It was quite the winter for me with my first year at Oregon State University and four clients to ride for. I stayed very busy! Now that summer is here (well sort of, just waiting on the weather) I have the time to keep up on my blog stories, thoughts, and advice. First, I’ll start with a short summary of the horses I worked with this winter.
My first client of the school year was a woman with a cute little four year old Appaloosa gelding named Drifter. I worked with Drifter on the basics. This included leg aides; submission to the bit or softness of the mouth; pressure and release while riding and on the ground; walking, trotting, and cantering on cue; and building back-muscle by having him stretch his neck down and round his back (also helped him learn to relax).
Also early on in the school year, I had a man call me with four Quarter Horses that needed riding. He had three geldings and a mare that just needed tuning up, exercise, a few manners, and miles. With these four horses I worked on basics with an emphasis on softening of the mouth and submission to the bit, because they were older and knew more. For this I did a lot of bending exercises during the walk, trot, and canter.
Later in the year, a man called with a beautiful, big 6 year old Paint gelding named Miller who was mostly green-broke. Before I got on Miller, I would desensitize him by patting and rubbing him all over his body. This got him used to me and being touched, especially where my leg hit his sides and his flank area, because he tended to jump a bit when touched on his sides. When I did get on, I would start with bending his neck first before asking him to move his feet. This helped him to pay attention and it also helped with submission to the bit and teaching pressure and release.
The very first time I got on Miller he attempted to crow-hop and buck after we got moving. I pulled up and back on one of the reins to get him to stop by bending his neck around, making it harder for him to move forward and harder for him to put his head down to buck. I had to pull pretty hard because he has such a thick neck. When he stopped I continued asking him to move forward. Another thing I worked on with him was being caught; Miller could be hard to catch. The key is getting the horse in a small area. After he was in a space where I wouldn’t be pointlessly running to keep up with him, I would calmly walk toward him. If he ran I would shift my body and direction to cut him off. Eventually he would just get tired of moving back and forth along the fence-line trying to get away.
If Miller showed even the slightest attempt to turn toward me and look at me, I would stop and say “whoa” then walk toward him. After that it was only a matter of whether he decided to let me catch him or run until he was tired. Since he wasn’t all that keen on being worn out, he became easier and easier to catch when he figured out that there wasn’t any way to avoid me. I also liked to give him a small treat as a reward after I caught him.
My fourth client in the Corvallis area called me to ride her Arabian Thoroughbred cross, named Allegro. She wanted me to ride him on trails to get him in shape and test him out for her and her daughter. He was always great on the trails and nice to ride.
I had a great time riding for these four horse-owners during the school year and enjoyed getting to know them and their horses. I look forward to working for them again when I head back to OSU in September. I also look forward to meeting new horse owners.