Coaly and I soloed yesterday!! Well, not our first solo, but our first solo in completely new territory that she’s never seen before. The poor girl–I didn’t think so many dogs would be out. She’s fine with that red Doberman, but a Pit bull like dog?? So much smaller and lunges in a completely different way!!! And of course, just as the dog ran across the road, his owner started shrieking (completely new to Coaly), a car driven by a teenage boy barely missed the dog, which pushed Coaly into the neighbor’s yard as the driver swore a word I won’t repeat, and a Golden Retriever dash out barking straight ahead. She was completely lost as of what to do. Luckily, I was able to urge her down the road as the Pit bull’s owner grabbed him and the Golden Retriever was stuck behind an invisible fence. *whew*
We went on the trail system by our house, about 7 miles long. She was hyped up in a hot horse way and we covered those seven miles very quickly. 🙂 But we worked on a lot of things: going away from home *gasp*, calmly passing other horses on the trail *double gasp*, bare patches of dirt *triple gasp* and, horror of horrors, WOODEN BRIDGES!!!!! *falls over in a faint*
However, after I tried to urge her on the bridge for a little bit, I got off and walked her across several times. As soon as she saw that I walked across and didn’t fall down unimaginable heights to a granite rock ground, breaking every single bone in my body, she was fine with it and proceeded easily behind me. Score in the trust area!!! I led her across until she was comfortable simply standing there and then, with a sudden burst of inspiration, I took a picture. See how bored she looks?
C’mon, woman!! I want to get going! There are so many new things to see!! Why are you just STANDING there pointing that rectangle thingy at me??? We could be actually MOVING!!!! No, I will most certainly NOT give you a good picture, let’s just GO!! GO GO GO GO!!!
Ah, the joys of lazy horses. 🙂 However, I’ve been working with her enough that she’s knows we are NOT going to move a SINGLE step until she stands still for me. And so there is her, ‘c’mon man!!’ look. 😀
And that brings me to the point of this post.
I’ve carried a crop for most of my rides with Coaly. And on long rides with almost no spooks, you have a lot of time to think. Which is why a lot of cowboys consider themselves philosophers! (Ok, ok, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I just saw it somewhere. 🙂 ) And on those long rides with almost no spooks when I have had a lot of time to think, I’ve thought a lot about the training I’ve done with Coaly. Mostly, I’ve tried to explain to other people why we’ve done what we’ve done. And then I wonder, do I fully believe this is the best way or am I just doing it because it’s what Grandpa said? How do I explain that to people?
I often think about my crop that I carry along with Coaly, because, next to the fact that I’m riding her with a western saddle and cowboy hat, the next noticeable fact is that I carry a crop. Is it really right to carry a crop on a new horse? Is it right to carry a crop at all? Or for that fact, spurs?? Is that even right?? How do I justify *choking gasp* HITTING A HORSE???
Well. I don’t.
Because I don’t hit a horse. No! I wouldn’t dream of it!! Honest!
I don’t hit a horse; I hit a horse who is misbehaving and knows better. And no, I don’t flail around, giving him bruises with my crop and gashing up his side with my spurs. Excuse me? I love my horse.
I didn’t carry a crop around until we had ridden Coaly for about a week. She was starting to raise up her barn sourness. So I started to carry a crop. Yes, those days (ok, maybe they aren’t over quite yet) when we spun around in circles, sidestepped, and all that good stuff, I used my crop. Otherwise, we would still be in those circles. A well-timed spank would send her off in the right direction and then we would be fine for the rest of the ride…until it was time to come back home.
Coaly took me in several big spins by the bridge before I got off. But I didn’t spank her there. No. She was scared. There is a huge difference between a scared horse and a misbehaving horse. Those of you who ride know the difference. 😉
Now what about Smoky? My dear Quarterlinger is a bit lazy after all. Do I use a crop on him? No. I don’t. Why? Because I think that whoever had him before us whaled on him pretty hard with a crop. Whenever I bring out a crop, he goes berserk. But spurs? Nah, he’s fine with them. A little bump with those and we’re good.
I have a couple of rules for when I use my crop or whip.
- Make sure it’s not something else first!! (i.e. is he scared of something? Is there something wrong?)
- When I look back on this later, am I going to regret it? (i.e. Oh shucks, I’m so sorry Coaly. I lost my temper right there.)
- If for some reason, my horse can talk and asks me about it, is it going to make sense to him? (i.e. Well….I didn’t really have a reason…I just wanted to, you know, go faster.)
In conclusion, are crops and spurs ok? Answer: depends a lot on how and when you use them. No, it’s not ok to smash your horse up. To give a firm reminder of who is in charge? Yes. To cause your horse more fear at an already stressful situation? No. To give a little energy to a horse refuses leave the barn? Yes.
Be careful that you don’t lose your horse’s trust, but don’t let your horse run over you either.
What do you think of crops and spurs?