Posted on November 12, 2021
Posted on November 3, 2021
Posted on July 9, 2021
Wednesdays are my favorite days. In the mornings I do housework and work from home things, and then in the afternoons I go out to the farm for my riding lessons. Why riding lessons? Aren’t I a professional trainer? Yes I am, and one of my core values is education. (Funny coming from someone who hated school, you never know where life will take you!) If there is one single theme I have learned through all these years of equine education, it’s that there is always more to learn.
It used to be a source of misguided pride for me that I’d never had a formal riding lesson. I was a pretty good rider in any case … in a western saddle. Since I’ve been training and especially after I got bucked off of Blue, I realized there were some holes in my riding that needed filled in. So I decided learning English was the way to go for two reasons: 1. We have a lot of English riders in Colorado! It was becoming more apparent over time that one of the biggest holes in my experience was that I didn’t know how to help my clients who rode English because I had no relatable experience with it. and 2. English riding instructors seemed to go into more detail on the technical ins and outs of riding than typical non-competition western instructors.
As I said, I’m a pretty good rider .. In a western saddle. Once my instructor stuck my butt in an English saddle it was like learning to ride all over again. A western saddle gives you a lot of grace. There are lots of handles and spots to grab should things start going south. Your leg position differs and doesn’t change too much on it’s own, riding one handed has been my natural riding style forever. The whole process has opened my eyes to how much I relied on a saddle to stay in place.
If you follow me you know I did a few bareback lessons to get my confidence back after my tumble, even riding bareback felt more secure than sitting in the itty bitty saddle with my knees up to my ears with no “Oh Shit” bars anywhere. I couldn’t canter with stirrups for the first few cantering lessons, I fell back on my bareback experience and dropped the stirrups to feel secure.
It’s been several months now, and even though it may sound like not a lot of fun it’s honestly the highlight of my week. I love the process of learning and growing as a rider and I can tell you without doubt, I am a better rider for it already. Learning to hone my feel in the saddle, when am I on the right lead, when am I too tight in my body and bouncing all over, it’s all great experience. I owe many thanks to all the lesson horses who give me so much grace while also teaching me that if I don’t do the right thing in the right way, they are disinclined to acquiesce to my request.
The best part of lessons has been, in spite of sometimes having to overcome some fear or lack of confidence, my love of riding has been rekindled. There is not much in life that is more invigorating and joyful than cantering on the back of a horse, even if I’m having to concentrate really hard to keep it going correctly, it still fills me with happiness. There was a time not too long ago, where I was ready to give up riding. There was a time that I hated what I was doing. These days, I am back to being most myself on the back of a horse. These days I can’ get enough of it. Even Molly, much to her chagrin I’m sure, has been back in the arena for a few minutes of riding most days, honestly she’s even been pretty willing and amenable to stroll around with me.
Moral of this story, is never stop learning. I am constantly amazed at all the intricacies of riding, training, and horsemanship that pop out of the woodwork as things I don’t know. There is always more to learn and improve and grow. Constant and never ending improvement in the things that you love will never steer you wrong.
Posted on June 25, 2021
The little blue horse I encountered in the round pen was simply shut down.
His eyes alternated between vacant and worried, his body always coiled tight and ready to flee at any moment, yet he stood stock-still as if thinking any wrong move would result in punishment. Perhaps in his past, that was the case. How could I reach him?
If I moved too fast or made a strange noise, I lost him to a fear induced race to get away from me or he’d literally backpedal at impressive speed. Even a task as simple as changing direction on the round pen would worry his eyes and I’d see him panic inwardly if he began to move in the opposite “wrong” direction from what I asked.
I also saw athleticism and a willingness to get things right, even if his response was overreactive.
We started from scratch.
It took a few sessions of progression and regression for me to find the magic ingredient.
Contact. Something we all need to survive, whether that might come from family or friends, co-workers, or a kind gesture from your regular server at your regular restaurant.
Many of us don’t have any true contact in our lives. We don’t feel heard or seen.
This horse was starved for contact and not only starved for it, somebody had broken the trust where his contact with humans had started. Those who were tasked to care for this horse chose rough & harsh contact over what he needed, which was gentle understanding. Does that sound familiar?
One morning I had Blue working at liberty (no ropes) in the round pen, for over half an hour he would not come in to me, just kept trotting trotting trotting around and around. Again, I found myself saying, “How can I help you?”
I turned my back on him and waited. I listened for him to stop and when he finally did I backed up slowly in his direction. I kept my energy non-threatening and quiet and finally was able to clip a lead rope onto his halter – the first point of contact.
That session progressed rapidly with his confidence growing, as the line between us helped direct him. Any time he got scared and pulled or ran we weren’t starting from scratch, we had a starting place with him at one end of a rope and me at the other, he learned he didn’t have to run in an endless circle to keep the pressure off.
With our line of contact between us, he learned that he was allowed & encouraged to stop and think through what I was asking of him. He could breathe and we began learning how to communicate with each other. If he made a wrong move, he learned he wasn’t going to be reprimanded, just gently corrected with a nod of the head or point of a finger and we moved on.
Over many months, the little blue horse and I have worked through many progressions and a handful of setbacks, our conversation getting clearer with each day. More on the little blue horse and the lessons he taught me to come.
Where do you get positive contact in your life? Where does negative contact live?
Do you have someone who listens to you, someone who you feel heard with?
Contact is a main tenant of Equine Gestalt Coaching. I believe learning to be a good listener and to be present with peoples pain (and horses pain) has made me not only a better friend and coach, but a better horse trainer as well.
How can you create more contact in your life?
Can you be a better listener? How has truly listening impacted your relationships? How has not listening impacted them? Dig into some of these, maybe journal about them, see what you discover.
Category: Blue, Gestalt, Gestalt & Horses, Horse Training, horsemanship Tagged: colorado, denver, denver coach, emotional health, equine, Equine Gestalt Coaching, Equus, friends with horses, friendships, healthy relationships, horse behavior, Horse Lovers, Horse Training, horse woman, horsemanship, horsemanship coach, listening, relationship coaching, relationships, this is real life
Posted on June 25, 2021
Keeping a well stocked emergency first aid kit is responsible horsemanship. You can buy some already stocked ones online with the basics, or you can curate your own.
Below is a list of the essentials you should acquire for your equine first aid kit.
Amanda Soper Equine has no affiliation with any of the brands shown below.