Ride Your Best Horse

SundanceI love the training part of riding a horse.  Every time you get on a horse you are training it in some way or another.

Although I consider myself a teacher, my sister says I was just born bossy!  Same thing!!?

My dad loved horses too.  We shared that.  He started team roping after he retired and recruited all the grandkids he could to do it with him.  So in my 5 acre pasture I had a herd of team ropin’ horses.  When I decided I wanted to start back riding after a very long hiatus my dad directed me to the team ropin’ herd.

He told me I could ride any horse I wanted so, I picked me out one and started riding. A few days later when he figured out which one I was riding, he told me that it was only one in the herd that bucked!  I guess that horse liked that fact that I was just moseying around because we were getting along just fine!

I came home one day and my horse friend was gone!

Sold!  Gone the way of all good ropin’ horses worth something.

That’s when I decided I needed my own.

Sundance was listed for sale in my electric company’s newsletter.  After going and checking him out I sent my son, Colby, with an envelope full of money he wasn’t to look in and a horse trailer to pick him up.  The guy told me that his old father rode the horse and he came off of a ranch in New Mexico.

Well, his dad must have been a heck of a rider and Sundance must have gotten kicked off the ranch!

He was as stubborn as a mule.  He would get to the end of the driveway and then start popping up in the front end because he didn’t want to go any further.  I had my other son, Matt, ride him and he bucked like a Grated Coconut decendant.  He either had no intention of lunging or he didn’t know how.

Yes, my friends, I had my inexperienced, uninformed hands full!

My horse, Sundance, now gets all the credit for teaching me or causing me to learn everything I know about training a horse.  And, right now although he is 22 years old, he is still my Best Horse.DSC_0343

Well, I had to do something.

I saw Chris Cox do his horse training thing at the Hardy Murphey Collisium in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  It didn’t take me long to decide to attend his week long clinic at his ranch near Mineral Wells, Texas.

My son had to load my horse for me because I had never done it by myself.  I had a Toyota pickup and a small 2 horse WW straight load trailer.  I headed off to Texas with an attitude of no matter what scary or crazy thing Chris asked me to do, I was going to do it until I mastered the skill.  I placed my life in his hands!

Let me tell you, that was a hell of a week I will never forget.  I also learned more than I ever imagined!

The first night there everyone in the clinic loaded up and went into Ft. Worth to the historic stockyards for dinner and a little fun at Billy Bob’s.  That was the last trip we made to town for the next six days.  Chris worked our butts off!

He asked me to get on my horse without a bridle and ride around the round pen at a lope.  After getting bucked off once, I got back on and loped around with no hands.  I did it.

He sent us up very steep, high gullies and then back down again.  I did that too.

We all practiced loading our horses onto a big wide slant trailer first and then he had me go get mine.  We were all out there until after dark while everyone had to get their horse to load into my little bitty trailer.  Thank goodness my fellow clinic participants didn’t hold it against me.

The last night of the clinic Chris handed out awards.  I got the coveted  “Most Improved” and a gift certificate to come back!  I had fullfilled my mission.

I loaded my own horse up when it was time to leave.

When I got home I practically crawled in the door and barely made my way to the couch.  I was sore and worn plumb out!  I didn’t want to move for a couple of days!  My son unloaded my horse and put him away for me, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t capable this time medical student stethoscope boy what fun I had that week.  I found out I could do what I set my mind to and the “training my own horse bug” had bitten me.  I now knew what a horse could do and I was capable enough to make it happen.

I’ve been all about it ever since!  Well….in my mind anyway!

 

So, here’s the problem.

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Now I’ve got five different horses to ride and one little pony.

I’ll take one and then another when I go trail riding.  I rarely take the same horse twice so if there’s a problem with one of them, I’ll work on it on the ride and then maybe for a few days afterward at home.  I never make or stick to a plan.  I’m haphazard with training.  That’s why my first horse is my best horse.  I did spend time riding him because; (1) he was my only horse, and (2) he needed a constant attitude adjustment.

I’m just going to go ahead and admit that I’ve gotten really lazy.

So, here’s the plan.

  1. Choose a horse to work with for 90 days.
  2. Evaluate horse’s current skills
  3. Identify 12 training goals for this particular horse
  4. Devise a plan for each goal
  5. Work on 1 goal per week or until goal is accomplished
  6. Ride four or more consecutive days per week

I’m ready.

I’m stepping out and going Pro!  That means claiming what I’ve always been meant to do.  No more wasted time on stuff that doesn’t mean anything to me.

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