THE TRAINING PYRAMID: ONE PIECE AT A TIME
with Patrick King
RHYTHM & RELAXATION
Many riders struggle with physical and emotional relaxation in the horse because they jump too quickly “up the scale” into contact/connection before the horse has learned to manage his own emotions. Until a horse can prove that he is relaxed in his mind and body, HE IS NOT READY FOR CONTACT. This is why rhythm and relaxation are at “the base of the pyramid,” and why we need to always return to this many times throughout each ride with our horse.
Too many riders are working hard to force the horse into frames, cadences, and movements before the mind is open enough to accept being educated. This only proves to create more frustration and tension in the horse (not to mention the rider!) as we attempt to progress further. It does not need to be this way. We need to recognize the horse’s emotional state.
Everything must start with mental acceptance and relaxation for the horse in order for education to be possible. We need to return to this, also, when troubles start to shape up. Rather than trying to out-muscle the horse’s emotions, we need to help him find relaxation again by stepping back and allowing him to manage his own emotions once more. From here, training can start again.
Tempo is an emotional condition of the gait. This is why rhythm and relaxation must be tied together at the base of the pyramid. The horse must be allowed to find his own cadence and relaxation at all gaits with minimal (if any) interference from the rider. Only once he has come to this relaxation as a personal responsibility can we expect him to accept more advanced and sophisticated understandings of the rider’s expectations.
Follow Patrick King Horsemanship for more tips, videos, and (almost) daily LIVE Q&A sessions… and stay tuned for PART 2 of this series on The Training Pyramid: One Piece at a Time.