Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Up, down, up, down" as a maintenance aid

Summer camp is upon us: endless coaching of correct leg position, how to hold yourself upright in the saddle, this is how you steer, this is standing up in the saddle, this is posting at the walk, and then with some you graduate to posting on the lunge line.

These horses are saints. I am beyond lucky to know these horses and when I think about how many kids have benefited from these horses it is a bit overwhelming. But they're not dumb. They know when an educated butt is sitting on them and when it's a kid who knows nothing. (See also: my TB took off with a student and when I got on to school him, I loped him around like a western pleasure horse with no rein contact.)

I've begun to notice something interesting. As long as you're chanting "up, down, up, down," in a sing-songy but rhythmic voice, several of our horses will continue plugging along peacefully. The moment you stop, however, they'll break to the walk.

Somehow, inadvertently, we've trained these horses to assume "up, down, up, down" is their maintenance aid.