For this edition of Riders & Rein Sensors we’re talking to Andrea Kutsch. She is horse trainer, coach and researcher at the Andrea Kutsch Akademie (AKA) in Germany, where they educate horse riders through science. Andrea says: “With the sensors it’s not ME saying it and yelling “release” all the time, it is the evidence.”
No more guessing, no more discussion
“AKA is a unique method based on hundreds of studies. No more guessing, no more human perspectives. We operate on evidence. Everybody can use Evidence Based Equine Communication (EBEC). The biggest difference is that EBEC is based on a horse’s perspective. Most of the methods we see make sense from a human perspective, but make no sense when you look into the brain and behavioral patterns of a horse. At AKA we know what we know and we work hard every day to find the next level of results for the things we do not know yet. That makes the scientific approach so exciting.”
The difference between control and communication
“Once I heard about the rein sensors and discussed it with the scientists who had developed it, I knew this was a wonderful product for EBEC learning. Trainers and riders in all disciplines strive for a sensitive mouth. Most of the riders want to use invisible signals so the riding kind of looks like magic. Especially in dressage and showjumping. When we train horses the old-fashioned way, we pull in the horse’s mouth a lot in order to control it. You simply make it move. Especially young horses are pulled in different directions. This way they don’t learn to translate all the different signals to behavior. It is a big mistake in these early stages to pull in the horse’s mouth in order to explain the horse the signals properly because later, in the long run, you want them to react very sensitively to a small hint. This is why with EBEC you learn how to explain the bit signals to a horse in a very, very sensitive way to avoid every kind of desensitization. That’s critical.”
How hard can I pull?
“The horses mouth needs to be kept sensitive. So the biggest question is always: “How hard can I pull in order to explain my signals to the horse; this means ‘turn right’, this means ‘turn left’ and this means ‘stop’ and ‘back up’?” There are 3 ways to figure out how hard the pull can be:
- the horse’s facial expression;
- his reaction on to the cue;
- how quickly he understands.
A strong pull needs to be avoided. The rein sensor is an amazing tool for us and we teach every student to use it. It’s amazing as you can see on your iPhone or screen when not to pull harder, while you teach the horse to understand the signals. I don’t think it’s bad if you have to pull a little harder every once in a while, as long as you watch your hands. Students need to learn to release their hands instead of continuing to pull.”
Make riders self-learning
“Learning how to correct yourself is much more effective than having a riding instructor present. This is the key of the rein sensors, it’s not ME saying it and yelling “release” all the time, it is the sensors giving them feedback. The student can control and understand it and is forced to reflect on his or her method. At AKA we want to work from an effective, fast and wonderful horse’s perspective, to release and if the horse doesn’t understand you the first time, to be creative in finding other solutions in how to explain the horse what to do. There is no reason you should be pulling harder if there is no effect in the horse. It is totally unproductive and unnecessary to first desensitize the horses mouth and then try for hundreds of training sessions to sensitize the mouth again.”
“The rein tension tool helps us to make the pull visible and there is no human discussion about it. The ego can’t be involved. When the kilograms show too much, you have to release. And students do it. Its an amazing tool; made for EBEC!”
Sensors in competition
“My dream would be that at one point there is a dressage discipline at tournaments where people can ride with the rein sensor. The one who completes the dressage test with the best score of the judges and littlest tension on the rein is the winner. The audience can follow the rein tension on a big screen. That makes it very exciting. I can totally see that coming.”
Learn more about the Andrea Kutsch Akademie at their (German) website.