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Style, Class and Athleticism

Everything we do with our horses could be approached with this thought: how could we achieve or work towards what we do with our horses looking stylish, classy and athletic? Of course, whatever we expect of our horses we should expect of ourselves. These 3 things come from a mental and emotional willingness, a softness, and understanding in the horse and the human.  Pretty much anything we do with our horses, even slow, should be done with that in mind. If we don’t think about it when things are slow we surely will not when things get fast. Whatever we practice slowly needs to be done really well because it seems to get worse when we go faster. If it is not so good slow, it gets real bad the faster we go.

For example, if we were to pick up one rein or two we should be thinking about the horse giving his head and neck to the rein or reins, not turning or stopping. Turning and stopping is secondary to allowing for and looking for softening of the head and neck. It isn’t something you make happen. It is something you allow, look for or try to access. When we do what we call a 9-step backup, the rider should be thinking about the feel they offer the horse and the feel they get back from the horse. The rider should be looking for the horse to tuck the nose, round the topside of it’s neck and soften to the reins as the rider goes through the first 7 steps. Then the rider can look for a stop at step 8 and finally backup at 9.  This type of thinking and softening of the horse helps them lift their backs so they can lift their feet and backup. The rider will have to be very careful not to make backing up more important than the softness, willingness and understanding. The rider will also need to be very careful not to keep taking rein when the horse is trying find release or softness. Anyone that has rode in my clinics knows exactly what I’m talking about. All people are born with an incredible desire to pull and when a horse tries to give to reins or a lead line, us humans feel we have to pull some more. This dulls the horse and causes them to not try to look for release because there isn’t any. As I was learning all this, if I had a dollar for every time I pulled and wasn’t aware that I did, I would be retired. I see it now as I teach people and we truly are oblivious to how many times we are pulling on a horse, which only creates problems. It takes time to realize we are doing it, and then it takes more time to curb and change the habit.

It is important to be thinking about what style, class and athleticism might look like and that it comes from a mental and emotional willingness. Your goal should be working towards this sooner rather than later, accessing as much as we can each time, we ask something of our horses. Of course, it doesn’t always look this way and doesn’t always happen.  It is more difficult when doing things at speed, but if it never looks like this even slow then something is very wrong. We may not even be looking for these 3 ingredients but the horse sure is. Rest assured that we are missing the best parts of a horse and the best parts of ourselves. All horses have the capacity for these things but it doesn’t magically happen we need to have it first. All horses are not the same but all horses are also very much the same in many ways. Some want to run all the time some don’t want to hardly move. That’s a difference that can be good in some areas and bad in another. We need to work with the horse we have and help guide them towards being the horse we would like.  The excuses of my horse is different, abused, came this way from the previous owner, had a trailer loading/unloading accident only last so long and then it is our horse and is a mirror of what we do and don’t know. 

Think about getting something done and doing it with style, class, and athleticism.  It will access more of us and more of our horses.

Glenn Stewart

Glenn offering year round educational horsemanship programs at his facility near Fort Saint John, BC and is available to travel for clinics, demonstrations, events and corporate leadership.  Long-term study and professional programs are also available