Saturday, September 12, 2009

Allowing your horse to run home

No, you didn't somehow "miss" the following blogs the past week, I am "back-dating" them so it is apparent when they occurred...they should be dated according to the day they happened ;)

My last training session with Sunny was another good day – we spent quite a bit of time chatting up his owners before hitting the fields just for a quick jaunt. Just a little groundwork before our little trip (enough to tighten the cinch in stages), some standing around quietly, and then a jog down one side of the field with a walk back. He did very well – some tension but no reactivity whatsoever, despite the very windy day! I was very proud of him and pleased to end our 60 days on such a great note :)

As a bit of an offshoot…I was raised always being told never to trot/canter a horse home, to always walk home. Failure in doing so – I was taught – would only result in a horse who is always ancy to get home, who is always trying to trot or canter home. I chose today to walk Sunny home, but I often do jog or canter horses home should the need or desire arise…and I have yet to have a horse jig home. It is only to be expected that after a ride, your horse will probably step out quicker en route home – put yourself in your horse’s shoes…or, erm, hooves…why wouldn’t you want to be returning home to your herdmates!? On the other hand, your horse should want to be with you as well – which is up to you. If you earn your horse’s partnership sufficiently, he’ll be content to be with you and will be comfortable following your leadership (away and to home)…hence no anxious jigging because, although happy to be headed home, your horse is happy, confident, and secure where he is at, with you, as well! Also, part of developing a horse is creating a horse who thinks and who is relaxed - relaxed, thinking horses don't jig! Jigging requires tension and some level of anxiety. My horses might ask politely if they can trot or canter (either en route to, or away from, home) – but politely, because that is where our partnership(s) is(are) at. If I respond with a “no”, they quietly continue walking. If I respond with a “yes”, they eagerly pick up the gait I responded "yes" to. I have never had a problem with runaways, jigging, etc once I have fully developed a horse emotionally and into a strong partnership, even if I do canter or trot that horse home! It is not about what you do or do not do or about the habits you create (or disallow) per se (though of course those do matter), but rather it is more about the partnership between you and your horse. The jiggy, anxious, or runaway horse is simply a manifestation of bigger holes in the partnership between you and your horse rather than the result of allowing a horse to move out faster than a walk when headed home!

Gypsy was a little difficult to “catch” (no ropes, but to convince her to stand near me), but once I “caught” her she was alright. I just spent time rubbing her and getting her more comfortable with being around people, picking up her fronts, etc – all at liberty so that she felt like she had the power to get away should she need to.

Missy’s been getting a lot of undemanding attention and is definitely hamming it up!! She also has been getting quite a few baths as of late, just to acclimatize her to bathing, and is doing well!

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