One of the things I always longed for was a horse who loved to ride as much as I did…
A horse who came eagerly up to the mounting block, practically nudging me onto his back so we can ride off into the sunset together…
A horse who gallops under my trapeze so I can mount him dressed as a fairy…
(Ok, that last one wasn’t really a dream of mine but it DID actually happen!)
Well, I am DELIGHTED to say that these dreams have all come true for me and my horses. To date, I have trained 5 of my own horses to LOVE being mounted and ridden.
Toby: He had a whole host of riding issues prior to this training. You can see our whole story here.
Murphy and Rowan: Both rescues with extreme fear of saddles, mounting blocks and being ridden. Both ponies have changed completely and will willingly come at liberty to be tacked-up, mounted and love to be ridden. (You can see the whole big journey with Rowan in our Starting Your Horse Course).
India and Freckles: Two horses I’ve had since youngsters and have had Connection Training throughout their lives and will line up willingly for anyone to get on because they think riding is great.
“So, that’s nice,” I hear you say. “But what about me?”
Well, you can do it, too!
This video showcases loads of amazing and wonderful Connection Training students who have also experienced the magic of a true ridden partnership. All of their horses also come to the mounting block of their own accord and say, “yes, you can get on me, please!”
To be inspired, go and watch this incredible video to see a whole range of horses and ponies who love to be ridden and line up at the mounting block calmly, willingly and at liberty:
So, yes this is very cool indeed, and it is simply one of the best feelings in the world when your horse just can’t wait for you to get on 🙂
However, without wanting to put a damper on the whole thing, this is only a small part of the bigger picture.
At Connection Training, as you know, we encourage our horses to have a voice. If they don’t line up, we don’t get on. This means they get to tell us if they’re uncomfortable or unhappy and we can then make the changes to ensure that riding is great, again (there is a huge safety aspect to this, too – your horse can say whether they’re tense or in pain simply by not lining up rather than, say, bucking you off, which is their other option of communication!).
And there is quite a lot to ensuring that riding is great for our horses – their tack has to fit well, the rider must be balanced and soft, they must develop the strength and suppleness to carry a rider soundly and they must understand all the cues or aids they’re given.
Getting all of this right is a bit of a passion of mine. In the Riding with Connection Course, we cover all the basics for a happy ridden partnership from how to teach gymnastic exercises on the ground and in the saddle to rider exercises to teaching external cues positively.
When all this comes together, you have a horse:
> Who moves healthily and beautifully
> Is totally soft and responsive to the rider.
> Is straight and balanced
> Is relaxed and willing
> LOVES being ridden
And that’s when they whicker when they see the tack (yes 2 of my horses really do this), line up calmly and happily to be mounted and stay as tuned into you in the saddle as they are on the ground. And, you then have the basis to do ANYTHING – jumping, dressage, western, hacking – with a sound, relaxed and responsive horse.
Pretty cool, isn’t it? 🙂
P.s Soooo, yes, I was on my trapeze dressed as a fairy and yes, Toby did gallop up the field and line up underneath for me to get on and yes, we did actually canter off bareback and bridle less together…
It happened in one of my ‘Pony Tales’ – an equestrian version of Cinderella. (Yes, I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas over the years. This one, and then Snow White, were some of the funniest and funnest horsey times I’ve ever had!).
So, if you want a laugh, go and watch Cinderella now! And, if you want to see how hard it is to train a horse to line up under a trapeze when you’re hanging upside down and all the treats are falling out of your pockets, click here for the out-takes!
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