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 Post subject: Life is hard. Training means you will get frustrated.
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:09 pm 
White Lady
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Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:18 pm
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Location: Eriksbråten, Skotterud
Quite often we meet riders who think that it is possible to become strong, athletic, and in good condition without frustration. Without getting tired or doing something unfamiliar. I think it must be because of that misconception companies are able to sell training equipment that is meant to make you stronger while you watch TV. Even while you relax, letting electrical equipment poke your muscles into working. Let me tell you: You will not become athletic while relaxing. Life is hard.

In order to get more fit, you have to become better in all of these areas (as defined by

If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical
skills must be considered:
1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
4. Flexibility - the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed - The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
7. Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
8. Agility - The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity

For a horse or rider to become more fit, he or she must improve in several, and preferably all of these. That often means struggling, doing something that is hard for you, something you are unaccustomed to, and even afraid to do.

It means sweating, maybe crying, sometimes even bleeding. It means pain.

You cannot become better without pain. Both psychological and physical pain. The horse can't either. Both of us really just want to relax, eat and sleep. Running, playing, fighting and training is something we naturally only do when we are young and when we must. Horses in the wild don't train. They play, fight and run away from predators. But this is training. This is how they stay fit. This is how they stay athletic and alive. That is why the horses have the ability to sweat. And breathe more efficiently than most animals.

When we tame the horse and put him in a cage, we take away all the natural forces that make the horse move and train. No predators, no space to move, no playmates, because we are afraid the horse will hurt itself. No fighting. No fitness.

We exchange this wild thing that the horses naturally do with systematic, slow, tame movement. We put an unnatural weight on the horse's back, that hampers the horse's movement severely if we don't make the horse move in a specific way that transfers its weight somewhat to the hindquarters, and make ourselves move athletically through the hips.

We deny the fact that we, both horse and rider, must really do something that is not relaxing in order to become better. Often, we must do the very thing we avoid to become better. For the thing we avoid is the thing that is hindering us.

Humans we can speak to, and explain why a movement or exercise is important for them. Often it does not help to explain. You need to feel part of it in order to trust enough to try. Because it is hard. Perhaps you need to force yourself, or maybe the trainer has to force you. A little bit. Enough to make you stubborn. Or angry enough to try. So you try through your tears. And experience something new. Something valuable.

It is the same with horses. We have taken away their playmates and their predators. We must be the ones who make them train. And as they are not allowed to jump and fight with us, we must use training exercises to help the horse become more athletic. But that does not mean the horse will think it is easy or relaxing. Relax is what you do after training, when the endorphines flow and you feel tired, but happy. When you train, you breathe, you sweat, you struggle, you fail and try again, you balk, you get frustrated, you even cry, if you are human.

Why should we then deny our horses the same? Is it fair to deny our horses the pleasure of getting strong and fit, and the frustration of getting there? To be afraid of their struggle is to deny them the respect of the father who lets his child struggle and find balance. "Try again", we say, "next time you will make it!" Come on!! Do it! Yeay!

So how do you make a horse train, and train the way you know is right? By becoming that horse's leader and ask him to do it. Now. That is our responsibility. To balk away from that responisbility is to reduce the horse to a weakling. To take away everything that keeps the horse strong is to purposefully make the horse weak.

So, why do we do that? Are we afraid the horse will become stronger than us? Do we wish for a horse that has all our own weaknesses? A projection of our weak self? Or do we wish to become strong together?

We must understand that it is the horse's way to be strong and to ask others in a rather violent way. In order to really train a horse, we must not be afraid to dip just a little into that world, and understand the horse's way. Not because we want to beat the horse into submission, but to communicate in its own way. This is a very subtle thing, that only those to have learnt to be brave at heart and solid in their self assurance can understand. Others think that making a horse do as you wish - NOW - is the same as tyranny. Or beating the horse. Or being unfair.

Asking a horse in a confident way will make the horse obedient in a trusting way. Because the horse learns that this is the way to get back to what we took from them. The fight and the flight. And play instead. With one leader that makes you strong.

That is why horses start coming when you call them for training. That is why Hugo follows after Pelle without being led, even though he is a leader in his own right. That is how an athletic rider can mount a weak horse and make him move in an athletic way, and almost immediately feel how it should be. To change its way to move, to almost move by brain proxy, to borrow another being's nervous system. But then resistance must not come in the way. The horse must learn obedience, and learn how that is useful. In the same way as to obey the herd leader is useful.

Next time you see a powerful, beautiful horse and envy its owner, please don't fall into the trap of thinking that all that came for free. No, it is not unfair that some people are stronger than you or better at riding, or have a stronger and more beautiful horse.

They have trained. They have been sweating, struggling, foaming, paining. Life is hard. But it is also good. Because you have become strong.


Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes. The relativist treats a paradox merely as interesting, perhaps amusing or even, dreadful thought, educational.

Frank Herbert.

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