This may be so simple that it bends minds. :)

Don’t Try

Riding is an art that requires feel to accurately execute. Feel is unity, a seamless relationship that fels like reality and the imagined has combined , just for you.

But, trying to feel is like trying to grown your hair or digest your food. Since we don’t try to digest nor grow hair, neither should one try to feel.

We were born feeling.

Rediscovering feel is much like digesting , as we don’t think about doing it , it just happens. That is an approach to improving feel , by stopping the trying to and just allowing oneself to feel again. It’s not about trying, it’s about not trying.

Position, focus and relaxation are still in the mix, just the “trying” and fixation is gone.

Not trying to feel ensures an improvement of connection and communication whilst riding.

Just feeling is letting so , becoming present and undestanding that riding isn’t a goal , it’s a conversation that should feel good to have.

– Peggy Parkes

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Looking for the Light Switch.

Looking for the Light Switch

In order to begin our journey into unity, and our own individual answers, we need to know more about whom we are embarking on this journey with.

Once we have developed enough of a relationship with a horse so that we are able to crawl up on him and have him piggyback us around, we often forget that once we’re up there that horses don’t view the relationship any differently, for it’s only the riders perspective that changes , not the horses.

Once we are allowed up there, they aren’t learning human communication as much as we are learning to improve our dialect of Equinese ( what I like to call horse language) in order to keep up with the huge advancement in the relationship. We are now not only part of their life, but they feel us as part of their body. Equinese is a silent language of touch.

A majority of humans either have a meek, submissive way about them or a dominating, aggressive (often fearful) approach to riding. Of course, there are variations of intensity and exceptions, but as a whole those are the two basic initial approaches to horsemanship in today’s society.

Horses don’t understand either of those combinations well, when it comes to a secure horse relationship, horses require a confident leader that cares about their well-being not a bully or a remora (the little fish that suck onto sharks).

Horses need a present leader, thoughtful and confident in their choices and being understanding during the execution of those choices.

One of the coolest things about horse is that they are always horses. It is our responsibility as horsemen to slow down, become aware and realize that riding isn’t about us ( It isn’t called Manhorseship) it’s entirely about the horses and our relationship with them.

A horse ” sees” a rider by touch (feel), much like someone in the dark looking for the light switch relying on a guide (the rider) to help them find that goal (or answer).

Someone looking for the light switch with a guide that jerks, pulls, kicks, tells them they are stupid or are impatient will either shut down , fight or search hurriedly in order to find the switch out of fear or fear of rejection. They would probably expect to find a room full of clowns with butcher knives when they do switch the lights on, just to add to the nightmare. In other words, no good reason to want to search for anything ever again with that bozo.

If someone were looking for the light switch with their “guide” just attached to their sleeve, showing neither support nor guidance, they would feel responsible for that sleeve remora and making most of the decisions. Depending on the model of horse (either Ceramic of Fully Automatic , something I will cover in another lesson) the outcomes would vary. As a young or troubled horse would find that level of responsibility an overload, an “experienced” horse would tend to take the wheel and deal with it according to their model as well. So, regardless of all the variations of how the horse would respond to that level of responsibility, they are still shouldering almost all of it… in other words, not much of a team.

Now, a supportive game of looking for the light switch together, rolling through “mistakes” to try again in a playful, understanding manner that has no hard-pressed pressure to find the switch, usually results in a team that looks for the light switch together and with more enthusiasm. This type of guide usually has a teammate that looks forward to searching with them again, and with more positive intent.

Looking for the Light Switch is an exercise on feel and energy, a means of communication that is consistent, connected and understanding while searching for answers.

Remember: We ride on purpose, so being understanding who you purposely work with is paramount in improving horsemanship.

– Peggy Parkes

Feel.

Feel is a Feeling

When we ride we use feel. What is feel? Feel is a feeling … when we ride we ride for that feeling.

It’s like looking for a cactus and being aware of its feel without even touching it. Fire is hot, we mostly know that from having been burnt. So, naturally, fire looks hot.

As humans we have the ability to feel those abstract feelings, the ones inside of us, without (or before) physically feeling something, things like cacti and fire.

This type of feel is to feel completely, not just the feelings inside us or just physical feel. True feel is a complete feeling , using all the senses we possess.

It’s like ” being in touch” with your feelings , sounds very 12 step program. But, it is almost the same goals as the ones people in those programs are working toward, to be able to tap into who they are as people in order to change something.

You can’t be an insensitive, vain jerk everywhere else in your life , then suddenly become a nice guy in the tack.

If we recognize the feel inside us before sending anything down the reins or using our bodies, then we will truly be using feel.

We must ride with compassion and respect, always think of the horses first , without horses … we have no riding.

We don’t make horses do amazing things, we allow them to be amazing.

Horses allow us to borrow their entire existence for our own means, not many things do that, especially for humans.

We owe them at least the respect of being compassionate. Respect and compassion also allows us the freedom to choose the right moments and not waste time trying to “make” things happen.

“Positive” and “negative” moments are happening constantly, as it is the balance of the universe. All things possess “positive” and “negative” , that how we can recognize and “categorize” them. Let’s choose to manifest positive moments by being as respectful, patient and understanding as possible.

With this type of feel comes more and more ” positive” moments than “negative” ones as flow of energy and movement is not compromised.

Waiting to ” pounce” on and ” correct” “negative” moments doesn’t even make logical sense, as the moment will have had already passed before it can be “corrected”. Why would one want to constantly ride while waiting to “kill” a behaviour with an unfair consequence that is always delivered too late? These type of mindsets have not only no place in the tack, but anywhere in life.

When riding with complete feel we use of all our human feelings, it allows for a more relaxed, fluid and natural movements as rider and horse become one. Riding will become less about riding with only physical feel but also with an internal feeling.

Riding is about what you bring to the tack every time you ride.

Respect every relationship you have and you will have more respectful relationships, this is the foundation of any classical school of thought.

It can take a bit longer to learn, and may even be a bit frustrating, as one may have to “relearn” some pretty basic, foundational things. It like learning a new language ( Equinese) and it takes time, patient and practice in order to do so.

Riding is a direct result of not only the feeling inside you, it is also about how you physically communicate with them using your position (equitation).

If a riders body is balanced, relaxed, attentive and tactful you will be able to relay the aids with more fluidity. Riding this way means a rider won’t be climbing up and down the reins like a monkey, using lazy gadgets to do the communicating for them, or moving their bodies and legs all over the place.

Riding will become seamless, connected and something that can well up not only the eyes of a spectator, but of the rider as well. Truly good moments in riding feel good.

We must remember that true feel requires feeling both inside and out, as feel is a feeling.

– Peggy Parkes

Just a ramble about rhythm …

Rhythm

In a lot of horses’ lives, one of the primary stressors is that their confidence no longer comes from within them.

As we all know, foals and young stock are naturally very curious and brave on their own. Try leaving a young horse loose in your barn without them making some kind of mess.

As domestic animals, may horses have this natural curiosity and bravery “trained” out of them, so they can “fit” into our human world.

These horses often “seek” their confidence, self-esteem, and direction from the outside, namely from the human relationship that took it away in the first place in order to “fit”.

We must allow (“teach”) these horses to explore again, using the love and respect of a horses natural rhythms in order to do so.

These methods may not always have a “fast food” result and may take more time than “modern” techniques; this is often because the human is usually the one that needs to alter their approach, as the horse was born speaking their language. Humans are the ones learning it.

These Inline methods will lessen (and eventually end) defensive, scared, worried and reactive behaviours.

Troubled horses live their lives being judged and rejected or judged and accepted, a very stressful lifestyle hat this foreign to horses.

By slowing down and becoming aware of the subtle signs is a way to get in tune with the natural world that all living things understand.

Horses are hardwired to nature’s rhythm, like a branch waving in the breeze.

Humans are becoming so out of touch with the natural rhythms of the world and are more “boxed in” things have places and “need” to be straight all the time. The movements of these humans are sudden, jerky and artificial, especially if distracted waiting for a text or hurrying to get somewhere else.

Humans are rarely present anymore.

Horses will see this type of behaviour as alien and will inherently file that behaviour as predatory and will behave accordingly.

One must slow down; drop human social B.S, as a horse doesn’t care how cool you are, your bank account, what you drive or what you wear. This means that all of these types of behaviours are left at the gate, along with any other excess emotions that don’t apply to working with horses.

Presence of the handler is the least any horse should expect as it is basic respect to be present when interacting with anything that’s alive.

When we slow down, breathe, become present and fall in tune with the natural rhythms that are around you all the time. It is far easier to dance this way.

Working with horse is absolutely dancing, only you are the dancer and the horse is the music.

Once we can readily and instinctually feel that rhythm again is when our dance (ride) will improve and aids will appear seamless. Feel is always the key, as feel results in timing, readiness and tact.

Feeling rhythms is a natural state of man, not a task which you achieve or complete. It’s just about connecting our reality to theirs and theirs to ours. Natural rhythm is one that differs greatly from society’s rhythm.

Rhythm, connection and freedom are three of the many gifts horses give us when we ride, it just about knowing when they are being given, by surrendering to riding and feeling the rhythms many have been taught to be tone deaf from.

Find rhythm.

Just a hello to all that drop by to read my ramblings on horses.

Inlines

It seems as though most training methods today use an “Outline” mindset as a guideline. These methods of conditioning tend to push horses into a very basic, standardized outline (or sometimes, even more rudimentarily, only a topline). These horses are often made to go in flat, two-dimensional, “cookie-cutter” type shapes and tend to be either tense and anxious or “tuned out” and dull .

Many Outline horses also tend to lack an ease to their movement and seem to have a “dis-ease” to their way of going.

Horses developed using respectful philosophies (to which there are many approaches) have not only Outlines , but “Inlines” as well.

Focus on the details , the relaxation and fluidity (ease of movement) are primary concerns of any Inline-type philosophy.

Inline horsemanship considers the horse as a multi-dimensional whole and an individual, not as a two-dimensional arrangement of parts that requires assembly to become a standardized , artificial shape.

Inline horses tend to have more detail, depth and dimension and their ease of movement is obvious even to the untrained eye.

To ride using Inlines tends to not only require a basic idea of horse pyschology, but a knowledge of their anatomy as well.

Awareness of anatomy allows us to understand not only to understand each individuals capabilities , it also allows us to see the ease with which each horse carries itself as well as the “dis-ease” of their movement. This basic knowledge of the horses body and their body language makes tense, stressed and uncomfortable horses very easy to see.

There are many differences between Outline and Inline horses, one of the main differences is that Inline horses tend of have less riding-related disorders and lamenesses, as well as less stress-related “vices”.

Outline method horses tend to develop foot, tendon and digestive “dis-eases” and are often body sore as well. Most of these disorders stem from the tension, confusion and anxiety that horses learn from carrying the artificial shapes they are required to squeeze themselves into. “Tuned out” and dull Outline are often horses “on strike” from carrying those shapes and have become ” dull ” ( and often sore ) as a result of being over-worked and over-stimulated. Over-worked and over-stimulated results in strikes, any species.

A horse developed using an Inline philosophy (Remember: There are many approaches) tends to take longer than most fast-food Outline methods, as the ease of their responses and understanding is paramount. Since each horse is an individual , their minds and bodies aren’t expected to ” boot camp” a reaction within a deadline or time limit, they are developed at a rate they individually understand. Inline horses understand aids and respond from that understanding , they dont hastily search for answers to avoid consequences.

As a result of taking time and understanding, Inline horses tend to have less physical and emotional issues. Inline philosophies understand the importance of the horses overall well-being (physically, mentally and emotionally). Inline work understands that horses bodies are all that horses have, therefore a horse with a sound mind and body will learn and perform with more ease, as they feel secure, respected and cared for.

Horses will do anything for the security of their well-being, so letting horses have this natural right is a foundation of Inline work.

Ease within movements is very important to Inline work as well, as the ease with which movements are executed are their “lightness”.

“Lightness” is an easy response into movement via patience and understanding of the aids, not a touchy, fast reaction that has been bullied and disrepectfully conditioned.This is also why many “hot” or “troubled” horses respond well to respectful Inline work.

Speed and force have nothing to do with softness, as all meaningful things are done gently. Gently doesnt mean to be a pushover, as being truly gentle requires respect toward all parties involved.

Softness and lightness have nothing to do with leverage, pulleys and straps as it gives the responsibilty of communication inanimate objects.

Communication is animate.

Feel, patience and understanding are primary concerns of Inline philosophies, as movements are expected to be gently asked for and responded to many , many times in order to become soft.

Horses developed with Inlines have the depth, details, presence and dimensions to clearly see the ease with which they move.

Classic or traditional horsemanship (Inline philophies) have no deadlines in order to produce a product and ego is not part of the equation, as ego sours any communication.

Communication takes time, patience and understanding that all horses naturally possess both Outlines and Inlines.

– Peggy Parkes