Monday, July 16, 2012

Keeping a good horse honest

Yesterday my friend came by to deliver a chicken (long story) and while we were outside talking near the horses Charlie immediately came up and offered to join the conversation while Pie (unlike her normal self) choose to stay back and did not offer to come forward.  Busy enjoying the conversation I put her odd behavior out of mind until walking back from closing the front gate. 

You see Pie is a attention hound, and she loves people.  She will drive you crazy with "moral support" when working outside, and she actually asks to be caught.  Needless to say I found her indifference troubling.

Then I realized that Pie had never seen my friend or her car before and had assumed that I was about to give a riding lesson.  She has to do it time to time and when Charlie was recovering last fall and winter she had to take over his riders all of whom were beginners, and she does not enjoy teaching beginner adult riders.

Pie likes a skilled rider or someone small enough (kid) that they do not bother her with their aids.  She likes a confident rider with a decent seat, someone who understands and uses leg cues, and someone who works with her instead of holding her back.

Charlie on the other hand seems to really enjoy giving beginner lessons.  A former ranch horse in the states of Montana and Wyoming, he appreciates a rider who only wants to walk and trot if that.  In a soft as butter bit and good fitting saddle he doesn't mind gripped knees, and heavy hands.  He loves the attention though, he soaks it up like a sponge.   

So what does any of this have to do with keeping a good horse honest?

A good horse must enjoy their job to stay honest. 

Any horse repeatedly put into situations they do not like will start to act out.  Pie put into a busy beginner lesson program would probably turn into a very bad horse very quickly. 

Now does this mean that because Pie hates beginner lessons she will never have to give one again? 

No, If I need her to she can and will give a great beginner lesson. But knowing that she hates it and in the interest of keeping her happy and honest long term I will not ask her to give one unless absolutely necessary.  I would much rather have a happy horse ridden by a few than a super pissed horse ridden by many. 

Long story short, in order for a horse to remain good and honest they must like the work that they do.  A unhappy horse will act out and possibly become dangerous over time.  Negative changes in behavior, personality, and habits when trying new sports/situations may mean that your horse does not like what you are doing.  While this does not mean that a horse should be exempt from anything they do not like.  A horse will never excel when forced and unhappy.

Happy Horse = Good and Honest Horse   




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