Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Lessons Learned

It only took a day for us to realize that the ‘extra’ horse that came along with the purchase of Manny, was a true gem. Anyone could ride him, with any kind of tack. He was one of those incredible horses that adjusted how he behaved to the rider, and he was extremely trustworthy. When my sweetpea had insisted on bringing him home as well, she’d done a very good thing. As it turned out, old fellow or not, Chico was a great horse.
By the second day, we were already using him to give riding lessons. I wasn’t in the business of teaching people to ride, yet there were times I did. If there was a child who wanted to learn to ride at a young age, an adult who carried fear because of a bad experience, or when some purchased a horse here, I would teach them. Other than the fearful rider, everyone learned to ride bareback first. If they couldn’t stay on bareback, they didn’t get to move to a saddle. If anyone wanted to learn to be comfortable on a horse and confident on a horse, they learned all the basics first. There was no progression of gaits until each one was mastered in turn. First it was the walk, but not just walking around. There were stops and turns, obstacles and tests one had to master. If the rider could stay on without a wiggle or wobble, it was time to move on to the trot.
Now, Chico wasn’t the smoothest at the trot, and really didn’t have a slow jog. He was what he was, and that was rough. If you could sit his trot, you were definitely ready to canter. I also didn’t want my students to learn that the canter or lope, is incredibly smooth and great fun. I believed in a natural state of progression, not skipping steps.
I had a mature student, well, in age not attitude, and he wanted to run. All I heard from Craig was, “I think I’m ready to run now. How about I run, I mean canter Chico a bit? I’m ready,” he’d add with a little wobble and grin.
I only laughed, as he clearly wasn’t there, not quite yet anyway. Soon, but not immediately sort of soon.
“Nope,” I would chuckle at the imploring expression on his face, while shaking my head, “practice that trot.”
I should’ve known that Craig would ask for a canter, the second my back was turned. Turning my attention from one of the other students back to Craig, I laughed out loud. There they were, stubborn man and exasperated horse, stalled out right there on the track. The expression on Chico’s face was absolutely hilarious. I figured out straight away what had happened. Craig had asked for a canter, and Chico had said no. It was there to be read in the old horse’s every nuance and the look in his wise eyes. He gave a snort and waggled his head a bit. It was as if he was saying, “Hey! Do you see what’s going on here? He’s trying to make me go faster, and you said he’s not ready. Deal with this, eh.”
Of course Chico would say ‘eh’. After all, he was a Canadian horse. Anyway, Craig looked somewhat but not really apologetic for disobeying my rules, Chico was suitably reassured, and the lesson carried on. Of course Craig had to try again a couple of times, and Chico’s response would be the same. He simply stopped then looked my way. He was doing his part to obey the rules and keep Craig safe. The rest was up to me.
Craig realized that he had to master the trot before Chico would canter, and practiced hard. A few days later, I felt that Craig was ready to move up to the next gait.
“Want to canter?” I asked with a smile, as I knew the answer. Of course he did. It’s all he’d wanted almost from the first time he’d climbed up onto that horse’s back.
“Really? I can canter?”
“Really,” I encouragingly nodded, “When you come out of the next corner, squeeze with your inside leg so he picks up the correct lead, and canter.”
As pleased as all get out, Craig had doubts. Not about himself, but about Chico. After all, the old horse hadn’t conplied before. Why would he now?
“But what if he won’t? He wouldn’t before, what do I do if he refuses?”
“He won’t,” I assured with a grin, “You’re ready. He’ll listen. You’ll see.”
Following instructions to the letter, Craig was soon easily cantering, the most pleased expression ever on his face. I hadn’t doubted for a second that Chico wouldn’t behave. He was no dummy, that great horse. He could tell that Craig was ready. No refusal necessary.

  1. I am picking up more training tips thank you

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB