The Inside

“There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill.  To me, and I think many other horsemen and women would agree, there’s something more about the inside of a horse that’s good for the inside of me.  I started riding later in life than Amy.  I think I was 19, Amy was 3.  So, when I first started I was very interested in the physical things that would help me stay on.  I needed tools to control the outside of the horse, I wasn’t much interested in what he thought about those tools.  Obviously with that attitude, I had some experiences that led me to develop some better judgement in regards to the outside of horses.  Fast forward several years and Amy’s Dad takes her and I to see a guy named Ray Hunt.  Ray had a way with horses unlike anyone we’d ever seen before.  But, I was still looking at what he was doing with the outside of them.  I struggled and struggled to copy what Ray was doing and I learned lots of things about what worked and what didn’t but I never really got IT.  For the past 6+ years I have been working at different jobs and Amy was running Bridle Bit and really refining her horsemanship.  I still don’t know how she got on to it, other than she’s a genius, but, she found that when she worked on the inside of the horses she rode, she got better results with the outside.  I’m trying to catch up on that piece of my horsemanship because I’m seeing just how important it is to the horses I ride.

Tom Dorrance talks a lot about the spirit of the horse.  I’m a Christian so I believe that the Holy Spirit resides in me.  In my world, all life is created by the same maker, God, so why wouldn’t there be a spiritual connection between me and the horses He puts in my life?  I believe there is, and the more I tap into that connection, the better things work out between my horses and I.  We find that place where I just think it, feel it, and we are there together.  What an awesome place to be!

I would encourage you to take some time, each time you and your horse are together, to really get together.  Stop concentrating on the physical cues, tools, aids, how do I sit, which leg do I use, where should my hands be stuff.  Be like that little kid who just went out to the pasture with a string in her pocket and a bucket  of oats so that she could climb on bareback when the horse put his head down for a bite and rode off with just the string to guide and the biggest smile you ever saw!  Amy survived it, you can too!  Our horses are a reflection of us, the real us.  If you like what you see, great!  If you don’t, look inside you first for the changes that will ultimately give you the perfect horse partner.  Have a super day!

Ya Know

Back in the 1980’s I worked for a large corporation in quality control.  Our department dealt with some behind the scenes, scientific data that made a difference in the quality of product we produced but had very little outward value to the people making the product.  One of my jobs was to make the scientific data mean something to the rest of the plant I worked in so that they would want to do things the “right” way.  Because very few of the people I was working with had any background in the subject, I soon found that I had a big challenge on my hands.  One day in frustration, I complained to my boss, “These folks don’t even know what they don’t know.”   The solution, of course, was to create a desire in my fellow employees to know more, to learn about something they had not previously been exposed to.

I think about that when working with horses.  Young horses haven’t been exposed to much, older horses may be in the same boat or they may have been exposed in a way that left hard spots in them.  People can be the same way.  Some are “green” and haven’t been exposed to very much information on how horses operate and think.  Others have been exposed to lots of information but, have had diffuculty sorting through what will work for them and their horse and what won’t. The fun part of teaching is to create situations where either a horse or a student develops a desire to know more or search for an answer and then watch the “light bulb” come on when they find that answer!

I remember Ray saying, “The horse knows when you know, and he knows when you don’t know.”  If you were to compare what I know about horses to what Ray knew, you’d conclude that I didn’t know much but, Ray gave me the impression that he felt the same way.  It’s a learning journey, horsemanship is, and if you’re willing to strap yourself in and go for a little ride, it’s a fantastic journey full of twists and turns and new stuff everyday.  Look to the horse and the teachers you trust to expose you to the things that you don’t even know that you don’t know, yet.  What you find today may be the key to a fantastic breakthrough tomorrow or ten years from now.  It doesnt’ matter when it happens, what matters is that you’re searching!

Time

I’ve been reading, “Tom Dorrance More Than a Horseman” by Margaret Dorrance and John Saint Ryan.  It’s a collection of rememberances from people that Tom influenced over the years.  It’s an excellent read because it’s real people speaking from the heart about a man they admired.  I’d recommend it to anyone that wants to gain some insight into the genius of Tom with horses and people.

In many of the stories, time was mentioned as something that was really important to Tom and the horse.  If you were on a schedule, Tom wasn’t your guy.  I thought about that some yesterday while Amy and I were working with some young horses.  I know I’m prejudice but, I think Amy is a genius in many respects too.  She has us working with these three young horses together at the end of the day when we have no scheduling pressures.  It’s amazing to me how well horses respond to a human who is trying to offer it a good deal when time isn’t a factor.  You’ve probably heard that the fastest way to get some things is to slow down.  Amy’s Dad would admonish us young folks about that when working with cattle at the ranch and I read that same advice several times in the book.   Anyway, without time pressure, we had these colts saddled, moved around a little until they could travel well with the saddle and in a group, did a little ground work to check out the freedom of their feet, put snaffles on for the first time and rode them around in the snaffle.  We got to a place where the horses were all comfortable and hunting us up in the saddle, stepped off and reversed the bridling saddling process.  It all went smooth as silk and I noticed a big change in the horses confidence in Amy and I when we were done.  I don’t know how long we were at it.  I don’t care.  Neither would Tom or any horse I’ve known.  Something to think about in our “time sensitive” society.  Maybe that’s one of the really attractive things about true horsemanship?  Have a great day spending time with your horses!

Lesson From A Bay Horse

This past weekend I was riding a big bay horse at our Ranch Retreat Clinic.  He’s gentle, smooth to ride, has a great walk, trot, and lope, and is pretty brave when in new situations.  His one fault is that he’s herd bound or love sick for the other horses.  So, I made it my mission to help him with that this weekend.  He’s interesting to me because he changes very quickly from calm and relaxed to really tipped up when he perceives that he’s being separated from the other horses.  He’s even more interesting because he can be in a group of horses that we’ve been riding with and if even one of those horses moves away from the group it concerns him.

I have heard of various methods of changing that behavior and making it easier for the horse to stay hooked on me and more difficult for it to be hooked on to the other horses.  Over two days of riding, I tried as many of those things that I could think of with very little change in my horse.  However, the one thing that I did learn for sure was that if I pushed too hard to increase the distance between my horse and another horse he was hooked on, I made things worse rather than better.  I learned what my horse felt like just before he got really worried and got ready to quit me no matter what else “good” I offered him at that particular moment.  He taught me how to stay just this side of trouble and be a little earlier to keep his mind in a good frame rather than a worried frame.  I’d like to report that he’s “fixed” and that I’m a heck of a hand but, that would be untrue.  I do think that we’re both just a little better from the experience and I appreciate what he allowed me to learn!  Have a great day with your horse today!

One rein stop

There are many things in the horse world that create differences of opinion and honestly, there is more than one way to accomplish a goal with your horse.  Many times it depends on the personality and ability of the rider and the temperament of the horse.  Our philosophy is to be aware of how our horse is acting or reacting to our direction and adjust to better accomplish what we have in mind.  The one rein stop is a basic tool that, in our opinion, every horseman/woman should have in their toolbox.  We teach it to every horse we ride and to every rider that rides with us.  It is also a tool that has come under scrutiny because it has been altered from its original form and in its altered form has caused some people to get hurt.  Balance in the one rein stop is critical.  The horse needs to stay balanced, the rider needs to stay balanced, and the horse and rider need to go together.  The beauty of a proper one rein stop is that it buys you time and security.  Time because you can have the hindquarters disengaged so the horse cannot leave without you and security because you know that with the hindquarters disengaged, you can ride wherever your horse goes.  As you are watching television or browseing your favorite horse magazine, be sure that the horse and rider you are trying to emulate look like they are in balance to you.  And, if you have questions about your one rein stop, Amy would be glad to help you with that.  Reach us at bridle-bit.com and “like” us on facebook.  Enjoy this beautiful, RAINY day!!

Rain!

Good morning!  The rain started at Bridle Bit last night and by chore time this morning had accumulated .25 inches and was still raining.  The corrals weren’t dusty, the pastures weren’t dusty and the horses had more energy than I’ve seen for some time.  Hope the rain fell on your pastures too and that you enjoy the cooler temperatures promised for the next couple of days!

People and Horses

What I think I used to hear Ray Hunt say at his clinics is that he was there for the horse and if the people could come along, that was great, if not, that was okay with him too.  When watching him at a clinic, Ray would take the time to help a rider that showed some promise and he would visit with people that were on the verge of finding a piece of what he had to offer his horses to help them with their search.

Balance is one of the main keys in horsemanship and in my world of helping people with their horses, I strive to find the balance between what the horse needs and the rider needs.  The horse has an amazing ability to adapt to its life.  He learns what he lives and lives what he learns.  He’s just to honest to not do that.  And, that’s one of the reasons that I trust what the horse tells me about his life rather than what the rider’s perception of what the horses life is like.  As a person, I know that I have good points and not so good points.  I also have a lot going on in my life….. distractions.  As a horse person, I owe it to my horse to put those distractions aside while i’m with him and allow for the whole of me to be with the whole of him for whatever time we have together.  As a teacher, I try to provide a few tools to help my students gain the confidence they need to feel safe.  But, the best thing I can help them learn is to trust in their horse so their horse can trust in them and to feel what the horse is offering them.  The horse is the best at teaching that!  Enjoy this beautiful day God has made!!