32/ MAY 2021 THE RIDER
The Science of how Horses Think & Learn Confusing horse training jargon.
ideas: • Unique terms define my personal brand • A little mystery makes my clients more depend- ent on me • I know how to do it, but struggle to explain it • Jargon adds some comic relief to the con- versation. Some horse trainer lingo is just – funny!
So here are some of the top terms I’m often un- scrambling for folks: Pick up his belly.
By Lindsay Grice. Equestrian Canada coach, horse show judge, specialist in equine behaviour.
Confusing horse training jargon. Mystical, humorous or deliberately elusive
– the terms we use in the horse business can leave a rider scratching her head. As a young rider, I was a coach’s worst nightmare - “What do you mean by that?”, I’d ask. I rarely got a meaningful answer.
“Everything should be made as simple as pos- sible, but not simpler.” Einstein. When coaching, when a rider hit’s a sticking point in training her horse, I’ll often ask her to ex-
As a young rider, I was a coach’s worst nightmare - “What do you mean by that?”, I’d ask. (Angry coach)
plain the aids she uses for that maneuver. If she struggles to put it into words, we’ll unpack the idea and isolate the pieces step-by-step. For example,
for a rein-back, I may ask 1. How are you using your reins? Steady, pulsing, or releasing with each step? Are you using your legs as well? If so, before or after your reins? At the girth or behind the girth? Alternat- ing or simultaneous? What part of your leg? Training a non- Eng-
lish speaking horse partner is complicated enough without including unclear terms which prompt riders to give unclear signals and horses to be clearly stressed out. If we can’t describe our aids in such a way someone who’s never ridden could understand, chances are the aid is fuzzy to the horse too! I love those light bulb mo- ments – my student grasps the “phonics” of a certain skill, communicates with distinct cues, the horse re- laxes – and responds.
So why do we do it? Why do we horse profession- als have these weird terms? Here are some of my
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Dropping his shoulder. Drive him into the bridle. Disengage his hip. En- gaging his back. Ride him in front of your leg. Put him on the bit. And the ever elusive half- halt.
Complex or confound- ing?
So what about sci-
entific academic lan- guage? At a recent equi-
tation science confer- ence, hosted by the University of Guelph, re- searchers used plenty of academic terms. Scien- tific terms may seem be- fuddling in their own way, because of their complexity, yet are de-
About Lindsay Grice.
“Is it me or my horse?” Horse show judge, certified rid-
ing coach, trainer and specialist in equine behavior and learning. Lind- say Grice loves to help riders solve their horse puzzles, prepare for com- petition and enjoy the process of rid- ing, not just the result! Lindsay enjoys teaching clinics
and travelling to Ontario farms as a freelance instructor. She’s taught the science of equine behavior and learning for horse associations, courses for University of Guelph and therapeutic riding facilities. Lindsay judges multiple disci-
plines and breeds, holding judging certifications with AQHA, Eques-
Are the terms we horse-people use meant to create mys- tery or to uncover and unpack the mysteries of humans interacting with horses? (Hands tense)
signed to cut through the fuzziness to the exact meaning like a scalpel. I guess that’s the
key – are the terms we use meant to create mys- tery or to uncover and un- pack the mysteries of humans interacting with horses?
The best gift I can
give to the riders AND the horses I work with is to communicate clearly, saving them from having to ask, “What do you mean by that?”
trian Canada. She’s a provincial Hunter/Jumper and dressage judge and also judges multiple breeds and Extreme Trail/obstacle events. She loves to share her own in-
sights and stories learned from 25 years as a competitor and horse trainer.
“Why do horses do what they do?”
world, our traditions and the evi- dence sometimes collide.
Lindsay says, “In the horse I love to
communicate the WHYs behind the HOWs of riding. “Equitation Sci- ence” – it makes life better for horses when we speak in a language they understand!”
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