Karin Bielefeld

Everyone has a “Goal” with their equine partner, or should I say they have a goal for themselves with their equine partner. The goal can become a learning experience, or it can become  frustrating.  The goals that you set can push emotional buttons, or they can be gratifying. Frustration rears its ugly head at times, lack of confidence at others, then at the next moment you are on an incredible high because you had a break through. You sing songs, tell your friends, and life is good. 

The question for us is “what’s in it for the horse?”
From the horses perspective they haven’t got a clue about your goals. The horse’s only goal is to live life. The horse as an individual does not understand emotion – it only responds to it. They only learn things through feel and repetition of things that produce the same result. They can only willingly give you what they are comfortable doing, because they really don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Their balance is their comfort zone, your happiness and contentment their safety zone.  Above all “calm” is the meaning of life for a horse. So you ask what does that have to do with ” My Goals”?…..A lot.

When your mind travels to “my goals”; the “we” gets taken out of the scenario. Often people who are drawn to the horse world and are competitive are very goal orientated. To be successful one must have structure and self discipline. There  has to be a “game plan” .
This is where the glitch begins. Horses don’t have goals except to be comfortable and safe. This is your partner, you are the one with the plan. The following is a list that I ask my riders to ask themselves as they are training.
Which does my horse have?:

  • Balance “( is what gives your horse confidence to try) or ” Lack of Balance“( stimulates fear and flight mode in the horse.)
  • Comfort” (is what your horse will want to remember and create willingness to try) or Discomfort” (causes confusion and defensiveness in the horse.)
  • Mental tranquility” (creates security for the horse) or Mental domination” only causes confusion for them.

At the end of the day all the knowledge, all the lessons, all the training, what you perceive to be what should be and is correct is alien to the horse. The goals you have are yours in the end, the horse is only part of the scenario. So if you can make your horses needs “the goal” the horse will become a willing partner to help you in your journey to obtain yours.
Best wishes in your journey with your wonderful friend,

What do you do when a horse does not come underneath themselves equally?

When a horse does not come under itself equally it can be caused by different things. One first needs to check the muscle flexibility or inflexibility from the ground to see if the horse has the ability to use each leg equally. If not, gentle stretch and release exercises done before you ride will help tremendously. The next step would be the usual – chiropractic, saddle fit, or physical exam. These are also things I encourage you to check into, if you have not already done so. It is important that you know what you are dealing with before you start exercises with your horse through riding.

Once anatomical problems such as lower hip, or tipped pelvis are ruled out, your exercises will be more productive. It has been my experience in the past that quite often the horse is somehow locked up. Once the rider knows what the cause is they are able to put together the proper program for their horse.

When you are working in the saddle with your horse, simple and straight forward is the cure. Do numerous upward to downward transitions with your horse from walk to trot giving him lots of breaks. Think of these transitions as reps, no more than eight at a time between rest periods, building the amount of times you do it slowly. Once your horse is comfortable and consistent, then go to adding trot to canter on a straight line.

Your horse must learn to engage his hind end equally. The muscles must be redeveloped and strengthened. Please make sure that on your downward transitions that you are not sitting too deep into your horse’s back. A dragging leg can only be improved by the horse lifting his back so that it can soften his stifle and hock in the transition. If you are using too much seat into your hand the horse may be disconnecting his back which will cause pelvis to tip wrong way.

Are you yourself less flexible, or do you sit heavier on one side than the other? If so, is the problem with your horse’s hind leg on the same side? The position of the rider has to be equally balanced and centered to support the exercises that will develop the horse – I hope this has helped!