As with any moving object, in order to get from Point A to Point B, we must have first know where we are, next know where we are going and then plot a course to get from one place to the other. Riding a horse is no different. Yes, they do have a brain and can think for themselves, but when the rider lacks intent and focus, the horse will proceed to plot their own course – usually based on their own set of coordinates that has nothing at all to do with what the rider has in mind.
An excellent example of this concept of focus comes from Carmello, a student who came to C&C Colt Company on referral from his aunt and uncle who happen to have their daughters in riding lessons with us. Carmello wanted to have a ranch experience and his aunt and uncle told him about us. So we arranged for Carmello to come out here to the ranch for a couple of weeks.
During his stay Carmello helped us with many different ranch projects, caring for the animals, and also took several lessons with us. He was in awe over the entire experience of being around the horses. Carmello comes from more of a liberal arts type background, music, art, etc. Nothing that offered much in the way of hands-on country living.
During his lessons, he was having a lot of trouble with steering. He just couldn't get the horse to go where he wanted. I noticed that he just let the horse do what it wanted instead of offering any sort of leadership or direction to the horse. I explained to him about the importance of having focus and connection when doing anything with a horse. You must pick a focus, and do not take your eyes off that focus, until you get to your destination. When you arrive at your destination, then pick a new focal point. Once he figured that out, it was night and day in his riding.
Lesson…Maintain connection, have intent and focus at all times when riding your horse. If the horse isn't receiving instructions from its rider, then it will often just take over and do it's own thing. It wants a leader. If you aren't going to be a leader, then it will be the leader for you.
When we mentioned that Carmello comes from a liberal arts background, we weren't kidding. Turns out he is a very accomplished saxophone player. He was kind enough to play for us at our anniversary dinner.