So yesterday I agreed to meet up with one of my friends and give thier 10 year old, a girl that I’ve taught to ride on Kiko in the past. She’s had a few ‘lessons’ with him and they were doing well together.
She hasn’t been around for a few months so I was excited yesterday to have her come out and of course excited about the opportunity to show off my beautiful boy.
Things didn’t go as planned.
Kiko is an unusual horse, extremly kind and gentle spirited, he was pretty much left alone until he was 5. A friend of ours bought him and gentled him with natural horsemanship so he knows all the queue’s and such but there were holes to his training since you also have to take time and listen to your horse. A few of us suspect our friend the prior owner had some pretty harsh hands, never let him have any responsibility by constantly correcting him and didn’t really take the time to listen to him. I’ve spent a year listening and trying to round out his training. It’s paid off. This horse is more then happy to let me know what he’s thinking and his personality has started shining thru. So we do have ‘those’ days where he’s incredibly bored with what we are doing or just wants to stand next to me and sleep….LOL
Usually, I just get a little bigger and we come to an agreement, meet in the middle somewhere like lets go for a bit then you can eat or lets canter around these two round bales then you can eat off of one. That usually brings him around, yesterday however…was a different story with a beginner rider on his back. He was already bored going around in circles in the hated round pen. The young girl wanted to trot him which is why we were in there so he couldn’t take off on her. Nothing she did, could get him to trot. If I ran next to them, he would trot but nothing else would make him go. It went down hill from there, her squeezes with her legs became bumps and the bumps were starting to resemble kicks so I stopped her.
I explained how it’s all about the relationship and I wanted her to feel how difficult it can be getting a horse to go when they don’t want to…basiclly you can hit him with two by fours right now in his sides but he still is not going to go, the energy isn’t there and when you start to get fusturated and react, that shuts him down. It was a valuable lesson about controlling your temper and instead getting creative to get his mind into it first. I then got on him and she saw a totally different side, cantering around and such.
I explained to her why I did it and took more of a non active role just watching instead of instructing. Her parents are thinking of buying her a horse even though I have suggested leasing some so she can get the feel of different horses. They all seem to be under the impression you just get on and go. In my opinion that’s one of the last impressions you need to have when dealing with horses. I told her, you will have this with many horses if you don’t take the time to work with the relationship and repor. The fustration we feel is something that hinders us because it will shut a horse down or put them in a foul mood or worse, a frightened one. I told her how other horses may react to it and as mad as she was getting with Kiko, he’s one of the horses that will just stand there instead of bolting (safer for her) we instead need to change the fustration into something useful. If it’s a game to the horse, play the game then add things to it. Okay you want to stop? We can stop but then can you bend your head? can you step out one foot to the middle? Can you turn around….before you know it, your horse is responding with yeah, yeah, yeah, I CAN do that and look at this, and see what I can do? Before you know it, you are both moving like you imagined you would when you first got on.
Later on, we went to a cow sorting event my trainer and ferrier were in. We watched some really good riders and watched some tazmanian devils on horseback. I showed her examples of people that only relied on reins to move, people that were too harsh, people that had equipment to keep the horse calm and people who rode well and why.
All in all I think it was a very good lesson for her to learn and being able to feel it and then see it was helpful. I still hope to make a nice young rider out of her someday and keep her away from that tazmanian devil look on top of a horse.