As summer sets in and you are finding you are no longer in a rush to leave the barn and escape the winter weather, it is a perfect time to start new habits with yourself and your horse.
You know that moment you put your foot in the stirrup and the horse starts to walk as you swing your leg over. You think - meh, next time you’ll make him stand. What about when you put your horse away and you think about cleaning his bit and bridle but you decide, meh, next time. What about when you are warming up your horse. Do you walk for 10 minutes before you get into the trot work? Maybe you find the walk is too boring or you don’t know what to do.
With the extra time you have saved reading my blog post “Weapons of Mass Distraction” you can use that time to build new habits.
This week I was asked to school a handsome 16 year old gelding. He was full of energy and looking for any excuse to spook. When I mounted, it struck me how well he stood…..and how lazy I had gotten with my own horses (insert sheepish look here)! The owner shared with me the sugar cube trick- which I knew about but it just slipped my mind with my own horses….. What is the trick? Have a sugar cube handy. You mount the horse, ask him to halt and then lean over and give him a sugar cube. After a couple of rides he will anticipate the sugar and not walk off. Voila! You have a horse that will stand while being mounted.
Bridle cleaning doesn’t have a magic trick… unless you have a sugar cube addiction. It did help me to have a wonderful working student from Germany who was obsessive about having a clean bridle! If I even thought about putting away a dirty bridle I would just get “THE LOOK” that would send me scurrying to the wash stall to clean the bridle. If you don’t have the self discipline to clean your bridle, just imagine George Morris, a Working Student, or someone who scares you giving you the “stare of shame”. Even just cleaning your bit after every ride is a small but effective habit- who wants sores on their horses mouth because of a dirty bit? Do you reuse the same toothbrush everyday without rinsing it after you use it? So Gross. I sure don’t.
I am a firm believer of “walking your horse” for the first 10 minutes of a ride. An old Swiss rider instilled this habit in me, John Lassetter actually made it fun, and Jane Savoie made it logical for me. Actually now that I am writing this little blog I think I will save the “10 minute walk” for a longer post.
Here is your challenge- until I compose that post, you can just start warming up with a 10 minute walk every ride. I would be curious to know what you do with your 10 minutes before I share with you what I do! Leave a comment on the blog!