1- ask your horse to soften his head downward and toward you when you halter
2- listen to his footfalls as you lead in the barn and notice. How do they sound? Are they light, heavy, rhythmic, quick, slow, uneven?
3- listen to your horse’s breathing and check in with their expression while you groom. Where do they like you to brush? Where don’t they like you to brush? What speed and firmness makes them soften, and what makes them fidget or flinch?
4- see how it feels to pick a foot up with intention. Slide your hand down their leg and wait with as little pressure as you can, and see what happens. If your horse is used to this being a fight or a place of force, you may be surprised.
5- saddle with mindfulness. How do you place the pad on? How smoothly can you set the saddle on? How smoothly can you cinch up? How does your horse feel about all these things? How can you do it better to relax them further?
6- ask your horse to soften and tip their head toward you for bridling. Use tact and care when inserting the bit and placing the bridle over their ears. Listen to their concerns and objections as their way of saying the feel is offensive, and change to suit their needs.
7- take some deep breaths when you get in the saddle, then take some more. Listen to your horse’s breathing, then take even more breaths.
8- listen to your horse’s footfalls while you warm up. Do they sound the same as when leading to groom, or different?
9- notice your body. Are there any areas of tension, tightness, pain, restriction? Are there areas that feel fantastic?
10- notice your horse’s body. Are there areas of tension, pain, restriction? Work to relieve those. Are there areas that feel fantastic ? Appreciate and improve them.
These are simple things you can do on a daily basis that have a shockingly dramatic impact on the quality of your ride.