A friend of mine is having a continued challenge with her horse…
When he looses it, its hard to regroup, correction just makes him hotter and riding it out may take HOURS. He is tireless!! So I just shut him down enough to get off and let him process it out . No talking to him when he gets hysterical. This was the first time in a very long time that he got that nervous, so progress is happening.
Now, it would be easy to give training advice – if this were a normal problem. But it is not. I know this horse and realize that his progress is more dependent on a relationship, than on training techniques. Luckily, he found a partner who is dedicated to this path. I responded with the following,
“Perhaps he offers a different kind of learning for you – a step into horsemanship and psychology that is beyond the present. A journey that changes you for the better, even though you can’t feel it at the moment.”
I thought back to some of my most amazing horses, who also presented me with my biggest challenges. My Paint mare Frosty, who I started training when I was only 13. She was very excitable and would rear on her hind legs almost every time I rode her. She went over backwards a lot – broke my saddle, landed on me… I was told by top trainers to have her put down.
One day, I decided “enough is enough!” and I taught her to rear from the ground. Then, I transferred this to a cue under saddle. Every ride, I would include ‘rearing’ as part of the lesson. The rear became very balanced and she never went over backwards again. In fact, it became a lot of fun!
I presented the ‘movie style rear’ and later the classical levade, in many exhibitions over 20 years. In the end, Frosty did become a really good horse. What I had not realized years earlier was that the ‘rear’ was so natural to Frosty that it was important to include it in the ride. Thinking outside the box helped me to resolve my problem.
I am not advocating that every rider should step into potential danger to solve an issue with a horse. However, sometimes we are challenged in a way that is like reaching a divided road. Do we take the easy fork, or the road less taken? Only in hindsight can we know if it was a journey we would take again.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.