It was not the first time that the question came up as to what exactly reflexion points are and how they can be “installed”.
Therefore, I would like to go into detail about “my” reflexion points and tell you why are were very useful to me at times!
What is a reflexion point again?
With a reflexion point is here and now no “natural point” meant, with which one can release an involuntary reflex.
Maybe you know such a point from yourself:
The doctor taps your knee with a small hammer while you sit and your leg moves. Without you being able to control it.
And this is exactly what we want to “install” in our horses. So to speak a spontaneous reaction to a signal that the horse carries out without thinking about it.
Okay, imagine you want to stop your horse. Usually you use your seat, sometimes you use the reins. But sometimes the braking distance is quite long.
Especially in tricky situations or on your gallop track in the country. A reflex point should now serve as an “emergency stop button”, for example, which makes your horse stop immediately – if you use it wisely.
AND takes a lot of time out of your training.
Because such a reflex point needs one thing above all: time. But it can be incredibly useful afterwards! Just like when I was shooting the movie Ostwind.
Now lets talk…
You may even know the following scene from the film: Mika rides at a gallop over the stubble field with arms outstretched. Everything looks light, relaxed and very harmonious – but the way to this film shot was a bit tricky.
Not only was a jeep with a camera team at my side and a camera crane at the front accompanying me as I galloped over the stubble field, but a drone was also supposed to film from behind how James and I galloped along in a relaxed manner.
Unfortunately James found this situation, especially in the beginning, anything but relaxed or funny. And so that he did not gallop to anywhere else in this situation, the reflex point was incredibly helpful!
My “emergency brake” works via a point on the girth of my horses, which I can address precisely and finely with my spurs.
Of course I don’t regularly get this point “by accident” while riding.
So two people held James at the beginning of the shot.
Then the drone started booming and on my command, James was released and shot away.
Meanwhile, I sat calmly on his back, spread my arms and pretended to fly.
It was agreed that the drone would turn off a good distance before the end of the field and the jeep would brake so that James had enough time to stop running away in a naked panic.
At some point the drone turned off and the jeep fell back behind us.
James was still galloping at breakneck speed, but the blind panic was over.
So I used the opportunity, touched my reflex point to stop and James stood. He hadn’t even thought about it, he just reacted!
Of course, blind panic with the “threat” from behind wouldn’t have worked so well at that moment, but by waiting until “the worst” was over, the reflex point was my life insurance, so I could really stop my horse until the end of the field – and James didn’t come back to Spain galloping ?
Reflexion points – your life insurance
By the way, I have a similar reflex point for coming here in free work. In case of doubt I touch this point with my crop on the shoulder of the horse.
Most of the time, however, the sound that my horses have connected with this reflex point is enough to trigger “the reflex”.
Today I would like to show you in a short video as an introduction for setting up reflexion points.
I use spurs to address these points more specifically – but that is not absolutely necessary!
If you have a rather restless leg, you should not use spurs, because then these aids become blurred additionally! However, it helps me to be able to address the individual points more precisely.
In order to teach your horse to stop reliably at this point, you should of course practice with saddle and snaffle (or another head piece of your choice) in a “safe” environment.
It is important that your horse must ALWAYS react to the impulse from the beginning!
This is the only way he will learn that this signal is always valid – no matter what the situation.
At the beginning you should of course practice the reflex point from the crotch.
Just let your horse go with the rein and stop it “normally” with the known aids AND the reflex point.
If your horse stops promptly, you may of course praise it enthusiastically!
You practice this until it sits securely in the crotch, before you move on to addressing the reflex point in the trot or just touching the reflex point with your leg.
It is really important that your horse ALWAYS reacts during the training phase – otherwise this exercise will remain a lesson for your horse, which he can ignore in case of doubt.
Imagine a “Sliding Stop” from the western area. Because this is what this “emergency brake” should look like in case of doubt.
Don’t ask too much of your horse at the beginning and take the reins if necessary as a support if your horse does not react reliably to your weight and thigh aids.
The most important thing is that you take your time to consolidate this base and don’t go too fast, want too much.
If this works well in the walk and you have consolidated your impulse, you can start to practice your reflex point also in trot and I canter.
If you have worked out the basics well, there should be no steps and no long braking distance – your horse should really hit the brakes immediately.
So you should always be prepared for your horse to stop IMMEDIATELY ?
Now it is simply patience and time – a lot of patience and time! Then you too can profit from this “emergency brake” in dicey situations in the future.
In any case, I can tell you that it is much more relaxed when you know that this brake is there.
And even movies can be shot more relaxed in one or the other extreme situation, if you know that the horse does not run all the way home ?
In this sense, have fun and patience while practicing!
All the best!