The Four Savvys is Pat’s blueprint for horses and riders over four levels and in four areas of study, both on the ground and riding. One of the best things about the Four Savvys is that you are less likely to overdo your horse with too much ground skills or too much riding. Instead, you get to balance the relationship both on the ground and on the horse’s back.
There are two ways to be on the ground or riding. On the ground, you can play On Line or at Liberty. You start on an actual line (we call it On Line) so you can use feel and guide the horse as well as keep him near you. It’s like working with a net!
When it comes to Liberty, it’s all about playing with no strings attached, so it tests your communication skills, body language and strength of the bond – all the things you try to build On Line first. I think one of the best things about having On Line and Liberty is that if you don’t ride or you have young horses that can’t be ridden, it gives you so many opportunities to have fun and develop a horse.
When riding, there are two distinct styles that we teach: FreeStyle and Finesse. FreeStyle is all about riding on a casual rein, learning how to balance without hanging on the reins and giving your horse responsibilities such as don’t change gait or direction. It really teaches the horse to use his brain and not be a puppet. It’s relaxing and more fun, for both horse and rider.
Finesse is more about riding with precision and developing collection. You ride with contact and learn how to be particular, yet more graceful and polished as a rider. It also teaches the horse how to become more physically balanced and collected, using his back and hindquarters for power and engagement. FreeStyle makes you a rider; Finesse makes you a polished rider!
When I go to play with my horse, sometimes I only play on the ground – mostly at Liberty these days unless I take him jumping logs and moving out in the playground, but mostly I ride. So I’m playing in 2 or 3 Savvys sometimes. It makes it more interesting and I tend to get more creative, as well as more thoughtful about what I’m doing and where I’m going with my horse as we advance. And now that I am studying the art of riding with precision with dressage master, Walter Zettl, I find it more important than ever to keep a balance in the Four Savvys instead of getting over-focused in Finesse.
I’m often asked about logic and theory behind the Four Savvys because a lot of people think it’s cool to play at Liberty or to ride Finesse. Many times, people will want to start at the top with the most challenging things or it’s something they are really interested in so they subject their horse to it! I think Pat has it so well thought out, that On Line leads to Liberty, On Line and Liberty lead to FreeStyle success, and On Line, Liberty and FreeStyle lead to Finesse. If you want to become a horseman, that’s the way to do it!