Sometimes, I feel like I'm pulling too heavily on the reins. Even though I prefer to ride with a light pressure, because I don't want to hurt Kristy. I just want to ride gently. I have even considered riding her in a bitless bridle. I just don't know if I'm doing it right. Or, could it be that my sister and I ride in a different way and, therefore, Kristy gets confused? Does Kristy understand what we want her to do? Maybe she has grown a little numb to our aids, because she doesn't understand us, and that could make her pull?
Because I want the best for my horse, I have bought Ipos Technology's Rein Sensors. The first time I rode with them I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea what my rein pressure would be. I wanted to achieve the greatest possible result with as little pressure as possible. My goal is to always ride with a light rein pressure.
My riding instructor gave me the book: "Bewuster paardrijden" (Riding with Awareness) written by Tineke, Imke and Joep Bartels.
I came across a piece about 'Habituation'. And found this really interesting. It's about Andrew McLean's research on operant conditioning. This is about challenging a horse to learn something by itself. The horse itself looks for solutions to alleviate discomfort. There was also an example in this book that made it very clear to me. The example was that you let a horse go forward by applying pressure with your legs.
The horse wants that pressure to be released. However, you should not release the pressure until you have the desired response. My instructor had also heard of this. She told me that even if this is only half a reaction and not the final picture, you still have to let go. When you apply this pressure more often and release it at the right time, you will notice that you need less and less pressure to get the same reaction.
After reading this piece, I wondered if my aids to my horse were clear, and if I let go at the right time. I made a list of the aids that I give, and the response I expected from my horse. I also asked my sister to do the same thing. When writing it down, I noticed that I sometimes give several aids at the same time, or ask for a different response with the same aid. This makes it unclear to my horse. I started writing down one aid per reaction. For example, to have Kristy working on the bit, I give the aid of pressure with two reins for five seconds. I slowly increase this pressure.
I ended up with nine different aids on my list. My sister and I compared each other's lists. We described things differently, but changed this, so that we ended up with nine aids that we described the same and could apply in the same way.
I started using these aids consistently in my training. I worked together with my sister. She stood at the side of the school with the Ipos Technology Training App, while I rode and applied the aids. To go backwards, I gave both a leg and a rein aid, Kristy did not understand this. On the App, my sister could see that I had a rein pressure of three kilograms. However, Kristy still did not go backwards. My sister said that I was giving two aids at the same time and that was not clear for Kristy. Then I tried again. I stopped Kristy on the track, closed my hand and gave her a half hold. She hesitated for a moment, but then she stepped back. Immediately, I let go and she stopped again. Letting go immediately after a response made this clearer to her. We tried this several more times. I noticed that Kristy was getting better at understanding this request.
We practiced this for several weeks. I started training four times a week and every time someone assisted me with the App to show me the reaction. I noticed that Kristy was already backing up more paces after my request. When I let go, she immediately stopped doing this.
I also noticed a change in the other areas of my riding. She understood my aids better and responded more rapidly. After two weeks of practising the aids, I looked at the difference in rein pressure. On the App, I saw that my rein pressure decreased during the training sessions. When I compared my rein pressure at the start of riding with the App over the past few days, there was sometimes a kilogram's difference involved in applying the aid to achieve the same result.
Now I realize that it must have been confusing for Kristy, she didn’t understand me. I used different aids for the same exercise. I am really happy that I discovered this and that I am getting better results now. I also notice that she is happier during training.
I also looked at the results of my sister, her rein tension also went down. As we now use the same aids for the same exercise, things are a lot clearer for Kristy. My sister said that she had noticed the difference as well!
My name is Elise, and my horse is called Kristy. My horse means everything to me. I share her with my sister. We ride differently, but we both want the best for Kristy. I ride her three times a week and my sister rides incidentally, when she has time. This is usually once every two weeks. I also have lessons once a week.
Do you also want to ride with less pressure? Measure your rein tension to be sure. You can use the rein sensors of IPOS. Order them in the webshop!