Rider-Horse Harmony: Jan Symons’ Innovative Training Tools

Jan Symons

Mastering the Art of Lunging: Jan Symons Unveils His Unique Training System

A Symphony of Lunging Techniques and Innovative Aids

In the realm of equestrian training, Jan Symons stands out not just for his expertise in riding but for his intricate lunging system complemented by innovative aids. Alongside his developed lunging system, Symons has introduced aids designed to enhance communication between rider and horse. As he delves into the layers of his method, Symons explains, “Lunging is an art, a dance with the horse. It’s not just about taking away freshness; it’s a crucial part of training that’s often overlooked.”

Lunging for Decontraction and Suppleness

Symons emphasizes the multifaceted nature of lunging. “You can lunge for decontraction, to move the horse, or to support the ridden work. It depends on the situation and the tools you choose.” Describing his developed lunging system, he adds, “It’s a supple combination passing through the rings of the bit, providing structure while allowing the horse some freedom of movement.”

Delving into his training techniques, Symons shares insights on teaching counter-canter. “I start with a little broken line, moving from the wall to almost the quarter line. It’s a slow-motion exercise, using a technique where you first turn the horse’s head to the wall, using the outside leg to support, ensuring the horse understands the correct outside leg aid.”

Soft Hands and Independent Seat: A Foundation of Symons’ Philosophy

Symons often stresses the importance of soft hands and an independent seat. Reflecting on this, he notes, “An independent seat is crucial. People don’t take enough time to develop it when they start riding. I started in a way similar to the Spanish riding school, not allowed to hold reins for six months to a year. It’s about having a seat position without relying on the reins.”

Balancing Act: The Challenge of Soft Hands

Addressing the challenge of maintaining soft hands, Symons explains, “It’s a balance. Riders instinctively want to pull and grab, but it’s about reprogramming the brain. Keep your elbows on your hips, don’t go back with your elbows. It’s simple to say, but riders need to train without reins, using lower and upper balance.”

Half-Halts and Draw Reins: Symons’ Firm Opinions

Symons is unequivocal about draw reins. “Draw reins should be banned. Even if used correctly, they are unnecessary. People misuse them, and the few who use them properly don’t need them

regularly.” Discussing half-halts, he elaborates, “With a light contact, the horse feels the difference. If you have too much in your hand, the horse won’t notice. It’s about creating a light and consistent contact.”

Addressing Running Horses & Groundwork and Lunging Culture

For horses that tend to run, Symons advises patience. “You have to run with them until they stop. It’s a defense mechanism. Don’t try to dominate immediately; let them run down naturally. It can take days, but it’s essential for the horse to understand and submit to the leg.”

Reflecting on the current state of lunging culture, Symons laments, “The culture of lunging is disappearing. People often lunge just to take away freshness, and many do it with the saddle on, distracted by phones. It’s an art that requires observation, focus, and understanding of the horse.”

A Symphony of Training Methods

In the intricate symphony of equestrian training, Jan Symons’ lunging techniques and training philosophy, coupled with his innovative aids, create a harmonious blend. His emphasis on soft hands, independent seats, and patient approaches to challenges reflects a deep understanding of the nuanced language between rider and horse. As Symons concludes, “Lunging is not just a physical exercise; it’s a dialogue, a dance, an art that enhances the partnership between horse and rider.”

V. Sozzi

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