Archive for February, 2012
Not every horse has the same understanding of Whoa that I do. I tell my horse to Whoa by leaning back in the saddle just a hair’s with, I let all my energy out, I put my legs a little forward. If my horse doesn’t stop, I lift up one rein. That’s what I would like to think that I do. In reality, I do all of the above, but my hands sneak up and pull with both reins back…just a little. Your hands work independently of what your outward brain sez.
Your inside brain goes with instinct and we are born to pull back. I’m trying to think about my hands when telling my horse to stop. Hands disobey so easily.
That’s not the story today. This story about when I went to Phoenix and rode someone else’s horse. That’s when I got to undertand that not all horses understand whoa like I expect.
Let me tell you about horse back riding in Phoenix. You get on your horse at your house and ride on the sidewalk until you get to the place where they have huge open expanses of land between the backs of people’s houses. Since they don’t have grass in Phoenix, these huge expanses of land are gravel. Children play, horses ride etc. It’s pretty cool.
But what Phoenix has in common with every other city in the USA is streets. Phoenix has wide streets because they have a lot of cars on their streets. So many streets are at least 6 lanes wide and sometimes 8 lanes wide. You and your horse have to cross streets when you ride in Phoenix. When you are riding on the wide sidewalks of Phoenix, occasionally you have buttons you can push to make the lights change and the cars to stop. That’s not true when you are riding on those large expanses of land. You and your horse come to an eight lane wide street and have to wait till all the cars disappear before you can cross. Since the horse has shoes on, you are riding across paved streets with steel shoes. That scared me to death.
Can you see why a Whoa in a horse is important when you ride in Phoenix. If you don’t whoa, you might be out in the middle of 8 lanes of traffic moving along at a steady 45 mph stream.
Turns out, my horse didn’t understand whoa. I was lucky the first street to be riding behind my friend who did have a horse that would stop. Good Lord, that’s why I am alive today.
The rest of the streets, I discovered that I had to start whoaing about 1/4 city block before the street crossing. That’s how long it took the horse to think about stopping. The horse was worried about her mouth and fought the bit. She didn’t understand.
Before we started riding on this fun filled traffic day, my friend told me that I needed a bit with a little more grab in it than my snaffle bit. Yes, I did bring my snaffle bit in my suitcase along with my Parelli halter and lead rope. But, foolish me believed my friend about the bit and her bridle being better than my snaffle. I was young and full of myself then. I thought my horsemanship skills were top notch. However, your horsemanship skills are only as good as your equipment. How often have you heard Pat Parelli say that!
The only way I knew how to stop a horse that wouldn’t stop is the control rein. Rein to your thigh, horse turns in little circle until the horse decides stopping might be the answer.
So, me and the horse are circling around on our 10th lap. My friend sez, “Susan, the bit is out of your horse’s mouth.” Guess what this bridle wasn’t set up to do? No one ever told this bridle about the one rein stop. It didn’t have a chin strap. I pulled that bit right out of the horse’s mouth.
My friend got off her horse and was able to stop my horse and get the bridle back in the mouth. We were still out in the middle of our city excursion with 8 lane wide street crossings. I had lost my one rein stop ability. My horsemanship skills were useless.
I lived through the day. The next day I used my snaffle bit and we trailered out to ride on some trails. Stopping wasn’t as critical.
On the third day, my horse started to relax her head. She gaited smoothly for short periods of time. She started slowing down when my body started relaxing. We were out on the trails again.
On the 4th day, it snowed in Phoenix. The wind was bitter cold. Instead of riding, we went shopping.
On the 5th day, I flew home to ride my horse that had a whoa.
Lucky Star will attract a lot of attention in this outfit!
I can not go to any more Horse Festivals or places where horse vendors hang out. The owner of the booth where I got this vest clapped this hat on my head and made me look in the mirror. Then he made me buy the hat because the entire outfit is so cool that I would have died not to walk away looking like this.
This is what I looked like at Horse Fest in Wichita. I’m certain nearly everyone in attendance noticed me. Thankfully, I didn’t stumble into a manure pit or anything else embarrasing, so the attention is always good.
Lucky Star has not seen his new outfit yet. His new outfit has been placed under lock and key in the homestead. It will be worn at a horse show. Maybe more than one horse shows! We’ll see how Lucky Star feels about it.
“Lucky Star might be ready for you to ride the next time you come down to the ranch”
I was chatting with Jenny today on the phone. She threw that gold nugget into the conversation when I had paused to take a breath.
What! I repeated these exact words to her to make certain she had said them outloud. ”Yes,” she said. “Those are the words that I said.” I repeated them again just to make certain I had all the words in order and had not left any out. Yes, she said. That’s what I said.
These are the words in my book. I heard these same words when I started my adult journey with horses. I was not pleased to hear these words when Sage was ready for me to ride. Sage and I had parted company with me ending up on the cold hard ground. I found Jenny and Pine Dell Farm. I started taking lessons on a lesson horse. My confidence gradually came back, but getting on Sage was a different story. I was scared to death when I heard those words.
I heard these words when Velvet was ready to ride. “Velvet is ready for you to ride now.” By this time, I was happy to hear those words and Velvet and I took off like a rocket in astronaut heaven.
After years with Velvet and Sage, I decided I needed another horse that had the athletic ability to easily do flying lead changes. I bought JR from Bob Blackwell when he was three days old. His sire and damn could do flying lead changes. It takes a few years to get a three day old foal up to the point of being ridden, much less cantering and doing flying lead changes.
So Jenny started JR and I got to hear those same words. ”JR is ready for you to ride now.” JR and I took off in horse heaven and we stayed in horse heaven for about seven years. We did get a few flying lead changes. He’s now doing flying lead changes with another owner in my horse world. He’s an amazing horse.
With Nova I decided that she would be my dream horse. She had to take six months off for a knee injury and then only developed after we had her treated at by a master chiropractor. Then she and Jenny sailed off to horse show wondersJenny took her to Level 3 and showed her at the Celebration. . After the Celebration, it was me that decided: ”Susan, Nova is ready for you to ride. She is your dream horse.”
How many horses is that? I’m hearing the magic again. I’m going to go through the process. “Susan, Lucky Star might be ready for you to ride the next time you come down.”
I don’t know whether or not this video will work. It’s Tony riding the wonderful Lucky Star. We’ll get it on Youtube in a few days.