Gravity Makes Fools of Us All.

I think the saying is actually that time makes us fools, but a big component of that would be gravity.

Nothing disastrous happened, mind.  Just got reminded of things falling.  Thankfully, knock on wood, not me.

After a relatively unexciting day at work (I wish I were one of the lucky few that actually loves their job), I walked dogs and rode Archie.

He was okay to start.  Just so damn lazy.  I feel like a kid sometimes - kicking, kicking, kicking.  We get a pace and then he starts to slow.  So I end up kicking, kicking, kicking.  I shouldn't bitch.  I could fix the lazy problem, I could install that forward button pretty firmly.  I think one ride with spurs would do it, but I so hate spurs.  I'm really a freaking tack nazi.  Maybe a tack Puritan.  I keep it insanely simple:  snaffle, bridle, saddle.  Strong seat, strong legs, responsive hands.  When he's a giant shit, I'll pull out the dressage crop.  Occasionally, I'll break a branch off of a tree and poke him with it.

I just got into a conversation about why I support moonshine.  And it was a pretty conversation.  I learned a new word:  rotgut.

So, I'm riding, I'm kicking, I'm trying to get the little bastard to move forward at the walk, and a freaking tree branch falls off in the distance. I didn't get a spook, I got hyper-awareness and full-body trembling.  And then the trembling stopped, but I had a rocket under me for the rest of the ride.  Not awesome.  I never really got him to relax again.

Oh, what else?

I don't think I mentioned this, but I got a new tattoo on Saturday.  I say "new tattoo" and what really happened was that my half-sleeve was mostly filled in.  I see women with half sleeves all the time and it's hard to think that now I'm one of them.  Like I just got to join the big kids' table.

I don't think I wrote about this, but I wanted to harp on the whole tack Puritan thing.  Let me slowly segue into that.

Have I written about Archie's pasture buddies?  Probably not - I never intended this to be whole-horse, anyways.  Well, Arch goes out with two other bay thoroughbred geldings.  Odd coincidence.  Archie is the middle kid.  Sang is 28, 15.2h, too skinny, and has one white sock.  Duke is 11, 17+h, decent weight, and has three white socks.  Archie is 15, 16.2h, great weight, and has two white socks.  It's pretty neat to see them all lined up in age/height/socks.

I don't much care for Duke's owner, which is fine because I never see her.  I do occasionally see the chick who is leasing him and we're barn friends.  She's been talking to me a lot about his training and about the issues she's been having.  I offered up a stronger bit and some training advice.  She told me that the owner had acquired draw reins and what a great tool they were.

I was a little bit horrified because neither of these women have the hands nor the training nor the skill set that I think qualifies them to use draw reins.  I toss those suckers into the category of "exceptionally experienced."  Which, yeah.  No.  No, they aren't.

When she asked me if I'd like to ride him, I secretly jumped on the opportunity while also trying to contain my enthusiasm.  You see, I rode a Duke once.  A big, bay Duke.  Not the same horse in any other respect, but the fascination was there.  My enthusiasm was tapered because, as I said, I don't like his owner.  And I was wearing tennis shoes and jean shorts.  But I got my helmet, at least.

So I rode this Duke and felt the issues that they were having and just started asking him to do various things.  About this time, the barn friend starts extolling the benefits of the draw reins and was using my riding as an example of how they had changed this horse.  I told her, pretty bluntly, that I disagreed.  And then I explained about my leg and seat asking him to go forward while I also had a very gentle (and equitation-wise, horrible) touch on his mouth with my ring finger on either hand.  I showed her how I was very gently toying with his mouth while pushing him forward.  He knew what it meant and was giving it to me.  And then I was releasing in reward.

I just think.. anything you want the horse to do, you ought to be able to ask for with basic riding skills.  Not gimmicks or tools or contraptions.  It's learning how to correctly communicate what you want with your body in a way that your horse understands.

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  1. It's scary when someone who shouldn't get their hands on an "aid" does... Sounds like Duke has the training but the riders need to take some lesson and learn :)