This weekend I had the opportunity to talk to a good friend of mine about horses and how we can better ourselves in communicating our ideas more effectively to the horse as well as explaining it to others. One of the many topics we dove into was the soft feel. This word has several different meanings to a lot of people. At this point in my career to me a soft feel means flexion with the feet, this is the simplest definition I have at this point in time although I’m not doing it justice. Flexion with the feet is something I find extremely significant with our horses.
If you have a soft feel, vertical and lateral flexion (for which you may have another term for it) that’s a good thing. What is crucial and is something that isn’t touched on enough is that the flexion also needs to be connected to the feet, if it’s not connected then it’s not useful for much. I guess what I’m really trying to elaborate upon is that the soft feel is important but if you’re trotting along with a soft feel and you go to stop your horse but he doesn’t stop punctually or he fusses, i.e. throwing his head or pushing his head down, we have missed something crucial. If we cannot move the horse in a manner we are after smooth, soft, with flexion, one that is conducive to the horse then we have missed the feet. We have to re-address the feet, and then the soft feel will not only occur more readily and without fear but it will also have meaning.