Emily’s philosophy for riders has been developed over many years, and includes these primary ideas.
Muscle Tone, Stability & Balance
The first task for a student is to gain the muscle tone to achieve correct alignment.
Emily teaches from the rider’s core out: pelvis, ribcage and thighs, first, then arms hands and lower legs. The core must be stabilized and pliable in order to have balance and security as the horse moves.
Looseness & Trust
Once riders have a degree of stability and tone, they begin to learn where to be soft. Softness is necessary to allow the horse to “move through” the rider’s legs. There is a very fine line between being too soft, creating ineffective passive or easily disrupted riders, and overly toned and ridged riders.
Horse Psychology for Riders
In addition, riders should learn what the horse experiences and how horse psychology works. Why does their horse seem to challenge them in certain ways? What should the rider do? Is it better to apply pressure or reassure their horse? Timing, use of the aids, strategic breaks, and intelligent gymnastics in the arena are all important skills. A rider who can accurately assess the horse’s motives and respond accordingly is equipped to become a true and trusted leader for their horse.
Joy, elation, thrill, discouragement, frustration, satisfaction, and impatience are some of the emotions riders will encounter while learning to ride. Emily provides a safe atmosphere to work through these processes. Learning to ride is a mixture of the intellectual, and the kinesthetic - finding the balance between deep concentration and allowing for “feel” and muscle memory to come into play. The practice of riding horses is about exactly that: the practice. Determination, faith, trust, and patience are qualities we develop as we improve our riding skills.
These are the basic principles that Emily applies when training.
Assessing the Situation
As a trainer Emily gets to the underlying cause of a misbehavior, way of going, or other situation. For example: is a horse having problems coming through the back because of a lazy hind leg, a lack of straightness, anticipation of something the rider might do, discomfort in the body, or mental tension? Emily has great ability to discern and then solve these issues.
Prioritizing Issues, Learning Styles & Expectations
A good trainer must make split second decisions about what to prioritize. For example, Emily might allow a horse to go with their head in the air while addressing hind end activity and straightness.
Assessing the horse’s state of mind, temperament and history around an issue determines the best approach. Sometimes a direct, black and white approach is called for, making a lesson very obvious for a horse. Other times its better that the lesson be “around the side door” or “invisible”, so that the horse doesn’t even know we are specifically working on something. The best option will change horse to horse and situation to situation, even from one moment to another in the same ride.
Adjusting expectations to achieve precisely the right challenge is critical. Horses that are not sufficiently challenged are quickly bored. In fact I sense a distain in some horses, as if they are not being respected for their abilities and in return do not respect their humans. Horses that are over challenged have a variety of reactions: withdrawal, acting out, repressing their stress and “surviving” but not enjoying their work. Emily is highly skilled at reading horses and can provide the right level of challenge.
Developing Work Ethic
When one can accurately assess a horse’s issues, find the correct solution, train to the individual learning style, and find the appropriate level of challenge, horses blossom! They trust the learning process, feel pride in their work, look forward to learning new things, and forgive the occasional rider error. These horses have a true work ethic, and love their jobs.