Chloe - a horse who needed help to develop a nice topline

There was a meme going around on social media the other day that caught my eye. It went something like this:

Other people’s horses: “Oh, is that your inside leg and outside rein? OK, I’ll just start collecting myself and getting into a nice frame for you and working on my topline. No worries, you just relax and enjoy yourself and I’ll just carry myself nicely for you!”.

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Jo riding an unschooled horse in a natural position

Well, yes… and no! As is often the case with riding, it depends.

As something to work towards, then yes, hands that appear to be still can be a sign of a well schooled horse and a skilful rider. But if you want a happy horse who enjoys being ridden throughout his career, how your hands behave has to be determined by what your horse’s mouth is doing and not the other way around.

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There’s some old horse wisdom that says, “it’s not how you are with horses, it’s how you are…”.

It’s an idea that has been around for a long time.

Back in the 16th Century, Antoine de Pluvinel (tutor to King Louis XIII of France) recognised how learning to work well with horses through empathy and skill helped his students in other ways. This train of thought led him to foster the creation of the first classical academies and ultimately the ‘Golden Age’ of French equitation.

Recently, Derek appeared on the Mind, Body & Relationship Maze podcast with psychologist and relationship coach Tom Mackay.

In this episode, Tom finds out how Derek came to make the leap from being a professional rowing coach to professional horseman. They also explore how building better relationships with horses can help you find more happiness and success in other areas of life too.   

You can listen here: The Mind, Body & Relationship Maze Podcast