I’ve never understood how people or horses can stand doing the same ole repetitive riding routine day in and day out. Doesn’t riding around and around in the same ole ring get boring? I admit, I too used to be guilty of this, but that’s before I realized that there is a wide world of riding opportunities and challenges out there to enjoy and take advantage of with horses in Memphis and everywhere!
I guess for some, it’s easy to fall into the comfort zone rut of ring riding, but a well-rounded horse and rider, should be able to handle a variety of riding environments. I’ve seen fantastic “show hunters” perform on the buckle in a ring, yet outside of their “training bubble” fall to pieces when presented with the challenge of working in a wide open field alone or with others. I’ve witnessed great hackers, crumble when presented the challenge of true collection and hind quarter engagement in a dressage ring. Have you ever caught yourself asking the following?
Uh oh, what’s gonna happen when that tractor passes, or that dog runs past us, or that cow in the field next door walks by, or the donkey or miniature from the barn across the way walks past, or heaven forbid…. a horse or pony carriage passes by???
Okay, what this all really translates to is that some of us riders like to take the easy way out.We like to stick with what we are comfortable doing and not risk “rocking the boat” or more specifically “hitting the dirt!” What we are guilty of doing is creating dumb horses... dumb horses and dumber riders! We don’t challenge our minds or our horses minds because we stick to the same ole easy routine…We don’t ask our horses to think!
Clinton Anderson refers to the horse as having two minds:
- Mind #1=The everyday ho hum routine mindless mind. (what is familiar)
- Mind #2=The Oh crap what is that? It’s time to run! (The Flight/Prey instict)
The flight instinct is the predominant natural horse instinct. So the trick to a good well-rounded horse is to get them to overcome this flight instinct and use their “thinking mind.” Using the thinking side of the brain is not a natural response, but it’s something a horse can develop and enhance. Horse’s develop this side of their brain by being challenged with new stimuli and tasks. Why not take your hunter out on trail rides… and laugh at those weenies who snub their noses at trail riding as being “not real work” They are usually the one's most in need of a good trail ride; bock bock BOOOOCKKK! Tell em’ your eating chicken for dinner and enjoy yourself!
Why not jump on bareback, throw on a saddle of a different discipline, take your horse for a walk, walk through a trail in the woods, walk out in an open field, stand at the end of a pond, walk in a pond, go for a swim in the pond (take off that martingale), ride in a different arena, trailer to a new place to ride…. The possibilities are endless! The more types of environments you expose yourself and your horse to, the better trained you and your horse really are and more importantly, the more fun you both will have!