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May 10, 2022 2 Comments
This might be one of my favorite movie scenes.
It's Chevy Chase getting off the horse in the middle and inadvertently landing on the horse to the right. The movie, "The Three Amigos" starring Martin Short, Chevy Chase, and Steve Martin, is a classic if you like silly, funny movies.
And... naturally, when you see someone sitting backward on a horse it looks odd, which leads me to an adjacent question. What signs are horses giving us that tell us we might be doing something wrong?
Here we go...
5 Signs You Might Be Doing Something Wrong With Your Horse
I dare say, more people are starting to catch onto the truth that a hard-to-catch horse means something. In the past it didn't mean anything. You just chased them around until they got tired, then got on and rode. We know better now. We know that horses have emotions and if we stress them out, they don't want to be with us. So... let's not stress them out so much, or at least, let's balance the challenges with the rewards, like more undemanding time together, more bonding etc. And let's not skip over the game of catching just to teach different skills. I think it's important to spend several sessions just on making catching easier. You can find how in this course: Ground Work Training
If you struggle to put on the bridle on day one, that's normal, but day three or day ten, that's definitely a sign you're missing something important. The same goes for mounting, saddling, catching, spooking, and everything. Think of a task, or challenge. If your horse isn't improving within a day or two in the right direction, or at least, a week or two, you might be missing something. If they're still reacting to the same things every time, you might be missing something. It may be time to dig deeper, get some resources and helpful hints. (by the way, that's what we are here for... First call is free. Reach out!)
If I ask my horse to back up, it's natural that it wouldn't be so good on day one. But by day two, three, four, it should be improving. I just spent the weekend at a clinic in the South East, US. One student has ridden her horse for years and years and is still struggling to stop her horse. She can do it, but it hasn't improved. First of all, you need to know it's okay to settle into a way of interacting as long as you feel safe about it and your horse feels safe about it. But struggling isn't safe. Struggling is akin to "sunny day riders." (people who can only work with there horse when it's hot because any other day, the horse has too much energy.) There is something wrong with that picture and usually it simply comes down to practice. If you're buying new tools to solve the same problem, you're not helping. The tool doesn't change the experience, it's the hands that hold the tool. Dedicate one thing at a time to improve upon. Do it for a week, then enjoy the benefits for a lifetime. Don't send your horse to a trainer, don't buy a new bit. You have to be the one to learn how to get the results. Otherwise you'll get your horse back and teach him the same sloppy signals. Take the time to learn for yourself how to improve his or her skills. It's easier than you think and a whole lot of fun.
In the beginning we have an endless drive to be with our horses. For some of us that fades. It could be completely natural. I've written about emotional fatigue and the nature of needing a break. It could be fear. It could be a number of things. But generically speaking, if you're avoiding spending time with your horse you might want to dig into the answers for that. Your horse needs you. Unless you've got lots of acreage and food, and friends for your horse set on auto-pilot, your horse needs you. Find out how you can change the way you interact with your horse so it's more enriching for you too. Sometimes we just have the wrong perspective, or the wrong reasons for interacting with our horses and that's what takes away the zeal. We dive deep into this discussion in our weekly live zoom calls. Join here!
For this one, you need to look inside yourself. Do you notice you always think about riding your horse as an activity that's all about you and your friends? Or do you think it's all about your horse and you're just the caretaker. There is a balance. The horse needs to perform in a safe manner while we are around. And we need to provide for them. We need to enrich each others lives. I've seen people collect horses to avoid the kill pens, only to destroy their own lives in trying to care for so many. I've also seen people get so caught up in the "need to win" feeling of competition that they completely disregard the horse's needs and become abusive. I've slowly come to the realization that nearly all positive, life affirming activities, live in the middle somewhere. If you sense you're not balanced or your horse's experience is not balanced, don't get discouraged. Be encouraged, awareness is the first step.
And... stay tuned. Next week we're going to talk about the 5 signs you're doing it right?
Thanks for reading and comment below!
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