It’s that busiest time of the year for us on the farm. Haying and horse shows. A week and a half ago, we held our second of four horse shows. Last week, I was gone for 5 days assisting at the second of three Chris Irwin Train the Trainer clinics being held in Ontario. Hubby started haying without me. The weather was right and he had a new bale basket to try out. We had a couple of days reprieve from the haying process as rain was forecast mid-week. But, the next several days are going to be sunny & warm. So, on with haying we go. As farmers, we have learned to recognize the best time to bring in the hay. Do what needs to be done when it needs to be done or you risk taking in a bad crop or losing the crop altogether. We need at least 3 clear, warm, sunny days to cut, dry and bale the hay. Not enough drying time & you bale wet hay resulting in mouldy, dusty hay that is not good for horses. As well, there is the risk of burning down your barn. Too much drying time and you get crispy, dry, unpalletable hay with little nutrition.
It’s the same with training horses really. Know what needs to be done, and do it at the right time. If I’m asking my horse to bend to the right, when is it physically easiest for him to do that? When is the right time and where is the right place to apply the pressue to achieve the result I want? Is it fair to get mad at the horse for “pushing” into my leg aid if I am pushing at the same time his barrel is naturally swinging towards and into my leg pressure? Are you aware of the mechanics of your horse’s body when in motion? The horse’s barrel swings out of the way as the hind leg reaches under him. So, when he is stepping onto his inside hind leg, his barrel is swinging out. That’s when he is physically able to respond appropriately to the pushing inside leg aid asking for more bend. Try this exercise to increase your feel of the horse. In a safe environment, close your eyes for a few steps and feel your horse’s body movement beneath you. Can you feel the swing of the barrel; which hind leg is stepping under; the swing of the neck & head? When you can feel the swing of the barrel, try applying your leg and feel what happens.
For riding a cooperative horse and for making good hay, timing is everything.
Ride with Confidence!