So who like’s to Gallop! And who has lost their confidence to go beyond a trot….
Sue Gardner looks at why a gallop can be an emotional roller coaster for horse and for the human and how to re-gain confidence in you both!
A galloping horse…. It is interesting to feel what emotions this stirs in us. If we are watching them gallop in a field we can be ardent admirers of such grace and athleticism, they can fill us with awe and also with trepidation. We often say, He looks magnificent but I am glad not to be on his back right now!
If we are watching them gallop with someone else on their back we can revert back to admiration, we are the viewer, not the participant.
So there are many emotions that we feel around a gallop!
How do these emotions effect us when we are preparing for our first gallop.
For some of us adrenaline junkies it is nothing short of pure excitement, for others it creates a feeling of impending doom! All the ‘what if’s’ kick in…. what if he falls down a rabbit hole, what if I cannot stop him, what if he shies at something, what if Jo cannot stop her horse…. What if … what if…and all the tension kicks in !
A lot of people experience their first and sometimes their last gallop by accident, it is often brought about by de-fault, a pheasant/ rabbit / plastic bag/car back-firing, you get my drift! Very rarely a pleasant experience and it is a shame because it is good for a horse to have a gallop, especially if there is not room in his paddock to do so in a natural way.
Looking at horses galloping in the wild means we are watching a horse in full flight running for his life and of course this is why horses gallop SURVIVAL Run now think later. In saying this I must not totally discount ‘play’ horses gallop as part of play too.
When a horse is walking it is because he feels safe, trotting, his energy levels change a little, but canter is usually about HEADS UP HERD SOMETHING DON’T SMELL RIGHT ! and gallop is GET OUT OF HERE NOW!
Thing is, most people are not taught how to gallop! We have our lessons in the 20 x 40m arena and at best we can manage a canter, maybe going into a slightly faster canter down the long side!
Unless you are a student studying at a racing or event yard you will not have the opportunity to have a ‘safe’ gallop on a good surfaced track that loops on itself around a huge field, no, the first gallop is out in the open, which for many spells the words FEAR.
We are simply not prepared and this makes us feel vulnerable, galloping is about preparing yourself and preparing your horse so that you are both ready willing and able.
At a horsemanship clinic some years back there where 8 horses present, none of which had any sort of brakes, the clinic was especially for horses that did not stop. One of the questions asked of the students was, ‘how is your rein-back’ and you know what, not one of these horses could do this simple and VERY important transition.
It was a brilliant lesson for everyone. If you could not ask your horse to rein-back from a halt, the ultimate downward transition….. Then don’t think it was going to get any easier at speed!
When you have all your transitions smooth and light in walk trot canter, canter trot walker halt and rein back. When your horse has learnt to be calm during this, then you can consider training in the gallop. Just a few steps at a time!
For anyone wishing to gallop, to feel that amazing power and exhilaration, to feel their horse step up a gear mentally emotionally as well as physically and to feel the power and the freedom of movement that this gait gives……then the preparation is imperative!,
And then you too can experience the gallop, with confidence.
For further information on lessons clinics and home study please feel free to contact me : www.suegardner.co.uk