Thursday, February 26, 2009

Developing Feel and Timing

I have been experimenting with a format to develop feel and timing with our horses. Feel and timing is the element in our horsemanship that wraps everything together. We watch amazing horsemen who have it so naturally. They just know what, when, where and how to be at the right place at the right time.
I would like to present this format to you and have you experiment with your horses and see what results you come up with. I would love your stories and questions.
Here we go...... First of all I want you to think about your communication with your horses in 4 categories. 1.Balance, 2.focus, 3.direction, 4.intention. These are the four elements needed for a good ride. Now take a number system from 1-10. The goal is to have you and your horse be in perfect harmony at a 5 together. For example, if your horse was not focused he may only be offering a 2 in focus (10 being the best). To help your horse you would fill in for him at a 8 in your focus. You might help him focus more with your reins, legs, seat, or line of sight.
What if he was really go-ee , he might have his energy at a 9, you then would relax your body only offering a 1, to help him calm down. This would be adjusting your intention,
This system is the beginning of feel and timing when communicating with your horse. As you develop this skill you will be changing your feel often to help him be with you at that 5.
Lets play with a few more examples... we will use direction. Direction is how you apply your reins. If he can carry himself and stay in rhythm on his own you may be able to ride on a loose rein. If he is pushy you may need to support him with more feel on your reins to slow his feet down. Again you would be adjusting as needed.
If you are off balance on your horse you could be sending him mixed messages. Sitting back might slow him down. Leaning forward may speed him up. Adjusting your seat can bring you both in harmony.
We want our horses to be connected to us, but many times we ride in a way that gives them nothing to connect to.
This format is a moment by moment, stride by stride adjustment to your horse. The format allows you to develop the feel and timing necessary to give your horse what he needs when he needs it instead of just surviving the ride.
I would love to receive you feedback on these ideas. Christa Lynn


  1. Hi Christa Lynn: Fabulous post! I really have never thought of it in such a straightforward way, but it makes such sense.
    How many of us have seen a horse and rider, with the horse being a little chargey and instead of being calm and working through it, the rider starts tugging on the reins, spinning in circles, etc? With the horse at a 9, instead of going to a 1, the rider goes past 9??? I love the way you presented this concept.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Hi there,
    I tried to comment once before with your previous post on this topic but there was a problem with it and wouldn't allow me to. That might be why you don't have comments!? I'll try again later to give feed back. Thanks!

  3. Well, it's working now! I agree with you completely! There's too many riders that are merely passengers. I recently took part in a horse clinic. My mare was out of commission with her hooves and came up lame the day of the clinic so I rode one of their horses. The clinician told me that horse was a good barometer for where a person is at in their life and riding. (of course she told me that after the clinic)lol! She commented on how she noticed I had good feel and timing! Now I'm an adult novice rider so it was very meaningful to me and I have remembered it well! I had never heard the terms before! She said one of her friends tried to ride Joe in another clinic she held and he wouldn't even let her back on and ran the opposite direction from her! Riding someone's horse could be a terrifying experience if you've never met up with him before but I attribute our getting along to me just being in that moment in tune with him the whole time and going in with that attitude from the start! If a new novice rider can do it with a strange horse, it can be done so much easier with your own mount! Right on girl!

  4. I really enjoyed your post,yes I think you maybe able to help some people out there.I like you have taken what I've learned through the years,and keep adapting it for the horse I'm working with at the time.All things don't work for all horses or people,so knowing this and being able to find what works even if it is an adapted technique is a gift I think.I like what you have said about timing & feel,keep trotting on with this!

  5. Great post, Christa Lynn! I think you have a great recipe for working on this. I also think a lot of time in the saddle, and riding many different horses, improves one's ability to "read" where adjustments in feel and timing need to be!

  6. Christa Lynn, I just finished reading Mark Rashid's book "Horses Never Lie" wow......what a book! I am going to have to rethink some of the training I have done with Gilly. Also will re read the book "Considering the Horse" and get more of his books. I love this guys ideas about taking more into consideration the feelings and thoughts of the horse. Wish I could attend one of his clinics. Have you?

  7. Keep your blog going - I am a student of Mark Rashid and the more people that are out there talking about the type of training he and others like him can do, the better! I have had the good fortune to ride in a number of his clinics, including 2 week-longs in CO. Hope to see new posts from you soon.

  8. Hi Christa Lynn, I hope you are doing well. I had been emailing Cathleen and asked about you because I missed your posts. I hope you are "back in the blog saddle soon" with your great insight on horsemanship! ;)