Monday, 25 January 2016

Two-Way Street

If you have had an opportunity to ride a variety of horses, you can certainly get an appreciation for how different each horse can be.

Lesson horses are a bit like seasoned travelers who have picked up a lot of different languages along the way, and will often be able to figure out what the rider is trying to ask for and maybe even oblige.

Some creatures just don't care what you have to say - clearly their idea is better.

On the other hand, a horse that has had only one rider and suddenly has a new person aboard may suffer culture shock and simply not have a clue what is being asked.

I have ridden quite a few horses and have been on the "just doing my job" types, as well as many "I don't know what you are doing but get the F$*& off me" types (I have always been attracted to projects).

Not my idea of fun anymore.

Once in a while, there comes a horse that not only knows your language, but is happy for the conversation. I have that horse right now and I am sort of feeling like someone who just found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Savvy is just so engaged, it is like "Oh, you want me to go like this? Well how about this? No?  And by the way don't press that hard on my side or I will bite your foot. Let's do all the things!" and she never shuts up. I love it!

But it has raised that nagging insecurity in me - when something is good, I am afraid of losing it. Very annoying!

One good thing has come of that stupid, insecure feeling: I want to do right by Savvy and make careful choices in her training that will not effect her incredible personality in a negative way. Simply put, I don't want to wreck her.

So I push myself to be better:

I will *never* pull hard on her mouth (*unless she randomly spooks - so sorry Savvy - stop doing that shit please) and will continue to work hard on collecting her body with my body, NOT the reins!

I will pause after asking a question and getting a correct answer. AKA: SLOW DOWN and appreciate correct answers before hurrying on to the next thing!

I will ask every cue with the softest phase first. I.E. If she can leg yield with a slight touch then why am I always banging like a moron?

I will plan fun things for her outside of training and appreciate her need to be a goof ball. I.E. Hand walking out in the deep snow so she can roll and frolic or playing tag with her in the paddock.

Anyone else worried they might break their horse?


  1. Nicely written and a good plan for the future. I also have a pleaser pony who always just tries to do his job. I really do end up giving him more benefit of the doubt when things go haywire because I know he really tries to be good and figure out what I want. In a lot of ways he has been a great horse to get better at dressage because he always has an attitude of "What do you want, so I can do it, be done and get a treat?"

  2. I love it!! Tho actually no, I'm not worried in the slightest about breaking my horse and that was one of the most empowering revelations I've made recently - by making me feel empowered to try new things even when I'm not confident in my own ability. That said tho, I ride a broke mature horse with a great brain and well developed sense of fairness so... I feel pretty safe about it haha

    1. Isabel is definitely a superstar, conquer all the things kind of girl. :) It is so awesome that you are feeling confident to do all the things with her!

  3. This is a great post. Pretty much exactly what I needed to read right now. Your slow down and be subtle points ring true for me. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Training can be such a struggle, especially when learning something new, plus teaching your horse that new thing at the same time! I am eternally grateful there is no video of me learning to ask for shoulder-in the first time! So bad. :P