It’s not the goal that counts, but how you get there. Maybe you dream of starting Grand Prix with your horse, or going on a multi-day trekking holiday together, but fixating on this ultimate goal is never a good idea. It opens the door to negative pressure, stress, anxiety and disappointment (more about this and perfectionism in the next blog!) Your journey towards that goal, that’s where your connection with your horse can grow. And building that relationship is exactly what is so beautiful and rewarding about equestrian. If you are looking to build such a strong relationship and connection with your horse; two things are very important in my view: a foundation of trust and a strong sense of partnership. But what does that mean exactly?
Trustbuilding, creating a foundation of trust (your horse trusting you), starts with learning to understand the horse’s natural behaviour and establishing communication from there. Studying the horse’s natural behaviour will allow you to get to know your horse’s reactions and responses in different situations and circumstances, and most importantly: how to keep yourself safe at all times. Being able to keep yourself and your horse and safe and showing your horse that you understand their natural needs and communication are important steps towards being the kind of leader your horse can place their trust in! This goes for both ridden work and groundwork, of course; for instance through obstacle training, fall safety training or stress management training to increase both you and your horse’s safety. You’ll soon start to notice that the more positive experiences you can ‘stack up’ and accumulate in this way, the bigger your toolkit will become and the more your trust together will grow.
The second pillar is teambuilding, creating a strong partnership. What does this involve? Well, firstly you have to start realising that you are just as big a part of this partnership as you would like your horse to be. So it means working on your own harmony and clear communication in the saddle, just the same as you would with your body language in your groundwork. How are you giving your aids? You can think about riding seat coaching, so you can learn to be more ‘in synch’ with your horse and you can start moving and working better as a team. Overcoming challenges together is another incredibly powerful way to build a partnership. An obstacle course under saddle, riding on a neck rope or jumping can be wonderful examples of fun and exciting ways to grow together with your horse! Each challenge you and your horse overcome together will make your bond stronger and deeper. Again it comes down to being able to keep yourself and your horse and safe and showing your horse that you understand their natural needs (for more on these natural needs of the horse, see my previous blog on the 5 Freedoms!) and communication; to be the kind of leader your horse can place their trust in!
Disclaimer: never try any of these things mentioned above at home without expert guidance!
Did any part of this blog resonate with you? Let me know, and please feel free to share!
Blog by Jeannette Martens