Oh yeah, you equestrians know we are subject to those (well, hopefully…). I read somewhere lately that, at first, you can’t see it (that little important something that you are missing). But once you can see it, you wonder how you could miss it before. I’ve had a couple of such revelations lately, some of them out of nowhere, others being brought to me by a horseman and virtual friend I much trust and admire, Daniel Dauphin, from Dauphin Horsemanship. Daniel is based in Louisiana, and much involved in the cattle oriented horse industry (which I know zilch about). I came across Daniel pretty much like we come across about everything these days, on the Internet.
Daniel is first and foremost a master of bitlore. His knowledge on bits (and spurs, for that matter) seems endless. He’s done a superbly useful video series about it on Youtube, that I warmly recommend you check out HERE. A quick look at Daniel’s presentation immediately gives a feel of how genuine, good natured and no nonsense he is. His good humor and open mindedness is contagious. From the first time I watched his approach, I knew I wanted to work with him. So over the past two years, Daniel has been kind enough to give me many a helpful advice, the latest one really is worth its weight in gold, and prompted one of those AH-AH ! moments mentioned above, so I thought I’d share it with you :
“Hi Daniel, looking for a piece of advice. Colt can work pretty well on the ground in the larger arena in presence of other horses. Will take a peek at them, but stays pretty focused on his work. I’ve made sure to work close to them, and let him rest away for them. That goes rather well. Under saddle, however, he makes beeline for any horse that is present. I’ve tried to cure that by letting him go (please remember he has very limited steering) then as close as safety would allow it, bend his head around and disengage his hind quarters until he faces away from the horse, then letting go. The general idea being letting him go where he wants to be, and showing him it’s not much fun. But the problem I’m facing is that he will easily lose forward motion doing so, and will he happy to just plop to a stop close to the other horse, and when I want forward again there is some pissiness happening (pissy ears and I can feel him rolling under saddle, we even had an attempted buck). Any advice as to how to make him want to stay clear of the other horses, without going openly to war ?
Sorry to be a couple of days getting back to you. Busy, busy. To my mind, this is a leadership issue. You seem to have conquered this issue on the ground, but, apparently, he doesn’t find you to be as worthy of his attention or respect when you are in the saddle (his words, not mine). Not a big deal unless allowed to persist. While I don’t see a need to “go to war”, there’s a very real need to ” get to work”. Some spanking may be required to get his feet moving again, but you MUST get his feet to move when you ask. This is the single most foundational request and how we tell who the leader is. I’m pretty sure you know what to do and only need a little prodding to do it. So, DO IT!”
Now how genius is that ?!? A leadership issue, of course !! And guess why ?? Because on the ground, I feel safe as can reasonably be (as long as I don’t make any stupid positioning mistake, or don’t get badly unlucky), therefore I’m very clear in my requests, and very assertive and effective in getting them properly answered. And, being presented clearly, consistently and without the shadow of a doubt, it just works wonders. Now, in the saddle, though a reasonably proficient rider with a good, independant seat and decent hands, I know I cannot outride a bucking colt for more than a few seconds, if her really gives it his all out. Hence, my requests being way less assertive, even tentative sometimes. So, if I’m doubting myself, why would my horse not do the same !?!
I need to work up the same kind of confidence I had on my previous horse, because I knew, God bless him, that he’d never do anything silly. I did act more assertively on our last ride and guess what, after a half hearted buck attempt, he just got much better and way more forward. I think I need goals to keep me motivated and on track, so I decided I’d like to tackle some Ranch Versatility classes, or some “Extreme Cow-Boy races” with my new boy. Stay tuned for the report of the next session !