Ver1 - The spring of a superb piaffe. Spring is so important in performance horses. It is seen in horses that use their backs and is shown by lightness of step with a short stance time and
anaerobic ‘fast twitch’ muscle use. Ironically in striving for power and forwardness this spring and coiled connection is often lost.
Ver2 – Hearing a horse breathe. Horses can easily hold their breath in walk and trot, and they do hold their breath when tense and when not coming through in their backs. Then, when well ridden or lunged, and just as they are about to come through, they groan and breathe and possibly blow their noses. Just as with a human in good posture/form and with good use
of their spine their breathing becomes regular and deep from within. A great tip is to canter a horse that is holding their breath. In canter a horse is forced to breathe every stride and afterwards will then often keep breathing better in walk and trot. So for those evaluating fitness counting the rate of breathing in canter is meaningless as they breathe in time with the stride. You have to wait until you return to walk.
ms3 – Seeing a rider smile . ‘The one who smiles is the one worthwhile’ they say and how true it is. Of course some smiles just take place internally and are shown by a deep contentment and
being at peace with the world.
Ver4 - Feeling a horse smile. Horses can also smile internally and a rider or trainer who has empathy can feel and hear this smile.
Ver5 – Watching a horse consume fresh grass. The best and most natural food for ponies and horses is grass….strange how we forget this. Yes we are often short of grass and good grazing but this should not stop us trying to ensure that our horses always have some grass to eat as it really is the basis for good horse nutrition and the greatest preventative for colic. This is also why hay is so important and more important than hard food/concentrates.
Ver6 – Hearing students come up with new ideas. This is such an important part of becoming an independent rider. Much more important to come up with ideas, even if some are
proved wrong, than come up with no ideas because you are afraid of being wrong. I would never have achieved 90% of what I have done in my life if I had been afraid of new ideas and asking questions…..and I would never have invented the Micklem bridle.
Ver7 - Watching a horse being lunged in a Micklem bridle. I have no embarrassment in saying this. It is not about patting myself on the back, instead it is about comfort for the horse. There is simply not a more comfortable lunge cavesson for your horse and it works wonderfully as I show almost every day with all my young horses….and yet it is also the bridle you then ride away in.
Ver8 – Watching a child rise to praise.Praise must be honest praise but how very powerful it is to tell a child “that was the best you have ever done”, or “you deserve a medal for your effort and determination”, or “you did that well, just like an Olympian.” Working from the positive and from what a child can do, as opposed to what they cannot do, is a golden key for long term achievement.
Ver9 – Watching a horse rise to praise…..but can they hear your praise? See below.
Ver10– Hearing a “thank you.” Saying thank you when thanks are due means so much to those that hear your thank you. Thank you to a car driver that slowed down or moved out to
give you more space. Thank you to a helper for doing a good job. Thank you to your horse….and you can teach your horse a cue that says thank you and yes that was the right response, but that does not mean chattering to your horse or slapping them on the neck thinking that it must be obvious to them that you are pleased. You have to teach your horse to hear your thank you and hear your praise.
ONWARDS with great thanks and generosity. William