I’ve got you

      12 Comments on I’ve got you
Horses as a species tend to be afraid.
……of pretty much everything.
I always try to remember that the horses we ride today were the ones whose ancestors escaped when their friends and relatives were being eaten by lions. 
Some of them are more talented at escaping than others.
When we take on the task of training a horse to do something insane……..
like jump this………….
yeah, I know we’re doing it wrong………
we have to overcome a lot of natural tendencies……….
Baby Seabiscuit and I have been through a lot.
He Sees Dead People.
And it’s been tough to contend with.
We’ve had some really good moments…………
 and some pretty hairy moments.
Our team work is getting fairly solid though and we’ve built some rapport.
 But occasionally those dead people override every bit of conditioning.
I have a fabulous instructor……..
 I know it’s hard to believe ANYONE is willing to coach BadEventer…….
Just before our last show he gave me the best advice for my Chicken Little that I’ve ever gotten.
Baby Seabiscuit was doing some looking & spooking & scooting……………the usual.
When he starts looking and I feel his heart POUNDING between my ankles I usually back off and give him a chance to deal with the terrifying THING that has him wanting to flee.
A year ago, if I didn’t back off, it went like this………
But now that we have LOTS of miles together our fearless leader said I needed to take a different approach.
He explained, “It’s like walking across the street holding hands with a young child. You hold their hand a little firmer and them a little closer to let them know, “I’ve got you, I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
So instead of softening and letting him look and be scared, don’t soften, get firmer in all your aids and let him know, “I’ve got you.”
With my new found knowledge I headed to the show………..
to try it out.
We had the best dressage test we’ve ever had.
For once I took off the neck strap in the ring!
For anyone that likes to watch paint dry, here’s the test.
Can you believe we even got some 8s???
We had our best stadium yet.
And we even cantered MOST of our cross country jumps!
Usually we’re walking or trotting because he’s looking and spooking.
Yes – yes, he STILL saw a few dead people out on course, but this was
definitely a Game Changer.
Bad Eventer & Baby Seabiscuit…..

feeling lucky to have such a talented, tolerant and intuitive coach.




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12 thoughts on “I’ve got you

  1. tserafouin

    It really depends on the horse. With the beast I'm riding now I have to "take his hand" and hold it firmly… and when we're right next to the scary thing, I let go of the reins a bit so he can look at it, while keeping my legs firmly on his sides. Since he is a horse that, when he first came to our stable, would only walk backwards, sideways and rear up when the rider applied the tiniest bit of pressure and has come a long way since then, I was reluctant at first to ride him so… strongly. After all, his owner told me not to fight with him, because I could only lose. The way he was trained before he came to us… I can't even imagine how this went. I never sat on a horse that asked for so much contact to the rider's hand. he would literally only stop yanking on the reins and swinging his head when I held the reins so tightly I couldn't bear it for longer than 10 minutes. And that was after his owner had worked with him for 3 years and got him to walk forwards instead of just rearing and walking sideways. So I started on getting him to search for contact less forcefully. which meant I rode with half-loose reins for a few weeks until he accepted the light contact before I started picking up the reins again. I tried several variations of bridles and bits. Then I worked on getting him to walk in straight lines on loose reins. (walking straight is another BIG issue. He sees something – he turns not just his head but the whole horse so that he can watch better. because horses don't have their eyes conveniently on the sides so that they don't have to turn their necks…) Right now I'm at a point where I dare to put my legs on his sides and give half-halts when I feel he's going to spook/turn/rear/bolt – plus I am constantly talking to him which earns me questioning looks but I somehow need this "don't you dare, I'm warning you, even if there was a spaceship landing on that field you can still bloody trot on this circle if I tell you to" … and when I feel that he trusts me that no, no monster is going to jump from behind that tree, I put my hands a bit forward on his neck as a reward (the German word for this is "Überstreichen", I don't know what it's called in English). So far I can tell that he feels safer when he feels all my aids (including voice) while passing something dangerous. also, I currently ride with a neck strap, but fitted more loosely than the one you used. It serves as an aid for me to keep my hands down and still and doubles as a balance rein (I stumbled over balance reins while googling "neck strap" which also led me to your blog 😉 maybe it could help you as well?).
    I can imagine though, that riding a cross country course on a horse that's been known to spook, it takes some courage to put your legs and hands in place and say, I'm here, I got you, go jump over that solid obstacle even though there are dead people all around…
    well done, you two!

  2. emma

    woo hoo! super exciting – and you guys looked great out there! congrats! it seems like an approach to riding that would also help instill confidence in the rider too (tho you don't really seem to suffer from any lacking there haha)

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