The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Riding Rose

Today my daughter and I took George and Rose out for a wee trail ride.

I wonder what they think of it all. George came over enthusiastically when he saw us arriving with the tack, and Rose came right up for her halter to be put on.

However, when my daughter went to mount, George was not all that keen. She is adamant about using the bridle, although if I got her a pretty bitless one (such as this), she might feel differently. When my niece rode him, swapping the bridle for a halter and two ropes seemed to be the key to happiness.

I don't blame my daughter for not liking the halter/rope arrangement, as I experienced it myself today. Rose was fine with her saddle going on, but when it came time to offer the bridle, she turned away two or three times.  So ... no bridle ... I put the halter back on, with two very cumbersome and unwieldy ropes clipped to each side.

Rose is just green-broke and really has no idea about anything. She is very calm, though, and I don't know if our experience the other day, when we let her turn for home, gave her more confidence, but today she showed no interest in an early retreat, and in fact she was all for going off in some new direction at the point where we were turning back. She whinnied once or twice to Bridget and Chloe, who were having nervous breakdowns back in the pasture, but remained uninterested in a shortcut home.

When we started out, her ears were straight ahead. About half-way around, one ear started coming back to me, and then towards the end of the ride, both ears were pointed backwards.

When we go out for a ride, it may be pleasant for the horses, but at this stage it's all a bit vague and woolly. I think we need a "picadero" to work in - somewhere we can invite the horses to work, where it's clear that that's what the purpose is, and where we can spend time figuring out what we mean, an area which delineates a space/time where certain goals are considered. Spilker says that none of her horses ever leave manure in the arena - they consider that space to be important and special.

Out with Rose today, I could feel at times the engagement of her hind legs.  Sometimes it even seemed like I could encourage it. I would like to be able to consciously work on things like that in a safe, designated area. Previously, in the old days, I could insist on a certain working attitude out on the trail.  I am reluctant to insist on anything much these days, especially out on an excursion that's supposed to be fun for all of us. A picadero would be a place where the expectation was pre-set, where the horse would be free to enter or not, depending on its desire to "work" that day. If the horse chose to enter, it would know what it was choosing.

I guess what the horses thought of our ride will be revealed by their attitude next time we appear with tack and invite them to join us!

We are testing our soil to see how much lime it needs, prior to re-seeding.  Here's George helping out with the soil sampling ...


  1. Yes, I like the idea of a picadero, where the purpose can be clear. That sounded like a good ride with Rose.

  2. I used to do a lot of picadero work a couple of years ago. I found it was a great way of working on the relationship between horse and human, and because the horse is at liberty problem areas show up quickly. I learned a lot about pressure; if the pressure I was putting on was too much, the horse would jump out of the picadero!

  3. I used to use the round pen a lot. I wonder if my use of the word "picadero" suggests that I'm trying to distance myself from the dreaded "round pen" concept of chasing the horse. Because, yeah, you want it to be about working out the relationship, trying different things, asking questions - rather than training the horse to be obedient. In the round pen, you typically don't give the horse the option of, say, stopping unless you say so.

    I like that the horse would jump out! And that means if he stays inside, you know you're doing ok!

  4. A picadero is ideally a square, so it gives the horse the option of hiding their face in the corners, which they don't have in a round pen. I recently made one, but it's a hexagon, so it's sort of in between a picadero and a round pen. I can't use it at the moment though, torrential rain washed out the sand in one corner, so I'll have to do some repair work first.

  5. Yes, KFH also says the square allows the horse to really go straight and then ride a corner. How big is yours?

  6. And what is it fenced with? I'm thinking of getting someone (who? help!) to put in stout corner posts and then finish it myself with that thick plastic electric cord.

  7. Mine is just over 20 x 20 meters. It is fenced with timber. It is great for doing in hand work or picadero work. Unfortunately there is a small gap between the kickboard on one end and the sand was washed out there, so i'll have to do something about that before I can safely use it again. I'm going to do a post about it, but have to wait until my laptop comes back from being fixed. Hopefully I'll have it this weekend.