Maintain Gait Maintain Direction


Maintain Gait – Maintain Direction
Teaching our horses and their riders that it is indeed the horse’s responsibility to
maintain gait and direction, supports both the horse and rider to have a more pleasant
riding experience and relationship. When anything is important to us, it will become important to our horses. When the horse is shown and allowed his responsibilities,
the experience of riding transforms.
Asking the horse to maintain gait means, maintain the stand still, or the walk or the
trot and so on without restraint or coaxing. The only thing there is for us to do is to ask
and then hold them to account for upholding their responsibility.
Here is the challenge; Our horses have to actually change gait, BEFORE we correct
them. This is how we teach our horses that they have a responsibility and that we all
know it and are willing to converse about it!

keep-your-clear-picturekeep your picture clear!

This way of interacting with our horses may seem different, we may have been taught to “keep him
going – or – Don’t let him stop” or even holding the horse still with cross ties. That is
not our responsibility! That responsibility belongs to our horses, to maintain their gait.
If we “keep him going,” that does not give, that responsibility, to our horse, in fact, it
takes away their responsibility.
When we teach our horses and riders in this way, whips and spurs and cross ties
become “necessary,” When we educate our horses and riders in the ways of mutual responsibility, horses, all horses, become light and responsive and become trusted
partners who own their responsibilities!
All too often, even beginner riders are taught to kick their horses to go or hold them
back with the reins and, if they don’t go or slow, equipment is added; spurs, whips
and/or bits/harsher bits.
If, in our schooling of our horses, who we are is; emotionally fit, clear and consistent;
if, we believe in our horses desire to become a partner and our ability to create that;
if, we have a grateful heart/attitude and are count-on-able, our horses, will happily
take on their responsibilities; the ones we truly give them and expect them to uphold.
Every horse, the ones that won’t go and the ones that won’t stop, can be balanced in
this way.
On Spurs: I am singling out one tool here, the spur. I see small children wearing these
and kicking their ponies and the ponies seem dull, and I see adults, kicking horses
with spurs repeatedly in just one ride, this injures the muscle and tissue that covers
the horse’s ribcage. Compounded by years of using the spur during every trot step,
deadens these nerves. Proof of a horses sensitivity is easily found when you observe
the horse shake his skin where a mosquito or fly land.
Consider this: “Horses can react to pressures that are too light for the human to feel.
This raises the possibility that human instability in the saddle results in inadvertent
delivery of irrelevant tactile signals to the horse – and a consequent failure in teaching
the horse which signals are meaningful. Horses deemed insensitive to the legs (dead-
sided), may simply have never had the chance to respond to consistent, light and
meaningful signals. Similarly, the seeming ability of a well-trained horse to have
extrasensory perception for his rider’s intentions may be instead its response to slight
movement or tightening that the rider makes without awareness.” – (Carol A Saslow,
Understanding the perceptual world of horses, Applied Animal Behavior Science, 78
(2002) 209-224) Read the rest of this article on the use of spurs:…
What we are talking about is furthering the ideas of extrasensory perception or unseen
aids which are based in teaching the horses that they indeed have responsibilities and
they can count on us to be consistent in that. Horses are masters of knowing what
happens before what actually happens!
The above quoted article also states “the horse response is always a compromise
between responding to the rider’s aids and protecting existing muscle imbalance,”
Grace cannot be obtained in riding if one of the partners is busy protecting it’s muscles.
To learn more about this way of being with horses, look for “UNBRIDLED” The Heart
of Graceful Horsemanship by Author Mary Ann Brewer, in bookstores everywhere
later in 2016.

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