Murray has been on post-injection stall rest for a few days, so I’ve been riding some of trainer B’s sales/training/baby horses for fun. I mean, it was also one of my summer “plans“. So ya know.
Ponyboy was actually real cute this weekend when I took him out for a handwalk. We walked all over the arena and back and forth over the scary, terrifying, horse-eating tarp. I unhooked the leadrope to let him roll, but Murray continued to just follow me around, including back and forth over the tarp! Totally at liberty. Like, please, horse: tug on my heart strings some more.
And man. It’s been a while since I’ve had really prolonged contact with really green/baby horses. I forgot about all the baby horse things. Like, walking literally on top of me when I ask them to step up toward the tacking up area. Or walking at a snail’s pace and literally making me drag them in from the pasture. (WHY baby horse, WHY? I give you carrots in the barn?!)
But they are good teachers — almost always. You just have to listen. Here are some of my recent lessons.
you catch more flies with honey
Baby horses don’t know things. Like, sometimes they don’t know any of the things. And there’s only so much
beating dragging one can do of a horse who just doesn’t know what the hell is expected of him. I have some pretty strict expectations when it comes to ground manners in the horses I’m working with. I realized that this is SUPER LAUGHABLE, since my horse has something like the second worst ground manners on Earth. But in all honesty, when he’s in a non-stressful situation he knows how to behave around a human — even if he doesn’t want to do it. The really green horses I’ve worked with have conveniently forgotten all of their racetrack manners — and I know they had them. I try my hardest not to let them get away with bad behavior (easy, because I seem to use up all of my patience and tolerance on my own horse), and frequently praise the good behavior verbally, as well as with pats and carrots.
auto-narration of my exploits
Because I’m nearly constantly praising or scolding the young horses, I find that I’m nearly constantly talking to them. I kinda like this auto-narration of my rides and ground work. Not only does it make me feel super important (hah), but it also keeps me thinking about what we’re doing, instead of letting me mindlessly slip into bad habits.
my expecations are way higher now
I used to get on baby horses or other peoples’ horses and let them flop around on a loose rein and be like “wow, they are so cute!” And I still do that now… kinda. But then I pick up the reins and ask them for a little bit more. I don’t need alot, I just need them to put themselves together a little bit. This seems to be the part where most of the baby horses are like WOAH WHAT.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a horse to learn to start stretching laterally and longitudinally, using their back, and not falling through their shoulders. I mean, obviously not all at once. And not for long periods of time. But these are things that sport horses need to learn. And we can chip away at them one step at a time.
These days it drives me nuts when a horse responds to what I consider a relatively simple aid by doing the exact opposite (yield to the inside rein =/= stick out your jaw and lean on my hand). Or even not doing it at all. DON’T YOU KNOW I’M TRYING TO HELP YOU, BABY HORSES?!
It’s no longer acceptable to me to take no for an answer to these requests. I do my level best not to be mean about it, and to praise mightily (see above) when I get what I want. I even back off if the question I’m asking is too hard or incomprehensible. Every ride I’m putting on these horses is training them one way or the other, and I don’t want to train them that “no” is an okay response to a reasonable request.
the training scale
This thing is golden and was has lasted forever for a reason. If we’ve got nothing, I know where I need to start: rhythm. On the flip side, it makes me wonder how some of the older horses I’ve ridden have gotten away so long without this crucial skill…
distance makes the heart grow fonder
Riding babies makes me think of nothing so much as how badly I just want my own horse back. Murray know how to do all the things I want, just the way I want them, pretty much when I want them. I love you and miss you Murray. Feel 100% REAL QUICK plz.