We’ve all heard it over the years: “Don’t look down!” And maybe, “You look at the ground and that’s where you’ll end up!”
The real reason we shouldn’t look down while we’re riding doesn’t have as much to do with running into things or falling off as it does with the horse’s ability to perform.
You see, our eyes are heavy!
“Many of us have a habit of looking down while we are riding,” explains founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee in her book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES. “We look at the ears of our horse, or the ground, or we lean over to see if we are getting it right when learning to move the individual feet of the horse. But our eyes are heavy! Try the following experiment and you’ll begin to appreciate how difficult we make it for our horses to move when we look down.”
1 Stand on a flat surface and balance your weight evenly through each foot.
2 Look down at your right foot.
3 Now lift your right foot off the ground. How easy does it feel?
4 Now stand up again and balance your weight evenly through both feet.
5 Look up to the right.
6 Now lift your foot. Much easier, isn’t it?
“If you were riding your horse and asking him to lift his right front foot off the ground, imagine how difficult it must be if you suddenly lean over and peer down to see if it is working,” Bee emphasizes. “So look up and feel that foot lifting. It’ll be so much easier for both of you.”
OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
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