01/02/2023 – The video below is Stevis Man/Stevie’s and my first ride. It’s the entire ride except for mounting him. I always have someone stand in front of them and feed them a peppermint at the mounting block because I know they are used to having a leg up. It helps keep them calm. The person who did the video, was the peppermint person, so no video of that but it went seamlessly.
People ask me why I don’t ride them for longer in the beginning. The reason is a positive experience and relaxation is paramount. You can see how well he does but you can also see he is a bit tense – probably wondering what is this? He is, after all, still a racehorse at this point. When I go over to the place he just lunged at the walk, he relaxes, probably realizing – “oh, we’re doing the boring walk/halts.” I will repeat this exercise until he is completely relaxed from the time I mount until the time I dismount. Only then will I begin to expand the amount of time and variety of things we do together. It will happen in little time as long as we don’t experience a set back such as something frightening or worrying him, which is the main reason I keep it short initially. The other main reason is I want him to perceive how easy working with me is. Shorter riding time is easier on the horse. I will build a safe, reliable space in our day for training and then I can begin to challenge him by expanding our training with the first goal to be hacking out around the farm.
01/03/2023 – Below is Day 2 of riding Stevie / Stevis Man. You can see from the start he is more relaxed. “I know what we’re doing. Boring time again.” I know from yesterday and his relaxed body that I don’t need someone to help me mount. He’s got this. The entire ride is better as evidenced by his lower head carriage and relaxed topline. This is the very beginning of developing the muscles he will need for his new career. I allow Stevie to dictate the progress by his relaxation. I know I can mix it up a little today and add in some figure eights. He responds by doing as asked without developing tension. Instead, he relaxes into the work. Since he’s so willing, I stop. It won’t be long before we are hacking around the farm, allowing the undulating ground to promote more body relaxation and build the topline he will need for this new endeavor. This horse is absolutely lovely.
01/04/2023 – This is a continuation of my first and second rides on Stevis Man. In this video I included the lunge portion just to show I exactly what I do during lunging in this phase of training. I am not lunging him to tire him. The duration of the entire lunge and ride session is less than 15 minutes. That’s about all the quality attention he has give now. You can speed through the lunge portion to see this ride. I continue to expand progress as Stevie’s comfort zone allows. Watch as I step out of the arena. He’s a bit more alert but remains relaxed. Most importantly, notice I don’t change. My body – which is my communicator – tells Stevie we aren’t doing anything to be worried about. I don’t know what he would do if I tensed up but I know that is not the direction I want to go. As we approach the barn, he again raises his head. He’s actually seen the ducks we have and they are “lurking” in the high grass. Again, my body isn’t interested in that, remaining relaxed, and Stevie follows suit. These instances are tiny challenges as we develop our working relationship. It’s hard to control the environment, but it’s imperative we have a foundation before something does scare or upset him. It’s bound to happen because he’s a prey animal and although I am worried about his training. He is wired to be concerned about who/what is going to try to harm him. If you are a prey animal, that is after all, your first priority.