“Let your horse hear you exhale. Feel his ribs move as he inhales. The conversation has begun.” – Anna Blake, Author and Equestrian
Your horse's world consists of mostly non-verbal communication, so horse trainer Dr. Allan J. Hamilton’s book “Lead With Your Heart” takes us back to the basics of ABC’s to clearly get through to them. He helps us take note of giving and receiving clues that might get lost in translation.
“A stands for awareness and abilities, both of yours and your horse’s."
Always build each other’s confidence by beginning your riding session from a point of comfort before introducing anything advanced. Make sure you have a good foundation of mutual trust and safety before building on it, one step at a time. Observe any stiffness and don’t force a situation that isn’t working due to a temporary physical or mental block. End on a positive note.
“B stands for body and bravery."
Make your body speak clearly and don’t send mixed messages. Make sure your hands, legs and weight work in congruence when they are conversing with his body. Press your seat bones into the saddle and keep your shoulders in line with your ears, hips, and ankles to feel secure. Every time your horse steps outside of his comfort zone for you, give him a nice pat. Let him know when he gets it right by rewarding with release.
"C stands for concentration and confidence."
Focus on your horse and become fluent in your techniques. Clearly visualize what you are trying to achieve. You will be amazed when your horse shows off mind-reading capabilities and performs to the same picture. Remember that he is looking for a capable leader and if it's not you, he will take over.
And my Tara adds: “Don’t forget that the universal language for ‘thanks for the ride’ always includes an apple treat and a good belly scratch!”