Friday, March 20, 2009

Back to Basics

There are always reminders with horses that we need to go back to basics. The more we learn, the more holes we see in our previous training! I had a little wake-up call from Ande the other day. He's been such a star for so long that I let myself get careless in handling him, treating him like a grown-up horse instead of a 2 year old. Earlier this week I had him out and was working him in hand when he suddenly bolted, yanking the lead out of my hand and kicking out in glee as he went....and giving me an impressive bruise on my thigh.

It's taken me several days to work through this in my mind and try to come up with "why" and "what's next". I corresponded with a friend whose knowledge and experience I greatly respect and that was a crucial piece of helping me think it through. The whys I came up with:
  • he has been living in confined winter quarters with ice, snow or mud for footing for months and this day he could see wide open spaces which were too tempting
  • I was leading him on the right, which isn't foreign to him, but apparently is not as solid as leading from the left
  • his single rein stop is not as solid as I'd hoped so he blew through his shoulder rather than yielding his hip when he hit the end of the line
  • I've gotten lazy about my handling him and he has gotten less respectful of my space
  • he's only 2 1/2!
So the what's nexts correspond:
  • don't forget how old he is and practice practice practice the basics and be consistent and clear with my expectations of his behavior.
  • work more with him from the right
  • work more on the hip yields
  • look forward to when it dries out so they can all get out in bigger pastures and kick up their heels without danger to me!
Happy Spring!

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