Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Riding With Focus Helps One Live With Focus

Perhaps it is the hardest thing for riding students to learn. We "steer" the horses with our reins as a last resort, the final step before effectuating a turn. Pulling on the horse's head is not the first step in turning. It is a step to be used only if necessary.

A turn is accomplished in four steps--the same is  steps every single time that the turn is to be made. First one looks hard in to the direction that one wishes to go--not a quick fleeting glance but an intense stare, even if only for a moment. Then one leans in that direction. The third step is to push the horse's hip away using the leg on the same side that one wishes to turn.

If, after completing all of these steps, the horse has not begun to make the turn one may pull the rein back (not up, back) until the horse begins to make the turn.

The very instant that the horse begins to consider thinking about the possibility of perhaps making the turn is the time that  the pressure comes off of the rein. If this technique is used with 100% consistency the result  is a horse that begins to make the turn the moment the rider focuses on the direction in which the horse is to turn. Such a horse can often be guided by sight and leg and the lightest of contact with the rein.

There are many other systems of cues that can be used to turn horses.  Provided that those systems are used with perfect consistency they will get good results. I like our system of cues because it teaches focus and intense, momentary concentration.

The ability to shift into a mode of intense alertness and concentration is a an important life skill for humans. It is of particular benefit in an emergency situation where a clear head and quick thinking can make the difference between life and death.

It also is a great exercise to help kids develop the most important skill to enhance the ability to learn. It helps kids learn to pay attention.  There is no learning without paying attention and focus makes that possible.

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