Friday, May 14, 2010

Day five: fence work

Like most horses, Steve got a bit confused when I stepped up on the fence.  It is very understandable.  The way we give the cues has to change; I don't have the same degree of freedom to move my feet or change the angle of my hips because I am using those things to maintain my balance on the fence.  By being patient and consistent, stepping back down and re-clarifying my request, pretty soon Stevie caught on.

The basic drill I ask for is as follows:
  • Send the horse forward in a half circle around me
  • Yield the hindquarters so Stevie is looking at me with both eyes
  • Send her forward in the opposite direction.
When this drill is fairly well ingrained, I make it a little more difficult.  After yielding the hindquarters, I'll ask Stevie to back away from me a few steps before moving out the other way.

The other thing I like to work on is some sacking out.  Here, thought, I tend to use my body more than outside tools.  I'll bring Stevie right up to me and rub her all over.  I'll scratch her on all her favorite spots; the forehead, the neck and withers.  Try to make it enjoyable!

Pretty soon, I was able to drape my leg over her back.  You can see her ears are turned back to me, trying to check in, but overall, she is remaining very relaxed.
  Not much longer after that I was able to rest some of my weight on her back, let my leg slide into place and sit on her.  I keep my left leg and hand firmly anchored to the fence, that way, if something were to go wrong, all I have to do is stand up, and a wreck can be avoided.

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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