Have you ever asked your horse to stop or slow only to find that he keeps going, even if you have had to apply pressure on the reins?
The interesting thing I have learned about how horses respond to stopping or slowing is that it must be done from 3 different parts of us at the same time.
The 3 Ingredients:
1. Think the Thought – we have to clearly think stop and be committed to it. Another way to put it is, you have to make a decision that is what you want and hold on to it.
2. Slow your Energy – to match the stop or slow thought you need to slow your bodies energy to match the new speed or stop. Say you want to stop your horse when riding. To clearly communicate this to your horse with your energy you would stop your pelvis moving with forward energy. Switching your energy button to off by making your pelvis immobile and sinking gently downwards into the saddle is a very clear and helpful cue for a horse to understand. I like to describe how the energy feels in your body as a champagne bottle that you ease the cork off a little bit for walk, a little more for trot etc, the bubbles come rushing up through the balls of your feet into your body and out through your hands and belly button or solar plexus region forward. And to slow down you put the cork back in to settle the bubbles back down again to the speed you want.
3. Use your breath – Using your breath to control your horses movement is a very powerful tool to have in your tool box! Breathe out to slow down or stop and breathe in and then out to increase the speed or energy in your horse. In the example I shared in number 2, if you applied the stop with your pelvis and sink vertically into the saddle and at the same time to exhale with your breath you are giving your horse very clear cues to pay attention to before running into the pressure of the reins. Breathing out also helps us relax our bodies, there is nothing worse than getting all tensed up hoping that the horse will stop, it usually makes it just a whole lot worse, or forgetting to breathe.
These same ideas will apply if you want to speed up your horse, instead of thinking stop you will think go, increase the energy in your body to match the speed you want to achieve together with your breath and voila, you have just achieved a smooth transition.