Whenever we get a new horse in, regardless of how much training they have had, we start from the absolute beginning with them. This allows us to get to know the horse and lets the horse get to know us and what to expect from us. It also lets us find out if there are any holes in their training.
Cerice's new 8 year old Friesian mare, Lyra, is a fully trained driving horse and has some riding experience too. Lyra has been no exception in our start from the ground up policy. So far she's done great with all the ground work and Cerice has backed her. We bitted her today for the first time, and she did get a little panicky. We took that opportunity to practice putting the bit in and taking it out of her mouth (since she's got such a long neck and can get her head up so high it's easier if she's relaxed about the whole thing). We made sure there was lots of praise and were calm and cool about it all. She relaxed quite a bit and we ended on a good note. It's always important to end on a good note with a relaxed horse. They carry that feeling through to the next lesson.
Hey Ladies! Cerice here. I'm taking full credit for this post, since it requires a certain... inside perspective.
Over the past two days at Equine Affaire, I have been watching women of various skill levels and disciplines ride in clinics on some pretty fancy horses, with some very talented clinicians. As a woman, and a teacher I find myself cringing in sympathetic discomfort as I watch women go bouncing past, yes in that way. As a woman with an ample enough bosom, I can speak from experience and say with sincerity, "Save The Ta-tas!"
It doesn't matter if you ride on a trail horse, a dressage horse, a western pleasure horse, or a smooth gaited tolting machine; if you are on a horse your girls need a lot of extra support. Aesthetics aside, there are some very important reasons why all women who are larger busted than an A cup need the most support they can get. We're talking about damage control, center of gravity improvement, better balance, relief of back pain, and making your horse's job easier. All that from making sure your girls are snug and secure!
Even a little bit of bouncing around from the movement of a horse underneath us is enough to cause soft tissue damage. To put it mildly, if they're bouncing enough for you to notice, you are potentially doing damage. A good, and I mean REALLY good sports bra is going to give you enough support that you can ride the most god awful, hollow backed, peg legged, trot all day. You may not have any teeth left in your head, but your girls won't feel a thing.
The right sports bra will also lift your bosom up and strap it in snugly enough to your chest, that your center of gravity will move further in to the core of your body. In essence, you won't be weighted down in the front. This will make it easier for you to open up your shoulders, straighten your upper back, sit deeper in the saddle, and be able to follow your horse's movement with a lot more ease. It's sad but true, that sometimes our choice of bras can really drag us down.
With our two nearest and dearest friends safely and securely buckled in for the ride, this allows for our balance to improve, and may even result in lower back, shoulder, and hip pain and strain lessening. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to relax more in the saddle and not have to reposition ourselves in an attempt to alleviate this or that stiff muscle? It might be just as simple as changing your bra!
With all this improvement in center of gravity, balance, and relaxation we'll also be making it easier for our horse to balance and support us. Every time we shift or get tight in the saddle, we're changing the balance of the horse as well. When we're stiff, we impede their ability to move freely. When we're uncomfortable, they're uncomfortable. Really, it all comes down to this, if you love your horse support your ta-tas.
How do you find this magic undergarment you ask? It really comes down to trial and error. Be determined. Take your best girlfriend with you, and go to the mall or department store. Be resolved to try on as many bras as it takes. I personally have spent hundreds of dollars searching for a sports bra that was comfortable enough to ride in, and that also gave me the support I needed. Now I'm not going to get too personal here, but suffice to say that I need a good bit of support. After trying on, and unfortunately buying dozens of sports bras (some claiming to be specifically for the equestrian woman's needs), I struck gold. For me, the Champion Shape Scoop-Back Full-Figure Underwire Sports Bra (pictured above) does the trick. In the dressing room, it passed the most rigorous jumping up and down I could manage, and in the saddle it holds up (no pun intended) to some really awful bouncy warmblood trotting (no I don't just ride Icelandics). I'm not saying that this bra will work for you, but I am saying find something that does. It is a life changing experience.
Today's world is one of social media, instant connectivity, fast food, drive-thrus, super-marts, instant drink mix, shake and bake, now, Now, NOW! We are programmed to seek instant gratification at every turn. We know where we are and what we're doing ten steps before we're done with what we haven't finished doing so that we can do what we're doing now. Make sense? No. Of course not. Now imagine how our poor horse feels!
We speed into the barn and zip through grooming and tacking up so that we can spend a little time with them in between work and errands and dinner. No sooner do we get on our horse, than we start asking them for something they may or may not be ready for. In their daze from speed grooming, they maybe haven't caught up with the program, or worse yet they resent the rushing around.
Our horse is a little slow to respond, or maybe a little resistant. We just want a little relaxation and cooperation! We push a little harder. The horse resists a little more. We get cranky. They get cranky. We get frustrated. It just builds from there. We've all had these days.
Lets rewind part way through this scenario. 'We just want a little relaxation and cooperation.' It's important to realize that while we're going a million miles a minute to cram every item on our to do list into our day, our horse has been spending the day at the pace of nature, and the sun, and the rain, and clouds. There is no agenda, to do list, or next big project on their schedule until we get there and ask them to take on ours. So while we're rushing to spend time with them, they are wondering what the rush is. They are there. You are there. What more is there?
We can learn a lot from our horses. Way more than they can ever learn from us. Horses live in the now. They experience each moment, be it good or bad at 100% capacity. It's only when they interact with humans that they start to project and anticipate what is to come. It's through our dealings with them that they learn what rushing, and stress, and anxiety are. If we could just learn that when we are with them, every moment is what it is. That moment is perfect for the fact that we are in it with our horse, be it a moment of good or bad. We can use it to enhance each following moment if we are present to experience and learn what it has to brings us. If it is a good moment, we can seek to replicate it in future moments. If it is a bad moment, we can learn what made it so and avoid replicating it. The important thing is, that each moment is just that, a moment. It is not eternity, and it does not define the next moment or the one after that.
When we stop anticipating what's next, when we stop regretting what was, we can be and accept. With acceptance, our horses become more relaxed. They become more willing, and able to work with us. When they feel that we have slowed down to let them catch up, the greet us as a long lost friend. We can both relax and we both feel cooperative.
So what can we do to be with our horse in each moment?
Sit in the car for a few moments when you first arrive at the barn. Take a few deep breaths. Wait for a moment out side your horse's stall before getting them out to groom and tack up. Breath. Experience each smell, sound, sensation. Feel each brush stroke, visualize each cue, feel your horse's breath and movement. Smile.
Just For You!
Pangaea Equestrian Services provides tips, tricks, and thoughts on care, training, and discussion topics for our friends in the horse world.