2. Stiffness is the devil. If the back is stiff – you are through, you can’t get anything until you get the back. When the horse locks their back their hind legs are lost behind them, their front legs slow down, and we see an improper neck carriage and stiff poll. A stiff horse is also a spooky horse, a lame horse, a nervous horse, and a horse who cannot be on the aids.
3. You cannot soften a horse by pulling on them. When you pull on your horse he has two options; stiffen and resist so he does not lose his balance, or curl and get behind the contact so you cannot pull him off his feet.
4. Good riding is enough. You do not need leverage, gimmicks, special tack, fancy gear, magic or fairy dust. Good riding is enough.
5. Lameness is often the result of improper balance. America is the only country that routinely administers joint injections as a means to treat lameness. Because here it is normal to inject steroids into a 3 year old horse's hocks, nobody looks at the cause of horse's lameness – improper balance and training.
6. You must have your horse in front of the leg. He must not run away from your seat, but he must respect your seat and leg. Until your horse is sensitive and understanding of your leg and seat you cannot begin working towards collection.
7. Contact. You should offer the horse a steady soft contact- you don’t pull a horse into frame, you offer a feel and wait for him. Helping him to find his rhythm and balance, building his confidence and strength. Without contact you cannot achieve this. Close your hands and contact your horse’s mouth – softly, like you are squeezing a babies bottom.
Of course we learned so much, I will continue to absorb all the good information until our next opportunity to ride with Gerd! Until then, I am having a blast applying the exercises and techniques I learned with my training barn and clients – the changes are very exciting. Learning to build a strong top line, proper balance, and suppleness in your horse is beneficial to any discipline!