"Your horse's only job is to jump all the fences and not knock any down," said Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden to the group of young riders mounted in a semicircle around her. Then she asked: "Is that easier if you just have to close your fingers at the fence to steady him or if you're ripping his face off? The same thing goes with your leg. Is it easier for him to concentrate if you're just squeezing your leg closed or if you're spurring his guts out?"
Making your horse's job easier was the focus of Beezie's lessons on the fourth day of the 2009 George Morris Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, Fla., earlier this year. Beezie taught the eight young participants after they had jumped their horses two days in a row with fellow Olympians Anne Kursinski and Laura Kraut. So her goal was to improve the horses' rideability in a low-stress way.
Learn how to improve straightness using an opening rein in this video clip from the 2009 George Morris Horsemastership Training Program.
To read more about Beezie Madden's lesson during the 2009 George Morris Horsemastership Training session, see "Small Jumps, Big Results" in the July 2009 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.