Have you ever gone out to train your horse something new, and nothing seemed to go right? One of the things that can go wrong when training a horse is that once you have gained a horse’s trust, the trust is taken for granted. When you start focusing on performance training, you can lose harmony and trust by focusing on the horse’s performance. “Trainer’s mind” takes over by pushing for results. When this happens, the “equis-tact” is lost.
Chuck Grant (Author of American Dressage) had six grand Prix dressage horses he had trained. I admired his approach in training them. I had a chance to ride several of his horses over a two-day period. He offered me a coaching position for an exhibition dressage drill team. I didn’t take the job because I had a training center of my own, but it let me know he liked my approach. We connected deeply. I had gone to his ranch to meet him to see if I could get him to endorse my ability as a trainer. I was looking to expand my dressage business. I had no idea if he would resonate with the way I approached the training of a dressage horse. It turned out he did. This is what he wrote: “Carolyn Resnick gets amazing results by asking a horse when the horse would respond positively to her request. She has equis-tact!” Getting into “trainer’s mind” kills this awareness.
The connection must be present before directing a horse in performance. Focusing on the connection brings a willingness to perform through better communication, rather than just pressuring a horse to perform. This will speed up the training process. Each time you make a new request, you must set up the horse’s mind to understand your aid and to be ready to perform and follow your lead. If you have a connection that is alive in the moment, you automatically tap into a heightened awareness where you will know the next steps you need to take to bring out a magical performance. At that moment, you are more skilled at knowing what to ask and what to avoid to get a positive response. By focusing on the performance, it is easy to forget about the connection.
Pressuring horses perform rather than allowing them to develop themselves will cause them to always look for a chance to quit what you want them to do. I came up with the term “trainer’s mind” to point out that you may lose the power of observation by focusing too much on getting the performance.
By focusing on the connection, training comes along effortlessly, easily, and naturally. You want to focus on finding the right approach, through your connection, to reach the right result.
By experimenting and looking for the right approach through trial and error, you are developing your ability to see when a horse is willing and able to perform a new behavior and then work with that as well as working with a seasoned horse in performance. If you are in trainers mind your timing and relationship will suffer.
When horse and human become one in the dance of the performance this is what is a centaur connection. Nothing is more nurturing for both the horse and human and for the onlookers who witness the dance.
May the horse be with you and stay on the lookout for new horse and human sightings.
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