Putting Buttons on a Horse

The concept of putting “spots “or “buttons” on a horse stems from understanding horse learning behavior. Inherently lazy (or in their opinion, efficient) they tend to lean into turns, short circuit corners, and egg shape circles, doing things the “easy way. “ Since we can’t yell corrections at horses in a Russian accent like a ballet master, we have had to come up with a method of communication that does make sense to them. One such method is to “take apart a horse” and work one piece at a time, until we perfect the response, then put him back together. Part one is the head and neck, which is controlled by the reins. Part two is the shoulder, Controlled by both the reins and the legs, at the cinch. Part three is the barrel or body, controlled by legs and seat bones of the rider. Finally the fourth part is the hindquarter, controlled the rider’s legs farther back, and the stick, as in the “move over” spot. One French cavalry officer was inclined to say “If You turn the head you might turn the horse, and if you turn the shoulders you’ll probably turn the horse, but control the hindquarters and you control the horse!” A big problem is that, being human we are more comfortable with using our hands, so we in turn have to discipline ourselves to focus more on the (less natural) use of our legs. Like a recipe for making a delicious meal, we have learned to study the parts that make the whole, but when we feast we put it all together. Like the old timers used to say, “keep it simple, make it fun”, both for you and for your horse. When you’re smiling, your whole horse smiles with you!

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