By Christa Miramadi
*Note from Faye- I really enjoyed this article from Christa and thought I would share it with everyone. Enjoy!*
A Personal Connection …
Developing a feel is not something that happens overnight. It’s not something that you can read about in a book and “get” and it’s not something that you can pay someone to find for you. It’s a personal connection between you and the horse you’re riding and developing this feel takes patience, practice and dedication but in no way is it some impossible aspiration. Anyone can develop a feel if they try.
What is a feel anyway? I have had more than a few students ask me this question on numerous occasions. How does one describe feel? Though i find it incredibly challenging trying to describe through a few written words what this illusive feel is, i think it is absolutely necessary to helping you find it, to understand what it is you’re looking for in the first place.
Each trainer may have their own explanation of what a feel is and even a different explanation for different circumstances and they are not incorrect in their definitions even if they are different from this one. A feel is something personal, something that is completely individual and something that is unique to each and every horse and human combination.
Each horse and human that work together in a team create a unique connection. The best example i can think of is my little black Arab mare Ebony. Ebony is like a sponge to the feel of her rider. I can tell instantly what feel the rider on her back is offering her based on the way she reacts to their time together. She is a very hard working and honest little mare and sometimes, not often, but sometimes, she takes out as many as three riders in one day. It is on days such as these that i really get to study what feel is.
On the same day, same weather patterns, same environmental stimuli
and on the same horse, three different students can produce three different results. One student, being nervous and a little tense will cause Ebony to dance, toss her head and spook; This feel is one of uneasiness, tension and mistrust. The next student, being calm and interested in Ebony’s experience will cause her to be relaxed and confident; This feel is a little more connected, understanding and relaxed. The third student, being dedicated and calm yet lacking a little confidence will cause Ebony to be controlled yet a little stressed; This feel is one of willingness yet confusion.
In each case, the same horse was represented differently based on the feel that her rider was offering and what she could do with it. It’s important to remember that it is impossible for a horse to display softness, balance or comfort if it is not being offered through the feel of the rider. Whatever it is your horse is displaying, be it nervousness, tension, stress or impatience, this is a direct reflection of what he/she has been offered. That’s not to say that each horse does not have their own personality or feel because they do.
If you take the same rider and put him/her on three different horses, you will again have three different results, all because of the feel that each horse was offering to this rider. On one horse that rider may find a reluctant and “lazy” feel, on the next they may find a willing and eager feel and on the last possibly a nervous or flighty feel. Whatever they may be offering to you, it’s up to you to find it and either accept it or offer them a more desirable alternative.
Finding the feel, refers to finding that offering from your horse. Is your horse offering you sensitivity, willingness, a sense of confusion, resistance? Is what they’re offering you something positive or something you’d like to change? Whatever it is, if you can recognize it you can use it as information and provide whatever feeling back to your horse you need to in order to balance out and increase productivity. If you can’t find the feel, you won’t know how to help your horse understand what you’d like of him/her.
Chances are, your horse has already found your feel.
Is it a feel you had hoped to offer your horse?
Find out moe about Christa Miremadi & her training methods at - www.horsemanshipfromtheheart.com