From the Long Island Horse Directory:
We all know horses need regular exercise, and most of us do not have the luxury of keeping our horses in a big field at home. Our horses are stabled, and even with daily turnout, they need regular exercise. We also need to keep ourselves exercised. Sadly easier said then done. With our busy lives, it is hard to keep up with everything, especially keeping our horses tuned up and our bodies.
If you speak to a non-horse person about riding, many of them think you just sit on the horse and the horse does the work. That kind of riding is called a "pony ride". The kind of riding I am speaking of is about becoming an "effective rider".
I have spoken before about rushing to tack up your horse then quickly warming up your horse and rushing into your lesson. Not the best idea. Your horse knows when you are in a rush or in a bad mood. They can read your body language, hear the tone of your voice, and feel how roughly you groom or tack them up. Your horse has no idea, you may have had a bad day at work or school. They are picking up on your energy or lack of. Horses thrive on consistency. The first place to be consistent is on the ground. Read your horses body language, just like he reads yours. As you listen to him, he will learn to listen to you. Patience, is the key word here. The respect you give each other on the ground will transfer over when you are in the saddle. Never force your horse to do something ( there are exceptions) always ask your horse to do it. Ahhhh.... this is where the many horse disciplines clash. My motto is: If you don't have patience, you should not be on a horses back. Oh sure, you say to yourself," I have the patience." Until you are trying to load your horse on to a trailer and you are already late for the show. All you want at that time is, to load the damn horse and get to the show. But, this article is not about trailer loading, it is about the basic fundamentals of creating a mutual bond which will lead to becoming an effective rider.
The first step in becoming an effective rider is to answer the following questions.
Can you cope with imperfections, in your horse and in yourself?
Are you focused only on limitations instead of possibilities?
Is winning your only goal?
Do you take time to play with your horse? (groundwork)
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. The answers to these questions will hopeful have you take another look at what kind of rider you want to be. Keep in mind that the one thing that makes riding so great is, that no one knows everything. There are always "things" to learn and we all started in the same place, the beginning. What we sometimes have to do is to start all over again. I am speaking about issues that may arise with your horse. Most of us are now riding horses that we did not back (train). We did not know the horses when they were younger, and did not see them trained. Some have only been ridden for 3 months, others are older and have seen and done many things. What happens now that you have a new partner and a problem arises?
You should assess the issue, discuss it with your trainer and try to find where the hole is in his/her training. This is where your "patience" comes into play. Yes, you like the horse and see a great partnership only if.......you could fix the problem. Well, most horses do have issues of some sort. Some of the issues can be dangerous, (rearing, bucking) while others may be minor. This would also depend on your ability. What is minor for one person, may be major for another and vice verse.
My suggestion is to take the time and find out what is causing the problem, then work on correcting it from the ground first. Work on asking your horse to do different things. I said ask, not force. Make a suggestion, ask the horse correctly, and see if he understands what you are asking. You may see the horse respond in a way that makes you think that he is being resistant, when really your horse doesn't understand what it is you are asking. Learn to communicate. Take the "time" to learn how to communicate with your horse. There are many good natural horsemanship books, videos and articles around. Stop and smell the roses. Slow down and take time out to bond.
Make sure you have built a true partnership with your horse. Does your horse trust you?
Use ground work to build that trust. Spend time with your horse, not just riding and grazing. Horses like having a new experience, they get bored too. Learn to play with your horse. You just might find that the "problem" you had.....disappears.