Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day eleven: First ride

After reviewing some basic ground work, I made the decision that Stevie was ready for her first ride.  The weather was far less than ideal; it was an unusually chilly day with very high winds.  But, as she has been doing really well up to this point; she has handled everything I've thrown at her.  The biggest issue we had came with the flank cinch; it caused a big bucking response.  However, even though I intentionally caused a bucking response, by waiting until Stevie gave me a positive response to the flank rope to release it, she learned that bucking doesn't get her anything.

So, because I have excellent control of Stevie's feet, she is tolerant of being sacked out, having someone above her, of being restrained, and has some exposure to carrying my weight, I felt she was ready to ride.  Check out the previous post for more a complete description of the steps I'm taking in the following pictures.  Stevie did very well.  She remained relaxed and soft throughout the entire ride.  The only problem we encountered was the fact that she didn't really want to move much; she'd flex her neck around, and would disengage her hips, but forward motion was fleeting... all in all, it's not a problem I mind having on the first ride!  We more than accomplished our goal on this first ride today.

 Step one:  hanging over the colt's back

Step two:  swinging the legs up

Step three:  sliding the left leg into place (note: I've made a calculated error here in letting Stevie turn her head to the left.  I usually try to keep the head bent around to the side I'm getting on from, in case I need to get off in a hurry).  Before I move on, however, I will correct this.

Step four:  Both legs in position (between the last frame and this, I've actually stepped off for a moment.  In the following images, I'm getting on from the left rather than the right.  So here, Stevie is flexed in the correct direction.  You can see I am in the process of straightening my upper body.

Step five:  Finally on!

Step six:  practicing flexing

Step seven:  encouraging forward motion (you can see just how much the wind was blowing in these frames!)

Step eight:  get some forward motion (it wasn't much, but she did move forward some... that's close enough for government work!)

Please, again I urge you to seriously evaluate your own abilities before getting on a colt for the first time.  If you aren't confident in your riding abilities, or have never put the first ride on a horse before, you may want to seek the advise of a professional trainer, if for nothing else but to have a body on the ground to help you if you should need it. Remember, it doesn't matter what day of training you are in before you make that first ride; what is important is that your colt has a solid enough foundation that you aren't going to get hurt, and your horse isn't going to become overly confused or upset. 

Please use caution and common sense.  Horses are large animals, with an exceptional amount of power and strength.  They are also concerned above all with their own personal safety, and will do whatever they feel it takes to keep themselves from harm.  Being individuals that act and react differently, the only certainty you have when working a horse is uncertainty.  I am a professional trainer with twenty plus years experience, yet even with the knowledge I possess, I still get hurt from time to time.  This blog and the accompanying media are for entertainment purposes only.  No responsibility will be assumed for injuries or damages incurred while trying to use these methods at home.  Please ride responsibly; protective gear can save your life!

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