Enjoying the horse journey- improves our Horsemanship
Many times when I'm teaching a student, if a tense moment arises, I will instruct them to pat their horse.
This is not for the sake of being "touchy-feely," rather for the release that happens within the rider when they touch their horse.
Without realizing it, they will exhale the breath they'd been unintentionally holding.
The rider will inevitably smile; this creates an emotional relaxation, which causes them to drain the tension they had been defensively carrying between their shoulder blades, in their lower spine, in their hamstrings all the way through their heels. This shifts their unintentional continuous containment of the horse to a physical release of their aids.
The softening of the rigidity in the human's muscles is usually immediately mimicked in the horse's behavior and can be seen in his sighing, chewing, dropping his head, rapid blinking, passing manure, and overall deflation in his posture.
The pat, smile, and release in the human, allows for them to regroup and decrease the potentially overwhelming moment with the horse.
This affects the clarity and specificity in which the student can effectively communicate and can support the horse, building his confidence in their guidance.