Taking the Slack Out

I just returned from Fort Worth, Texas where I had the opportunity and honor to judge a colt starting competition, Road to the Horse.

One of the things I loved the most about my experience is that for three days, I heard six different clinicians/professionals talk about what they do with a horse, how they think it, and why they do it.

I not only enjoyed learning their concepts – I loved hearing the words they used to describe what they were doing. That’s because the words we use matter!

That’s what this video is all about – a great idea shared by one of the clinicians and the power of the words we use and how we use them.


VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

I just returned from Fort Worth, Texas where I had the opportunity and honor to judge a colt starting competition, Road to the Horse.

One of the things I loved the most about my experience is that for three days, I heard six different clinicians/professionals talk about what they do with a horse, how they think it, and why they do it.

I not only enjoyed learning their concepts – I loved hearing the words they used to describe what they were doing. That’s because the words we use matter! They always tell where anyone’s focus is. How they use the words expresses how they feel about what they’re saying.

If words used by professionals we respect resonate with us, we can use them for ourselves.

When we align our words (spoken or thought) effectively with what we want to do (instead of what we fear), beautiful things happen.

Here’s an example of what Wade Black said. Perhaps you’ve heard this previously, but it was new to me.

It’s a way of describing the long-known fundamental of pressure and release. Most of us understand this concept, but it can be challenging to find the timing and feel of it.

He said we could use our hands to take the slack out of the reins (pressure) and then wait for the horse to put the slack back in the reins (release).

[Barb demonstrates the idea on Nic.]

I know it’s a simple and straightforward idea, but it’s such a practical way to think about it because it’s so horse-centered instead of mechanical-centered (like pressure and release which focus on what we’re doing.

I take the slack out of the reins, and Nic puts the slack back in the reins. I release.

And there’s one more way I can use the power of words in this example to develop feel.

As I make the reins taught with my hand, I can coach myself to take the slack out smoothly. Smooth doesn’t mean timid. It means have a flow of steady energy in the way I use my hands.

I don’t know why using descriptive and experiential words work, but when it comes to words, it’s not only ‘what’ we say, but also ‘how’ we say the words we choose. ‘Feeling’ words are incredibly effective with little effort.

That’s what I have for you this week – very straightforward – very powerful.

Leave a comment for me and let me know what you think. I love to read them ALL. Have a great week.

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Comments

14 Comments on Taking the Slack Out

  1. Bobbie Kiser on Sun, 4th Apr 2021 2:22 pm
  2. Simple things often get overlooked Thanks for the reminder. I watch all 4 days via streaming on my computer, Loved every minute of the competition and each contestant was great,

  3. Sarah Giudice on Sun, 4th Apr 2021 3:24 pm
  4. Thanks Barb. Good reminder to sometimes just slow it down. I’m guessing my horse will cut me some slack when I let my own tension out. That exercise will go well with a nice deep breath.

  5. Gretchen Ruffin on Sun, 4th Apr 2021 5:39 pm
  6. I love all the ways you have helped my mindset when I ride.
    I have post its all over to remind me.
    This one will help me slow down and wait.
    I’m always too quick with my hands.
    Thanks again!

  7. mary may on Sun, 4th Apr 2021 6:01 pm
  8. I love this simple way to think about feel and taking out the slack. It creates a wonderful visual! nearly as good as my favorite from you and Sandy, after the stop with the cow at end of the turn on a cutting (or boxing) run – like being in an office chair and letting the cow drag your horse and you back the other way
    🙂

  9. Carol MacGregor on Sun, 4th Apr 2021 7:12 pm
  10. Hi Barb, I’m laughing because I actually took a few pictures of you and Nic during this video. I love your saddle, and bit and bridle so I snapped a pic. Then at the end, ol’ Nic is “snoozing” which is so cool because it’s probably nippy outside judging by your attire and you said it was morning–relaxed boy with all of that.:) Anyway, yes, also loved what you said regarding the rider/handler taking the slack out and the horse putting the slack back in. Great concept and so important. Thank you.

  11. Kelly A McGuire on Mon, 5th Apr 2021 6:44 am
  12. Its so simple that I actually had to watch/read this a couple times. Changing the way we think especially if we’ve been doing something one way for super long is hard. Very cool, thank you!

  13. Karen on Mon, 5th Apr 2021 6:48 am
  14. Love this. We call it flex and bend. Love how different words are used for the same concept. I like taking the slack out. It really describes the task. Nic is such a rock star

  15. Jacquie GRUENWALD on Mon, 5th Apr 2021 8:07 am
  16. Really like the fresh perspective to a simple basic.

  17. Toni on Mon, 5th Apr 2021 10:58 am
  18. Love the simplicity of it ! Makes it so much easier to explain to others struggling with the concept. Although I do think you also need to mention the release too in the demo.

  19. Dawn on Mon, 5th Apr 2021 12:28 pm
  20. Love keeping things simple for our horses and for us. As a teacher, I know the importance of varying vocabulary to make language more specific and precise. A good teacher is able to say the same thing ten different ways, so that it is understood by all students. Thank you Barb for all the small but important details to help us become better horsemanship students.

  21. Shirley Crane on Mon, 5th Apr 2021 4:54 pm
  22. I thought Road to the Horse was wonderful. I watched it everyday from beginning to end. Things were explained very simple although I know those thoughts. I know many of the people that were there or read about them over the years. I always enjoy your articles. Thank you

  23. Melissa Meade on Tue, 6th Apr 2021 10:27 am
  24. I love the simplicity of this. I am so enjoying your daily emails. In just a short time I find myself following this routine of “stop, take a breath, approach my horse”, enjoy each step of the journey. A relationship with a horse should be a marathon not a sprint. Thank you for showing this so clearly.

  25. Mary Kay on Tue, 6th Apr 2021 10:49 am
  26. I think for me the most important part for me is the “wait” for the horse to respond. Don’t get more fussy, or stronger, just wait.

  27. Laura L Musemeche-Yarbrough on Thu, 8th Apr 2021 6:19 am
  28. Nic’s expression is priceless!

    Give me some slack!

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