The U.K. has gone space mad over the last six months, since Tim Peake rocketed off the planet, and it means that I’ve seen a couple of space films recently.
I’ll be honest, they don’t thrill me, and you can tell because whilst watching the film Gravity I stumbled upon an analogy for my teaching.
In the film one of the astronauts throws a spanner into space, and it keeps going in the chosen direction at that speed forever. Because space is infinite and free from the laws of gravity.
Back to the equines. Now the ideal walk, or trot, or canter, is one that you don’t need to continuously focus on – be it nagging to maintain some energy, or half halting to bottle the energy – because then you can turn your mind to the more important aspects of circles, lateral movements, or accuracy.
So bearing in mind the film Gravity, you want to train your horse so that you ask him to trot on and he will trot in that direction and at that speed until told otherwise, like the spanner. Now we don’t have the space in our arenas to trot in a great long line, but the idea is there.
Imagine it. You’ve made the transition up into trot and then you can sit quietly until you approach the corner, where you just alter the direction slightly. But the trot stays the same. How much easier is that to ride? Far less tiring, but also it means your horse is far more responsive because he needs half the aids and can focus on your subtle, yet very important aid, instead of deciphering the white noise of you trying to keep the trot rhythm and turn and prepare for a circle and make a transition all at the same time.
If this is something you need to work on, take your horse large and ask him to trot then be still. As soon as the trot changes, correct him quickly. Then be still. After a while you should feel that your corrections are fewer and far between until eventually he is taking responsibility for the quality of his gaits and you are only navigating.