Saturday, November 24, 2012

Focus After Falling

Wednesday, before we flew to Colorado, I worked with Winston in the arena.

As I was tacking him up, Brett and Flash rode down the back driveway and out the gate on their way around the block.  Winston threw his head in the air and danced sideways at the tie rail, swinging his butt from one side to the other, and craning his neck to see where Flash was going.  I had to be stern with him and insist that he pay attention to me.  It is impossible to clean out a horse's hoof if he is dancing on it.

By the time we walked out to the mounting block, Brett and Flash were out of sight.  Winston settled down and stood quietly for me to tighten his girth and mount.  Our warmup walk work was uneventful.  I picked up the trot and had one nice lap around the arena before Winston threw his head in the air again and lost his focus.  Sure enough, Brett and Flash were walking up the road, past the arena to the front gate.

Winston and I had a very focused ten minutes.  He felt much the same as he did before he had his melt down and bucked me off.  He was not nearly as crazed as then, but the feeling was the same.  I immediately went into focus mode.  Winston threw his head up and I could hear his brain screaming Flash!  Flash!  Where are you?!  Each time, I kicked him forward while keeping my hands steady.  He ducked his head, took the bit, and worked.  For a minute, max.  Then his head popped up again.  So, we started doing a forward, engaged trot on a 10m circle.  This required him to lift his back, bend around my leg, step under with the inside hind leg, and connect to my hands through the bit.  Whoa... that's a lot for a baby horse brain to process.  I got my horse back.

We had some of the most beautiful trot work we've ever had.

When we finished, his mouth was nice and wet -- foamy from all the thinking and honest work.

And I felt brave again.   


  1. It's really hard to be brave when you think the horse is going to go into meltdown :-(

    Well done you.

  2. Great photos. You're both in the zone.

  3. That's a great example of active riding - giving your horse the leadership and direction he needed in order to stay with you instead of melting down. And you had to step up and do it - congratulations are in order!

  4. That's excellent. Winston reminds me a lot of Irish- sweet but ADD and a bit of a worrier. I do exactly what you did to refocus him and it usually works.

  5. It is so cool to see how you connect with him and are figuring out his head. Not to make comparisons but his baby horse brain seems to work much like baby poodles does when it comes to focus. My attempts at getting it back haven't been as successful as yours. Keep up the great work!

  6. Awesome report! Winston looks stunning in that last photo.

    Some training opportunities are also opportunities for us to face our own personal training challenges. You rose to the occasion, which will make the next time that much easier!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.