Friday, March 24, 2017

What Should Be Practiced?

Excerpted from "Why Don't Students Like School?"

Not everything can be practiced extensively, but fortunately not everything needs to be practiced.... If practice makes mental processes automatic, we can then ask, which processes need to become automatic? 
Retrieving number facts from memory is a good candidate, while a science teacher may decide that his students need to have at their fingertips basic facts about elements. In general, the processes that need to become automatic are probably the building blocks of skills that will provide the most benefit if they are automatized. Building blocks are the things that one does again and again in a subject area, and they are the prerequisites for more advanced work. 

So before I write to you about my thoughts on this subject, can I ask you: which processes need to become automatic in our work with horses?


  1. are you asking about 'processes' in terms of what do riders need to practice? or what do horses need to practice? ground work or ridden work?

    if i'm understanding your question correctly, i'd think that for the rider, mental processes relating to correctness of position and aid delivery need to become more automatic - that riders can automatically put themselves where they need to be, even (or especially!) in cases where the horse would pull them out of position.

    for the horse, i think it would boil down to correctness in yielding to specific types of pressure, giving or submitting to aids. does the horse correctly move off the leg? does the horse respond to the seat / weight aids? does the horse give to the bit? if these 'processes' are confirmed to the point of being automatic in the horse, theoretically any movement can be built from that - so the need for practicing the movements themselves is reduced (tho, i would argue, not eliminated).

    curious to see your thoughts on this tho, it's an interesting subject!

  2. I hope that I'm understanding your question correctly but here's what I have found that I need to practise so that I'm ready for a show:
    - clear, balanced transitions.
    -geometry- that's for me to understand the geometry and how to guide the horse through the figures without being abrupt
    -exercises that relax the horse
    -mental awareness
    -positive visualization (in this corner I will put my inside leg on and ask for bend rather then 'I hope she doesn't spook' )

  3. Everything! I want my horse to be a robot!

    I actually do want everything eventually to be automated, but I think trying to automate an upper level movement (such as a half pass) when a lower level movement (such as roundness) isn't automated yet is fighting a losing battle. So for me at least it's less a question of what to automate and more a question of when to automate.

    Also can I borrow this book?! I need to finish the other one you gave me or one day I'll just have all your books lol

  4. Just found you and am loving the thought processes. And your bingo story too that was a good one!
    I want to be able to react calmly to whatever my horses pull. But to do that I need knowledge and in order to really get the knowledge you need both the good/reactive horse and the bad/plu type horse.

  5. I love your blog! I would say building blocks for riders that need to be automatic are aids, corrections, and praise. For example, when you want to canter you shouldn't have to think about what to do. You should just think canter and your body naturally applies the appropriate aid. Corrections should be automatic like if you feel your horse is not bending you should automatically use an aid to correct it. Also praise is definitely a good automated response. I think horses are much happier being validated

  6. For a rider heels down, hands, eyes and chest up. For a horse, forward.

  7. Aids from the rider for sure. There needs to be consistency in that application. I'm less concerned with processes in groundwork as safety is my priority there. Although, there are processes that go hand in hand with safety - grooming, checking equipment, etc.

  8. Excellent food for thought! I think balance, timing of release of pressure, and a solid leg need to be automatic!

  9. I hope that I'm understanding your question correctly but here's what I have found that I need to practise so that I'm ready for a show:
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