Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Traumatizing the Girls

It was so gorgeous out today that I couldn't hardly wait until it was time to work the horses. I'm willing to bet that they wouldn't agree, had they known what was in store for them.

See, my girls live a pretty darned good life. For the most part all they do is hang out, eat, sleep and poop. I'm actually a terrible trainer in that I lack consistency. Real life unfortunately trumps consistency. I have a full time job. I take care of this farm pretty much on my own. I have responsiblities. I even sometimes desire a life.

So the girls get to relax a lot more often than not. They are healthy, well-fed, and my interaction with them usually involves neck scratches, whither scratches, and butt scratches. Occassionally they get fly-sprayed, or I put on fly masks or blanket them, depending on the weather and their needs. They get wormed and vaccinated according to a schedule, as well as their feet trimmed. They get a good grooming every few days and I try to keep them clipped up every few weeks.

As much as I hate to admit, most days these girls do not get worked.

Today was not one of those days.

Paula got to experience a bit for the first time. And I realize I have the saddle too far forward. This girl, with her long back, gives me fits at putting the saddle on. Anyway, it was fixed right after I took these pictures and of course, before I rode her....

See, I'm a bit of a freak (try to contain your shock). I break my horses out in a halter. I've heard it all--from "How do you stop them?" to "You're going to make them hard." Here's my philosophy for whatever it's worth: if I have to have a piece of metal in my horse's mouth to get the response I want, then I'm not teaching my horse like I should. They should learn to respond and be in total control without being forced into it by a bit.

But it's a fact of life that most people feel like they absolutely have to use a bit, so my horses are eventually trained to accept and respond to one. Also, in shows they are mandatory (for senior horses in particular--juniors can be shown in a bosal).

So Paula started to get used to a bit today. I didn't actually ride her with it, but she wore it for the first half of her training. By the time I took the bridle off her, she had figured out how to rest it comfortably in her mouth. Next lesson I'll bend and drive her in it so she can get the feel of how it pulls.

I rode Paula as well (in her halter) and we did lots of bending and serpentine exercises at the trot tonight. She's really so very smooth although we haven't even really started on collection yet. I am really looking forward to next show season!

And since I have no way of taking a picture of me riding her, here's a picture of me on her. See...I ain't pull'n yur leg!!

See, from this angle, her large ears seem to actually serve a purpose :)

Next up to be traumatized: Bambi!

She's not as far into her training under saddle as Paula is, since she's only two years old, but she's getting there.

Last lesson I sacked her out really well. Today I left the saddle in the roundpen so I could see how she felt about it.

This is how she felt about it:

Get. It. Off. Me.

Nah, it wasn't all bad. She was a little goosey at first.

Then a lot goosey. Hee haw!

But she soon calmed down and realized the saddle wouldn't eat her...tonight.

Then she settled right in. There's my girl!

Working hard to make sure my girls appreciate their days off,


Anonymous said...

They don't look too traumatized!

I like your attitude towards bits - if used, they should be used as subtle communication devices, not as control/pain devices - I wish more people thought the way you do!

Sydney_bitless said...

"if I have to have a piece of metal in my horse's mouth to get the response I want, then I'm not teaching my horse like I should. They should learn to respond and be in total control without being forced into it by a bit."

I start and ride/drive all young horses bitless. It's about the training, not using more force. I just did a second ride on our 2 year old, Stormy yesterday I did walk/trot/canter and some poles. Shes a smart cookie but never gonna see a bit riding.

Jessie McCandless said...

Thanks Ladies for the support! I have to defend my position quite a bit (pun intended :) . It's nice to find like minds! I don't ride in spurs, either, which is another unpopular choice. But, at the end of the day, it's me who has to live with the results of my training, so all I can do is try the best I can, using what methods make sense to me....

Triangle A said...

jessie if you use a camera put in on a pole and set it for video.let it tape wile you riding, then play the video on your computer , pause it in just the right spot, find the "print screen" button and push it, go into your paint program, and paste, crop and you have a pic of you riding.
come on I want to see.........

Jessie McCandless said...

I hadn't even thought about that Nicole! Thanks for the tip--that would definitely work. I can even get some video for evaluation. I can just put it on my arena fence posts--ought to cover most of my roundpen. Brilliant! :)

Triangle A said...

Most of my riding pics are out of movies
It may makes the a bit lower quality but still better then no pic.
And the good thing is that you can pick exactly the frame you want and yes it's great to see what u do right and wrong
I put mine on a jschooling ump post that way I can move it around if I have to