alive and I’m afraid I’ll fall off like I did last week. This is a message that is negative, emotional, and convoluted. It’s usually accompanied by a dreadful mental image that the horse has no trouble reading, and we all know how that story ends.
Since the horse doesn’t understand the negative aspect of the message, he gets a message that goes like this: Refuse the fence as I have in the past. Do it eagerly. My rider may end up on the ground. Even the boldest, most willing jumper would, at least, become distracted or confused by his rider’s message.
The rider must think positively.
German trainer Conrad Schumacher often told his dressage students, “You must have the WILL.” He was usually referring to a line of tempi changes, and he often asked his rider to verbally call out “I WILL” when riding each change. The rider must know what she wants and have a very clear plan for achieving it. Horses train people to think clearly and positively.
For example, to jump a vertical fence or to ride a lengthened stride on the diagonal, the rider might go through these steps:
• Half-halt before the turn and balance through it.
• Half-halt again after the turn to straighten.
• Establish the length of stride you want and ride the line.
• Half-halt to rebalance after the lengthening or the fence.
• Reward! (Great job!)
• Rebalance and repeat….
Horses understand these positive, clear messages.
For more from HOW TWO MINDS MEET: THE MENTAL DYNAMICS OF DRESSAGE, including a free chapter download, CLICK HERE.
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