How often do we see horses fetched from the pasture, stall or trailer, hurriedly saddled and folks just mount up and ride away? Often these horses are up, and moving out in a hurry, the rider shifts gears to discipline. In my humble opinion that's not fair to the horse. And can be made so much better with a few easy to do "Pre-Ride Exercises." Part of the tacking up time should be giving to your horse, too.
The other day when I shared the "One Step" exercise in my post "Reconnecting Your Horse To Her Feet" I mentioned that it was one of my "Pre-Ride Exercises." A few folks have asked what my other "Pre-Ride" exercises are. As I said in that post I never step in the saddle without a few "one-steps" and I do the "rock-back" along with it.
|Kessy LOVES the "Poll Wiggle"|
The first thing I do when I go to Kessy is ask her to put her head down for the halter. Horses should always lower their head for you. It is polite to you, and actually feels good to them. It is easy to teach, and if you are having any difficulties with this, please feel free to email me. At this time I do a few "Poll Wiggles." Lightly place your fingers around the Poll and wiggle, just enough that would jiggle a bowl of jello. Your horse may ask for more vigor, go for it.
Then while she stands ground tied, I do a row of TTOUCH® circles starting at the side of her neck in the thickest muscle, going all along her back about 2 inches down from the spine, through her croup and down her thigh muscles. Do both sides. It will take about a minute per side ... Kessy can come and go as she pleases and is usually outside for these, then we walk to the barn to brush and tack ... On the walk I do a serpentine path, good for their legs and back. If you've trailered to ride, before you tie to tack, take a short walk doing the serpentine walk. Horses really appreciate a little walk after a ride.
When we get to the barn I lift each leg, about halfway up, hold it a second waiting for the release, and do little circles, then set it down. Don't just let go, set it down. Softly. Next I ask for the belly lift, hold it a few seconds and release, slowly. Then I'll saddle. Girth loose, not yet snug.
Before I put on her headstall I do the "Cheek Wiggle." Place your left hand on the noseband, slip your fingers of your right hand under her cheek, lightly grip and wiggle, gently. For a few seconds. Repeat on the other side. Then the headstall goes on and I check the girth, then do the "one step" and "rock back."
On the way to the mounting block I ask for a few circles, left and right, at a walk and "keeping the inside shoulder up (very important)." I finish the girth, move to the mounting block, and step up. One last important exercise. The first step should always be a "lateral step" not straight on.
Kessy and I hope you'll make this a fun part of your pre-ride. Feel free to ask questions. There are others, perhaps I'll blog later about them, but these are the ones I do without fail.