Guide Upside: Bettering my Horsemanship
August 9, 2012 § 5 Comments
Was probably just in a cruddy mood from a variety of things. Barn drama. Horse drama. Riding drama. Guest drama.
Everyone “hates drama” but thinks nothing of creating it when things don’t go their way, or inconveniences them.
Today I decompressed a bit by getting a coffee early. Bumming around a little town close to me, and getting a straight up barber haircut–complete with straight razor trim. Dan’s Barber Shop: I will be back. Awesome haircut.
Ever since the first person saw a horse, caught it, and climbed up on it to ride around–another person watched them–and said: You should do it this way.
And barn/riding drama was born.
What slays me about it is this: When exactly was the last time you knew everything there was possible to know about a subject?
My answer is never.
If I did indeed know everything about a certain topic, I would very quickly get bored with said topic, and move on to learning about something else.
Is is possible to be really, really, really knowledgeable and good at something? Of course. Does that mean you should cease learning about it?
As with everything: There is inevitably always someone who is: smarter, faster, and better than you.
We should learn from these people–if nothing else to better ourselves at something we may very well be really, really good at.
Such is my case with horsemanship.
I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about our equine creatures. I can sit a saddle in just about every situation there is, get a job done, and ride just about every horse there is.
I feel pretty confident taking care of, and making sure our horses are comfortable, safe, and happy.
Now, staying on all of those horses is a different question. Never met a horse I can’t fall off.
The barn boss recently gave me the opportunity to have “my” guide horse.
Hollywood is a typical quarter horse. Big butt, big brain, and too tall for me. Give me my little Simon any day–but hey–play the cards you are dealt.
Now, I can ride Hollywood anywhere and do what I have to do.
It was how he was acting that made it more difficult. A relative of my lovely bride is a horse trainer. Uncle Tom has said in the past: You always have to ride ‘em.
Meaning: Just because you’re at a walk back to the trailer/barn/corral doesn’t mean to just sit there and turn off the brain.
Sure you can relax, but keep your mind and body alert enough to react to what your horse is doing. Or about to do. Or could do.
Enter the eating of Humble Pie.
I needed some help–someone who knows horses a helluva lot better than I do.
I’m very fortunate to have a Twitter friend that happens to fit this bill to a T. She’s a horse trainer, and someone who’s philosophy on horses I hadn’t spent a lot of time considering.
Now–don’t get me wrong. I’m not a person that enjoys putting a horse in various contraptions to make them do what I thought I wanted them to do–but in a lot of ways I didn’t know better.
Results? Sure. Optimum results? Far from it. Hollywood and I were fighting each other–instead of me taking the time to understand what the problem was–and correcting it in a less “cowboy” way, and a more from the horses point of view way.
It was a far cry from my little Push-Button Simon–and I figured I could use some of the same techniques I’ve used previously with Simon to get some desired results.
Unfortunately, Hollywood and Simon aren’t the same horse, and our relationship and jobs are very different as well.
I’ll make this relatively short–since I don’t want to enter in to a huge recap of what my Twitter Buddy has spent a lot of time explaining to me–but a critical key I was missing was:
If I ask Hollywood to stand still…why would I force him to do so when standing still is the easy thing, and what I really want?
It seems a bit convoluted to me still–and yes, to my mind a little hocus-pocusy, but so far it’s working.
As a guide, I need to be able to have a steady horse so I can be constantly eyeing up the dudes, cinches, lead ropes, dudes falling off, dudes dropping their reins, dudes being dudes.
I need a steady horse to conduct my never-ending dude surveillance.
Hollywood was not. He was fidgety, wanting to walk all over the place, and not stay still. My answer? Constant cues to keep him in place. Constant because he was so damn wiggly.
Here’s the hocus-pocus part: Let him walk around. In a circle. In a figure eight, circle the other way and stand still again.
Damned if after about 3 hours of this–he didn’t figure out that standing still was the easy part.
Maybe this is just basic horsemanship/horse training 101–but I’m not a trainer.
I’m a rider, learning to be a trainer–and under the tutelage of someone who knows a whole lot more than me–that’s just fine.
I’m pretty sure Hollywood is appreciating it as well.