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novice rider
lacking confidence
warm sun
how to buy a horse
pasture
buddies
autumn
fears
horses
attitude
dreams
How To Keep A Horse Well Broke
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How To Keep A Horse Well Broke

So now that you have learned how to buy a horse and have attained the horse of your dreams, do you know how to keep a horse well broke? It's an important question if you want to maintain or improve the level of training your horse has.

Pasture Ornaments

Too many times I've seen someone get a horse - myself included at one time - and ride it for a summer season. Then autumn comes along and you are too busy doing this and that; kids getting back to school, yard work, preparation for the cold season, home and barn repairs, etc. The horse you have enjoyed begins to become a pasture ornament. It gets ignored except for those twice daily feedings and a brushing here and there.

Maybe your riding buddies have gotten out of horses and so you find yourself and your horse alone. Riding doesn't have the same enjoyment for you, perhaps, with no other person to ride with. Maybe you have no access to an indoor arena so you and your horse get an unwanted vacation from the joys of riding.

As the snow piles up deeper and deeper outside and the icicles grow longer, you gaze out the window at your horse and long for the warm sun of spring so you can get back to riding. If you are a novice rider and/or a rider lacking confidence, the thought of getting back on a horse that has had a number of months off can be a great concern. You may wonder how your horse will be for that first ride.

Ground Work

Well, being concerned is a good thing. Being too scared to confront it is not. The best way to handle your concerns and fears is to learn how to do ground work to ensure your horse is listening and focusing on you before you get up in the saddle. Now there are riders who will simply get on a horse that hasn't been ridden in a while and ride the horse through any attitude. There is no law that says you have got to do ground work. But let me tell you something. There is also no law that says you are any less of a horse person if you prefer to do ground work first. You are safer from the ground and from that position you can more safely get a horse through any issues and get those issues handled before riding.

What method of ground work depends on what training theory you follow. If you are not familiar with various training methods I would suggest you begin asking around and researching on-line for the many different trainers and their methods available. I would suggest you stick to natural horsemanship since it focuses more on communication with the horse, is relatively easy to duplicate, and approaches horsemanship from a viewpoint of respect. In this way you maintain a willing partner in your horse. Your horse will follow you because you have gained its respect, not its fear.

Remember, ground work is an important training tool you should be using on a regular basis, not just after a long hiatus from riding. But it is definitely something you want to be well-versed in after time off. Any time you do ground work you are reminding your horse that it's time to pay attention and to focus on you, not the pasture buddies, not the gate, not the green grass, not anything else but you. It is a lot easier and safer to accomplish this when you are safely on the ground.

Stir It Up

After you have your horse listening you can rest easier and have a more enjoyable ride right from the start, without having to ride-out any freshness. Once you are back to riding be sure to provide your horse with a balance of training, long rides, and continued groundwork. If you only have time for a short ride at least you are spending some time with your horse. Ideally you want to go on some long rides and get your horse not only walking and trotting, but cantering as well.

Change things up a bit for the both of you. Don't just spend time in an arena day after day. Horses can get sour doing the same thing in the same place over and over and over again. Take your horse out into the country on a long trail ride so he gets to enjoy a change in scenery. You'll both appreciate the change. Do your best to work with your horse at least 3 days a week. The more riding and ground work you do, the better will be the relationship you will have with your horse.

This Ain't No Bike

That's my two cents worth for anyone who wants to maintain what it was about your horse that made you decide to purchase it in the first place. Horses aren't bikes you can store away and then decide to just pull them out and start pedaling away. Horses require our willingness to remain responsible for maintaining them.

That nicker you get when you walk out with your saddle as your horse eagerly greats you is more than enough reward for doing so, isn't it?


Street Talk

Horses require you being out there with them, and to keep them good, they require you out there with them. My philosophy is if the top horse clinicians of our time right now do groundwork, I'm going to do groundwork. Ian Francis always said there are a lot of hero's in the graveyard. Getting on a horse that isn't ready can be a costly mistake.

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  about 7 years ago
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