dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, October 2, 2020

Be Prepared

 If you google 'quotes about being prepared' you will get a lot of gems:

"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail" - Benjamin Frnaklin

"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet"  Bobby Unser

"“The essence of preparation is to position your horse to where the one thing that he’s most likely to do is exactly what you had in mind…which makes it a perfect time to ask him.” Buck Brannon

Preparation is a key thing when riding and training horses. Not that that is new information for anyone who rides/works with horses. That's where we live.  At least that's where I live. I probably shouldn't be speaking about everyone. 

Carmen: I'm not sure what standing on a tarp
is good for but okay

One thing I can thank Carmen about is helping me to be a better, thinking rider.  I have learned that it's not about preparing for every possible circumstance. It's about teaching strategies for thinking and responding to cues so that when the unexpected happens you are ready. 

Like wrangling chickens. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

The truth is that I have had a few failures with Carmen and so, now that I don't always have the confidence in myself that we can deal with stuff. That has lead to me riding more with hope than preparation. 

But, as I like to say,  hope is not a strategy. So I've been trying to dismiss those thoughts (like 'I hope she doesn't spook in the corner') and replace them with positive thoughts ('we're going through the corner with energy and bend) and trust that I have the skills to ride through things if not when things go wrong. 

Expect this

But know how to ride this

Both Karen and Shanea focus on riding with a strong back so that if the horse moves suddenly they can't dislodge the rider but the hands are still following. When I get it right it really helps. Today in my ride Carmen gave a big spook and tried to run away (I think from a butterfly but it could have been a leaf). I was able to get her back within a few feet, I backed her up to where we were and we carried on.  I'm doing much better with not getting frustrated or tight. So go me!

While I was riding I got a text from the vet that she was on her way ( I had arranged for Carmen to have a teeth appointment and I wanted to ride before). Julia and I were pretty happy where we were so we decided to go for a hack back to the barn. I wanted Carmen to lead and she did. She's getting much better at that. It's a step towards my goal of us hacking out alone. 

We were on way out the bottom of the property to head back to the barn. We were strolling along when Carmen's head shot up. 
Carmen: what's that?
Me: um I don't kn-wait, is that the chickens? 

Carmen and stood still and stared. The girls tried to act all casual. 
Chickens:  oh hai. We're just s'ploring. Looking for bugs, you know, chicken business. 
Irish and Julia were behind us wondering what was happening. 
Irish: c'mon, let's get going. *nudges Carmen*

Carmen: now what. 
Me: umm, we need to get them back home. 
chickens: we're good. 
Me: wait, there's only three of you, where's Beth?
Chickens: what? no we counted- 1, 3, 8, 11. See we're all here. 
Me: .......

We all stood in this frozen tableau waiting for someone to make a move. 

I gave a deep sigh and swung out of the saddle. C'mon Carmen we have to herd these girls back. 

I wasn't worried about Carmen but I didn't want the chickens to run into the woods instead of home. I led her forward and the chickens began to walk back. Carmen was a bit wary but I know that if you can get a horse to follow something then their flight response changes to curiosity. We've done this work with flags, tarps and other things. Not with chickens though. 

As we walked, keeping the chickens moving in the right direction. Carmen began to get into it. As the chickens zigged she moved over to block them. It was kind of funny. Her ears were up and she was having fun. 
Carmen: git along little chickies
Chickens: This is an outrage! We demand equal access to the woods. 

I got this equilab app that tracks the ride 
via my phone. The X is where the chickens were, the 
white dot is where their house is. 
(also liking the app)

I never found out where the 4th chicken was so I called Ed to come and look while I put Carmen away. He walked down but couldn't find her. I walked around the house and there were all four chickens in a fight over a grasshopper. So phew. I would have been sad to have lost one of them. 

Things went well and the reason is not luck but all the work I continue to do.  

And now we can add chicken wrangling to our resume. 

A chicken free zone


  1. I love feeling that energy they get from "chasing" scary things - cows, people on bikes, or in Carmen's case -- chickens! 😁

  2. You got the chickens back in a straight line, that's some top notch chicken wrangling!!

  3. That was a great story. I wonder if naming her Beth has doomed her though: )

  4. I love this story! Lily used to be afraid of birds until I taught her to herd them and then her expression was just like what you described here with Carmen. <3 She thought it was the best game!

  5. So glad the chickens are all safe. I remember the riding with a strong back from when I used to ride. But not sure if I learned that following something will make a horse forget about fear and flight and become curious. That makes so much sense. A lovely post.

  6. That's it! Carmen has found her calling! Haha! Silly chickens.
    Glad you got them all back in safely.


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.