Monday is the day I do a few lessons with folks that live on the ranch or close by. Ruth rode yesterday and continues to make really good progress. We are working on trotting and she is starting to get it. Yesterday I had her just trot around the arena, not worrying about where her horse went, just as long as he goes forward. Well of course her horse wanted to stay close to my horse, thats natural especially if the rider is not showing much leadership. So I trotted around with her, leading. We trotted for awhile and then stopped in the middle of the pen. I asked Ruth how she was doing and she made an interesting comment. She said that the longer she trotted the easier it was getting. And that makes sense if you are really working at it. She was able to find the rhythm of the horse's two beat gate and was then able to figure out how to post. The same could be said for the horse. He was able to settle into his trot and figure out what the rider was trying to do as well. So the moral of the story is, you have to be willing to go as long as it takes for both of you to settle into the exercise that you are working on.
Stan was next. Remember he has only ridden a few times in his life, if that, before he started to take lessons from me. I got him in the arena and had him ride the rail at a walk for a few minutes, so that he and his horse could get comfortable. When he said he was good, I opened up the gate and took him outside. When I opened the gate he said, "Oh no." Stan has never been out of the arena horseback. I explained to him that horse will get bored to death if all we do is drill them in the arena, people too. So it is always good to get out and see some conutry and let our horses just relax. When I have horses here in training I try to take them out for a gentle ride in the country side once or twice a week depending on what we have time for. They love it and so do I. Stan did great and really enjoyed his time out of the arena. We will be doing a lot more of that.
You will remember Norma and "G" Man. Well Norma has been a little nervous about riding G. Remember she was bucked off of G not long after he came back from another trainer. Her husband Jerry also was bucked off the same horse. So I went and spent some time with her and her horse to see if I could help. I watched her routine for a bit and then offered my observations. Norma works her horse in the round pen after she gets the saddle on him. One of the things we worked on when he was here with me, was to stand to be saddled and he did that like a champ. She then brought him to the center of the round pen and mounted. He stood to be mounted, another thing that Norma wanted me to work with G when he was here. He did that just fine. I was riding my horse Tim the Gray. Norma goes thru her routine each time before she rides. I knew why she was doing it. Lots of people will put their horses in a round pen, before riding, and run them around and do round pen work. Why? To try and take some of the fresh off of them. By fresh I mean, buck. Folks think that if they wear them down a little they won't want to buck, and I guess that's true on some level but if they are working a program they should not have to do this at all. The better our horses get at their ground work the less we should have to do it. It should work like this: Less ground work, more riding. Horses don't really like or want to buck, it's a lot of work. The reason they buck, most of the time, is because we have taught them too, and so they think that is how they are suppose to react. So we have to be very careful if our horse is bucking every time we put the saddle on them, we have probably created the problem. "G" does not have this problem at all so I encouraged Norma to work less and less on the ground and do more riding.
One thing I have found is most folks when they go to the round pen or to the arena, don't have a plan, a program of what to do and when to do it. I talk a lot about this at clinics and when teaching horsemanship one on one. So I helped Norma come up with a program that will give her confidence and give her horse confidence too. We rode for about a hour and when we got back I could see that Norma was a little nervous about getting off of G. She has had problems with him moving when she is trying to dismount. I instructed Norma to just get off of him like she has been doing it for twenty years. She did and G stood still. Our horses get the confidence or, lack of it, from us. So if we will just act confident, even when we don't feel confident you will be amazed at the reaction of your horse.. Norma is making really great progress with G. He has some other issues with his head that she continues to work on and is doing really well. I helped her see a way that she could still ride her horse without making a big deal about the head issue... Will keep you updated on their progress.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.