I spend a lot of time on the ground these days. Not because I’m getting bucked off, but because I choose to. As I’ve explored different natural horsemanship methods over the past couple of years, I’ve learned about all sorts of new ways to play with a horse without climbing into the saddle– from obstacle courses and horse playgrounds, to training at liberty, to teaching and building behaviors using clicker training.
I enjoy this kind of playing with horses– it’s fun, and I’m limited only by my imagination and creativity. It’s a good thing that I enjoy playing with horses from the ground, as most of the horses I’m working with these days at the rescue are not broke to ride. However, I still do enjoy riding as much as before, and it’s always fun when I get the opportunity to climb back up into the saddle. We rode a few of the horses at the rescue over the weekend and here are a some pictures.
This first picture is of me on a 22 year old mare named Maggie. She just got back from about a month at the trainer’s. Maggie had been a broodmare long ago, but spent the past 7 years or so sitting in a field doing nothing. The rescue sent her to a local trainer to determine if she was trained to ride. I rode her a bit and also played with her on the ground. She was a joy and had obviously been well trained in the past. Under saddle, she responded well to everything I wanted. On the ground, she was even better. She easily did things such as figure-eights around barrels the first time I asked.
The next horse I rode was Rohan, who belongs to Dawn, the woman who runs the rescue. He was a bit rusty, but was fun to ride as well. Being half draft horse, he gets slightly offended when asked for any gait above a walk. “I’d rather not,” he says politely. However, he was willing to trot and canter when I continued to ask.
Rohan was much more motivated to move when he could follow another horse! Here’s Dawn on Rohan following me on Maggie.
And lastly, here’s my good friend Liz on Shadow. Shadow’s the original rescue horse and is now 27. He’s a sweet old guy and is still fun to ride.