I’ve got to ride quite a few colts this past Summer. In my string I have two 3 year olds, and a 4 year old. The four year old mare has the most rides on her, and recently, as I was astride, I realized something — she isn’t comfortable in the West end of our barn. She needed help to get comfortable.
I thought to myself, “why is this?” Well, self, I said, “It’s because you saddle and unsaddle her in the East end all the time”. What an easy fix, right? So that day, I unsaddled her on the opposite end of the barn. I mean the horse is mobile, right? I don’t need to come in and do the same thing every time. At the end of a ride, I hang that saddle on the fence 50% of the time and leave it on the ground the other, so why not unsaddle somewhere different everyday, and take the horse to the saddle? Bazinga!
The next ride, I brought her in and groomed her in the middle of the arena. Then I proceeded to hang out with her there for about 20 minutes. I’ve spoken at length about just being with your horse, so this seems apt for me: no agenda, just hanging with my best girl (actually the only mare I’m currently riding, but I digress). She cocked a back leg, let me lean on her while I scrolled through Instagram. Sometimes, just being in a place together is the best way to get where you want to go.
Our ride that day was pretty spectacular. She rode on the West end of the barn like a champ, despite the fact that our crazy barn cat likes to camp back there and stalk the horses, which is probably part of why the colts may find that space to be scary- but there’s going to be lots of scary stuff in their world: dead cows in the pasture, signs at rodeos and equine events, ropes flying and more. They’ve got to learn to look to us to help them realize there’s nothing to be afraid of and by changing the routine, we can do just that: Help them get comfortable in any situation. Give them time to think, give them time to check back with you — are you freaking out? If so, your horse may have good cause to freak out too. So if we’re good, they can be good.
Hopefully my moment of introspection will help you with your horses in some way, shape or form. Enjoy the journey and enjoy the ride.
Until next time, Happy Trails!