Lessons from Sensei

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My little black rescue horse, Sensei, taught me so many lessons. In my last blog entry about Sensei, we’d just successfully mastered mounting from a mounting block.


This time, I want to share with you how Sensei and I became balanced together. As I’ve mentioned before, he was a small gelding, only 14.1 hands high. He’s also fine-boned. I used light tack, but my 5-foot, 5-inch build was plenty for this little guy.

As I rode Sensei, I could feel him balancing my weight. He would become nervous as soon as I raised my center of gravity by tensing up or tightening my neck and shoulders. He would feel the shift in my weight, then try to compensate. It was like balancing a plate on the top of a stick. His movements would make me nervous, and a vicious cycle would ensue.

Over time, I learned that if I relaxed my neck and shoulders, dropped my center of gravity, and talk to him, Sensei would soften, and we could become one together. But when we were out of balance, he would rush around and hurry.

Sensei wasn’t able to produce slow, powerful, balanced movements that felt good. Any horse that’s tense and rushing isn’t working his core muscles properly and is at risk for spine and neck issues. Not to mention, it’s just not comfortable for the rider.

As you ride, you and your horse should be relaxed enough to access the deep, strong, core muscles that enable balanced, strong, smooth movements. So, take a deep breath and relax, and your horse will, too.

For more tips for staying relaxed during your rides, check out expert horsewoman Linda Tellington Jones’ article, “Calm Horse Calm Rider.” http://trailridermag.com/article/calm-rider-calm-horse-2-15702