My Grandma used to take her little terrior “Max” on a walk. Well in reality Max would take my Grandma for a walk, which is why when I asked her where she was going on this walk she would stare vaguely at me with a look that said “Ka Sera Sera” (what will be will be).
I thought about this on my horse today. Often we watch riders who think they are leading their horse around the arena, when it is quite plan to see that the horse is leading them.
They will stop at the side of the arena, and tell you that their horse is just petrified of that chair, and when you look at the horse, he seems like he is having a nice snooze and only notices the chair when the rider creeps him up to it, clinging onto him as if their life depended on it.
It is a wonderful, beautiful thing to create a partnership with your horse, but if you are not leading the dance of dressage, you cannot effectively teach the horse anything.
You must create lines on the arena and follow them, and if your horse goes off the line, you cannot just say “Oh well that is sort of where I wanted to go so I will just smile and pretend like that was my intention”. If you wanted to canter at C, and it didn’t happen until H, do it again!
Settling for being led around the arena, makes your horse feel like he is the boss, and then when you get in a tight spot, he will not look to you for guidance or reassurance, because he has never been able to rely on your commands in the past. For him they are merely suggestions, and if you come across something that really scares him and you are suggesting it’s ok, how can he believe in you?
The best way to earn your horses confidence is to make him understand that when you ask him to give you something he gives it, that you keep his attention with you, and that you are not always trying to guess what he is thinking, but focusing more on him understanding what you are thinking ;).