Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Different Ratio

A few days ago, Brian and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. I got Steen roughly one year before we married, which means I've had Steen almost eight years. In that time, while we've had plenty of other horses as well and I've spent lots of time riding them, I've always spent more time on Steen than everyone else combined.

For the moment, that has changed. Here's my riding breakdown for 2016 so far:

This is the first year in recorded history I've spent the bulk of my saddle time on a horse other than Steen. Granted, it's only March. There's a solid chance things will shift back. Lately, though, I've been riding Nevada. Quite a lot.

For spring break this year, Brian and I decided to stay home. We didn't work, but we also didn't travel. We adulted a fair bit, doing things like yard work and getting my car to the shop and taking care of lots of the mundane tasks that always seem to get bumped off the bottom of the to-do list. But also, we've ridden horses every day except Tuesday. Which means, after tomorrow, I'll have put eight rides on Nevada in nine days.

Things continue to go really well with her. Her strength and balance have improved a lot in short order. Her walk and trot are solid. We've got cantering working in both directions, her stop is awesome, and all in all she's starting to feel pretty familiar when I swing my leg over her back. She's got over 50 hours of total saddle time under her belt now, 16.5 of those with me in the last few weeks. Her foundation is starting to solidify.

A photo posted by Robin (@aridingrobin) on

The last few rides, I've been adding in more lateral work, including some shoulder yielding exercises I couldn't get working with Steen until I'd had him for about six years. It's interesting, how much a young horse can do when no one has ever taught her to brace or be afraid. When Nevada gets stuck, if I just give her a little time she always tries something. And if it's not the right thing, she tries a different thing. She is the first horse I've ever ridden who has absolutely no defenses in place. She just has no idea that people can be unfair and harsh and confusing. She'd only been haltered a few times before she came to us, and since then only Brian and I have handled her.

To have a slate that clean to work with is pretty great, but it's also challenging in its own way. I don't want to be the first person who lets her down. Riding her is pretty different feel from dinking around on super steady Steen, who went through the ringer before he ever came to me, and who I have made mistake after mistake on while he patiently put up with my failures and progressed in spite of all the times I got in his way.

But spending solid time on Nevada has been super fun, too. A horse with no reason to be defensive learns very quickly. I can't believe how far we've come this week. Hopefully the early spring it looks like we might have will stick around and we can get her out of the arena and into the world a little bit soon.

Horseback Hours YTD: 28:00


  1. I have kinda mixed feelings on the the idea of starting with a blank slate vs. an "older" animal. From the standpoint of how learning works, a blank slate should always be better because you don't have any old learning to overcome. Personally though, I like working with older animals. It's really rewarding for me to see an animal overcome old learning and learn a new way of interacting with the world. I also feel a lot of anxiety about "messing up" with a blank slate. To each their own though. At least my experience working with older animals has taught me that if I do mess up, it's probably still fixable.

    1. I get a lot out of doing it both ways. I've learned so much working with Nevada (and Piper too - though she had already learned a few things about people I had to work quite a bit to undo), but I know we will continue to pick up adult horses to retrain from time to time. But I agree the stakes feel lower in some respects starting with one that's already a hot mess. :)


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