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Training Tip of the Week: When it feels good, it is good.

Feel is one of the hardest things for me to teach people. When teaching vertical flexion, I wish that I could say, “When the horse tucks his head in, turn loose and reward him.” But I can’t because it’s not about where the horse puts his head, it’s how he feels in your hands. It’s called a soft feel, not a soft look. The best advice I can give you is, “If it feels good, it is good.” If you’re having trouble feeling if your horse is softening and giving to you, have someone watch you from the ground and tell you when to release the pressure. If you pick up on the reins and the horse is heavy and stiff and all of a sudden he gets lighter, that’s him softening to the pressure, so that’s when you need to reward him. Over time, you’ll develop your feel and timing. The only way to get good feel and timing is through experience. The more you practice, the more horses you train, the more DVDs you watch and the more tours and clinics you go to, the more experienced you’ll become.