The more we can direct the horse's movements, engage his/her brain and the more proactive we are, the safer we become and the more the horse can relax.
When you forget that you are training your horse with each and every interaction or ride, then it's easy to become reactive - correcting or punishing the horse for behaviours that have already occurred. Here, we are running 'behind' the horse.
If we can give the horse more direction, i.e. know what we want before we ask for anything and release/reward when we get that specific thing, then we are back in the 'riders seat' and both the horse and rider are safer, more able to relax and quickly gain confidence.
It's sort of the opposite of riding with your fingers crossed. You know the feeling, 'gosh I hope he doesn't spook at that', 'PLEASE load on to the trailer', 'I hope she's OK with all those other horses being silly on the trail ride' and on and on. It's the 'hope for the best' approach and, at its very best, is confidence-zapping.
If on the other hand, we realise that we are training the horse every time we interact with it and decide to make the most of that time by focusing on relaxation and training obedience to simple cues, then we instantly become proactive.
The proactive rider sets out with a plan and a means of achieving it (usually a step-by-step lesson), knows how to chunk lessons down to ensure the horse's success and builds both their confidence and the horse's confidence along the way.
Safer and more fun for all!
Can you think of one situation in which you could become more proactive? Leave me a comment below and tell me what that might be - we can all usually find one (I think I just thought of three while writing that sentence.....).
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