At first I just took it as face value that it was a compliment and to me, a dang good one. However, as I'm returning to riding after my maternity leave and like you've heard me over and over trying to find my feel, timing, and balance again, I'm realizing that it might not have been the greatest thing to have this little mare this light and "broke".
Obviously if you've followed my blog, you know that returning from having kids is a struggle and something that I talk about a lot on here. It's the story of my life right now and one that I wouldn't have changed for the world. I envy those that can just jump back on after having kids and ride off like they've never skipped a day. However, in the effort to get it all back, I'm learning and appreciating things so much more than ever before.
I'm fortunate enough to live just a mile from an indoor arena that although I try not to work my young horses on the barrels in there due to it being so narrow, I do have plenty of room to set up drills and work on stations. I realize the importance of working on barrels, away from the barrels if you know what I mean and on those cold days that I wuss out from riding outside at home, I take full advantage of working on these drills.
One of my favorite drills is just using a single barrel and setting it up anywhere in the arena and I can approach and turn it like it's the 1st barrel, 2nd, 3rd, from any direction of the arena. Reiterating to my horse to listen to me and follow my body to turn the barrel. I'm realizing that the more time in the saddle is the best thing for me, but with each horse I'm having to figure out my timing and balance again.
I decided that I was going to work my mare as if it was a first barrel. Going slow she nailed it. Staying balanced and smooth. I added some speed knowing full well that things weren't going to be quite as nice as they were going slow. What I didn't realize was the fault would be solely on me! I added some speed and came into the barrel in very good position and on the backside I barely moved my hand, (I'm talking an inch at most) and she spun around like it was a reining competition. Whoa! We went through this process several times before I realized that by moving my hand an inch or less is what caused the reaction. She wasn't being bad (which I knew she wasn't, I just couldn't quite figure out why she was doing it), she was just doing what she was asked to do. So finally with my good friend Amanda coaching me, I made the turn and focused solely on my hand and not moving it. She came around the turn smooth and effortlessly just like she had when we were going slow.
"If you're not careful, she's going to be too broke to run barrels" came flooding to my mind. Sure enough he was right about that that particular day and situation. However, I still strongly believe that no horse can be too broke to run barrels. The problem lies with the rider such as myself. When the horse is cued into our every thought, movement, and feel it just makes it that much more important to be at the top of our game in order for the horse to be at the top of theirs. Horsemanship can be summed up riding a horse with willing submission by mastering feel, timing and balance. Every day that I saddle up, I try to work on these things with my horses. It's a team effort. However, we need to realize what we're asking our horses to do. Right now my horse is holding her end of the bargain and I need to uphold mine.
To me, a broke horse isn't a horse that it on auto pilot. It is a horse that when watching it with it's rider, you see a dance. A horse reading the rider and the rider reading the horse so that the horse puts the slack in the reins as you take it out. So no, I don't believe a horse can be too broke to run barrels, but I do believe that as the level of brokeness increases, the importance of the rider's feel, timing, and balance increases as well.
|One of the best feelings I ever felt was in this run where Holly and I were running on willing submission - a team. Holly is the dam the my 2015 futurity colt that I talk about in this blog.|