I hope some of you had the opportunity to watch the 2017 USEF George H Morris Horsemastership Training Session. I hope you heard a few familiar phrases too. If you didn't catch it, here are a few of my favorite takeaways.
Anne Kursinski kicked off the livestream broadcast on USEF Network with a flatwork demonstration and instruction. One of the first things she talked about was awareness, awareness of what your horse is doing and awareness of your own body.
"If you can't control your own body, good luck controlling your horse."
She also stressed that position was not just to look pretty, but to be in the right place at the right time, to be an effecive rider. Riders who stress equitation sometimes end up riding like a mannequin, instead of being supple and elastic.
"A stiff rider makes a stiff horse."
Conversely, a light, supple rider makes a light, supple horse. That's the goal. Anne Kursinski repeatedly spoke about the importance of having a connection leg to hand with your horse, but also a lightness. Self carriage comes from a lightness in the hands, a give and take, ask and reward. The perfect connection comes with the least amount of effort, light aids, almost as if your horse is reading your mind. Be aware that you are constantly carrying on a conversation with your horse, through your aids. Be clear and consistent. If you worry too much about being nice, you get fuzzy to the horse. They don't know what you want and that's not fair to them.
Anne Kursinski put the riders through an exercise to ride with their hands more together and out of their laps. She tied their reins in a knot, forcing them to carry their hands in front of the knot, out in front of them. They also had to drop their stirrups. This forced them to ride from their center, not their extremities. It also promoted leg to hand riding as the riders couldn't simply pull their horse's head around.
"It should feel like your arms are a continuation of the reins."
The final thing I took away from Anne Kursinski's portion was her belief that there is always more to learn. Learn from as many different trainers and horses as you can. Watch trainers warm up at horse shows. Get inside the horse. Try different disciplines. Help each other. Ask questions.
Stay tuned Friday for more takeaways from the George H Morris Horsemastership Training Session!