Getting back in the saddle of horse training (bad pun intended), I continued working with Joe. I saddled him with a full sized adult saddle, without incident-meaning he didn’t buck, bolt, or jump. I also got him used to a plastic baggy all over his body. I attempted to get into the saddle, but he was really scared about this. Knowing that I have forgotten all my groundwork strategies, I backed off. It had been raining, and I was having a hard time keeping traction in the stirrup so that I could step up and get Joe accustomed to this simple motion anyway. I ground drive him with a halter and long ropes and he did very well. Again, very willing with no incidents.
I had placed a tarp in the round pen the day before the rain so that Joe could get used to something new on his own. On this day, it had water standing in it as well. As far as horses go, he was or was not going to cross that tarp regardless of the water. Because he had never seen one, he didn’t know the difference. So, I sent him around the round pen and eventually he jumped it, then stepped on it, then had no problem running over it.
People think that things you do from the ground, transfer to the saddle, and it isn’t always true. Similar in case here is that he would cross without a halter, but it was different when I asked him to follow me across.
I still was not feeling like I was doing something right. At this point, I felt like I was getting the horse to do what I wanted-but the horse was only doing it so that I, the predator, wouldn’t eat him! Something was missing and I was on a journey to figure out what was going on with me, and fast.
I have been keeping up with my old friend, Mark Rashid for years. He was the foreman, my boss, at a dude ranch in Estes Park, CO. He left the ranch a year or two after I did. We lost touch for a while as this was before everyone had a cell phone and Facebook. I went to equine college, and eventually moved back to Texas. I was married and had my two boys. Mark started a new family as well, and began traveling all over the world performing horse clinics. He also began to master the Martial Art of Aikido.
When I was browsing through Facebook one day I saw that Mark was coming to Texas, and it was time to reunite with my friend. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had expectations anyway. There is a song called House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert. I felt like seeing Mark again and attending his clinic would be like getting back to my roots and the house that built me in horse training.
I will write about it next, but I will tell you for sure that I was right. If you really want to change your perspective and interaction with horses forever, I highly encourage you to get to a Mark Rashid clinic or invite him to your place and host a clinic. Those three days fit divinely in with what I thought I was missing. The teachings from Mark also confirmed my thoughts that I have a renewed heart for training horses.
By the way, Mark has written many books, one of which is in the makings for a movie. Watch the trailer for Out of the Wild. You can also find him on Facebook under “Considering the Horse,” which is also the name of his first book.