More than a few of us have imagine what really happens in the cockpit of an airplane during flight – the mental picture likely includes the pilot and co-pilot who, eyeball the appropriate gauges, “flick a switch,” sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride while they travel smoothly along on “automatic pilot.”
For those of us who rider, transferring this appealing scenario to the back of a horse isn’t much of a stretch – think about it: you get on, get settled, warm up, and once you’re happy with the horse’s way of going, you just “flick a switch,” and go along for the ride.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the constant struggle to maintain your seat and perfect communication with your horse would instantaneously become instinctive and natural? In fact, it may seem that some top riders were indeed born with this ability, but according to Olympic medal winners Tineke Bartels and Imke Schellekens-Bartels, most – themselves included – have to learn how to do it.
The good news? With the right instruction, time, and practice, you, too, can attain this amazing ability to “sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.” And in this book, Joep and Tineke Bartels explain how, offering the results of over a decade of study at the renowned Academy Bartels in the Netherlands.
Never before has such an eclecticism been offered as one serious rind and training methodology. The book begins by examining the horse’s instincts and body language, as well as the myriad benefits of liberty work in developing healthy human-equine relationships. It dissects the rider’s, as the Bartels term it, “self-knowledge and self-control,” and the power of developing “feel” and “unconscious-competence” (that alluring idea of “auto-pilot”), then deconstructs the popular concept of the independent seat and how the rider’s body should be used as an “instrument” that acts and reacts in harmony with the horse’s own.
Finally, the Bartels share years’ of analysis involving “operant condition,” or training with the “question and answer method,” and the exciting and rewarding results it can yield. Not only do they provide instruction, rules, and guidelines, they also explain their own daily training structure. In addition, an intriguing and ungraded investigations of the theory of riding “deep and round” is conducted, as they explain the science behind it, what it looks like when applied correctly, and most importantly, how to know when it crosses the line from an innovative training technique to a potentially abusive device.
The result is an astounding record of one extraordinarily successful family’s journey through both charted and uncharted territories, and how they have ground a way to work with and ride horses at the highest levels of competition while retaining the horse’s health and happiness, and enjoying the ride along the way.