“You need to do less sooner; you’re always doing too much, late.” By Ray Hunt
I think these words are totally on target when working with horses. I attended one of Ray Hunt’s clinics several years ago in Texas. He was quite amazing to see. I heard him say these words and I understood what the words meant…but until years later and working with several horses…I can see these words, now, and the words take on a whole new meaning to me.
When I started to change my way of thinking when working with horses…meaning to work with the horse from his perspective…I was always doing too much late!!! So these words, from Mr. Hunt, are quite powerful and meaningful to me. I can see things so clearly now…as when I try to teach students how to work with their horse from his perspective….everyone always is doing too much late. This is how we all can learn. This is also why we never quit learning.
I now have a much better understanding of the first part of his quote…needing to do less sooner…it is truly amazing how much a horse feels! It takes a great deal of patience, understanding, commitment, practice, mistakes, timing, feel, balance and understanding the horse to do less sooner so we are not always doing too much, late!
Why horsemanship (training) is so important starting on the ground… a horse experiences everything you do when you are with him as a positive or negative feeling. Positive feelings (or experiences) are non-stressful and keep the horse in a relaxed frame of mind. Negative feelings (or experiences) are stressful and raises the horse’s anxiety level and makes the horse tense. A horse that is tense is on self preservation mode and just looking for a way out. If a horse can’t find a way out, he’ll either blow or he’ll shut down…depending on his inclination. There is no learning going on with either one.
Horsemanship starts between you and your horse from the moment you open his stall door and throughout until you put him back in his stall and close the door. This means you have to pay attention to your horse at every moment if you want him to pay attention to you at every moment. There is so much a person can read from their horse during their first greeting of their horse to haltering the horse, leading the horse, grooming, tacking up and etc.
Concentration starts at the very beginning…not just when a person rides. Horsemanship, to me, means consistency and concentration of my horse at all times…starting on the ground. If a person could begin to develop concentration and consistency from the ground…they could take the same concentration and consistency to their riding. Most people don’t see much connection between how they, say, lead their horse to the arena to mount and how they ask that horse to trot or canter.
The best place to start developing your concentration and consistency is definitely from the ground.
I found this great article in regards to how horses can be so helpful to youth as far as learning life skills such as communicating, better decision making, goal setting, problem solving and etc. and etc. This article goes in detail as far as what horsemanship means. This is why I believe so strongly in horsemanship and not just teaching young students to “just” ride…I have had many young students, in my lesson program, that have come to me for other reasons besides learning to ride a horse. Please take a few minutes to read this article. I believe this article is right on the money…horses can be great for so many reasons!
We all know that some individuals make great leaders and certain other individuals do not. What makes a good leader? What makes a good partner? What qualities do you need in a leader or a partner? Now think of a leader or a partner, in your life, that you will always remember and why…It could be a parent, teacher, boss, spouse, friend, and etc. When you decide on who this individual is, then ask yourself why you chose that person. It doesn’t matter who you chose but why. The individual you chose, most likely, redeem certain qualities. Qualities such as compassion, fairness, honesty, being responsible, giving, unselfish, consistent, knowledgeable, communicates well, patience, understanding, and awareness are just a few that come to mind. Your partner (the horse) needs all of these qualities (plus more) from you to establish a good relationship. As with any good relationship; it takes total commitment, dedication and constant nurturing. This might all sound like a great deal of hard work and a huge responsibility; and it is, but it is necessary in order to help your horse to become all that he can be — a true winner!
The old saying: Nothing good comes easy…is so true!
I am passing on an email, from Ty Haas, concerning the updates for the Harry Whitney clinic.
A couple of riding slots have opened up for Harry’s upcoming clinics in December. If you are interested please let me know. We will be filling them up with individual lessons soon if we don’t have someone interested in the whole week.