Connected Riding on the Trail with an Opinionated Half-Arab!

 

I have an athletic, confident and opinionated half-Arab mare with which I have done extensive groundwork over eight years.  She is very responsive and has a ton of “try.”  I have ridden her on trails with variable control nearly from the beginning, but I have not been successful in achieving a controllable / calm canter.  Over these years, I have had many lessons, attended several clinics, and purchased many DVDs in pursuit of that canter.  My little horse has always been twitchy and excitable; some may say “exuberant,” eager to move off at too-fast a pace in any gait, which I and others have attributed to her “Arab-ness.”

Recently I moved my horse to another stable and learned that one of the other boarders was a woman named Anke, who is a Connected Riding Practitioner.  After observing a lesson, I decided to try one myself (what could it hurt?).  In that first lesson, Anke made one specific suggestion which I believe will change our (my horse’s and my) lives.  Immediately after the lesson, I went on a solo trail ride.  There was no dancing or lurching or charging or near-explosive gait changes, despite encountering a family of noisy turkeys including one last turkey who blasted out of the grass a few feet from the trail, hitting a tree limb which caused the entire small tree to shake as the bird flapped off squawking.  My usually flighty little horse stood stock still and watched all this with interest but did not attempt (should I say “offer?”) to whirl around or race off.  As my adrenalin level dropped, I asked her to walk off down the trail and she did, as calmly as one could want.  I could NOT believe it!

A few days later a friend and I trailered our horses to a nearby park and rode for a couple of hours.  My friend, familiar with my extensive struggles with my very forward and extroverted horse, commented that her behavior change “is like a miracle!” 

I have now had TWO lessons with Anke, and it feels like I have a different horse.  All this time and through all the other lessons and clinics, I have been asking her to hurry while holding her back!  Being the patient, merciful creature that she is, she has been forgiving me!  Finally I have found a way to communicate successfully with her while riding.  It feels like the first days of the rest of my life!

D. Meyer, Madison WI