Horses, Telepathy, Dressage, and Happy Mediums

Dressage-as-new-career is not a problem with Hudson.  I am the problem with Hudson.

You know the kind of horse that anticipates the rider?  The one you have to work with so they don’t jump ahead?  That is not Hudson. His brain is way ahead of mine, but he’ll wait for my brain to figure it out and give him a cue.

I’ve been on my share of anticipatory horses.  This is a completely different feeling.

Hudson is telepathic.

He can hear me thinking.  To him, I am holding a megaphone and loudly broadcasting my thoughts across the valley.  I need to tone it down. He’s anxious.

I upped the dressage ante last week.  We were going to school some first level, with a little shoulder-in and haunches-in as well.  Dressage is all about having a plan, a map, a working order.  You can mix it up as much as you want, but you need to know where you’re going.  You have to think ahead to the next move.  That’s how I’ve been taught, at least.

Here’s the conversation the followed after the warmup and before the real work. Empty arena.  I was messing around.

We were playing Mother May I.

Jane: Shoulder in!

Hudson: Doing it!

Jane: 15 M circle into rein change!

Hudson: On it!

Jane: Haunches in!

Hudson: Doing it!

Jane: Turn on the forehand!

Hudson: Halfway through!

Jane: Turn on the haunches!

Hudson: Halfway through!  (Can we do this at the canter?  Pleeeeeeease?)

Jane: Leg yield across the diagonal!

Hudson: In it!

Jane: Pick up canter left!

Hudson: In it!

You get the idea.  We had a BLAST.  Time to settle down and do some real dressage work. Other riders had entered the arena. Etiquette demands a general plan, so our riding lines are clear and we don’t have to call an ambulance.

The mental conversation during Real Dressage:

Jane: (thinking to self) okay…in medium trot at C…

Hudson: ?  We’re in medium trot?

Jane: I’m talking to myself, Hudson.

Hudson: ?  What did she say?

Jane: Hmmm.  Let’s pick up the canter at K, should have time for a 20M circle before the other riders get close…

Hudson: ?  You said canter.  Let me go, I’m trying! I don’t get it.

Jane: At K, Hudson, at K.

Hudson:  ? What is she saying? What does that mean?

Jane: Come back to me: medium trot

Hudson: In medium trot!

Jane: (still not getting it)  okay, still time to canter when we get to K…

Hudson: canteri…  I don’t understand.

Jane: Come back to me: medium trot.  Dang, going to miss the canter depart.

Hudson: (miserable) In medium trot!  Make up your mind.

You get the idea.  He’s not anticipating.  He’s obeying cues so minute I don’t believe I’m sending them.  Whatever I think, he will do.  That’s why Mother May I worked so well. All his training has been to respond instantly to the rider, and he learned how to read minds.

I tried making my body completely “blank” and still, so I was very aware of my muscle changes.  Nope.  He’s still hearing every thought in my brain.

I tried making my brain completely blank and still after a cue.  He’s frantic, searching for my voice, looking for the hum of good connection.

We need a Happy Medium.

Or a way to Mother-May-I through schooling, that won’t cause a massive pile up in the arena.



14 thoughts on “Horses, Telepathy, Dressage, and Happy Mediums

  1. theliteraryhorse Post author

    To clarify on the terrific horse response/conversation: this is due to Bella’s training, skill, and understanding of horses. I had to earn my way in, as far as Hudson was concerned. He didn’t say more than two words to me for more than a year, when I was catch riding him. Those words were always the same: “Got it.” I don’t have superior riding/communication skills.

    Bella set up this communication level with Hudson, he decided I was safe, and now I get to use the same phone line, which is an incredible gift. I had one other horse I had this level of communication with, and we developed that together by trial and error.

    I rode lots of horses that anticipated, tried to guess what was next. It wasn’t about listening to each other? It was about being anxious they were going to get broadsided and expected to instantly respond, and they guessed to avoid being scared or surprised. Some of those horses were treated harshly by previous riders, some just came with a “must please….ahhhhh” tuning fork.

    1. Marissa

      Yes… The “must please” tuning fork! That was my horse, ages 4-5. Only, he didn’t really know enough yet to be doing much better than blindly guessing, which led to lots of frustration. We spent a few years trying to teach him to just hang on a second and wait til we finish asking the question… and teaching me not to overprepare for every transition, turn, or movement. Now he’s much better about listening, and I’m a little better about not over-preparing, plus he’s got a lot more education. I get caught in the same situation as you’re in with Hudson sometimes too though, we need to quiet our brains down and stop driving the horses nuts! I count the rhythm of the walk, trot, or canter. It gives my crazy brain something to do so that I don’t make poor Tucker crazy with all my rambling.

  2. Aloha

    Well, I seem to have the opposite problem (NO response–like Halt, my horse only listens to the sound of the feed cart coming around). I love watching horses and riders that are so in tune with each other like you and Hudson appear to be.

    When horses are so trusting and perfect, it IS usually the rider’s fault–not because you’re necessarily a bad rider, but the horse doesn’t have fault at all! To find such a willing, confident, body-language-reading and enthusiastic horse is great.

    Now if only humans were so attentive…

    1. Halt Near X

      That sounds less funny than I meant it to be. I blame it on the freezing temperatures we’re having; my brain just can’t function like this.

      1. theliteraryhorse Post author

        I’m sorry for the freezing temps, but it was just as funny as you thought. I burst out laughing! He is (for me) the best ride EVer.
        I love a horse that has a joy button, and his is pushed so easily. He loves to GO, to think etc. Lord. You should see him go through a gate. He waits patiently for me to unhook it, waits for the sidepass cue, and if I’m not fast enough reaching to push it open, will flick his ears back like can -I-get-away-with-this, and will push the gate open with his nose. Then he’ll wait for me to tell him we can go through it!
        LOVE this horse.

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    1. Teresa

      and perhaps I need a support group since I apparrently cannot type and think at the same time- I meant to say “Support groups for Horses who’s riders think too much”.



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