The Importance of Balance
The past few weeks I've gotten to start more horses than usual. It's sure been nice to get to do this a little more regularly. Working with horses that have never been saddled or ridden is a whole different deal than working with horses that people are already riding but having problems with. Lots of people talk about re-starting these horses, and I have to wonder how effective this is. These horses can seldom be worked with the same feel we would employ if we were starting a colt right from the beginning. We might use some of the same exercises and maneuvers but the feel, the intent, in front of the maneuvers would be completely different.
So many, if not all, the horses I see that are in trouble wound up that way because they have constantly been taken OUT of balance by the rider and not INTO balance. A colt just getting started should be learning that the rider wants him in balance and we encourage him to learn that we can help him find this when a rider is on his back. So many troubled horses are discontented because of this lack of balance. They learn to get into a position that is the opposite of what the rider would like so that he may regain his balance and not sacrifice his self-preservation and dignity. Yet, they are expected to work for us anyway.
Think about a horse that is difficult for the farrier. Just before he does something like pulling a hoof away or kicking he gets out of the balance necessary to stand on three feet and into a balance better suited for him to do whatever it is that is causing the problem. If he can maintain this desirable balance and not lose it, then the problem simply fades away. Remember- the problem you see is not the problem you're having.
Believe it or not we can help a horse be better for the farrier by riding him into balance, and we can help our riding by getting him in better balance for the farrier. Now our riding goes way beyond getting from point A to point B.
Next week: How this idea of balance can eliminate the need for desensitizing.