This week we had a theme come up working with our horses that involved our creativity or lack there of. What do I mean by this? Well each of us were in the midst of challenging ourselves of how we can better our horses without boring or unnecessarily stressing our horses. The goal was to be able to find ways to engage the horses’ minds, look forward to the job, all the while gaining confidence in what they are doing.
Some of our creativity related to how we go about achieving groundwork that boosts the confidence of a timid horse. We also challenged ourselves in the saddle as well. In the words of Shayne, don’t keep coming back to the same thing day after day and make them sour to it. Instead mix up the routine, eventually you’ll get to where you want to be, but pounding on the same topic with your horse over and over may in fact make them dislike their job and merely accept what you are asking. We want more than our horses begrudgingly accepting what we are offering. The goal is a horse who looks forward to the job while gaining skills. That may in fact sound simple, but it’s not.
One horse this week, Max, gets stressed when he’s pushed out of his comfort zone. In order for our horses to learn, we need them to be relaxed, rather than in an internal state of panic. Des found with Max that he was struggling to not get sweaty and lathered by the end of a ride. Finding that sweet spot in the training where he could be pushed but also not get overwhelmed was a fine line. Needless to say, by the end of the week Des had a dry horse from the beginning to the end of the ride. To get Max to that point in his riding, it required a lot of creativity of Des’ part to get him there. She knew the end result needed to be a horse who improved mentally and physically even if it didn’t come easy. The only way this would happen was to continue taking different approaches to the same goal until there was a positive change. No matter how far each of us are in our horsemanship journey, we have to keep adding tools to our box so we can continue to address each problem with the right solution.
The most difficult part of the ground work and in the saddle, is understanding which tools you have will accelerate the horse’s learning with the least resistance and maximum effect. Sometimes its a combination of things you know that you’ve not put together before or its an entirely brand new idea, that may fail. We don’t know until we try, and connecting the dots may in fact be the part that requires creativity. To be creative and build confidence in ourselves and our horses we have to understand the nuances of how each exercise we use connects to another. We always start with the foundational building blocks of Buck’s groundwork and progressions under saddle. The creativity comes in when you understand at each level how everything interconnects at it’s foundation. You have to know why you do what you do. To just do something without understanding why defeats the purpose of doing. Understanding and then building upon the foundation you have to create a large tool box of exercises will help you attain the goal at hand.