Rule 1: Don’t annoy your horse!
One of my early teachers proposed a stunningly simple set of guidelines for riding horses;
Rule 1 – don’t annoy your horse
Rule 2 – if you catch yourself breaking rule 1, then stop it!
Rule 3 – see rule 1…
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yet we all know in practice things are more complicated than that. Especially since, much of the time, what we’re told to do in mainstream riding lessons seems to go directly against those principles.
While it’s all too easy to go through life noticing problems and pointing them out, finding an alternative that actually works can be a long and frustrating journey.
In 40 years of coaching, I’ve learned there is tremendous power in assuming that people always do the best they can with the resources they have in the circumstances where they find themselves.
That doesn’t always mean that what they ‘do’ is a good idea, of course. Just that whatever they did, however bizarre and unhelpful it might seem, it was the best they could manage at the time.
When Jo and I created the Schooling Made Simple programme last year, we were very conscious of how often we’d broken rule 1 ourselves, often just by doing what we’d been told or following accepted wisdom. We also knew how hard we’d had to search to find methods and answers our horses actually approved of and how many mistakes we’d had to make along the way.
So my point, I guess, is this – if you find yourself annoying your horse and you don’t know how to stop doing it, start off by being kind to yourself. Whatever you did, it’s probably not your fault, it’s just the best you ‘know’ right now.
Do the best you can for now and when you know better, then you can do better.
PS: If you think you might be breaking rule 1 and would like to know more about the horse-friendly methods of riding and training we’ve uncovered on our own journey, we’ll be sharing some of what we’ve learned in a FREE masterclass on April 9th.