Recently, I was going through my blog archives to see exactly when I started riding Dusty. I was curious to see how long it had taken us to come as far as we have. What prompted my investigation was the perfect ride we had last weekend. Dusty has been having problems at the mounting block and although she’s progressing she hadn’t exactly passed with flying colors until last Sunday. In my opinion, trying something different helped her and me to overcome this obstacle.
Instead of using the built-in mounting block in the corner of the arena, which I feel is awkward because it’s too high (four steps) for a 15.1 horse and has me doing a balancing act above her back, we changed our routine. With that block, if she moves forward, back or to the side I have to keep repositioning her so I can sort of drop down onto her back like you see them doing in the bull-riding chutes. Using a stirrup to get on is out of the question because it sometimes lays right on the platform or my foot will get wedged between the mounting block and her belly if she moves closer to the block. So instead, I used the three-step plastic mounting block and positioned it in the center of the arena. Dusty stood like a statue, I slid my foot into the stirrup, hoisted myself up and over, and she never moved an inch even after I was in the saddle. Whether this is because of my confidence in doing something the way I’d always done it, or her being more comfortable with the whole situation, or a combination of both, I’ll take it.
We then proceeded to have the best ride I can remember in a long time. She wasn’t trotting at Mach 10, but was tracking up and listening to my every cue. Both directions had us perfectly in sync with one another. I could have ridden all day like that, but since she’s still on the rehabilitation road to recovery for her leg injury we quit on a high note.
This ride is what prompted me to look up when I began riding Dusty after my knee surgery. It surprised me that it was in June 2009 because I thought it was earlier. So in actuality she hasn’t been in training with me all that long, especially since she’s had so much time off for laminitis and hind leg injuries. Which probably adds up to about a year on and off. It does make me think of the old adage “slow and steady wins the race.” There are many riders and trainers out there who adhere to the philosophy of “do it now” or “get it done” but I’m glad that’s not my philosophy. I say it takes as long as it takes to do it right and teach the horse one step at a time before moving on to the next level. Dusty and I spent a lot of time simply walking to get her speed, balance and steering where it should be before going on to trot. We had just started her canter lessons when she injured herself so when she is ready we will take up where we left off but not until she is ready.
What’s your philosophy on training a basically green horse or retraining a horse that was brought along too quickly?
Until next time
Quote for Today
There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humor and the other is patience.
- John Lyons
- John Lyons