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Riding with your mind...

Lusitano Stallion being ridden in the snow Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

I’ve been at Pippsway for over a year now and what a year it has been. Seeing how happy all the horses are living out 24/7 as part of a herd and in large fields, I couldn’t imagine them living any other way. They are all barefoot and many of them are ridden bitless. All the horses are worked with using energy, intention and body language. It is a world apart from what I grew up with and a world I am delighted to be a part of.

When I first came to Pippsway I was so mentally lazy that looking back it feels like I was a different person. I was so used to being told what to do and how to do it for every moment of my lessons that at first I railed against having to think for myself. I lived largely on autopilot and having to engage my brain was a tremendous effort. Over time Pip has taught me how to maintain my awareness, how to notice the horse’s body language and how to be aware of my own. Now that I am riding she has been teaching me how to ride using my mind. It has been a revelation! I don’t recall what I was thinking about ever being mentioned in my riding history and yet now what I am thinking about matters every moment I am in the saddle!

What is amazing to me is that even if your posture isn’t exactly as it should be or your aids are not quite on point, if your intention is correct it makes a huge difference. I am working on strengthening my core and being able to sit on the back of my seat bones and yet because my intention was correct, even though my posture wasn’t, Bronson started to round his back and work more correctly the first time I rode him in a bitless bridle. When we rode in the canter field the other week Bronson was really going some up the hills and yet as soon as I thought it was time to start slowing down he responded straight away coming down to a walk as we came to the brow of the hills and walking happily down the other side. Learning to be with a horse in this way has been a dream of mine for a long time and it is just so wonderful to finally be getting to do it.

Of course it isn’t all a straight line of improvement. I’ve learned too how sensitive horses are to our moods and state of mind. Recently, when I was quite stressed, Bronson would not cooperate with me at all and in the end I had to call the session a day. Learning to be honest with myself about how I am feeling and what I am feeling has been quite the eye opener. I’m finding that learning to ride is like learning to play two instruments at the same time. One being me and the other being the horse. The end goal being to play both instruments in harmony with each other. At the moment I’m not very good at playing either of them and yet with Pippsway, what Bronson and I can achieve together despite that being the case, is just mind blowing.

I have come so far in this past year. I have learned so much and it is wonderful to be working with my horse in this way. It is a gift!


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