Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Burn Out

Many people get caught up in the monotony of their jobs.  They do the same thing day in and day out and it takes away the love and desire they once had to do the job. Maybe it's not the monotony but the stress and constant pressure to perform, meeting deadlines, your coworkers or boss that has done you in.  You may try to do your best but in reality your heart is no longer in it like it once was; your passion is gone.

I'm sure many of you know the feeling that I'm talking about whether it's about a job or maybe even a hobby or sport you once loved. No matter what it may be from, taking a leaving of absence or a change of pace or scenery is what most people will do to clear their head after being burnt out.

The same is true for horses. They can get burnt out and sour just as we can. That's where you can see horses starting to wring their tail, baulk at the gate, get panic attacks, buck and rear.  There of course are other things that can go on that could cause the very same issues such as pain and miscommunication that need to be factored in to know the true reason why a horse does these things. However, horses regardless will become bored or lose their desire just as we do.

It is our job as their rider and trainer to be on the watch for this in our horses and prevent it from ever happening. Those horses that are constantly in training and being drilled need some time to refresh their minds.  Ranch work and pasture riding are so important to let a horse breathe and rejuvenate. Although technically you're taking a "break" from training, there are so many things you can do under the radar that will further your training.  Go work on circles around a sage brush, switching leads between them, work on speed control, walk slow, walk fast, trot slow, trot fast, (you get the picture), etc.  If you're on the ranch, position your horse on a cow much like you would if you shape your horse for a barrel.  Let the cow move your horse and your horse the opportunity to "think" on his own without being told.  Give them praise and give them meaning to their work.  The time away from actual "training" will do them good and they will come back willing and wanting so much more.  If they've lost their "passion" to run barrels, just by giving them a different job or just time off in general could make all the difference and bring them back to loving what they do. 

I see this alot in horse trainers as well.  We get so caught up into what we're doing that we forget why we are there in the first place. We're constantly on deadlines to get a job done that can have so many variables, the stress of performing well and the aches and pains that we put our bodies through day in and day out to complete the job is enough to make anyone lose a little bit of their focus after awhile. Although I haven't lost my "passion", I can say that I have lost focus on why I really do what I do.  With being pregnant with our second child I have gotten more than enough time off to be reminded and brought back to see why I love what I do.  This breath of fresh air sort to speak brings me back refreshed and hungry to get back to it.  I'm reminded of this verse, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23 NIV .  There is no shame in admitting your heart is not in a job because of being "burnt out" and I respect those that realize it in their horses and themselves before it gets too bad and will do something about it. 

With this breath of fresh air not only are my horses refreshed, but I am as well.  I am recharged and ready to get back in the saddle!  I don't know what 2013 has in store for us, but I do know that I will ride through it with an open mind, renewed focus and a heart full of passion.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Preparing For Our First Rides

When first starting a young colt under saddle, we do a lot of preparation for this big event whether we realize it or not.  Ground work, sacking them out, getting them to "join up", creating a good partnership based on willing submission, etc is what most comes to mind when people think of "preparing" a horse to be rode. 

However, there is something that many over look - floating teeth.  Many think that the only time you need to worry about the teeth is when a horse's condition is going downhill or if you are having trouble with the bit. What is that saying? "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Why wait until you have problems?

I am a big believer of getting our your horse's teeth done before we think about starting them. Not only do we need to make sure that there are no wolf teeth there that will interfere with how well a colt takes a bit, but even as two year olds they can have sharp points that cut into a colt's cheeks causing discomfort. Not only will floating their teeth early help with riding but by keeping their teeth balanced year to year, we are setting our horses up to have a mouth full of teeth as even older horses keeping them that much happier and healthier.

Last year I was guilty of over looking the teeth of our young horses and boy did it ever show to me when I was riding.  As horsemen we know that there are bound to be a few bumps in the road caused by miscommunication, unwilling submission or self preservation due to pain.  I would rather take the guesswork out of it as much as I can by making sure their teeth are not the problem so that I can move onto finding the right solution and to curb the potential problem before it ever starts.

Although I am not able to ride yet, yesterday I started "preparing" by having our two and three year olds teeth done as well as the other horse I will be riding this spring, Elvis.  It may be a month or more before I will be able to swing a leg over a saddle but I will know that when that time comes that I will be that much more prepared and the horses will be ready to get to work.

I've always been a stickler for having a horse's teeth done every year and after overlooking/forgetting about it last year, I was not going to make the same mistake twice!  Have you done all you can to "prepare" your horse?