Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Horsemanship for ordinary folk.

Sometimes I stray on to the discussion boards. Nearly always I come away wondering what the hell am I doing with my horsemanship. But if I stay away then I quite happily continue to work away on whatever it is that I am working on. I wish it wasn't like that, but there is still something in me that seems to think I should be millions of miles down the road from where I am.

There is always someone doing something incredible. Some new video or some new idea. Have you seen so and so - riding blindfold, backwards, and without tack. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I am getting on working with my bit and bridle, working with perfecting my right hand bend or getting a nice halt or whatever. Today maybe we trotted a whole circle in balance, in partnership, with both of us happy doing it. Or maybe not - maybe things were a bit bracey, there was a little pull on the reins here and there when maybe I asked for more than I should have. Or maybe we went for a hack and my horse went pretty nice, or maybe she lost her mind a little here and there but generally she was pretty good. And truly, that's about as far as I've got so far with my horsemanship.

So what am I trying to say. Well, I know my aim and I have had it for a while now, and it involves always working on the job that presents itself to me. I want a nice willing horse that softly responds to my requests. Nothing more! I'm not bothered about any extras. Maybe when I get this job done, maybe then I could think about tackless, blindfolded and backwards, but for now I have plenty to do. And quite honestly I'm pretty happy with the way things are going. Since I came across and worked out the 'relaxed mouth' stuff, my horses and my horsemanship have come on a long way.

What I love most of all about all this is that this is good horsemanship within the grasp of ordinary people. Seriously, you don't have to be a super human super horse trainer type of person to benefit from this. With the C1 flexions and a commitment to 'evenloading' the horses feet, a whole world opens up. Working horses this way is good - the horses understand it, but maybe more importantly, so do I.


Di said...

Couldn't agree more with your sentiments.
Could you explain 'evenloading' the horses feet" please.

jill said...

Ha ha I love it! I just want to ride and ride well and have a happy horse for it.
It should be so easy, people get gobbled up in all the "extras".
Get out and ride for yourself and have some fun doing it.
I guess I tried to stop "going somewhere" with my horsemanship a while ago. Maybe I'm right where I'm supposed to be?!
Well, if I'm not, please don't tell me, I like my state of mind right now....;-)and my horse seems okay with it too.

Kate said...

I think dealing with what is right in front of you today, now, is the real deal. Tricks and other stuff like that can be fun, I suppose, but getting daily softness and relaxation is a lot more exciting to me! I think the track you're on is the right one.

Tom said...

Di - What I do is make sure the horse is balanced up front to back, and practice riding him in that position - I think some people call it 'off the forehand', but I'm not sure if that is what they mean when they say that. If the horse is balanced up he feels like he could just as easily go in any direction - it feels a bit like sitting on a big ball that you can control with your balance.

Jill - Hopefully there is no way I would tell you anything that would disturb your state of mind. I think for me now, that is one of my big challenges - don't be thrown by other people's stuff. Sometimes I just feel that there's just a few too many folks out there knitpicking just a bit too much and confusing too many people on the way.

Kate - Thank you for backing me up on this Kate. And I think you are actually right - softness and relaxation is where the fun is - it's true.

glenatron said...

I don't know if you watched that thing with Martin Clunes on the TV the other day? He worked with that french guy who does the stuff with those horses, the circus type things, and a lot of people would see that and think it was an amazing bond between him and his horses. I'd say he's clearly an excellent trainer, but those were trained responses and the horses were very clear about the consequences of not doing what they had learned to do in that situation. They weren't at play particularly, they were doing a job and it was a trained response like any other.

I guess where that lead me to thinking was that actually I prefer to see a horse that is really soft and happy in a "real" job. I'm sure my ideas here are sketchy and inconsistent but it reflects where I am at the moment.

poniesathome said...

Thanks for this post. It was just what I needed to read. I find it so easy to think I should be aiming for something very spectacular and forget to focus on the small, ordinary stuff and, most importantly,forget to realise that my horse seems quite happy doing these small, ordinary things.

Julian said...

I agree, doing the basics well is a good aim that will fulfil the needs of most riders. I spent eight years running a riding holiday centre and "doing the basics well" was the key to safe, sensible, happy horses and getting riders back intact and satisfied. We travelled through high mountain terrain and wilderness, some of it quite demanding, and those "basics" served us very well.

Tom said...

Di - I wanted to add this about the evenloading. Pretty much all horses are one sided which means they will favour loading one shoulder more than another. Once you get the horse going straight without any braces then that goes. You can actually feel it when you get back on a horse that lurches one way or the other and doesn't travel straight.

Glenatron - Yep, I saw the Pignon stuff too, and as is usual for me I thought, 'omg, I can't do anything like that with my horses'. It's that kind of thing, which is perfectly valid in its own right, that tends to knock me off track a bit for some reason.

Ponies at home - Thank you for visiting. It's good to hear there are a few of us on the same wavelength.

Julian - Thank you for visiting. I agree totally with you too. Get the basics right. And from the responses I have had here it has made me realise that that the basics are also actually the joy of horsemanship.

Kate said...

Yesterday I walked my horse in half a circle - he was bending the right way, there were no braces, and he was totally with me. I was over the moon (much the amusement of some other people), but from small acorns and all. It has taken a lot of time and effort to get to that point.

As you know, he's the kind of horse that would probably do anything you asked of him, despite being braced from head to foot. So, the crucial thing for us both, (as you also know)is not to run (or levade) before we can walk...

Nice post Tom