There are some basic principles that guide the work.
and the order matters.
Calm, Forward and Straight
- How do we work with a given horse so that he or she becomes a trustworthy, pleasant, and brilliant riding partner?
- What is this particular horse’s resistance pattern, and is the cause based in a physical challenge, an emotional one, a matter of uncertainty, or a habit?
- What is this particular horse’s unique brilliance? How will his or her problems become this horse’s unique beauty?
- What will help to provide this horse calm? That is, a balanced mind and body, ready intelligence, an easy mind?
- What will help to rekindle in this horse the attribute of being forward? That is, native curiosity, willingness, joy in the work we do together?
- What will help to empower in this horse the attributes of straightness? That is, honesty, forthrightness, physical symmetry and suppling, release from tensions, ease in motion, the capacity to joyfully do what is asked of him.
Horse and rider develop a shared language.
In Classical training at NSAE, we don’t create a mindless horse that responds to aids as though it’s a robot with buttons being pushed. The horse’s unique mind and personality, and the shared conversation between two living beings is not only sacred, it’s where all the fun is. The rider’s education is as critical as the horse’s. And the rider’s first task is to truly learn the work ourselves. This means for the rider attending to balance training until the body is truly always balanced both in the saddle and on the ground. It means a deep understanding of the conversation of the aids, so that we are always fair, kind and engaging in our demands of the horse. Horses aren’t “sent away” for training at NSAE, the owner’s education is just as critical.
Finding the Answers
The intention in training is to return the horse to the free flowing natural movement that the horse enjoyed before time, entrenched habits and human interference began to alter his expectations and his way of being. Working without unnatural aids– no bitting rigs, no side reins, no artificial constraints, we help the horse find its own sense of best balance, freeing the animal to release to unimpeded movement. We ask balance questions that help the horse discover its sense of native agility, and we help him establish a habit of carrying himself in this balanced, agile, healthy way.
At the same time, we are introducing the idea of the rein aids. In classical work the aids are a conversation, not cues to obey, but an invitation to interact. Absolute precision comes from the horse’s innate desire for peaceful harmony in coexistence with his peers. In short, they all love to dance, and we just help them find the music we can both become enthralled with.
A horse in training at NSAE is not ridden until they are comfortable in their own healthy motion and well established in conversation with the trainer.
The trainer helps the horse sort out whatever is between him and easy, calm motion in concert with his rider. And we listen more than we direct, which makes direction precise, welcome and simple.