February Horsemanship Challenge



My February horsemanship challenge was a fail and a win at the same time. I think I ended with 16 rides instead of 20, so I did not meet my time-in-the-saddle goal. I did, however, meet a more positive goal.

If you follow this blog, you know that Cello & I have had our ups and downs. During this month, after the trampling incident, I decided to keep track of how I felt after our training sessions. I read a very interesting article about riding the wrong horse and how a rider sometimes just needs to recognize when a partnership isn’t 100%. You can read that here. I love Cello, but there was uncertainty between us. The uncertainty mostly came from me to him, over his reticence and general lack of emotion.

For most of my rides, my feelings after were positive- we are really making strides together, finally, and I can say that this relationship is a keeper. It takes a lot of honesty for me to note that Cello is not my heart-horse. He has taught me so much and I love him very much, but he just won’t be that horse that greets me at the gate. It’s an accomplishment when he doesn’t literally run away… but we are bonding, slowly and surely, over the years. I really could feel a change this winter.

Under saddle we communicate better now and I can see our relationship growing in a positive direction. He relaxes where once he wouldn’t. He tries where once he would have put up an argument. That’s really all I wanted- for Cello to try, to trust me enough to want to try. It’s really huge.

I feel much more positive than I did in the past. I feel like there’s nothing we can’t accomplish over time, though it may take longer than I’d like. That’s fine; this is a patience lesson, a communication lesson.

So where are we at on a technical note?

Our right lead canter is consistently picked up now; if we cross a pole that he decides he needs to jump, and if he lands on the left lead, he does a flying change when asked for the right lead! Our basics are becoming more and more solid, though still not showing great form.

I think a lot of this has to do with the jumping hackamore I am riding him in, but that is another post.

We actually put together a freestyle for Colorado Mustang Days at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo! My song is weird, but I love it… and I think it fits our routine, if we execute our routine. We were doing great run-throughs until this past week, when all of a sudden Cello decided he did not want to trot on tempo or straight. He also decided that hand-galloping was better than cantering. He also decided that it’s unnecessary to be concerned with head sets or listening to my leg at the hand-gallop. It’s been fun, though- instead of pushing him forward I’m holding him back. It’s quite a change for a horse that wouldn’t move! When  my husband first saw Cello at the makeover he asked out loud “Can that horse even canter??”

We are also shooting arrows from horseback, and I even shot an arrow or two off of him bridle-less. We will see if he is relaxed enough to do that at the show! I will have all day Thursday to finish the freestyle for Saturday night.



Cello & Dani



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