Trouble Free Trailer Training

This video shows what trouble free trailer floating of horses can be like. It was filmed at a riding camp at ridecare.dk in Taulov by Fredericia, Denmark, and all three horses and girls had been practising this as one lesson of many during the past week.

What makes this video special, at least to me, is the lack of stress displayed. All three horses are allowed to take a look at the trailer, ask their girl whether it’s safe, and finally step up at a leisurely pace without stressing or spooking. No pressure is used, no rope behind the hind quarters or blindfolds — just patience, love, and the occasional gentle nudge. All three horses look relaxed and and content, and I can tell you that at least the warmblood horse used to be anything but relaxed around trailers!

Horses Belong in Traffic!

Yesterday, a driver clipped a horse in traffic and fled from the scene while the rider was busy calming the animal down. That pisses me off. But what pisses me off even more is the comments on the newspaper website reporting about it (in Danish).

A number of people are expressing their rather justified outrage that a driver would hit someone in traffic and then simply drive away at high speed, hoping to get away with it. Surprisingly, a couple of people are stating that horses don’t belong in traffic anyway.

Newsflash: Horses do belong in traffic. Horses were in traffic since pretty much forever. Horses are legally considered the equivalent of cars in traffic, meaning that they have to follow the same laws as drivers do. We don’t get to ride on the sidewalk, safely out of the way of speeding or honking drivers. Most of us would love it if we were allowed to do that, because a lot of car owners drive without any responsibility whatsoever, honking at us loudly or even throwing soda cans at the horse through the car windows.

Maybe you’re scared of horses, or you just plain don’t like them. That’s fair. But what’s not fair is telling me to get off the road with my horse because I have just as much right to be there as you do, and you have no more right to harass or endanger me than you have to harrass or endanger a cyclist, a pedestrian, or a child playing in the street.

Deal with it. Like an adult. Traffic laws exist for a reason.

Reins — Too Slack is Not Slack Enough?

Head Carriage is Like a Fart
Pictured above: Common sense.

One of the challenges I find myself facing with Pilar is teaching her proper head carriage. Being a Friesian she likes to hold her head high, although once properly warmed up and interested in what is going on, she dips down to a quite decent ‘on the bit’ position (although there is of course no bit). Keeping her there, though…

As always, it comes back to the rider, i.e. yours truly. Alvin purchased a video camera this month (who’d have guessed from the sudden influx of little Pilar videos on the site, eh?). Watching the shoots of my riding there is a number of things I am very unhappy about, but the one that stands out the most is my hands. They’re everywhere. I thought I had steady, easy hands on the reins, but what I actually appear to have is light hands (at least!) that are going in every direction in order to communicate along the rein. My reins are too long.

My reins are too long. I never thought I’d hear myself say that. Logan couldn’t get the reins long enough, and as he was perfectly capable of responding to tiny signals along the slack reins, I let him have his way — heaven knows that horse had suffered enough pulling at his face in the past. I have seen so many horses like him in the past, struggling against the bit, trying to breathe, and ending up tied down with draw reins and chambons to achieve ‘proper’ head carriage. Instinct tells me to drop the reins, and give the horse freedom to move and breathe.

However, Logan was old and experienced and had a good idea of what I’d likely be wanting him to do. Pilar is young and inexperienced and relying entirely on me for directions and instruction. I need to pick up those reins, keep my hands still, and give clear, useful information to her as she develops the muscles and bearing required to achieve a healthy, natural head carriage when ridden.

The next couple of weeks I am going to be focusing on keeping my hands steady and still, and on finding a balance where the reins are light but not slacking, communicating my requests properly without using force.