Friday, March 14, 2014

Slaying the Trail Dragons

A couple Sundays ago Ted rode Brass with me. He wanted to show me some pointers to help me communicate better with Brass. This also gave Ted a chance to see how well Brass was responding and how soft he was staying. It is very important for Brass to be soft and have good lateral flexion. In addition to that his one rein stop has to be perfect. Brass needs to give and have a nice reverse and know how to yield the hind quarters. A simple circling exercise continues to keep him soft and supple. This gives me my "handle" so I can travel down the trail safely among the unexpected dangers of bikers, loose dogs, turkeys in the brush, deer jumping up in the trail, rattlesnake, etc.

An unplanned bonus that day was when Brass hooked a piece of loose wire with a hind foot. He jumped but didn't buck or anything. Proving again that good communication with your horse can save you. I have seen horses get in one little piece of wire and go ballistic and it isn't pretty. Brass has been desensitized to accept these kind of things but of course like any green horse, he had to react. After a couple jumps he was stopped and was OK.

But after the wire incident I learned a new trick. Ted got off, picked up the wire and calmly walked towards Brass with it in his hand. "Killer wire" was Brass's thought as he watched it and wanted to back away. But Ted touched Brass with the wire which brought out a jump and a snort, and then he took the wire away. He continued with the wire in a manner of approach and retreat until Brass accepted it. Ted touched Brass all over with the wire including his legs and Brass just stood there. Ted was now bigger, badder and better than the wire. Now the wire was not a threat and Ted was Brass' hero. We all need a hero, someone to offer us protection! Horses know they are prey and everything they don't understand is going to eat them.

I told Ted I would have never thought of doing that! I would've just ridden off and left the incident up in the air, without closure. But for Ted, doing this was second nature. Removing fear of the object helps establish respect and trust. Plus next time he encounters something like this he will have less fear. I was definitely impressed.

I try to ride Brass on the trails four times a week. A few days back the wind was pretty stiff and the tumbleweeds trapped in the fence were jumping up and down. Brass eyeballed them and snorted. I remembered Ted and the wire. So I got off and plucked a small tumbleweed from the fence. I told him, Ted says you have to believe that I can save you from the killer tumbleweed, and I touched him with it. He snorted but stood as I took it away. We played approach and retreat with the bush and he quickly lost interest. I then "set it free" and he watched it roll away and go over the hill. Then he touched me with his nose and I know he said, "Wow, you chased that bush right out of here. You are my hero." I led my tall horse to a high spot for me, climbed back aboard, and off we went without a care in the world the rest of the day.


AareneX said...


Karen C. said...

Right now, you, Brass and Ted are my hero's! I do that kind of stuff at home but never thought of doing it on the trail. I want to be my horses hero too. Thank you!!!!

You and Brass are doing great! What a team you two are! :-)

HHmstead said...

Nice! Don't you love it when the "win" is relatively "easy"? :-) Love the Prairie photos!