It was a cloudy and mildly blustery spring day. The horses were all on high alert. Even Old Blue was more energetic than normal. My old cowboy friend would say they were full of "P and V." Which stands for... nevermind:)
Two horses were saddled, standing, but not still. The last horse was playing hard to saddle and I could tell emotions were climbing in her handler.
"Hold still you little punk," her handler shouted. Finally, after several attempts, the saddle landed square on the horses back and the person throwing the saddle preceded to cinch up. No doubt, the horses were wired. Even as the saddle tightened up, the horse continued to dance a little more than normal.
None the less, the horses were ready to go and the riders were even more ready, but something was missing and no one there knew or cared what it was. That "something" never really meant anything to anybody until about an hour later when the ambulance arrived to collect one rider with a broken arm and concussion.
Stories like the one above happen often, and more often in the spring. So it's important to understand what that "something missing" is. I bet you can guess. If you've been studying with me for a long time you won't have any trouble guessing. The something is called "patience." There are three words that start with "P" that you should remember forever. Patience, persistence, and positioning.
Technically, two of the three "p's" were missing in the story above. The riders were impatient, and didn't put enough importance on the horses standing still, in position. The riders were persistent. But focused on the wrong things. Bottom line, one of the biggest spring time blunders is expecting your horse to be a good horse and not taking the time to ensure they are. It's bypassing the little things, because you're in a hurry, that get you in trouble. Every time you ride, literally every time, and especially in the spring, you should account for the extra time needed to help the horse. Be in it for the horse too.
Here is a video outlining a spring restart program we do. Step by step, you'll see how nothing is missed. We work on everything until it's a passing grade, and only then moving on to the next step. Avoid those spring time blunders and ensure your horse is on the same page as you.
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