September 16, 2008
Be sure with these pre-ride checks from Step 1 of “AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship.”
You wouldn’t want to get on an airplane without knowing that someone had checked the fuel and made sure everything was in working order, right? It’s no different with a horse.
Once you’ve saddled up, there are two things you really shouldn’t do:
- Get on without any preparation.
- Turn your back and walk away from the horse, with him following.
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Before you climb aboard your horse, perform a short series of exercises from the ground to check that everything is in working order and going well for the horse – mentally, emotionally and physically.
- Don’t just chase the horse around in mindless circles. Keep his feet busy, but keep him interested. If you’re interesting, he’ll be interested. Back him up a little. Send him to the right and to the left. Disengage the hindquarters and send the shoulders out in a new direction. Do lots of smooth transitions and changes of direction. This will all help the horse get connected to you before you get on his back.
- Every once in a while, as you’re going through these exercises, tighten up your cinch a little bit. You’ll find that once your horse moves a little, he’ll blow out some air. Usually, three adjustments are enough.
- As you tighten the cinch, try to get in time with the horse’s breathing and be polite. Tighten up the girth as you would your own belt.
These exercises are not meant to get the horse physically tired. They’re more to get him mentally prepared. If he’s confident, light and connected on the ground, you can be sure that things are going to go much better when you get on his back.
Get the rest of this important lesson in “AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship,” a two-part book and DVD set done in partnership with La Cense Montana. AQHA members get a special discount.