“Getting to the feet” is a core Ray Hunt maxim.
In dressage, riders hear a lot about, moving the horse’s hip, raising the shoulder, positioning the neck, to straighten crookedness, and more. I’ve found that concentrating on the horse’s feet (how much weight there is, front to back, left to right, where the horse places the feet, what speed the horse’s feet travel, when the rider asks for the feet to move), is more important than thinking about the body of the horse. The horse’s body is controlled by the horse’s mind through to the feet.
As I mentioned in parts one and two of Emulating Ray Hunt, during Ray’s horsemanship classes, he often frustrated me, by saying, “trot your horses, walk your horses, trot your horses…” He barked his instructions in such rapid order that I could never achieve what he asked. But, I never forgot how quickly he asked for the transitions. For me, that is where “one step” comes from. Ray wanted riders to control every step the horse takes, just as if the “horse’s feet are the rider’s feet.” (Another Ray Hunt maxim.)
In this video, I’m playing with the transition from one canter lead to the other, through the trot, by controlling the number of trot steps the horse takes. To me, this is like practicing scales on the piano.
How is this done? While cantering the horse, I’m asking for the horse to trot, by blocking the current canter stride (with my seat and rein) in favor of the new opposite lead. I wait on the horse to adjust to this request, while thinking how many trot steps I want the horse to take. When the horse gives me the trot steps I ask for, I release the horse into the new lead. In this video, the horse adjusts her body and her legs to accomplish what I’m asking her feet to do. However, I’m leaving the decision up to her, how and when to make the trot transition. I’m only controlling the number of trot strides.
One Foot in Particular
In this video, Desi is seven years old, but she doesn’t have experience to match her age. When she was two years old, galloping in from the pasture, she slid on a muddy slope and hit her own front foot with her hind foot. (Ah, the relevance of controlling the feet!)
Like so many injuries to the coronet band, Desi’s hoof wall is permanently distorted. The wound developed two distinct pressure points causing the heel to be under-slung and the toe to press forward. She requires extensive care. For years, her education was on again, off again. When she was sound, I would ride her, picking up wherever we left off. Unfortunately, for five years, she required a lot of time off. Finally, in her seven year old year (2014), she was able to work for an entire year.
Due to this injury, I never thought Desi and I would get this far. Watching this video, I’m pleased. Not only that she is sound, but she tries to do exactly what I ask, and she is happy.
As a two year old, Desi appears in the documentary “Buck.” She is also in the “7 Clinics” DVDs.
My friend, Tom (aka T. Ray Becker), Musician.
The music on this video is written and performed by my friend, Tom Becker. Tom passed away from Leukemia in 2011, leaving behind a wonderful family, his sons Jesse and Andrew, and their mother Nancy. An incredible artist, poet, and musician, Tom captured the complexity of life in his songs. I love the contrast between the upbeat qualities of this song, combined with Tom’s words about the difficulty of relationships and life.
Professionally, Tom performed as a solo artist; he was also the lead of the Becker Band and played with the inimitable rock band, Black Pearl. Immensely creative, Tom also loved horses.
For more of Tom’s music, go to…