8
 

TRAINING
NOTEBOOK 3:

SADDLE TRAINING,
ARETHA'S FIRST SADDLE

USE THIS DIRECTORY TO NAVIGATE THE SERIES:

TRAINING ALBUM 1: INTRO AND TRAILER TRAINING
TRAINING ALBUM 2: EARLY TRAINING
TRAINING ALBUM 3: ARETHA'S FIRST SADDLE
TRAINING ALBUM 4: ANGELITA'S FIRST SADDLE
TRAINING ALBUM 5: VILASA'S FIRST SADDLE

In the first training notebook, we discussed our training philosophy and gave a lesson in trailer loading. The second article presents vital early and pre-saddle training that every horse must receive to be a good equine citizen. (This was not without thrills.) Now we rock'n'roll-- presenting the first time our three fillies are ridden. This section illustrates the utter predictability of sensible horse training. You do all the steps, and the horse behaves just how it should. The beauty of the modern, stress free, "natural horse training." Hah!

More like: You do all the steps and discover you forgot one when it's too late. You'll see. We're going to show the cute black filly, Reina de Alma BSN. Queen of Soul in English, known as Aretha around the barn. Yes, she's named after Aretha Franklin, my favorite female singer in the world. (You may hum R-E-S-P-E-C-T! or Natural Woman while viewing this, if you like.) Aretha is a cute, sweet, three year old girl by the *AV Sol de Paijan son, *AV Sucesor. (Sol de Paijan is one of the most famous Peruvian stallions.) She's out of La Beba, a big ol' girl with Hacienda de la Solana and Revolucionario blood. You've seen Aretha in Training Notebook 2, demonstrating that she can stand in the cross ties while saddled. Here, she'll do more.


TONY DOES HIS HOMEWORK, LIMBERING ARETHA'S NECK IN BOTH DIRECTIONS
Aretha has had all her ground training, plus lots of work in the round pen. She longes easily both ways, stops and backs for Tony on the ground. The whole nine yards. [I just realized that her neck's bent to the left in both pictures. Arggh! Believe me, Tony does it to both sides. I don't wanna scan no more!]

 


BEFORE RIDING A HORSE, YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO GET ON
Tony has spent lots of time getting on both sides. The "left" side is not the "right side" to get on a horse. We just agree that it is and forget about the other side. You should be able to get on either side of a well trained horse. Tony's gotten on and off both of Aretha's sides a million times, sat in the saddle, wiggled around, patted her all over, flopped the saddle parts around, waved his hands and so on. All while she's just standing. Adding movement is a simple, logical next step. Tony's wearing the mask because the dust stirs up his allergies. (This is not an esoteric training technique.)

 


HERE IT IS, THAT FIRST RIDE.
TONY'S GONNA MOVE HER OUT THIS TIME.
Barry's on the ground to support Tony by controlling the horse. They have a perfect training relationship: Tony trains the horses while Barry provides ballast.

 


TONY TAKES HIS TIME GETTING READY
So far, so good. The crucial person on the ground keeps the young horse in control at all times. That's why we did all that longeing earlier: In an emergency, Aretha will respond to the longe line exactly as she's been taught.

 


SEE? WASN'T THAT EASY?
PERFECT BEHAVIOR RIGHT FROM THE START!

Aretha walks easily next to Barry in the round pen. Piece of cake if you've done your homework.

 


UNTIL TONY LOSES HIS STIRRUP...
The unexpected bump of the stirrup produces panic in the young mare. The Flight/Flight or Maybe Fight response is activated and...

 


IT JUST GETS WORSE....
Aretha's on a roll, Barry's trying to keep the line straight so it doesn't get tangled around her legs, and Tony's riding the horse.

 


AND WORSE.

The next photo was airborne, but we missed it. What do you do when you get bucked off a horse? Get back on. Tony did, and she did it again: Aretha bucked him off twice in one day. We'd never seen Tony go off a horse before, or since.

The fact that this isn't a pretty picture and Aretha's got her head up in the air looking funny does not mean Tony's abusing her. He's falling off: He's more in danger of being hurt than the mare. He didn't do something awful to make her do this: He lost a stirrup and then his balance. She kept bucking.

I'm adding this note because I've seen this photo on a bogus site allegedly documenting horse abuse. It was in a foreign language, but I could read enough to know that this was listed as an example of vicious Western training techniques. Sorry, that's Peruvian tack and nothing vicious happened. If you think you look pretty getting bucked off, you've never been photographed while being bucked off. Or maybe you haven't ridden enough to get bucked off . . .

We are fanatical about the humane handling of our horses. I take offense at being included on that site and I refuse to give in to cyber bullies and pull the photo. The site contained a great number of photos: I expect all were stolen from their host sites, as was this one. Some were horrific and demonstrated abuse. Some were just things horses do, which you'd know if you've been around them for more than twenty minutes. Some were beautiful examples of high school dressage, not only not abuse, but beautiful.

Horses buck, any one who's ridden for more than a couple of lessons will know that. Bucking is an automatic response programmed into the equine brain to get rid of an unwelcome something. They can buck fast, and they can buck hard. And you don't have to have a bucking strap and spurs for them to do it. I've been bucked off more times than I can count. Why not? I've ridden for almost fifty years. It happens.

Does the fact that Aretha acted this way her first saddle mean she's a rogue horse? A bad horse? No. It means she got upset and bucked him off twice in one day. That's all. Training is a trip. The rules are: Follow the rules and what you don't expect will happen. Don't follow the rules, and you'll get killed. Here's Aretha a week later:


NO PROBLEMO
A week later, she's gaiting around the round pen like a pro. Look at that nice head set, how she uses her back legs. The pretty front action. Tony will ride her in the round pen until she knows basic commands like, "Stop!" "Turn-- Right or Left as I Ask ." "Stand so I can get off" and "Wasn't that fun?"

 


ARETHA'S FIRST TIME OUT OF THE ROUND PEN
Nothing's the same for horses, remember. Stopping and turning in the round pen are different than stopping and turning outside. Lots of distractions. Spooky things like dogs, trees, leaves and ground squirrels, all of which are deadly to horses. Aretha's heading down the hill to our arena absolutely on top of the world. No sweat.

 


THIS IS ARETHA'S FIRST TIME IN THE ARENA.
That head carriage, that collection, how she moves are all natural. Seeing an animal you've bred come out like this is the reward of horse breeding. They don't all end up this nice.

 


LOOK AT THAT ACTION AND CARRIAGE!
We didn't get great, professional shots, but look at that! All natural. First time out of the pen.

HOW'S ARETHA DOING NOW? Fantastic. Barry rides her out on the trail in bosal. She's fun, enthusiastic, and really neat little mare. Aretha just gets better in the arena. Hasn't bucked since that first day. She's hot and spicy, but sweet and controllable. This filly has a show career ahead of her and a lot of fun for whoever owns her.

Update: 12/6/99 Aretha's finished in the bit and my now 17 year old daughter's almost favorite horse. She just gets better. Tons of brio, fearless, responsive, beautiful. She's put on weight and muscle, looking like a little Quarter Horse. Next year, the shows. First show, 2002 (?) A blue ribbon winner in her first show. 2004: A great family horse, sold several years ago.

NOTE: Aretha has been sold. If you are interested in one of our sale horses, please contact us. They do sell.

TRAINING ALBUM 1: INTRO AND TRAILER TRAINING
TRAINING ALBUM 2: EARLY TRAINING
TRAINING ALBUM 3: ARETHA'S FIRST SADDLE
TRAINING ALBUM 4: ANGELITA'S FIRST SADDLE
TRAINING ALBUM 5: VILASA'S FIRST SADDLE

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"BILL GATES MEETS DON JUAN."

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TECOLOTE: THE LITTLE HORSE THAT COULD

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