Giving Feedback 

At the moment I seem to be asking my young clients a lot of questions during their lessons. And not the “how has your day been?” kind of questions.
I will often ask a client whether they like their trot or canter, or if it feels better. Sometimes I ask if they “can feel it?”.
But what is “it”?
Well obviously it depends on the subject we’re working on, but it can be a more active stride, a lighter feel down the reins, the lift of the back, the correction of a bend, or a soften of the jaw.
But I’ve decided that now my clients, all another school year older, should start to make the link between what they are feeling, the mechanics of the gait, and what they did to achieve “it”.
One client in particular has a good answer to my question. I can say “how did that transition feel?” Or “what did you think of this canter compared to the second?”
And her answer invariably is “better”. Sometimes she says “not as good”.
So now I’ve started asking her “why?”
The first time she looked at me in surprise as she struggled to articulate her thoughts.
After a few lessons I started having answers such as “it was better because his hind legs were more active in the transition” and “he didn’t fall out through his shoulder that time because I had my outside rein and outside leg supporting him”.
I think that the ability to verbalise what you are feeling will help you as a rider to link the cause and effects of riding; i.e. The effect of raising the inside hand slightly prevents the horse falling onto the inside shoulder. Which means that my young riders should start to ride with some initiative, correcting their horse before I tell them what to do, which opens the doors for more exciting exercises because I don’t need to focus so much on maintaining the basics. After a while it becomes automatic too, which should mean that they can make micro adjustments to their horse and way of going whilst thinking about and planning their next movement, or their lateral work which will enable us to step up a level.

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