Can my emotions or negative thoughts affect how my horse goes?

BiLL— “Clouded judgment is bad judgment.” I think Al Roker said that. Regardless, it is certainly true that if you are grumpy, depressed, irritated about some other facet of your life, or just plain off your game, it’s not going to help your riding or your horse!

This is true on more than one level, the first being cognitive. Your decision making process needs to be as unjumbled as possible. It’s hard enough to make your horse focus and concentrate but almost impossible when you can’t do that yourself!

Equally important are the tactile messages you are transmitting to your horse, whether intentional or not. When you internalize tensions and get mechanical, your horse can tell the difference and he is left wondering why everything is out of kilter. When you lose your own connectedness within your half of the circle of the aids, why would it surprise you that he reacts negatively?

And finally, remember that good riding must be a dialogue. When you are not right, your receptors are not functioning normally. You will miss the subtleties of what he’s telling you and end up giving him less than the help he deserves.

It’s easy enough to say cleanse your mind before you ride—empty it of all extraneous thoughts—but that’s not so easy to do. At the very least before you get on, try to relax and take some deep breaths. In a worst-case scenario it would probably be a better day for a trail ride.