Friday, January 31, 2014

The Calm Horse Revisited, and Finally a Ride on Dawn

This morning I had a lovely ride on Dawn and she looked very pretty in the new black bridle.  It was about 20F in the arena, so we rode with the rump rug.  She'd had 8 days off, but I just got on and we went about our usual routine.  She was wonderful - plenty forward but also delightfully responsive and soft.

Then all three horses had their hoof trims, and all three were polite as can be.  Red was done before Pie, and when I turned him out he waited calmly at the pasture gate for Pie to come out after his trim, without any calling that I heard, and then they cantered off together.

There was an interesting (at least to me) moment during my ride with Red yesterday.  We were trotting, and he kept asking to halt.  I wasn't sure what that was all about . . .  But then I reached down and felt that the cinch was pretty loose, so I got off and retightened it.  I wouldn't put it past Red to have been telling me that I needed to attend to the cinch by stopping . . .

After doing some chores this morning - Dawn had "beshat" one of her water buckets (again), so I washed that out and made up some feed baggies.  As I was walking through the arena on my way to my truck, there was a boarder in the arena with her horse, loose.  She had started to free lunge him (really run him, if truth be told), but had to stop because another boarder was wanting to ride.  She said "he's going to kill me if I don't lunge him".

And then she said, "my horse has a lot more energy than Dawn, that's why I have to lunge him before I ride him."  Um, no.  Her horse doesn't have a lot more energy than Dawn, but I didn't say anything.  Dawn isn't calm when I ride her because she's tired or out of energy - far from it - she's calm because she's calm. A lot of people seem to have the misconception that the only way their horses can be calm is if they're tired - that's not calm, that's just tired.

My horses are at a point now where they can pretty much consistently carry their interior calm with them into our daily work, regardless of what's going on in the arena, how many days off they've had or how cold it is.  I'm delighted that we've gotten this far.  The next challenge is to have them carry that calmness into unfamiliar situations - riding out on the property or the trail, or going to another location.  Red and Dawn also still tend to lose some of their softness when we do a lot of canter work. We're not to consistent, total, calm yet, but I'm hoping we can get there over time, and we're closer to that than we've ever been before, and every day we get closer.  It's mainly about work I have to do on me, and what I can present to the horse . . .

More posts coming on the calm horse . . .


  1. Amen on being tired and not calm after being run like crazy in circles. Sigh. It simply isn't sound training - even a tired horse can rev back up if something scary happens and imo, that's when you need to know your horse will connect with you, in the peak of flight response, so trying to train them by wearing them down just doesn't make sense.

  2. Nice ride with Dawn. I'm sure she looks very pretty in her new bridle. Red was most likely telling you that something wasn't quite right. They're so smart.

    Doesn't it make you crazy when people have the mind set they have to run their horses off their feet to calm them down. It's just not conducive to good riding or good training. If I got on Dusty or Blue right now they would have as much energy as they always do but they would know how to channel it properly and they haven't been ridden for weeks.

  3. I just discovered your blog this month - I can't tell you how much I am enjoying it. I have printed sooo much out to highlight and take notes on things! It amazes me what all you have accomplished being in a boarding situation! And with 3 horses!

    I was just introduced to the works of Mark this year and I am probably where you were at about 10 years ago! Due to various circumstances, my mare is in long time boarding/partial training with one of Mark's listed trained "students." But I am looking for retirement property in that State and look forward to us being reunited - and am trying to learn as much as I can about Mark's approaches. And Harry Whitney, as well. Seems to be a better fit for us than what we have been previously exposed to.

    I am looking forward to your journey on "keeping the calm" while in unfamiliar territory. That is a biggie for us when there are no other horses in sight.

    Keep up the great work, girl! And Happy Birthday - I just turned 58 about a week ago :-)

    1. myblackmorgan - thank you for your very kind comments. It's a journey, and that's the fun part, I think - there's always more to learn. If you like Harry Whitney - I do too - look into Tom Moates books - they're all about his learning from Harry.


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