The Think

Tuesday, January 11, 2016

You’ve got to get the lead rope to mean something to the horse. 

We spent two afternoons at the barn just training this weekend. I forget when I get doing so much riding how much we both enjoy the learning and communicating process. 

Our ‘dance’ on the lead is going well and we dance every time I bring either horse in from the field. 

The walking circles routine is still hard but improving. I’m realizing the worst part is starting. I can’t send her off with just my lead rope pointing her in a direction. She doesn’t know what the lead rope means. 

If I can get her started then she tends to pull the circle and we do ovals but at least she’s not crowding me anymore. 

Here is a video of me leading her off then starting the circle. The circle is not as bad as earlier ones but I found a longer rope that is a little hard for me to manage and it reminds me of my struggle with fly fishing: line control!

Leading and circle video
We did some centered riding exercise as well and even had a chance to practice our conversation over turning around-

Khaleesi: I don’t want to go there- it’s too close to the gate… I don’t want to go in the woods today!

Me: you have to trust me. Whatever I need you to do is your job when we work together. GO!

Khaleesi: shoot it appears you have learned how to win this argument!!

Me: see- trust me. I’m not even making you go out the gate- this isn’t so bad right?

Buck said doing circles and serpentines around sagebrush as invaluable to fine riding. So we went around every tree in the yard!

We worked on finding my trotting diagonals and a little pivoting on hind and fore. 

The next day I decided I have to get her to understand what I mean when I point her with the lead to walk away from me. 


It took some time but we got somewhere. I tried to ‘let her think’ and not just push her off. Another thing I heard is that it’s important your horse learns you will wait on them. You will ask something and give them time to sort it out.

I thought my arms would fall off. 

But I did give her time to try something- I’d correct her (not that- try again) and she’d try something else (nope- not that) and eventually she would shift her front feet the direction I was pointing!


Allowing my horse the time to think teaches her that she doesn’t need to panic first when I ask something. More importantly it encourages her to use her mind- many horses have shut down that ability depending on how they are treated and function on instinct and flight when faced with a problem.  Then we get mad at them for panicking….

It makes me think of young students as well. When impatience rules (we don’t have time for this) answers are given quickly or on another end of the spectrum neglect and/or abuse teaches kids not to try. 

I hope to have the patience to encourage the think in my horses and my students. 


I also rode her bareback to work on my feel of where her feet are and more centered riding. 

Except a little step over at the mounting block that put me in an awkward position (we started over and tried again) that was a helpful and successful day. I worked on timing my leg to ask her to step over at the walk when her back leg was coming off the ground. 

It was nice to spend some quality time together and communicate more than just what we do working on the trail. 

PS- just got the FedEx email notice that my new saddle should be delivered TODAY!!!

Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

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