|Here I am working with a Mare that had a tendency to be Braced in her Mind and movement on a Mind and Body softening exercise…|
Soft versus light is an interesting comparison that sometimes there is confusion about. Depending on who you talk to you will get different interpretations.
My Interpretation of Light is a horse or a response to a cue that is very sensitive or even reactive or Over-reactive. So there are degrees of lightness that can actually be too light. The horse may over react or move too quickly so the movement or action is too fast and lacks quality and flow. This is for sure desireable in some disciplines but it can cause mis-communications between horse and rider. This can be a horses natural temperament or tendency or they can be taught to be “Lighter” in their responses if they are a bit un-reactive or slow to react.
Softness to me is about Suppleness, flexibility, a calm mind and flow in the horses movement, body, and mind. There is Relaxation, Rhythm, and fluidness between horse and rider whether you are moving at speed or slow. You’ll note that I said a calm mind because to me you can not have true “Whole” softness without a calm, trusting, happy, minded horse. You can not manufacture softness with gadgets, bits, and force.
Now let’s talk about Light versus Soft in the Rider. A rider can be Light all the time in their communication or very heavy handed figuratively speaking. Using strong cues always “shouting” so to speak at the horse. This will cause a horse to become perhaps no longer Light where he once was. So we want to be careful of training that into a horse and thinking it’s their problem not one we created. A person needs to understand the full spectrum of “Request levels” starting with a whisper and escalating to a firmer (not louder) Conversation and everything in between.
Which leads to Softness in the person. All the same things apply here Suppleness, flexibility, a calm mind and flow in the persons movement, body, and mind. There is Relaxation, Rhythm, and fluidness between horse and person because you are able to effectively mirror the traits you are asking for from your horse. And again without the calm, happy, mind and body, you can not have true “Whole” softness in yourself.
It is always good to ask yourself as the Leader in the relationship between you and your horse, if you can do what you are are asking your horse to do whether it’s be Calm, Be Fearless/Courageous, Flexible, Responsive, Energetic or Quiet. Whatever it may be, It starts with us.