Thursday, February 27, 2014

And the light bulb comes on.....

I was just responding to a comment from Crystal about whether or not I had ever tracked on cow on Trax.  As I typed out the words trying to explain what the problem is, I suddenly realized what the problem really is.

It is awfully bright in here right now, what with all this light shining between my ears.

Trax does better if we do things slow....but the minute I ask for any speed he looses it.

This is not in reference to loping circles or forward movement. We can do that just fine.

I'm referring to those stop, roll back, move out- follow the flag moves.  These are things you need to have solid if you plan on boxing your cow in stock horse or Ranch Versatility and getting any kind of decent score.

Trax was taught to follow the cow, get the cow into "perfect roping position" and then to turn his hip and face that cow.

He can do that.  He actually does it really well.  He will follow and track and keep the cow from getting so far way you cannot rope it.  He will turn it back around if he thinks that is what you want, but he doesn't do it on his hind end, he does it on the he was taught.

That's okay Buddy, you are doing the best you can, right now.

So now I am teaching him something different.  I'm not the best teacher in the world.  I am impatient.  I want him to get it soon.

Two days ago I was listening to a friend explain to me about the mechanics of barrel racing, and about teaching young horses how to run the pattern properly.  She told me what the hardest part of the whole process for the horses to learn is.  And she explained how, with the young horse she is currently working with, she is giving him all the time he needs to feel completely solid in "that one spot" before she ever really pushes for any speed.  This was not a "how too" session, this was a simple telling of a story of her own journey with her own horses.

I was so busy listening, I forgot to hear what she was saying.

Take it slow until the horse is comfortable, then ask for more speed.

I am reminded once again of Michael Johnson and his horse Shine.  The one thing he stressed so many times in his story and in our emails back and forth was time.

It takes as long as it takes, he says.

Michael worked Shine on those slow cows (roping) forever.  He tried bringing in faster cows much earlier than his horse was ready and his horse fell apart.  He had to go back to the dairy queens.  Every so often he would try one fast one.  Not ten, just one.  And if his horse wasn't ready he would let the fast cow go down to the catch pen, and never even throw his loop.

Healing Shine is also not a "how too" book. It is a story of a man and his journey with his horses, and I have listened to it many times, and I have heard his words. Some of them sank in, but obviously not deep enough.

It takes as long as it takes, and my horse isn't ready.  He is just learning what "move the shoulder" means.  I have got to quit putting this horse on a deadline!

I have another clinic in April, and I will keep practicing and trying to get my horse solid on those basics.  When that day comes I will ride the horse I have, not the horse I think Mr. Pieper wants to see.

Just for the record that doesn't mean that I won't occasionally ask for a little more energy, but I will give him the time he needs to be solid.

This is true with the competitive trail also- foot falls, taking it slow, it is all about being a better teacher.


  1. I've really enjoyed reading these posts about figuring out Trax. I've been having similar thoughts about my horse, Rosie. Sometimes I think that this is just the way it is with this horse and I need to accept it but I don't wanna lol. I guess these horses are here to reach us the things we need to learn and work on. And just think, after it's all done you'll be practically an expert at working any horse through similar issues. Happy Friday!!

  2. Don't you love those "aha!" moments? They are the building blocks of good horsemanship.
    I love the story of Healing Shine, impossible to read without tears.
    Trax is lucky to have you.

  3. How many times have I said it? Slow and right beats fast and wrong. All of the time, Every time. Horses don't understand the concept of time (days, weeks, months) unless you are talking about feeding time!!! lol

    They don't 'get it' that there is an event, clinic, show or ???? coming up next month, next week or even tomorrow. They work on the concept of TODAY. TODAY we are doing this ___________. Whatever "This" is- turnout, arena riding, trail riding, trailer loading, ground driving/long line work, going to work somewhere else, showing, clinics, spa day at home... Who knows what TODAY holds for them in their world, or what will be expected of them?

    They may Sense that things are changing, something is up, she's plotting something, planning something because they read our body language. But they have no idea what it may be for them until that TODAY comes. It is now what TODAY holds for them. Just like you ride the horse you have TODAY you present them with what you are doing TODAY.

  4. I love listening to Micheal Johnson! And glad you figured it out, sounds like me and not being able to figure out why Jess couldn't do a flying lead change, one day it just came to me. You will figure it out, will go a lot faster now you know what to work on !