dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, January 11, 2016


When I used to board my horses I wasn't all about the riding. I groomed and fussed and did some work with them. But it's fair to say that I spent 90% of my time in the saddle. I believed that it was the riding that led to progress.

However,  the experience of a yearling and having horses at home has taught me that this philosophy was false.  It is everything that we do with horses, no matter how small that is the training. Riding is part of this but the other thing I've learned is that riding is a mix of physical and mental. 

A few days ago my farrier came to trim the horses. We had pulled Carmen's shoes the last time and I was pleased with how she had done barefoot and I was hoping that he was too. We did Irish first and he was his normal well behaved self. Carmen was agitated in her stall- the result of not being in steady work I thought. I let Irish go outside and went to get Carmen. She was good for getting her halter on but tried to barge past me. I made her go back and do it again, politely. The temptation is to to not correct because the farrier is there and he's waiting. But I know that when she's like that I have to be sure that she is under control with everything, no matter how small. I promised Paul that if she was a problem I would bring Irish back in. I stood there and held her. I won't lie and say she was perfect but she was pretty well behaved. A few time she tried to grab her foot back but when corrected she lowered her head and stood there quietly. Her feet were done quickly and looked fine so no shoes required.  

When we were done I led her to go outside and she tried to go bolting by. Nope. I don't think so. Back in we went and I stood in the door until she no longer wanted to go by me. I then led her out and took her halter off. She was very polite. 

Yesterday, I brought Carmen in to the barn with the idea of a nice groom. The activity was the groom. The point was to have her stand patiently in the cross ties while I worked on her. When I first brought her in she was very restless in the cross ties- pawing, moving around etc. In the past I would have picked up on her agitation and gotten agitated myself. Instead I stuck with the plan. When she moved away I put her back. Quietly, but firmly. I did it repeatedly and did not let myself get frustrated. I realized that she was trying to keep her eye on Irish (who, by the way, didn't care and was meandering about in the paddock quite happily). So I went into Irish's stall and closed the sliding door so she could no longer look outside.

She was not impressed. But as I kept working she settled. After a thorough groom I brushed her mane until it was like silk. I then played with braiding it. By then she was settled and calm. 
not too bad for our first time. Belle is just thankful that she doesn't have hair that can braided.
Then I went to work on her tail. It was a bit of a mess and required a lot of conditioner to get the knots and mud out. I then trimmed it so it would stay out of the mud. 

When I was done she was quiet, calm and relaxed. Even without exercise. There is always something to learn.

How that translated into under saddle work I will save for the next post. 


  1. You know that I agree with you on this stuff. It is 100% of the work I'm doing with Tex now and it is ongoing with Lucy as well (and all the horses). So very important.

  2. Lots of hard work but I bet it was worth it. Braids for a mane...great idea.

  3. Wow! I did some braiding, too, but mine are nothing like yours. I'm glad I didn't read your post first, or I would have been embarrassed to share my pictures!! I'm with you 100 percent, too. Riding is a great gift, but there is so much more, and every step has a reward of its own.


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