It helps no end with your handling of a pony when you know just what makes him tick. In so many ways, horses share human traits on smaller scales: they’re individualistic, they are smart, they are stubborn, and they’re sensitive. When you base your approach on your recognition of these facts, you won’t go wrong.
Reach out to the pony with language of assurance, not language of threats. You will achieve far better results infinitely quicker. You will be surprised by how much a pony can reciprocate good will. I suspect that good vibrations between a man and a pony begin from the first instant of the first meeting, right on the ground, long before the man gets astride the pony. I like to call it the Ground Control.
So many folks who have observed me at work and listened to my propound on ground control assume I am just referring to ground work different words. I don’t agree. Ground work has turned into a much overused term, employed in so many contexts it has lost its original meaning. Ground control believes in starting on the ground with the 1st act of putting on a halter and a lead; and progressing very slowly. The guiding idea behind ground control is that each step forward should not only boost the horse’s talents and responsiveness, it should also strengthen the trust and warmth between rider and pony.
In my days as a beginner, I very often heard that you had to have the ‘feel’ for dealing with horses. Much as I tried, I could never latch onto what precisely ‘feel’ meant. I asked a large number of folks, and not one of them had a convincing answer. I knew it did not refer to physical feel, so obviously the connotation was mental. Soon, I figured out that it meant sensitivity to the horse. I preferred the word ‘touch’ that I heard somewhere else. It appeared to describe things better, because I learned that there was a good touch to which horses responded well, as well as to a light touch, and there was also a bad touch and a heavy touch which they didn’t react favourably to. For a considerable time now, I have extolled the advantages of employing a ‘good light touch’ with horses.
A good light touch is when you use something maybe even lighter than what is popularly referred to as feather touch. A good light touch depends as much on the sort of nearly psychic anticipation that total understanding brings as on physical or oral cues and commands. Ever seen professional riders guiding their horses at the more elite shows? Ever spotted the indisputable fact that their horses seem to respond to no cues at all (as if they read the minds of their riders) and are almost always spot on? That kind of nearly unnatural coordination is the result of a wonderfully coordinated horse and rider and a light touch that isn’t really visible or audible to bystanders.
Horses are Heather Toms
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