A clear picture in mind is a real gift to your horse
Today I was helping someone with groundwork. Something happened that I would like to highlight here.
I described an exercise where you send your horse away from you, direct the shoulders and then send him around a cone. I showed her the exercise with her horse, so the horse would be set up to understand and she would have a clear picture.
Because doing groundwork was new for both of them, they got a bit tangled up. This is fine because this is when you learn what doesn't work.
But what often happens in this moment:
Before the correction is clear and can be communicated, a lot of unclear cues are given to the horse.
It is common for people to start worrying when things go "wrong". We can learn a lot from our horses: that there is no right or wrong!
The next time you are with your horse, be open and have an analytic mindset. Observe what happens and think about the next best step. Be clear, with intent and stay calm.
With calm I don't mean that you shouldn't use any energy. Some horses, situations or exercises need energy!
This calmness comes from a clear picture, stay calm in your thoughts.
To stay calm and have a clear picture in mind is a real gift to your horse. When you have a clear picture you know in any moment:
- what you are looking to achieve
- if you need to correct any thought or movement
- if you can praise and acknowledge any thought or movement
When you have a clear picture your horse will know in any moment:
- his relation to you in the moment, in space but also in hierarchy
- if he needs to change what he is doing or maintain or stop
- why to do something, for example to find rest or move towards a reward
When you have a clear picture, there is a bigger chance your communication will be clear. It is the equivalent of "think before you speak". So from now on: "make a picture before you communicate"