Before I came to Pippsway I thought that if a horse was shying at bins, or wasn’t doing as it was asked, that this was a reflection on the horse; Pip has taught me that it is actually a reflection on me! At the Pippsway clinics it is always a joy to watch Pip schooling our horses. When we ride we see the horse working at the level we are capable of. When Pip rides we see the horse work at the highest level he is capable of. It’s fair to say there is usually a huge divide between the two! The upside of this is that not only is it always lovely to see, it is a great reminder that our horses are capable of so much more, it is us that we need to work on!
So instead of getting frustrated with my horse when things aren’t going to plan, I always try and remember my salsa dancing days. When I was learning to dance and was dancing with a good lead, it was much easier to get things right. If I was dancing with an inexperienced dancer it was often hard to know what they wanted, what move they were asking me to do. Sometimes the man would get frustrated and would start getting rough! Instead of asking themselves if they were giving a clear lead they were getting annoyed with me for not understanding! Then they would see me dance with someone else and get it right with ease! This is exactly what happens with our horses.
It’s hard at times to remember that it’s not him, it’s me! I see Pip riding Bronson and so know exactly the exquisite level of work he is capable of. If he’s not doing something properly then there can be no doubt that it is rider error! So instead of looking at him and thinking he is getting it wrong, I always have to check myself. Am I asking correctly? Is my intention clear? Is my posture and body language correct? Am I sufficiently focused? And so on.
It has been such a privilege learning to ride properly with Pip, learning to understand horses, learning to understand what is being said by my horse instead of misinterpreting his behaviour and making problems worse as a result! Now I can assess what is unfolding, know what questions to ask myself about what is happening and apply everything I have learned to resolve our issues. And if all that fails? Then Pip can intervene and be our interpreter. She is always the horses advocate and I am so glad we are in her care!