View Full Version : Advice needed on attitude!!!
22nd Dec 1999, 08:43 PM
Help - I've just had a disastrous lesson where my instructor (to prove a point I think but quite justifiably) put me on a horse who is very good as long as you are really firm with him. If you are not firm then he plays up and stops and tries to take to take your knee caps off on the fence etc (I am sure you have all been there). My problem as you have probably guessed is that I have great difficulty being firm enough. Even at the end of the lesson when I was really hacked off with him (excuse the pun) I still couldn't get him to do as he was told. My instructor wants me to work on this aspect of my riding as it is really holding me back but I can't seem to do it - does anyone have any advice on how I can psyche myself up? :O
23rd Dec 1999, 02:08 AM
Hmmm. Didn't mean to get your hopes up, by responding to your post but wanted to let you know that this has happened to me as well. A new horse I was assigned as part of my part-board sideswiped sides of jumps and all the instructor could say was "can't you steer? Get tough, tell him who's boss". Grrrrr. Unfortunatley the solution for me was to get very firm, but not with the horse, with the instructor. I said I could not/would not lease him. It wasn't having fun any more I was leaving the barn feeling awful and would not commit to any more payments until she found be someone I could handle. (Which she did thankfully, and things are great.) Hang in there. I vote for entact kneecaps! K
23rd Dec 1999, 08:53 PM
I need advice on attitude, too. I;m told to be more firm, stronger, tougher, etc. And I'd like some very basic ideas on the body language that goes with the attitude! I've read a bit about squaring the shoulders and invading personal space but not much on very simple things like...do I look the horse straight on? Squared shoulders? How do I look "bigger" when I need to? Is it tone of voice, pitch or volume? I watch my trainer who's obviously very strong and can be dominant but I can't figure out HOW she does this! She just laughs and says it comes with time but I'm hoping someone might have a simple "do this" that would help.
When mounted, is it stronger to sit down more? i.e. heavier? Hold the reins tighter? Stronger leg aids?
Or are we talking about mental images?
24th Dec 1999, 12:06 AM
JCB: I think Karin has a good point. But to address your concern: Are your aids strong enough? Ask your instructor- some horses respond like sports cars, some are like Mack trucks. It sounds like you've got one of the latter! When I rode a horse like that, I carried a crop and if he didn't respond to a definite aid I would reinforce it with the crop. That way he learned to respond to my aids the first time and I didn't end up kicking or dragging him around the arena. BTW, horses (like dogs) seem to respond well to a deep, commanding type voice. You could try backing up your aids with a voice command, try to imitate whatever tone your instructor uses.
Vee: Go and watch your instructor when you're not riding and pay attention to her tone of voice and body language. It could be she is unaware of what she does around horses- either way, laughing and not answering a direct question is not very helpful. As much as you can, try and be strong, calm and confident when with horses, even if you have butterflies. When you're warming up your horse, don't just plod around the arena. Stop, stand, change directions, cut across, sing, etc. You reinforce your image as the boss, get the horses attention, warm up and it's kind of fun, too.
[This message has been edited by Susan B. (edited 23 December 1999).]
26th Dec 1999, 02:26 PM
Oh my, my friend leases a horse exactly like you described! Her name is Primrose, and she is *such* a brat. She can really sense if you're not tough enough and she'll really ignore your aids! Like she'll start backing up when you want her to go forward, even with absolutely no rein pressure. She's also hard to control, and if you take your mind off where you're going for just *1* second, she'll go haywire! She needs a really firm rider, and though my friend wasn't one at first, she's really getting there!
When my friend fell off and got a concussion, I volunteered to exercise Prim while she was getting better. I'm a pretty tough rider, and Prim really listened, and I'm proud of that. She needed really firm aids though, if she started backing up you had to give her a firm squeeze to remind her that you were the boss and you were in the saddle, and she had to listen to you. You have to really school horses like that. If they do something you don't like, you have to get their attention by halting them. After you have their attention, ask them to do the thing you were working on again until they follow. I don't thinking being a firm rider really pertains to stronger kicks and yanks on the reins to punish the horse, I think it refers to the fact that no matter what the horse does, you don't give up in teaching them the correct thing.
VEE: You asked 'When mounted, is it stronger to sit down more? i.e. heavier? Hold the reins tighter? Stronger leg aids?'. It's stronger to keep a deep seat so you don't lose it easily. Don't hold the reins tighter because this is like unneccessary punishment for the horse (imagine if he didn't need tighter reins and he was being a good boy!), and use stronger leg aids only when he's being bad. Always start with gentle aids, because you never know if the horse you're on is sensitive or not.
7th Jan 2000, 02:47 PM
Hi everyone and Happy New Year to you all - thanks for the replies and support - I've only just caught up with all the mails etc after the break.
I had a much better lesson yesterday and I think my attitude is improving :) but it's going to take a lot of time and practice (very frustrating).
In answer to one of the replies (sorry didn't note the name down) I do back up my aids with a whip BUT (and here's the main part of the problem) I don't do it effectively enough - the horse just ignores me! My instructor demonstrated the sort of strength of tap I was giving him - using my whip on my leg and I can see why he ignored it frankly as it was no more than a tickle. However I have tried to use my whip in a more effective way but it just seems to bounce off the horse - there must be an art to it.
Any more helpful hints please let me know. In the meantime my New Year's resolution is to be firmer, tougher and more determined not to let them get away with anything!!
7th Jan 2000, 03:29 PM
The way i look at it, you are not trying to show the horse who is boss, because then you end up with an unequal relationship. This can then be challenged by the horse who will win (as he is a LOT stronger). What you want to achieve is a partnership, an equal partnership with the horse, think of it as getting the horse to work with you as an equal on a team, not as your junior (to put it in a work context). the horse will then feel much happier and much less resentment to you.
Think about how you would achieve this at work, how would you get a another staff member to work with you effectively, but without deciding that they are going to take your job from you? If you can praise anything positive, albeit a tiny thing, hopefully they will work that way again. If they misbehave, they you must tell then, a sharp 'NO' works well, don't use your stick to say no, unless it is because the horse is totally ignoring your leg aid - that is all that your stick is there for. Hopefully you don't hit your collegues too!
Setting out with a really positive mental attitude can really help. If you can imagine that in your lesson you will get perfectly round 20 m circles and that you will get the canter transition perfectly at A, and carry on thinking that through the lesson, then you will get there. If you think that is rubbish (and i certainly used to), look how the horse will behave whne the teacher gets on. The teacher is full of confidence and the horse knows it so will go forwards nicely (usually).
hopefully you won't need to be a tougher rider, just more positive in your head that you ARE going to achieve and that you want ot be an equal partner with the horse.
I hope that works with you.
9th Jan 2000, 03:42 AM
Being firm and showing who's boss is important, but when your being so firm neither of you are having fun, your in trouble!bE FIRM but have FUN 2!
2nd Feb 2000, 10:06 PM
Unfortunately I have no advice, but can sympathise as I also have problems being firm. I have been put in the same situation by an instructor and I felt so small.
[Edited by Sue on 16th Apr 2001 at 08:43 PM]
6th Feb 2000, 11:22 PM
My mom (coach also) always tells me, "are you the mouse or the motorcycle?". She says that horses can smell fear. Are you afraid of the horse in the least? Or is he just intimidating toward you? I'm sorry; I don't really know what smacks me into doing it but I just get pushed off the edge and I say to myself: "WHO's BRAIN is the size of a soup can? The horse!" That helps me resize my perspective of who should be bossing who. Not to the point of being cruel, just enough to make him behave. Try envisioning what you are wanting to happen. I've heard success and failure stories alike with this technique but it might work for you.
Hope this helps.
7th Feb 2000, 02:29 PM
Thanks for all the advice everyone. In answer to the last reply (sorry didn't register the name) it's not a fear problem just simply that I am so laid back (in every aspect of my life not just my riding) that I have trouble getting the horse to take me seriously. To let you all know though my last few lessons have seen a definite improvement - my instructor has been nagging me a lot and making me work really hard but it seems to be working and the improvement is probably about 60% :) I just need to work on the other 40% now but I now feel there is some hope. Thanks again for all your replies.
8th Feb 2000, 04:44 AM
Hi I know we all hate 2 do it but go in there with the frame of mind that u r the master and the horse is your servant. He/she is your servant and will obey u at all costs.
I used to have a pony, he was such a head strong "I am going to do what I like" ba**ard
that he scared me and I wouldn't even go into the field with him, but mt mum who has had horses all her life went into the field with this attitude and he was good as gold. Horses are sensitive they pick up on your weaknesses, so go in with no weakneses be the BOSS!!!!!!!!!!
Be the BEST!!!!!!
well hope this helps, Kathie
8th Feb 2000, 01:20 PM
I don't agree with your "idea". Sorry but your horse shouldn't be your servant. He should be your partner. Do you see a dog as your servant? I see my dogs as my partner because it takes more than one of us to work together. If the horse doesn't wanto work you can beat him and beat him and yes he'll go into submission but will he do it willingly? No. He will try and find every possible way to get out of it.. BUT if you make it fun so your BOTH willing... he'll enjoy himself and WANTO work!
Just seeing a different way! We all have our opinions!
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