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For Endurance or any Discipline


Eric Hought

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The good riding weather brought my log entries to a standstill. But, the ridin' has enabled me time to reflect upon past and future entry subjects.

The progress for Plenty and Tempest this season has been good. Tempest has completed three LD since May and Plenty has completed four LD and three 50's. Both completed within the last hour of the allotted time. So, no fuss over speed.
Plenty seemed to have depleted her mineral and/or vitamin reserves but I think we have a handle on that and she is volunteering on her rides once again.

Tempest moves along trip, stumble, hasn't fallen yet and is oblivious to it all. She is riding in a shank snaffle and is just as lite and responsive as in the Dee Ring Snaffle. We are very pleased with her growth and progress. She will be five years old in March of 2003 so we will see how she progresses. Her only negative points are her camp manners. She will improve as time and miles pass. We will keep riding, watch and wait, she will tell us in her own time.

Their self confidence is developing because I don't ask them for anything they are not prepared to do. I suggest and wait. If they didn't hear me, I try again. If they ignored me, I put them to work until they are ready to hear me. It's simple.

All the little subtleties I have been offering are finally coming together. I prepare them as though I were going to show them. The show situation requires that cues, or signals, are unobservable so, that's the way I prepare them. The example is simple. If I wish the horse to execute a maneuver I suggest with for example, eight ounces of pressure. It would do no good to prepare by giving five pounds pressure and expect the same maneuver with eight ounces of pressure in the show arena. So, I prepare exactly as though I were showing. Yes!! it does take a long time to prepare a horse, longer than one would believe. But, the finished product is more solid and capable of executing movements with ease and confidence.

Let's assume we are loping along relaxed. To stop, I will feel the face, give my body signals and wait for the response. Consistency on my part now pays off because the sequence of signals are exactly the same everytime and the horse doesn't have to guess correctly.

The challenge to us is to detect our subtleties which in reality are the signals or cues. There may be a sequence of two or three but we give them whether we realize it or not. That is why it is so difficult to analyze ourselves, we do so much automatically "without thinking", oops, pilot error. Automatic can be fine provided we can manually check each part to discover any breakdown in the system. The horse is so sensitive and perceptive that we overlook what we do, but he doesn't.

Were you able to put into writing how you ask your horse to stop? It is more difficult than one would think. Once we begin analyzing ourselves we can "simplify" our signals, thus increasing our softness and consistency.

Softness is one of the keys to good communication with the horse. My opinion is, we can never stop being too soft. Remember from an earlier entry where I asked the question, "how soft can you be?" It almost becomes a game with ourselves. How have you been doing?

The subtleties, suggestions and feels all pay off in dividends because they become to what the horse responds: Thus we are able to ride our horse by doing less and receiving more. You may remember I started riding Tempest last September and it has taken until now for the pieces to begin going together. It's too simple, we have to believe and practice until it becomes "automatic". Wait them out. KEEP IT SIMPLE.


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