Sunday, December 18, 2011

First Ride

I finally made my first ride on the Arab mare.  In many years of training horses I have never done so much ground-work on a horse before climbing on.  Usually three days is sufficient with a horse that is familiar with people – five days for a horse run in fresh off the prairie with no handling whatsoever.

Part of the problem may be her age: most horses are broke as two-year-olds, or maybe three, and this mare is six.  And I have no idea of her background – she may have been badly spoiled.  Anyway she threw a serious fit the first few times I saddled her, throwing herself multiple times before she submitted to the indignity. And the first time I put some weight on the saddle and jumped up beside her she took off bucking seriously.  I’m no bronc rider and I couldn’t have stayed with her.

This is just not typical behavior – even for range-raised horses that have never been socialized with humans.  On the other hand, she is sweet and docile from the ground – not showing the fear of humans that you see in horses that have never been handled.

But it is winter and things are slow.  I have time to fool around with her.

Well I climbed on her back for the first time yesterday – there is only so much you can accomplish from the ground, and the whole point is to have a horse you can ride.  After her performance the first few times I saddled her I was confident that she would buck, so I waited until my son was around to pick up the pieces if necessary.

As I said, I’m no bronc rider.  Very few green horses buck if you’ve done your job right – even the semi-wild horses I used to get off the reservation.  But again, this mare isn’t typical.  She’s sweet and gentle and likes people, but isn’t impressed with the saddle.

As I expected, she went to bucking when I stepped in the stirrup and swung aboard - but only two jumps, and I was still aboard when she quit.  I talked to her and petted her as she got used to the weight and relaxed, then I shifted my weight around and let her relax again.

After awhile she settled down, accepted the whole deal, and began to walk around the corral, learning to stop, turn, and back.

The second time I mounted in the session she only jumped once, and soon we were striding freely around the corral with a slack rein, and she responded nicely when I asked for her head.

In my next post I’ll write about neck-reining.

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