One of the biggest challenges a rider faces in schooling, is finding the balance between being kind and being effective enough to actually improve her horse.
It can often seem like kindness and effectiveness are in direct conflict. But the question is, why can’t you have both?
We’ve developed a grid that helps you understand your own riding style and gives you pointers towards becoming the rider we’d all like to be!
In the bottom right quadrant, is The Results-Driven Rider.
This no-nonsense rider is focussed on riding correct dressage movements and is likely very skilful.
She does get results but finds that problems crop up with some horses who resist and evade so much that they are labelled as “quirky”, “difficult” or just “not suitable” for the required job.
The opportunity for this rider is to recognise that all the bracing and resisting is communication from the horse, and it’s actually valuable information. It’s not the horse just being difficult or naughty – he’s not giving his rider a hard time, he’s having a hard time!
Understanding the real cause of these challenges enables you to avoid getting into any fights and instead quickly and effectively resolve difficulties by giving your horse the help that he actually needs, so you get a more relaxed and more cooperative horse as a result.
At the top left, is The Carer.
As the name implies, she cares very deeply about how her horse feels about life.
Her horses are happy but maybe she’s not doing all the things that she’d dreamed of doing with them. She tends to back off from doing much schooling, and sometimes wonders whether riding is a good idea at all. She may end up with a collection of field ornaments rather than riding partners.
Now life could be a lot worse for a horse, of course. But if this rider does have some ambition to take things further, she needs to learn how to school her horse in a way that’s both horse friendly and more effective in order to achieve her dreams.
At the bottom left is The Well-Meaning Rider. While there’s no doubt this rider’s intentions are good, her challenge is that she doesn’t yet have enough know-how to be properly effective.
She’s not intentionally being unkind but she’s making mistakes that accidentally make life more difficult for her horse. As a result, she’s not making the progress she wants and her horse ‘just doesn’t enjoy schoolwork’.
Of course, nobody actually wants to be here, but unless you were incredibly lucky and started out with an amazing trainer from day one, well, it’s a phase that we all have to go through, isn’t it?
The Empowering Rider knows how to ride and train in a way that maximises kindness and effectiveness without any need to sacrifice one for the other.
Here’s where you get the best of both worlds. You make lots of progress, and you’re doing it efficiently, without forcing or getting into any unpleasant arguments.
Not only is riding more fun, more engaging and more comfortable for your horse, you’re confident your schooling is enhancing his physical and mental health instead of having a negative effect.
You know exactly what to do in the school and the whole process of training and developing your horse is deeply interesting and enjoyable.
We’ve spent the last 20 years showing all kinds of riders with all types of horses how to turn this dream into reality.
To find out more, click here and join our next free training.
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