Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2018 >Daily Dispatch #42

February 11, 2018: The Horse Life: Meeting “them” Where they are At

Today, warm, overcast – the sort of flat gray that for painters comes about when they muddy up their colors. This made riding on the White Highway a bit of a challenge because it was the gray highway – it was hard to see where the soft snow spots were because there were no shadows. No, there are no shadows on gray days. I found today’s ride, from the Wendt Road Trailhead, to be a bit more challenging than yesterday for this reason and because the snowmobiles and an ATV or two had chunked up the trail some. But I decided early on that I was not in a hurry and that I’d enjoy the ride. And this is what I did.

Shortly after I got home, Pete had just finished replacing the brakes in the car and was ready to go for a ride. I rode Raudi and he rode Hrimmi. We did our trails. It was a more comfortable ride because the temps were in the high 20s. You can take your gloves off and pull treats out of your pockets and your hands don’t get cold. This puts one in a good mood.

We were out there, and I was ahead of Pete and Hrimmi, coming down the first hill on Peaches’ Loop. Raudi went down it a bit thoughtlessly, at a pace, her non-thinking gait. Pete yelled at me to turn and look and I did and saw the pair coming down the hill nicely, Hrimmi, at a walk, thinking about what she was doing. I could see the look of concentration on her face. Pete was sitting up straight, he looked comfortable.

It hasn’t always been this way. A year ago Hrimmi, who was then a newly-minted trail horse, would come downhill, veer off into the brush, and go every which way. I’d have to get off of her. Now she moves in a slow, and assured fashion.

I have to give Pete credit for this – he is the one who has been her primary rider. He has been very patient and kind. He also (and this is the reason for their combined success) accepted where Hrimmi was at, at the time. He never, ever got upset with her or showed any displeasure. I did have a few times when I got frustrated. I have always considered Hrimmi to be a diamond in the rough, that is a horse that when she matured physically and mentally, would be a joy to ride. And she’s getting there. Her favorite gait is a very fast walk, and this is where she’s at right now and that’s okay.

I have had an easier time dealing with Raudi and where she’s at. Day two of double reins, reins on bit, reins on headstall. Day 1 went well and I was feeling smug. Day 2, not so well. This horse is so darn smart. I realized today that in taking her time about it, that she figured out that I was riding with the reins on the headstall, which thus enabled her to put her nose up and walk off, and as well, rush down hills. And so, when I went back to using the bit, she figured that she could continue to do the same thing. It was like the time, upon the advice of a Centered Riding clinician, that I went to using a different type of bridle. Then, Raudi ran off with me.

So, it was back to using the bit. I generally do our more formal schooling on the road ride back home. Today I did this, having her go past our place, first downhill and then back uphill, at a canter. My message to her was, “you again have the bit in your mouth. I am using my body and mind in communicating to you and you must listen. And at times, I am going to let you know, via the bit, and in a very gentle fashion, that I am the one in charge.”

Raudi did as asked – and at the conclusion of our ride, I was absolutely certain that she fully understood what I was saying and that she is not going to again test me in the fashion she did today. Did I meet her where she was at? I did, and said to her that her behavior was unacceptable; however, I did this in a very fair and equitable way. I did not meet her where she was at the way Pete met Hrimmi where she was at because Hrimmi is an inexperienced riding horse. Raudi is a very experienced riding horse and so I had and will have to be firm in my expectations.

Oh yeah, and then there is Tyra – in the playground, working on boundary issues. As with Pete is doing with Hrimmi, I am meeting her where she is at. She too is young and inexperienced. I did figure out today, step back when I give the treat, and with the hand close to her, so as to reduce the distance when stepping back.

I really am so lucky – to have younger and older horses to work with. Every day I learn so many new things. The bigger lesson, and one I need to think more about – is how to meet people where they are at.

Next: 43. 2/12/18: Alys Culhane meets Jerry Garcia

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles