Lightness

Elise

Sometimes I feel like I'm pulling too hard on the reins. Even though I prefer to ride with a light pressure, because I don't want to hurt Kristy. I just want to ride gently. I even considered riding her bitless. I just don't know if I'm doing it right. Or could it be that my sister and I ride in a  different way and therefore make it unclear for Kristy? Does Kristy understand what we mean? Maybe she grows numb to our aids, because she doesn't understand us, and that's why she's getting strong.

 

Because I want the best for my horse, I have bought the rein sensors. The first time I was riding with them I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea what my rein pressure would be. I wanted to achieve the greatest possible result with as little pressure as possible. My goal is to ride with a light rein pressure.

 

My instructor gave me the book: Bewuster paardrijden written by Tineke, Imke and Joep Bartels.

I came across a piece about habituation. I found this really interesting. It's about Andrew McLean doing research on operant conditioning. This is challenging a horse to learn something by itself. The horse itself looks for solutions to remove the discomfort. There was also an example in this book. This made it very clear to me. The example was that you let a horse go forward by applying pressure with your legs.

The horse wants that pressure to be released. However, you should not release the pressure until you have the desired response. My instructor had also heard of this. She told me that even if this is only half a reaction and not the final picture, you still have to let go. When you apply this pressure more often and release it at the right time, you will notice that you need less and less pressure to get the same reaction.

 

After reading this piece I wondered if my aids were clear to my horse and if I let go at the right time. I made a list of the aids I give and the response I expected from my horse. I also asked my sister to do the same. When writing it down I noticed that I sometimes give several aids at the same time or ask for a different response with the same aid. This makes it unclear to my horse. I started writing down one aid per reaction. For example, to have her working on the bit the aid I give is pressure with two reins for five seconds. I slowly increase this pressure.

 

I ended up with nine different aids on paper. My sister and I compared these with each other. We described things differently, but changed this so we ended up with nine aids that were the same.

 

I started using these aids consistently in my training. I worked together with my sister. She stood at the side of the school with the app while I gave the aids. When going backwards, I gave both a leg and a rein aid. Kristy did not understand this. On the app my sister could see that I had a rein pressure of 3 kilos. However, Kristy still did not go backwards. My sister said that I was giving two aids at the same time and it was not so clear for Kristy. Then I tried again. I stopped Kristy on the track closed my hand and gave her a half hold. She hesitated for a moment, but then she stepped back. Immediately I let go and she stopped again. Letting go immediately after a response made this help clearer. We tried this several more times. I noticed that Kristy was getting better at understanding this help.

 

We practiced this for several weeks. I started training four times a week and every time someone assisted me with the app to show me the reaction. I noticed that Kristy was already backing up more paces after my help. When I let go she immediately stopped doing this.

 

I also noticed a change in the other parts of riding. She understood my aids better and responded more quickly. After two weeks of practicing the aids, I looked at the difference in rein pressure. On the app I saw that my rein pressure decreased during the training sessions. When I compared my rein pressure at the start of riding with the app in the past few days, there was sometimes a kilo difference in the aid getting the same result.

Now I realize that it must have been confusing for Kristy, she didn’t understand me anymore. I used different aids for the same exercise. I am really happy that I discovered this and that I am getting better results now. I also notice that she is happier during the training.

 

I also looked at the results of my sister, her rein tension also went down. Because we now use the same aids for the same exercise things are a lot clearer for Kristy. My sister said that she noticed the difference as well!

My name is Elise and my horse is called Kristy. My horse means everything to me. I share her with my sister. We ride differently, but we both want the best for Kristy. I ride her three times a week and my sister rides incidentally when she has time. This is usually once every two weeks. I also have lessons once a week. 

Do you also want to ride with less pressure? Measure your rein tension to be sure. You can use the rein sensors of IPOS. Order them in the webshop!

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