To me a system means the language I speak with my horses. The way I speak and use the language might change according to the horse individual at hand, but the language I use to communicate with the horse varies very little, if at all.
Coming from the Scandinavian riding culture I have had to get used to some different point of views when living in Bavaria. Of course there is not only one type of riding here, but after some years one can recognize some style being the "main stream". Many old trainers also say that there are many ways to the top of the mountain, but the view from the top is always the same. It is a nice expression to say that there are different ways to do things and the difference might not make them worse or better compared to each other, the goal will always be the same.
Who then decides what kind of system is a good one? The horse. This is why FEI launched the concept of the "happy athlete" some years back. The ridden horse should be content with the way it is being handled and kept, and trained of course. In my first English blog text I went through the signs of "good riding" - they apply here as well. If you haven't already read the text, take a look here.
Within the years I have built a system that works for me. I would say quite a big impact to that process has had the training of "rehab-horses" - the horses who have been physically or mentally troubled. When one on a daily basis solves issues like these, cracks puzzles and riddles, one can not avoid learning a lot about the "what-nots". The picture of what the horse training shouldn't be gets quite clear.
Of course at this point my trust in my own system is solid. I do learn every day something new and am open to new ideas, but the language will probably never change severely. I will keep on talking my type of "horse".
But how did I choose that system? Here a few maybe helpful hints.
A good system to me means logic and clarity. On the practical level very clear signals. Every single time the signal expects the same type of response within the same time frame and with the same qualities, including lightness.
A good system always makes it possible for the horse to react in the wanted and expected way. Within a couple of seconds, lightly and happily.
A good system uses the horse's own natural reactions to its benefit.
A good system creates the wanted behavioral and biomechanical patterns. Therefor it creates better horse behaviour and better physical condition of the horse.
A good system to me means such a logic that is so clear to me so that I will never have to think about the way I solve a problem, the solution will be crystal clear within a few seconds. Why? Because in horse training some situations appear very quickly without a long notice. When the rider has to think for too long, the timing of the signal or correction is lost. To do "something" is never good enough when one also could do the right - effective - thing.
A good system has clear steps and suitable challenges, which the horse is always able to achieve.
A good system prepares the horse (and the rider) for the next level of activity so that the work never feels too difficult to do.
A good system provides a learning curve.
A good system gives confidence.
A system is the language one uses within the training, but it also consists of different tools. A rider's tool box should be big enough for different types of horses with different types of issues and for different types of exercises. But when one uses the tool box, it should never mess up the language, the system, that is used to train that horse. Only then can the training be succesful.
About the tool box we discuss later.
|A solid system will create a horse who is able to perform anywhere. Here for instance to do pirouettes on a field in the middle of the woods.|