Thursday, December 1, 2016

Even If The Heavens Fall

What does good training and being ridden with perfectly consistent pressure and release for several years do for a horse's confidence?

Our horses have never been despooked with the sound of chain saws. We do not practice having them stand around while trees are falling down. But yesterday morning I was deep in the wooded portion of our new land cutting down trees. The roar of the chain saw made me oblivious to any other sounds. Mimosa was cracking like a .22 going off as I sawed the big limbs off.

After one limb fell I looked up to see Terry sitting there bareback on Quien Es?, her Chincoteague/BLM cross mare, about thirty yards from me. The horse stood there as calmly as she would standing in the pasture with her herd.

Even for our horses, that was exceptional behavior. It really drives home an important part, the most important part, about safety while riding. Worst of all it is a safety lesson that is never taught.

The best way to reduce rider injury is to completely train the horse using perfectly consistent cues while continuing to build the horse's confidence by allowing it to constantly be exposed to new challenges. Along with the training comes the experience that the horse deserves. Long miles of riding in different environments builds both rider and horse confidence. Terry has ridden Quien Es? a few thousand miles in our woods and on weekend rides with other groups all across the region.

Lastly, get yourself in the best physical condition possible. On many occasions one will find that in all those episodes of nearly falling off, the thing that allows one to stay aboard is simply being strong enough to do so.

Ride long. Ride strong.

(Quien Es? was named for the last words of Billy the Kid. She is the mother of Ashley's horse, Peter Maxwell.)

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