In honor of ezduzit's posts about her epiphanies with her horse, I figured I'd start a spin off -- what's the best light bulb moment you've had where things slid nicely into place for you and your horse? What got you to that point? How was it resolved? Any additional words of wisdom that came from the experience?
My biggest moment recently is consciously being patient and giving my boy a chance to process my request/things around him instead of just demanding things now now now! He's a lot more laid back and A LOT calmer if I give him that minute to figure it out and get on my page. Occasionally I'd have leading issues where I'd have to resort to smacking him with the end of the lead rope to get him to move. Now if it occurs (which is a lot less), I just keep a steady pressure forward on the lead rope. I give him instant slack if he gives in the least, even if it's just to move his head forward. The next bit of pressure usually has him stepping off again with a sigh and a lowered head. It's worked absolute wonders with leading him back outside when it's dark out -- as long as I give him his 30 seconds or so of time to let his eyes adjust to the new light conditions, he's a gem for the whole walk in the dark. Before he'd get crow hoppy/scared if I drove him to walk which made me nervous that he'd level me in the dark.
In the saddle he's been a lot less lookie-loo or when he is, all it takes is a wiggle on the rein and he's focus is back on where we're going/what we're doing. Before, he'd fixate on something and it was hard as hell to get him back to "global awareness" before something would spook him.
Allowing him to get with me instead of forcing him to get with me has fixed a few of our issues...now if I could just get him to stop being a wiggle worm in the cross ties.
Learning to listen to them and give them a chance at success is one of the hardest lessons I learned.
One of my moments actually by way of something said to me. I've been dealing with nerves at shows, which was all part of my worry that he wouldn't take the lope cue which was partly because of his arthritis and my ambiguous cue. So I rode like a nervous nelly.
I said to my daughter: I SO WISH he could be as calm and thoughtful about riding at the shows the way he is at home. She said to me: He thinks the same thing about you!
OMG...poor guy. Ineed to get this resolved ASAP before he learns to hate showing because I turn into such a putz!
VT, your post is actually something that a judge covered in a clinic I rode in, and I put that information to good use the other night. He said that it takes a horse three seconds between giving it a cue and the cue being enacted - so say three strides before you need a whoa, start your body language / position / voice in order to set the horse up for success. Isn't it great to have those moments?
One of my other light bulb moments...when you're completely in the dark, they are ALL light bulb moments...lol...my daughter (who is also my riding coach) said: "cue and wait...it will come". I started out leaning forward, cueing and 'riding the lope' before he had a chance to process what I was asking. Further the confusion by my leaning forward. He was still walking trying to figure what the hell I was 'talking about' and I was 'riding' a full blown gallop. He's so patient with me!