Thursday, January 21, 2010

Groundwork, Part One

I found some entries from right around the first of the year that I never got around to posting here, but which seem important to note, so in this and a couple of following notes I’ll sort of catch up to where Galahad and I are now.

January 1, 2010. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m riding Galahad yet, or when I’m going to ride him, or why I’m not riding him more. A big part of it is that I don’t like fighting with him. When I ride him, because he’s not used to me on his back, he gets confused about what I want and we both get tense. That is not fun for either of us, and it’s not the kind of relationship I want with him.

When we work on the ground, with him on the halter, things are very different. We are both calm; he trusts me to tell him what to do, to let him know what’s safe and what isn’t. He is learning what’s OK to do and what isn’t. Our understanding of each other is growing. Eventually, I’m sure, that will translate to mounted work. But for now, groundwork feels right, and riding him does not.

I’ve done a lot of reading, and have talked with people who actually know a lot about horses—not just those who know about riding. All agree that at this stage of Galahad’s training, groundwork is way more important than riding, and I should go with my gut to decide when the right time to ride him is.

So today I just relaxed, and we worked with getting him to scoot sideways up to the wall, and to stand there quietly while I got up on the wall and moved around. I also got him from being spooked by a rail propped on two buckets in the arena to trotting—and later, trotting freely—over that same scary rail on the ground. So it felt really good—I’m working on trust and calmness. A good way to begin the year.

It’s another lesson he’s teaching me: patience, following my own instincts.

(photo by K. Silloway)

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