I'm feeling inspired today because I'm in Cedar Creek, TX, at Hycourt Farm, visiting my mentor, Jillian Kreinbring. Jill is an incredible horsewoman because of her overwhelming love for all equines, and because of her commitment to learning. She knows more about equine anatomy and biomechanics than anyone I've ever met, and indeed she teaches a 4 day workshop on this topic around the world. If you ever have a chance to attend one, don't miss it!!
Jill implements her incredible knowledge of how horses' bodies function with compassion and patience. This week I have watched her work with all kinds of horses; green horses, traumatized horses, and of course her own two Lusitano horses, who she has been developing for the past few years. I've watched her do liberty work, groundwork, in-hand work, longeing, and riding, depending what each horse needed. The common thread which ran through each workout was Jill's consistency and clarity. With each horse, in each moment, she knew exactly what she was asking them to do, and she was prepared to explain it over and over, calmly and clearly, until the horse got it. And once they did, she rewarded them immediately and lavishly. She walks the fine line between shaping and supporting the horse through the movement, and giving them opportunities to find their own balance. She teaches them to seek the right response, to seek self-carriage, to seek connection.
Being around Jill always reminds me that we are all a work in progress, and that progress is not always linear. Some days all you can get done is 20 minutes of exercises at the walk. The most important thing is to get out there, as often as you can, and see what you can accomplish. Be proud of the baby steps. And most importantly, teach your horse to be proud of them too.