Teach, Control, Reinforce, Refine
We are all pretty familiar with this formula by the time we get to Level 2 and beyond. But, I am often asked for help to get positive reflexes in the saddle.
When I ask the student, “what would you do on the ground if your horse pushed through pressure, or ignored your phases and had opposition to your porcupine game?”, the
answer is usually ” I would support my porcupine game (steady pressure), with driving game (rhythmic pressure) and go up my phases to a phase 4″.
Yet we are not consistent in the saddle. We rarely want to go up our phases or back up our leg or rein with the carrot stick especially at a phase 4. This is probably due to a lack of
confidence of the rider and quite rightly, we should only be prepared to go up to phase 4 if we are confident and competent enough to ride what our horse may then give us!
However, we must not allow our horse to learn to push through our phases/aids in the saddle as this leads to a decline in respect and the horse may well take over completely through dominance (left brain) or fear and a perceived lack of leadership (right brain).
So, we must find a way to stay within our confidence and capability whilst reinforcing our requests.
Tactics like tapping your horses hindquarters whilst disengaging them, can help build up the revs but without your horse being able to take off in a straight line and perhaps adding in a buck or two. Useful for a left brained introvert to get moving.
Or tapping your horse on the shoulder (not HQ) in a constant slow rhythm whilst getting firmer, will cause a left brained horse to think and avoid the next tap by going forward whilst being less inclined to cause a negative reaction.
Using a jingle bell rein or higher phase yo – yo game (preferably on a hackamore), to
support your downward transition, is more effective than allowing your horse to push through your seat and cause you to end up pulling on two reins, which will only engage his HQ’s and make him more powerful anyway. Support with your carrot stick in zone 1 if
Same deal for turning, use your carrot stick to support your leg and rein, just as you would if you were on the ground. Driving game supports porcupine game on the ground or in the saddle. This will build respect and confidence in leadership.
Only then we can we pursue refinement.