We all want a light and responsive horse. We want a horse that reins with minimal contact. One that instantly responds to the lightest cue. We want a horse that moves off our leg instead of plowing into it. We want a horse that doesn't pull, wobble, or resist.
We all know what we want but few know how to actually achieve it.
Lightness comes from letting go... over and over and over and over again.
In order to teach a horse lightness a rider must be willing to cue their horse for what they want and back up what they say. This means a rider must first ask for a response and then back up their request by making their horse do as requested (this means increasing the leg, rein, or other pressure until the horse responds appropriately). Once the horse has properly responded to the cue the rider must then release and be willing to do it all over again.
In order to teach lightness a rider must be willing to repeat the above process until the horse responds to the cue the moment that it is used.
Teaching lightness takes time and constancy. The rider must be willing to back up every cue that they use and release the moment that the horse responds to their satisfaction.
So to achieve lightness a rider must be willing to 'check' their horse constantly.
Anytime the horse pulls to the outside of a circle, or lays into a rider's legs a rider must be willing to cue to horse to the proper response and immediately release once again.
This means that in the beginning of teaching lightness a rider may have to check their horse 10 or 15 times in a single working circle, or a few times for every simple turn.
Teaching lightness takes a "do it right every time, all the time" mentality on the part of the rider.
I will continue on this topic in my next post.