time to update you on the fabulous equestrian training experience that myself and several friends have been privileged to attend.
Francois le Maire de Ruffieux visited us for 4 days of private lessons in classical horsemanship delivered with his inimitable style and depth of knowledge.â”¬Ã¡ As usual we all left with his words ringing in our ears and lots of exercises to practise before his return to us next year.
A simple but vital concept he teaches is ‘antilock brakes’ which it is important to master to regulate the horse’s speed and gait.â”¬Ã¡ He is at pains to explain that the rein should be held tightly between thumb & first finger with the other fingers gently cupped around the rein so that they can ‘close open, close open like anti lock brakes’.â”¬Ã¡ The hands work like this alternately to regulate the speed within a gait, or they ‘close open’ together to ask for a downward transition until the horse is so well trained that it will perform the transition fromâ”¬Ã¡the merest body aid.
Regarding the aids for a downward transitionâ”¬Ã¡Francois repeats this process ‘slowdown (with antilock brakes), sit down, stretch up, walk’.â”¬Ã¡ Again he insists that the aids we use are clear and consistent so that we work with the horse’s memory so it can learn what we are asking without confusion.â”¬Ã¡ The aim is to have a happy and obedient horse which is achieved only by consistent use of the aids so that itâ”¬Ã¡becomes habit, like driving a ‘stick shift’ as he calls it, so that you don’t have to think about the transition, it just happens.
Without the solid basics, horse trainingâ”¬Ã¡at more advanced levels will start to show cracks, movements will be performed incorretly, lacking true engagement and involving tensions and even lameness in the horse.
We were visited by Sue Leffler, a superb Level 4 Centered Riding trainer, in April for our Instructor’s Update course where we learned lots of new tips too.â”¬Ã¡ There’s lots to share with you so stay in touch and email me with your horse riding & training comments & queries.
Happy horse riding!