Remember: It’s not you – the reins – the bit – the mouth as if these are separate things.
You ARE the reins, you ARE the bit
You connect with the horse through your ‘extension’: the reins and bit.
We use reins and bits – and many other tools – to establish a link between ourselves and our horses, but before any tool is used, there has to be already a bond between the rider and the horse.
The reins and bit are not only an extension of your physical but also of your mental and emotional part. For example: You can have loose reins but the horse can feel emotional stress through the rein.
Bits, reins and other tools are only an extension of you and your visualization and your energy. They don’t become energy until you touch it. So never use any tool if you are tense, anxious, angry or frustrated, be sure you are calm and relaxed.
Most horses are born to be a follower and born to be submissive, because there can only be so many herd leaders. Therefore horses do not want to be your equal. They are looking for a leader.
Straightness training is most effective when the horse sees you as a leader, because your horse will follow you, respect you, trust you, feel safe and he will be docile, obedient and accommodating.
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The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job.
A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start.
While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.
On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family.
As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching tips of the branches with both hands.
When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation.
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The sight of a horse is totally different from a human. The differences concern:
- Positioning of eyes
- Perceiving details and movement
- Total view
- Three-dimensional and monoculair view
- Blind spot
- Night view
- Adapting to light
To be successful with straightness training you have to meet the instinctual needs of your horse first.
Given their characteristics, horses have a number of needs. These are:
- Certainty and safety, because the horse is a prey animal with a flight instinct
- Routine, because the horse is a creature of habit, so require a regular routine of eating, resting, grooming etc
- Grass and roughage, because they are herbivores
- To eat small amounts throughout the day, because with a full belly it’s not easy to flee
- Variety, because it’s boring and frustrating to be 23 hours in a stable
- Constant movement, because they are steppe animals
- Connection with other horses, because they are social animals
- The nead for leadership, because they are herd animals and like to follow a confident leader
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