Riding bridless requires precise communication!

Precision can mean a lot of things to a lot of people and horses. To me, Precision practice or patterns at Liberty, on line, Mounted, or over obstacles, is an opportunity to play with how well my horse and I are communicating.

I know many people who see arena practice as boring and pointless but it can add a fun challenge, variety and do what I call Skill building. If you work on asking your horse to do very specific things on very specific patterns, figures or obstacles, It builds Connection and Communication while exercising and strengthening your horse.

Precision can be a slippery slope to Control Freak for some people and that is not the goal. One of my challenges in teaching people Dressage and Dressage based riding is, that of all the disciplines, Dressage has the worst track record of turning people into obsessed control freaks. It is not the point to nit pick. It is the point to use progressively challenging patterns and figures to challenge you and your horses ability to communicate with each other.

Visualization is very important for patterns and in that aspect it can be very focusing and even meditative to practice. If your are more focused on the pattern then whether your horse will do it or not, your horse will focus on it very well. This applies to Liberty, Line, or Mounted practice.

The challenge for this week is to make a pattern at Liberty, on Line, or Mounted and practice it with your horse. Be mindful that the pattern is a foundation for a conversation to start between you and your horse and that it is only a target to strive for. The fun part is the conversation. For example, If I ask Mercury to walk a 15 meter circle with me with bend, the fun part is communicating that figure to him. If he leaves the figure or looks the other way, We will find a way to come back to our circle but it doesn’t matter how long or what we do in between. Another fun pattern is to take 4 cones or Hula Hoops and lay them down in a square pattern that is a comfortable size for your horse to walk, trot, and canter (if you are ready) around. I will challenge you to use this pattern creatively as there are many ways to work with it from beginner to advanced. One hint is figure eights and another is transitions. Maybe you will come up with something I haven’t thought of! Have fun!
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