It occurred to me that Howdy is missing several steps in his training process, as evidenced by his tension in all gaits. So we are taking a step back and going for relaxation first. I am riding him a lot more often, but for 30 minutes at a time, always ending on a good note. We do a lot of figures. We sing along with the radio, we breathe, we chill. He is coming along well and we are still headed for the Ranch Horse show in Leon on Saturday.
Meanwhile, he had an ophthalmic follow-up at ISU today and he has a “minor ERU flare” in that left eye. We had all hoped it would be completely clear, but this is still not terrible news, as it is minor. We are going to treat it with a month of doxycycline and hope we get him completely clear.
This list below came across my computer screen today and it seems especially fitting for the remedial work I am doing with all the tbs in the barn at the moment. Bravado and Otto are here too and a little bit ahead of Howdy in their training, but still we are laying the foundations. Chop wood, carry water. Not a bad way to pass the time. Thanks to Curtis and Dana for videotaping.
Training tips from the U. S. Cavalry Manual of Horsemanship, 1936, and still holds true today:
1. Be systematic. Before beginning work, fix in the mind a definite program of exercises for the day. Be sure that the exercises for the day are in proper relations to the work of previous days.
2. Be patient. Do not destroy the tranquility of horses by demanding a performance that is too difficult, or by demanding it too early in training.
3. Be tactful and resourceful. Take advantage of the most favorable conditions for teaching a horse a new lesson. Never try to train a fresh horse. Undertake nothing new when the horse is excited or frightened. Do not try train the horse when his attention is distracted. Do not give a new lesson to a resisting horse. Do not send the horse to the stable in the midst of resistances or with a lesson incomplete. Finish the lesson first and then send the horse away calm and tractable.
4. Be moderate. Begin with the simplest movements and exercises. These understood, proceed to the next, less simple. In the early training introduce nothing complex or difficult. Use continuously the same means to bring about the same results, thus aiding the horse’s memory. Ask little but ask it it often; it is by repetition that a horse progresses. Nevertheless, do not let a horse continuously execute a movement incorrectly or in a dull, lifeless manner. Demand attention, correctness and a carriage and action gradually increasing in style and manner, then allow a few moments of complete relaxation. Never strain the attention or tax the strength of the horse. Require no position, attitude or movement which in itself causes the horse apprehension, discomfort or pain.
5. Be observant. Do not attribute every resistance of failure of the horse to inattention or stubbornness. These are often due to ill fitting bits or saddlery, to a poor rider, to lack of condition or approaching unsoundness, to noises, unaccustomed surroundings, or even to the weather.
6. Be exacting. Do not be content with the simple tracing of the riding-hall exercises and figures. Every such exercise or riding-hall figure has for its object to teach the horse the aids and to know how to handle himself in doing so. Accordingly, before taking the first step of a movement, the horse should be placed in a position which favors the simple and natural execution of the movement. The movement will then be executed more easily and correctly.
7. Be logical. Do not confuse the means by which an end is obtained with the end itself. Practically all of the exercises and riding-hall figures are the means for which the horse is rendered easy to manage during ordinary riding. Accordingly do not use riding-hall exercises as a proof of training or routine drill movements as a means of training. The first are the means by which the horse is trained. The second constitute the test and the proof of training.
8. Be liberal. Permit the riders to ride the greater part of the time at will, or, if on the track, without regard to the distances. They then have a greater opportunity to really control and to correct the attitudes, positions and movements of their horses. It also permits the horses to assume their individual natural gaits and avoids irritation by forcing them too soon to take regulation gaits.
9. Be tenacious. Never provoke a struggle which can properly be avoided.
10. Summation. In the horses’ training, great attention should be paid, first, to their conditioning; second, to their tranquility; third, to their training, properly speaking. ANY SYSTEM OF TRAINING THAT NEGLECTS THE CONDITIONING OR WHICH DESTROYS THE TRANQUILITY OF HORSES, IS DEFECTIVE.