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Barbara Burkhardt

Have you ever noticed a rider often has the same problems with every horse she rides? That’s because the horse will mirror the rider—for better or worse. If you stiffen your body, the horse will stiffen his. If you pull on his mouth, he will pull on your hands. Horses will give you the right answers, only if you know how to ask the right questions! When you learn to leg him to your hand and hold him there, he will start going there. As soon as you learn how to ask him something, he will learn to do it. As the rider grows more sensitive, so does the horse. As your aids refine, his reactions will become lighter and more precise. As you become more knowledgeable, his capacity to sense what you want of him will increase.

Technical knowledge of these things is best learned by reading and observing. Motor skills can only be learned by doing it—or practicing. You must develop your mental skills (of knowing how to control and influence the horse) hand in hand with developing the physical skills. You need to work hard, especially on yourself, and to persevere.

Whether you are new to horses or have ridden for years or decades, there is a wealth of knowledge, or “theory,” to be learned. To that end, this book will discuss some of the less known principles of good horsemanship, as they apply to riding/harmonizing with your horse. The methods, theory, and exercises in this text apply to all disciplines of riding and all ages and abilities of riders. To become a partner to your horse, read on.