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For the Right Ride, Tune into the Right Side of the Brain

Published: 1/24/2017
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Editor's Note: We welcome Juliana Zunde of Hillsborough, North Carolina, as a new guest columnist for NickerNews!
Zunde was born in Germany and moved to the United States in 1981. She has managed large horse facilities, competed at high levels, and taught extensively, especially to hunter/jumper enthusiasts. She runs Trakai Farm in Hillsborough.
Zunde teaches clinics using her Track-Momentum-Balance Method and blends Natural Horsemanship concepts to help horses and riders work together correctly. She coaches harmony and balance for the hunter, jumper, and dressage ring.
She has studied with George Morris, Joe Fargis, Jeff Cook, Ann Kursinsky, Dr. Gerd Heuschman, Maclain Ward, Buck Brannaman, and Martin Black.
Read more about her here.

By Juliana Zunde

You are rushing from work to the barn, just got out of the last meeting, and had to make sure that your husband didn’t forget to pick up the kids from soccer practice. The traffic is pretty bad and you barely make it in time to get your horse tacked up and in the ring for the lesson.  Walking to the ring, you make a mental note to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home and to figure out what to cook for dinner.

All of this is spinning through your head and you haven’t spent one moment concentrating on what your horse needs from you or what lays ahead in the lesson. In our lives today each moment seems to be organized and planned out and stuffed full of things to do, and especially if you are a woman, you are most likely multitasking on many levels.

In the meantime, there is your horse. He lives in the moment and his primary care is where his next flake of hay will come from. He is totally relaxed and you are totally wound up from all the activity of the day. His base energy is low. Yours is high.  

Before you even get on the horse:
  •  Take a moment and close your eyes
  • Take a deep breath
  • Exhale slowly through your whole body
  • Quiet your mind
  • Bring it to neutral and feel every cell in your body relaxing
  • Just leave the stress of the day
After all, you are doing this for fun and you are paying a lot of money to be with your horse or horses. By taking this moment, you are getting yourself ready to get the most out of your ride with a relaxed mind and body so you can focus and be committed to your horse and the task at hand.

If you have seen the movie Avatar, you will remember the scene where the warrior had to make the flying dragon his own by mounting him and then connecting to his very soul. Through that connection the dragon could feel and know what the rider wanted him to do.

That is our ultimate goal in communicating with our horses: that the sheer thought of what we want them to do will elicit the correct response. It’s amazing to watch and takes a lifetime to achieve.

In order to even get started doing towards that goal, we need to learn to tune into the right side of our brain, the feeling and intuitive side, rather than the left side, which is analytical and rational and most of the time going a hundred miles an hour.

If you are tight or nervous or stressed out while riding, the horse will instantly pick up on it. Your stresses will be amplified. If you have a sensitive horse, things could easily spiral out of control.

By taking a few minutes and making this simple thing part of your routine, you will be able to get so much more out of your lesson, have better communication with your horse, and it will help you focus and have more fun.

I do this myself all the time and have all my students at home and in clinics do the same thing. Just like with everything else practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice does.


View Reader Comments:

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1/26/2017 Betsy Buchanan Blanchard
Great reminder. The best moments are those where we aren't thinking. We all benefit from feel! Looking forward to future columns from Juliana.
1/26/2017 Louisa Fedora
Wonderful article & absolutely true. Your horse can feel your vibrations, so keep them positive,relax & enjoy your horse. Your first 5 minutes determines your ride, smile or sing (that's what I have my riders do when they don't breath) Have a great ride??
4/13/2017 valerie
Most excellent advice!

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    "It is the hardest pill for all of us would-be horsemen to swallow, but it is absolutely true - if the horse is not responding properly, we are doing something wrong" - Mary Twelveponies