One of the toughest lessons
in great horsemanship is to just....
Western horsemanship trainers call it "soaking", my mentor called it "taking a break". Whatever you want to call it, it's all about giving the horse a chance to think, process the information, relax and refresh.
Nowadays, it is normal to keep pushing on.
Push for the next thing to happen, hurry it up, forge on, go, go, go. But, have you ever been pushing on and on and rushing and going, going, going and realized something went horribly wrong in all that? Have you ever suddenly stopped, or worse, been forced to stop and realized,"Wow, if I had just taken a breather in all that, I would have seen that could have gone a whole lot smoother."?
The same thing happens with horses.
My mentor, Ed Rothkranz was a dressage master. He would say, "after every movement, take a break, even if it's just for 3 steps, take a break then ask again. If you do that, the horse will always be happy to do it. But if you go on and on and on, the horse gets tired of doing it and will want to fight his way out of it". He would say, "When you go to the gym, do you lift up the weights and hold them above your head for 1 hour? No. You do a series of reps, then take a break. You should ride your horse the same way".
Buster McLaury, one of our Horsemanship Greats, always gives horses a chance to soak when he is introducing something to them. He will say, "now let's give that horse a chance to think on that a little bit. It's a good time to tell a cowboy story" and he tells riders a funny joke, a story about his Father or Ray Hunt or something relevant to the moment.
It sounds very simple, and the act in itself is quite simple, but people have the MOST difficult time doing it. Whenever I watched Ray Hunt teach and now Buster McLaury, I see where there will be a moment where both would say, "Now set it up and wait".
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