News from Jane Savoie
That Winning Feeling!
August 2007 http://www.janesavoie.com
Hope you’re enjoying the summer season! Most of you know that Rhett and I moved into a new home near Montpelier, Vermont last October. Ten days after moving, I left for Florida for the winter. That sure didn’t give me much time to unpack. (Rhett stayed a few more weeks for deer season…don’t panic…all bambi’s are safe.)
So now we’ve been back in the new house for a couple of months. And although we’re still not completely unpacked, it sure feels a lot more like home.
One of the things I love about the house is its tiny galley kitchen. It’s perfect for someone like me who doesn’t cook. (Keep in mind I’m the one who had a defective oven and didn’t fix it for 2 years!–didn’t miss it either!)
My friends say I’m the only one they know who can open her front door and refrigerator door at the same time. Like I said…Perfect!
Live Your Dreams!
in this issue
Put Your Horse On The Bit
Voice Of The Horse Conference
The Rainbow Ride
12 ESSENTIAL THINGS YOU MUST KNOW TO PUT YOUR HORSE ON THE BIT
No matter where I travel, the most frequently asked questions I get are, “How do I put my horse on the bit…and how do I keep him there consistently?” This concept baffles many riders. My hope here is to simplify the process for you with the following information.
First, you need to know that there is a SPECIFIC AID to put your horse on the bit just like there is a specific aid to ask for canter or for a leg yield. That aid is a half halt. (Don’t groan…I can hear you!)
Now for some information on the half halt:
1. The reason we give a half halt is to bring the horse to a more perfect state of balance.
2. The half halt is the most important yet most misunderstood concept in riding. It is important not only because it is the aid to put your horse on the bit, but also because it is the doorway through which you do every change of gait, balance, movement, or exercise.
3. There is no “stopping” in a half halt. Think of it as a “half-go”. That is, every half halt contains the power, the surge, or the thrust from behind that you’d have if you asked for a medium gait.
4. There is one generic, “over-the-counter” half halt. It consists of the momentary closure of seat, legs, and hands.
5. The confusion about half halts stems from the fact that there are many possible variations of that generic half halt because you can use your seat, legs, and hands in different ways. To add to the many options available, you can also vary the duration and the intensity of the half halt.
6. Different variations of the generic half halt create different results such as connection, collection, or preparation for something new.
7. To put your horse on the bit, use the version of the half halt that “connects” your horse’s back end to his front end. For the sake of clarity, I will call this version of the generic half halt, the “connecting half halt”.
8. The “connecting half halt” consists of the marriage of 3 sets of aids.
A. Driving aids (seat and two legs)
B. Bending aids (inside rein and both legs)
C. The rein of opposition (outside rein)
9. These 3 sets of aids are applied for about 3 seconds. (not a MOMENTARY closure of seat, legs, and hands!)
10. To the naked eye, the aids are given at the same time.
11. However, if you had freeze frame photography, you would see:
A. First, close both calves as if you’re squeezing toothpaste out of a tube to create that surge of power from behind. (You’ll only be using your legs as your driving aids at this point. I’m purposely leaving the seat out for now to keep things simple.)
B. Next, close your outside hand (rein of opposition) in a fist to capture, contain, and recycle the energy back to the hind legs.
C. Finally, give 3 little squeezes and releases on the inside rein to keep the neck straight. (If you don’t use your inside hand, your horse will bend his neck to the outside because your outside hand is closed in a fist for so long.)
D. After 3 seconds, soften everything . Go back to the light, maintenance pressure of legs and hands you had in the beginning before you gave the half halt.
12. Putting your horse on the bit is as simple as giving any other aid, Don’t make it complicated by searching for exercises to connect your horse. (Don’t get me wrong. Exercises like leg yields are helpful. They give the novice horse or rider the “feel” of connection. But at the end of the day, you need to train your horse to come on the bit from an invisible aid that you can use anytime…like in the show ring!)
Here are additional resources for more information on putting your horse on the bit.
1. More-Cross-Training–Chapters 1 and 2
2. The Half Halt Demystified!–Volumes 1 and 2
3. Train with Jane-Volume 2– “Connection”
To get to those resources, click on: http://janesavoie.com/author.htm
THE VOICE OF THE HORSE CONFERENCE
I can’t tell you how pumped I was by my experience at the Voice of the Horse Conference in Iowa. I knew it would be a special event right from the beginning with the opening ceremonies by local Native Americans. I was not disappointed. I laughed and cried through the entire weekend as artists, musicians, filmmakers, riders, and writers shared their experiences of how they’ve heard the voice of the horse. You can view all the lectures and demonstrations through the end of August at:
Jo Perry asked me to put my spin on this training tip, but I think it’s perfect just the way it is!
I attended your clinic in Nebraska at the end of March and things have really changed in my life! I just wanted to share with you a riding “idea” I have tried out, but I want to preface it with a short story:
I have found a coach for a once per month dressage lesson (that we can afford on our limited budget) – the coach is very good and I feel very fortunate to have been able to hook up with her. During my second lesson last Tuesday, I asked her “when will I stop watching my horse’s head?”. I actually don’t remember her answer as my hour goes by so fast and I simply can’t absorb all the information and learning in it, but I try. As I was driving home from the lesson (1 hour away), I realized that as I drove my vehicle, I don’t look at the steering wheel or the hood, but I am aware they are there – I drive more with FEEL that I am going down the appropriate part of the road to be safe and legal. SO, when I got home, I wrote down my thoughts in my “notebook” and pondered them for the next 24 hours until I rode again.
My horse (13 year old Morgan) and I are starting at training level and have already had a fun and successful show the first part of June this year. We are having trouble with consistency with being on the bit, rounding, having an outside rein that is there for me to use, and the list goes on. The horse and I are really trying, though. The next opportunity I had to ride, I made arrangements to work away from home at a small indoor arena where we were only able to ride on a15-meter circle the entire time. I thought I would try my new theory and look around the circle while only being “aware” of my horse’s head – it worked! He was so much more consistently on the bit and I felt him MORE and I even rode more consistently and steadily – it was awesome! Maybe you could mention this training “tip” with your spin on it in a future newsletter as this has been a tremendous step forward for my horse and myself.
Our next show is in one week and I am excited to go (instead of nervous). Thank you for your words of encouragement all along this year – to believe you can do “anything” is very empowering.
THE RAINBOW RIDE
When I was in Iowa last month for the Voice of the Horse Conference, I met a special lady who told me about “the rainbow ride”. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
INTENT/Purpose: To bond with your horse; stimulate your imagination; create better focus and intent with your horse; and it is fun!
This meditation can be done on foot or in saddle. It can be just colors or you can also include musical notes and corresponding chakras. Please honor whatever you feel like doing. There is no right or wrong way to walk the “Rainbow” meditation.
If you want to blend musical notes use this outline:
Red is associated with F sharp; Orange is B flat; Yellow is G major; Green is C and E in combination; Blue is D sharp; Indigo is A minor and Violet is B, D, G, in trinity.
Chakras correspond as, root is red; sacral is orange; solar plexus is yellow; heart is green; throat is blue, third eye is indigo and crown in violet. Follow with white.
Invite your horse on an adventure with you. Just the two of you will ride through the rainbow colors: red; orange; yellow; green; blue; indigo/violet; and then white.
Begin by walking through a wall of red, walk through it and you are in a room or a space of red. Red as a ruby; red in the sunset; red of a rose; red of a carnation, or whatever evokes red for you. It is a welcoming red. It invigorates. It is stimulating. You breathe it in. Every cell in your body is jazzed by the feeling of red penetrating through your being. Open yourself, invite your horse to join you and fill your being with any image of red that you love. Enjoy the red and relax as all your cells and breathe it and take it in. When you are replete with red, move into another arena, one of orange. Imagine moving into a space of orange; a room of orange. Orange like the zest of a fresh fruit of orange; orange of a zippy tiger lily; orange of a wondrous tiger stripe, enliven yourself with orange. It tingles: a creamsicle maybe, whatever wondrous images of orange you are connected with that refreshes you. It feels SOOOOO good! When you have breathed in the zesty orange, move into the next phase, the next room of yellow. Ask your equine companion, what does yellow mean to him/her. Is it the yellow of the spring buttercups or of the yellow butterflies? Is it the yellow softness of the sun early in the morning? Can you breathe in the yellowness. Fill your being with yellow. It is more subtle than orange or red; it begins to stimulate your mental facilities and it stimulates all your cells. When you are replete with yellow, move on to green and feel your heart grow large. Green of early grasses buried beneath melting snows or the green of pungent pines or opulent deciduous trees in full form. Green of an emerald; imagine walking through a huge emerald! Feel the chest/heart area expand. Breathe deeply; hold and exhale deeply. There are many varieties of green; greens of various pines – deep green of blue spruce; lighter green of white pine or sages, various green of wild grasses and deciduous trees. Now, move on to the sacred blue. Take another deep breathe and release. Breathe in blue. The blue of the sky, blue of a sapphire, blue of the Caribbean waters. Whatever blue brings you JOY and contentment! You might feel the blue in your throat. You might actually want to sing. If so, do. Or, just enjoy the variations of the color blue. Blue of a blue jay, blue of the flower bachelor’s buttons, a royal blue. Now, proceed to another arena of purple/indigo. Think about an amethyst, an orchid or the deep purple of a royal robe. Breathe in the color of purple. Feel it in the crown of your head. Purple/indigo might be a leap forward in imagination. Maybe the purple of a deep sunset. Try the purple of richness and of sound – B. D. G together. Finally, take a deep breathe in, let it out slowly, and imagine white light around you, within you and through all you do.
Keep breathing deeply, inhaling and exhaling and thank your equine friend for this journey and plan to do it another day! Above all, just enjoy the time you have spent with your equine friend!
You can also do a “meditation” of a favorite imagined place. Go with your equine friend to gallop on the beach, trail ride through the mountain west; walk through the green of Ireland, even a ride into outer space and the stars!!!! Whatever you can imagine you can share with your horse family-friend. Remember to imagine the smells, sounds, sights, feels and even tastes of the sensations around you.
Enjoy, Suzanne and my special 25 year old Thoroughbred gelding, Jay.
“As she knotted the reins and took her stand, the horse’s soul came into her hand, and up from the mouth that held the steel came an innermost word, half thought, half feel.”~paraphrased, John Masefield
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