by Mary Gallagher
I call my latest video “Riding in Sync With the Feet”, the latest in a series on synchronization as it relates to connecting with the feet and communicating with our horse. It features a deceptively simple looking exercise over poles, at the walk (more on that later).
Horses naturally synchronize. It’s a part of being in a herd, and of being a prey animal. Life for a horse in a herd hangs on being connected to the group, with multiple eyes and ears tuned to environmental threats, moving together.
So the better we learn to synchronize, the better we move with our horse partners—largely by staying out of his way and allowing him to freely express himself. We may think horses only get to do that after the ride—tack off, running to be with their friends, etc. But we can cultivate that freedom of expression even as we ride.
About working at the walk: I was recently chatting with a friend who trains racehorses. He commented that he had spent most of his career training at the canter and gallop, and that it was a revelation to him how much faster horses learned at the walk. So now he spends a good deal of time schooling at the walk, with much faster results. Go figure!
The video below (linked from our channel on YouTube) shows you one of the ways I teach my students to move with their horses. It is really surprising to most, how much they can let go and experience the beauty and power of their horse’s movement.
I’ll continue next time with the same principles, applied to shortening and lengthening your horse’s strides.