Habits

Since I’m not doing much riding with June just yet I’ve taken the opportunity to ride a couple of the lesson horses at our barn. Mostly I just hop on them when Sarah is out of town and they’re not being used for lessons, but could use some exercise. No matter which horse I ride, my habits are right there with me. It’s nice because I can work on them. Work on my position and try, desperately, to break my bad habits.

There’s one habit that follows me on whatever horse I ride and quite honestly, I am not willing to break it. It’s a habit I actually think has served me very well over the years.

You see, I talk to horses.

june hay

What’s that you say? I have hay in my forelock?

When I’m on their back, I’m a talker. Like, not all the time, but a fair amount. It served me really, really, well with Georgie. For one thing, when we started going Training, and neither of us had jumped cross country at that height, I could have been up on her back, just not breathing. Instead, I made sure I was breathing by talking to her as we cruised around. There were lots of “good girl” and “woah” and sometimes me blithering on about what was next. It kept me breathing but it also kept her engaged with me. I’d see her ear flick back. As time went on, it was totally routine. When we were out on course together, I was always communicating with her. I actually think she really enjoyed it. It seemed to be what she expected and it relaxed her a bit.

Ingrid Klimke actually spoke in an interview about how she is constantly talking to her horse while she is out on cross country. And while I can’t find the interview, I remember she made fun of herself a bit, referencing the fact that she is not a quiet rider. Instead people are surprised to hear her talking as her horses fly over jumps. Her reasoning is much the same as mine.  Think about it, we’re ALWAYS talking to our horses. We’re asking them to move over, get out of the way. We cluck at them, ask them to whoa, and tell them how amazing they are. They’re used to our voices.

willy2

One of our ridiculous barn cats

With June, so much of our relationship is based on verbal communication. She is so used to my voice. And, now that I am riding her a bit, I’m teaching her what “woah”means as well as what a “cluck” means. I assume my habit of talking to her while I am on her back isn’t going to stop as we progress in our training.

With the school horses I ride, if they offer a good behavior, they’re sure to get a “good boy.” If they spook at seemingly nothing, they get a “Seriously?” But they also get lots of verbal reinforcement as we go about the ride.

It’s a habit I can’t see myself changing, and one I’m actually quite happy I’ve got. What about you? Are you verbal with your horses when riding? Or do you tend to be the silent type?

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23 thoughts on “Habits

  1. I used to be very silent when I rode out on trail and it was a disservice to Gem. When I began talking to her more she would relax. I think it was because, while she knew I was on her, by talking to her it reinforced that I was participating in the journey and not just a lump on her back, if that makes sense. When I switched to jumping her I talked incessantly but that was because I was always scared a little and I talk non stop when nervous or scared.

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  2. Emily says:

    I’m definitely more of the silent type, but it’s not to my benefit. In fact, I need to start talking during show jumping. Why? Because if you are talking, you are breathing, and breathing is REALLY important hahaha… and something I do not do enough of in SJ.

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  3. Yes I talk all the time! And I think it’s helped every single horse I ride. Amber has a lot of leg/rein buttons, but the dressage has been especially difficult because she thinks she’s in trouble with prolonged contact since western she was used to a loose rein. So I’ve talked to her a LOT lol “just two more steps, hon; oh that was perfect; look at how smart you are; you’re doing great; that’s a girl!” and she’d try and try and try to get more comfortable with it as often as I kept talking. I’ll feel Whisper sigh or take a slight breather when I talk to her – especially praising her for how good it was after I had to correct her. Plus, especially if it’s really hard, talking keeps me present. My brain can’t say “too much! wait!” and go away – talking makes me actively think about what I’m doing. Especially in my recent jump lessons because so much to remember! lol

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  4. Elizabeth says:

    I am definitely a talker (hard to keep my mouth zipped in a dressage test lol) but I agree that especially on a XC course, it keeps me breathing. Not only do I think it helps my horse, it keeps me present and calm. I probably sound like an idiot while going XC, but I have long stopped caring about that kind of stuff haha!

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  5. horsewisdom8 says:

    I’m generally quiet apart from soft verbal cues, if hacking, I tend to sing 😀

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  6. fishwithfeet says:

    I’m definitely a talker and I know my mare likes it. When I know she might be nervous about something I keep a running commentary describing it and talking about how chill we’re going to be about it. I definitely plan on keeping on with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Liz says:

    Love this! I used to be a silent rider but have changed my ways in recent years and definitely see improvements in my horses and myself.

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  8. L. Williams says:

    One of my fave barnmates from my old barn always reminded me to talk to my horses. I talked to Carlos a lot – mostly as a function of that time in my life I had no one to talk to other than him. With Ramone I had to push myself out there more to talk to him because I was very sad, because Carlos was gone. Dante I talk a bit more too but nothing of consequence, it’s all light hearted dribble.

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  9. I’m a talker too haha

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  10. martidoll123 says:

    talker here for sure. Watch any of my videos and I defy you not to find one where I say OH REMUS out loud. LOL 🙂 It is hard to be quiet in dressage for sure as I chatter along when jumping. Also I talk even more cc to him. I swear he listens to me his ear is always swung back when I am talking so I think he is listening. 🙂 Glad there are so many talkers I feel less idiotic 🙂

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  11. emma says:

    ha i’m with ya 100% on this. i talk CONSTANTLY to my horses when i ride. like i’m sure i’m super annoying to ride with sometimes bc the chatter literally never stops lol… but the way i see it is: i’m an imperfect rider, right? i know horses learn in the release and that timing is everything, but sometimes ya know, my timing ain’t great in physically giving that release upon the horse doing whatever it was i’m asking. BUT. my timing with the verbal praise is pretty spot on, so even if physically i’m kinda muddying the waters a little bit, the horse can get more clarity in whether they did the right thing bc they’re in tune with the verbal cues as well as the physical. so honestly i see it as a pretty important part of the training puzzle!

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  12. draftmare says:

    I constantly talk to Sydney while I ride. I think I have weirded some of the other boarders out as they will come into the arena expecting another person in there with me…but nope, it’s just me and my horse!

    Liked by 1 person

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