Maybe we’re better trainers than we used to be?

I was thinking about this tonight. I put ride #6 on the VLC with my friends hanging out in the arena. (Unfortunately without cameras, sorry, I really am going to get more pics soon!) At one point, the VLC saw them (AKA the nice girls who do not feel compelled to sit on him) and so instead of circling away from them, he balked and tried to rubberneck the other direction. I opened my left rein and bumped him with the right leg and he gave up eventually. The next time I asked for a circle there, no balk. The rest of the ride, he was perfect. We trotted both directions and he actually wanted to trot at a speed faster than snail level going to the left so we did a posting trot. Wow, is he smooth! He is going to be a killer equitation horse – you barely have to rise out of the saddle. He was so good. Kept trotting several times around each direction without too many reminders and was surprisingly consistent toward the end.

He is just so smart. He’s making this so easy on me!

Anyway, the little balking incident made me think. Twenty years ago, when I had no fear about a horse’s reaction, I probably would have overreacted. I would have booted him a good one in the ribs, or smacked him with the little leather pony-beaters on the end of the reins. He would have jumped around and been scared and gone the direction I wanted.

And…it would have been totally unnecessary. You know, you don’t need to beat them over the head with a hammer about every little thing. Back when he was cowkicking at the girth? Oh yeah, he got in Big Trouble about that – because it was actually dangerous. But there’s a ton of little stuff you can work through with a lot less drama than you see a lot of trainers – my younger self included – apply. If you can fix the problem and still keep the horse calm and the head low, why wouldn’t you do that?

Well, I guess it does not look as cool.

So, the thing I realized tonight is that despite having less of a seat and less balance and less guts than I used to have, I think I’m actually a better trainer today. I think I am using my brain more – because I have to – and that the experience I have may actually be more useful with a lot of horses than that velcro butt I used to possess. And I’ll bet I’m not the only one.

Is this true for you too? Are you, despite age, despite loss of balance/guts/seat/muscles – a better trainer than you used to be? You know, if the main thing that mattered was having balls the size of Toledo and the ability to stick any buck, we’d be bronc riders – not horse trainers.

Published in: on May 6, 2008 at 4:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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