At some point in your riding career, a trainer probably told you, "Stay out of your horse's way!" And if you're like many riders, you didn't really know what that meant, or even worse, how to do it.
Well, to me, staying out of your horse's way simply means having a system that makes his job EASY! You maintain a correct position so you're not against him when he tries to go forward, or "chasing" him so he goes too fast. You keep your eyes up and ahead, and you use your hand, leg and weight aids in a smooth, clear, progressive way that your horse can understand, always with as much aid as you need and as little as necessary to produce a response.
When you stay out of your horse's way and let him do his job, he looks through the bridle at the fences without sourness or apprehension. He sizes them up and helps you with your timing. After all, if he's like most horses, he has a naturally good eye. If you just keep him straight, show him where he's supposed to go and let him look there, he'll help you feel out the distance and then he'll produce an athletic effort when he gets there. When you make his job easy, your horse knows you're with him and can lead the way.
In this video, I show you how to secure your position and refine your aids through slow walk-trot-walk transitions in a two-point position.
Video by Tass Jones; video editing by Amy K. Dragoo
To learn more about how to "Make Your Horse's Job Easier," see Peter's article in the November 2008 issue of Practical Horseman.