My first horse broke me in when I was twelve.
I broke in my first horse when I was twelve.
Her name was Buffy, and she was only three years old.
I didn’t know I was breaking her in for the first time.
I was told she’d been broken in a while ago, but that she had been turned away for a long time, and left to eat nothing but rotten potatoes until this nice (?) gentleman had bought her ... and hauled her to the boarding facility where I kept Genesis.
I was twelve. I didn’t do the math, or really think it through.
The deal was, I would get her riding ‘again’, and I could use her as a second horse, if I wanted to go riding with a friend. I told the man I would only take the job if he agreed for me to change her name. I told him, if you called me Buffy, I wouldn’t do anything for you either. He indulged me, and work began with the buckskin filly I had called Shannon.
I couldn’t understand what was wrong with her. She tried to pin me in the stable, which I didn’t appreciate, and didn’t put up with. The whole time I tried to get a bridle on her she would try and bite me. “Stand still, you stupid mare!” I would admonish her. I thought she was the most stupid horse that ever lived.
It wasn’t the horse that was ignorant, in retrospect.
Like most of us, I started at the goal … and didn’t know anything about breaking it down into little steps. But it goes to show you how much the horse will teach you, if you are brave (or thick) enough to keep trying. By sheer force of determination, I had that horse riding out on the trails bareback, using only a halter and lead-line to steer her, within about two weeks.
The first time I climbed aboard and sat on her, she just stood there. I didn’t know how lucky I was. She must have had very high foundation breeding! I kicked and pulled, but nothing happened.
“Oh, you stupid, stupid mare!” I wailed out in exasperation
Finally, I was forced to break it down. I put steady pressure on the left rein, and tapped my heels lightly against her sides until she took a spastic step forward with her left front foot. I stopped, and patted her. Then we did it with the right rein. We literally learned to walk together one jerky step at a time … with a reward and a little break after every step … then after every two steps … then after every 6 steps, and so on. It was wonderful.
Shannon had trained me perfectly. She knew exactly how to make me stop pulling and kicking, and we were getting along just great. To this day, I know I’m doing my best work when the horse thinks he is training me. We achieve harmony when I have no ego; only plenty of space in my head for what the horse is trying to show me.
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