Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why am I risking my neck again?

I know at least one of you is out there wondering why I'm trying to ride Gwen. Considering that last year I suffered a bad injury falling off her and that I already have a great horse to ride, what's my motivation? Well for one thing if something were to happen to me, as she is right now she'd be dog meat. If she's to stand a chance in that awful scenario then she has to be ride able. Fortunately she's finally registered (Three Shades of Gwen- thanks so much Wolfie for the Best Name Ever!), but it's been shown over and over that registration alone isn't enough to protect a horse.

Public service announcement: Register your foals before they're yearlings, folks. It saves a lot of hair pulling down the road.

But aside from that compelling reason, I'm trying again because I think she wants me to. Raise your hand if you just rolled your eyes because I'm anthropomorphizing my horse, but I really believe it. For the past couple months when I've taken Coriander out to ride she's looked at me with a rather pleading look on her face like, "why aren't you taking me?" I'd look her in the eye and tell her that I wanted to but that I was too scared to try. Did she understand my words? I doubt it, but she might have understood my intent.

I present this tidbit of information as my proof: In the almost 30 times in the past three weeks that I've mounted and dismounted her, not once has she stepped away from the mounting block when I started to swing a leg over. Someone might say, "well that's because you're holding her still." Nope, not at all. I keep a finger on the leadrope or the reins to make sure they don't slide down but I have never put any tension on her face to get her to stand still. She does that all on her own. Sure, the clicker training helps, but I can't use clicker training to make her do something she's afraid of. She's shown me that over and over. (If she or Coriander didn't stand still at the mounting block I wouldn't get on. At this point that would be very strange behavior for them and a sure sign that something was wrong.)

So what do you think? Should I expect men in white jackets to come looking for me or what?


  1. I agree with you 100%. First, it bugs the heck out of my when people don't get their horses registered. Granted, my Bambi's APHA papers are just now in registration and she's two, but she has had her AQHA papers this whole time. I just wasn't in a hurry for her solid papers--they weren't quite as important :)

    Second, yes, you really must get her to riding. She's halter-bred, right? If they don't weigh 1900 pounds right now unfrortunately they aren't worth anything at all. That industry has gone down the tubes, which is a shame--so many beautiful horses, but people are afraid of them or think they can't ride. So you're right--she's got to earn her "career." I'm doing the same with mine. I think these higher-strung horses like Gwen and my Bambi just need more time--we'll get them to riding one day!! :)

  2. My pleasure! ;-)

    First, I absolutely agree with your approach that she needs to know how to be ridden as important to her survival if something were to happen to you. I have approached dog ownership the same way - my dogs are polite and housebroken, they come, sit, stay and are able to play with others. If anything should happen to us, they are excellent candidates to be placed.

    Second, I think Gwen is ready! It just took her a little longer to feel comfortable. I don't think you need to worry about men in white jackets arriving. :-)

  3. Hi Jessie, you're right- they've done a great disservice to halter horses. They've started with "performance halter" now, I hope that's going to make a difference and get them away from breeding those monsters no one wants to ride.

    Good points Wolfie, we owe it to all our animals to teach them good manners. I also agree that time seems to have made a difference for Gwen, she's 7 now- all grown up!

  4. That's why Dawn and I will be taking up our work again as soon as the dratted weather improves - she needs to be rideable for her own safety. And it's good for me to learn how to work with such a sensitive horse.

  5. I think Wolfie is right. It probably took Gwen longer to feel comfortable. Sounds like she's ready and so are you. Good for you! No men in white jackets will be heading your way. ;)

  6. I think that some horses just take longer than others. I'm sure she wants to do something like her brother. It's good for them to learn new things and have a career or at the very least be safe enough to ride. In my mind horses would rather have a job they are good at and can feel good about themselves doing it right. Gaining confidence and trust takes time and she's young now but with slow exposure to more things she'll come around eventually. Just the fact that she now stands safely at the mounting block speaks volumes about her attitude.

    She may surprise you as she learns new things. Dusty was an awful five year old but she's come around and progressed with age and slow training. I don't think you're crazy to keep trying with her. One small step at a time and eventually she'll put them all together to be what you need her to be.

  7. I think that working slowly through a situation with a horse is extremely gratifying. My rides on Sovereign (easy) are wonderful and I adore him and his trusty nature. My rides on Pie can be difficult and they always seem more interesting. The nice thing about these two horses is that it is the exact opposite in our ground work. Tacking up Pie is easy and nice, but I don't feel that I had to think. Tacking up Sovey is a dance and when I succeed without a problem I feel on top of the world.

    Your Gwen is making you think and ultimately making you enjoy Coriander in different ways too. And, she probably is telling you that she can do it too. I wasn't rolling my eyes, because I think these things too about my Pie!

  8. I agree with pretty much everything said above. I also think if those guys in white suits are coming after you, they've either been here or are coming here next. I have one here I'll be working with that hurt me pretty badly and I'm not about to let him go another year without getting this thing done.

  9. Aww, I have the best readers. Thanks so much for your encouragement and wisdom :)