I often deal with people whose problem is lack of engagement or lack of energy or lack of regularity in their horse movements.
The solution is very simple and very difficult at the same time.
The solution is to give the horse AUTONOMY and build on this, his real engagement and motivation. But for many people this is simply impossible. Why? When your horse is afraid and you give him even 1% of autonomy he will try to escape the situation. That leads to all popular “misbehaviours”. And that is why CALMNESS is so important when training and being with horses. And that is also why achieving CALMNESS is my first objective.
What do I mean by autonomy? Autonomy is a very simple situation.
You agree that your horse can do whatever he likes to do. And you allow this to happen. You never think about your horses in terms of control. You are never disappointed when your horse does something opposite to what you had in mind. There is no teaching when there is no autonomy. And we have to come back to safety again, cause there is no autonomy if there is no safety.
Many people tried to do this and didn’t care about the horse’s psychology, and they were not successful. WHY? This is very simple.
Because Autonomy doesn’t mean “Do as you like, cause I don’t care”. Saying such thing is an abandonment, not an autonomy. Autonomy requires boundaries.
What does it mean in practice? In practice, it’s telling your spouse: “You can choose the destination of our holiday trip, but let’s go somewhere over the sea.” or telling your child “You can choose the toy I will buy you, but I have only $20 to spend on it”.
You will be amazed to see that the Old Masters of Horsemanship were very wise and all the Haute Ecole exercises are designed that horses really LIKE them, as they make them feel proud.
But the trick is not to force your horse to do these exercises like piaffer or passage, but to prepare your horses to do these exercises by themselves.
But this is not possible without ENGAGEMENT.
No horse will do energetic piaffer in a beautiful and regular way when he is not really engaged in this movement. To make it happen you need a calm horse understanding what you want from him, committed by himself to this exercise.
And this is not possible without AUTONOMY and CALMNESS.