Developing a sense of feel and timing is one of the most essential, and elusive, concepts in riding. Feel is not a concept that can be taught – it must be experienced. Developing body awareness while riding will help you to sense your horse’s movement and intentions.
Guided meditation can be used to relax physical and emotional tension as you ride your horse. Learning to control your ability to relax while riding will improve your balance and communication. Your horse will also be encouraged to relax and release tension as he mirrors you.
One can hold tension in specific areas of the body due to numerous reasons. For example, you may clench your jaw due to a physical ailment (TMJ), a thought process (concentration), or an emotional response (nervousness). When you clench your jaw, it has a ripple effect through your body and into your horse’s body. This chain of tension affects good communication through the aids because you are subconsciously affecting your horse and asking for undesired result.
You will often see the horse mirror the tension and become tense in the same area of his body. It makes sense. In this example, when you tighten your jaw the tension is carried into the top of your shoulders. You can feel it when you do arm circles relaxed versus with a clenched jaw. That tension will carry down the reins, into the bit, and the horse will resist with tension in his jaw. When your horse is tight in his jaw it ripples down his neck and affects the free swing of his shoulder.