Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trail Training Newsletter - #111 - One More Ruined Horse

One More Ruined Horse

The other night, the river was too high to cross, so I was just riding up and down the hill on Cruiser. After the first trip, we met someone new at the top. He was from a barn a few doors down from us. He was mounted on a lovely Tennessee Walker mare.

As we rode down the hill, he told me his story. Turns out, this man was new to owning horses. He had rented horses for years, and since he was only able to walk those horses, he wanted to see what it was like to run. He had only been riding his new horse a few weeks on the trail, but all he was doing was running her. I’m not sure if he meant doing the running walk or doing a canter.

The results? He had to ride with an iron grip on the reins as his horse fought the bit to try to go faster than Cruiser’s quiet walk. He was surprised how tightly he needed to hold the reins since he never had to do that with the rental horses. He started to tell me about the other horse he bought—a balky Quarter Horse that didn’t want to leave the driveway and showed him what it was like to ride a buck.

At the bottom of the hill, I knew what was coming. I asked him if he horse walked up the hill, and he said, “No.” I wasn’t the least bit surprised. I told him I needed to walk—a horse with a healed bowed tendon doesn’t need to gallop up a steep hill in a race.

When we got to the spot where the incline began, his horse started fighting with him. I turned Cruiser the opposite way to head the other direction. I was too late. While we were turning, Cruiser saw the other horse bolting. Cruise bolted, too, but at least he went the other direction—away from home. I was able to get him trotting and then brought him to a standstill as we watched the man struggle with his horse until he got about halfway up the hill—and then it looked like he gave up and away they went.

I had trouble getting Cruiser to settle down, but he did. The whole incident really bothered me. Sure, I have seen bad horsemanship before, but in talking to this man, he seemed like he really wanted to do the right thing—but was clueless as to how his actions would affect his horse-and the horses around him.

I think I need to sell him my book.

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