Thursday, September 3, 2015

Small Steps to Connection, Part One

By Mary Gallagher

For several years in my early career, I had the great good fortune to ride for Jimmy Williams, renowned trainer of many Grand Prix and Olympic champions, in Southern California. Jimmy’s uncanny ability with horses was legendary; at an advanced age he would still ride most of his horses through complex dressage routines with no bridle. He achieved outstanding levels of success through an innate sensitivity to how horses communicate.

Lesson Notes: Connecting to the Feet

 by Mary Gallagher

I often stress to my students that riding is a process of connecting to the horse’s feet: our hands connect to the front feet, our legs to the back feet. Knowing this and training ourselves to consciously connect to the feel of the feet can enhance understanding and improve our communication with our horses. With attention and practice we can begin cooperating and synchronizing with our horse’s movement.

The key is to master one foot at a time. Getting connected to the feet is a lot like juggling. It's easy to juggle one ball, but when a second is added, suddenly things get complex. To get four balls in the air seems impossible when you are just beginning. So what do we do to make this easy in the beginning stages?