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  • Writer's pictureMelonie Kessler

Are You Having Fun When Riding?

Has the realization of the complexity of dressage taken the fun out of your daily ride? Do you focus so hard on the technique that you’ve lost the humor of your horse’s quirky reactions to certain environmental stimuli? Or maybe you’ve drilled him too hard, taking some of that personality of his out of him, making him more of a machine than a horse. If you think you’ve done this it’s time to get back to the joy of riding and step away from whatever it is that’s robbed you and your horse of the pleasure of your relationship.

Here are a few things to remember when you ride

1. Your horse did not sign up for a riding lesson

2. It’s not fun for your horse when drilling exercises to the point of negativity is your only feel

3. If you are not happy, your horse isn’t happy

4. Smiling relaxes your face and transfers into softer more supple muscles

5. Horses (like people) respond better to positive reinforcement than negative

6. Your voice is an aid to be used to relax yourself and your horse

7. It’s not what you say, but how you say it

8. Calm, happy, relaxed riders make calm, happy, relaxed horses

9. Horses are as mentally developed as a two-year-old child. Treat them as such

10. If you get one “light bulb moment” during a ride, work to apply that feel in the next lesson and then add another

11. Think that horses are a 10,000 piece puzzle and every day you try to put some pieces together.

12. It begins with the rider. Be what you want your horse to be.

13. Riding is a journey, not a destination

14. Riding is not a job. It’s recreational

15. If you are stressed, only trail ride and groom.

16. If you don’t like or get along with your horses’ personality, get another horse

17. Time with your horse is the main tool in training him

18. Clean tack doesn’t train a rider

19. Visual learning is the fastest way to learn

20. Technique never trumps feel.

So to summarize, please never ride at the expense of your horses’ psyche. Psyche is the soul, mind, and spirit of our magnificent friends.

Melonie Kessler

USEF “S” Dressage Judge

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