Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keeping your Equine in Tune ~ a Debate?

So I was on the phone the other day with a friend of mine who had gotten a new horse.
The horse was supposed to be broke.

But my friend said the mare was having issues with her bit, her cinch, and would misbehave and not respond properly.

I suggested to her that she should find out exactly what kind of training her horse had and perhaps do a bit of ground work or even ride her about an hour every other day in a small pasture just to get to know her habits, likes, and dislikes.

I told her that I often took my ani-mules into our small round pen to check their attitude out especially if I was changing any tack or trying out a bit on them.

My friend seemed horrified and upset. Why her horse was purchased trained and she never did any further training on them.

Frustrated, I tried to tell her that each time she handled a horse, she was inadvertently training it.

I told her that even my aged mules got a 'tune up' every once in a while. Sometimes I just brought them inside the roundpen to saddle them and see what their attitude was that day.

It didn't hurt and it was all for the safety of both rider and animal. After all hadn't she complimented me on my working with Opal so that she was easy to catch and easy to saddle? Opal was 28 yrs old by our closest estimate. She definitely benefited from retraining and re-tuning.

No, no, no. My friend insisted. Just get on and ride.

No, no, no, I insisted. Be safe. Know your animal inside and out.
See that they remember the word 'Whoa'.
See that they remember their manners.

See that they adjust to any changes in tack. Work with them often and they will come to respect you so much more and become eager to please.

Then I realized that we were at polar opposites in thinking about our equine.

She attributed my having to 're-educate' and 'tune up' my riding animals to the fact that they were mules.

She had Arabs, and they didn't need it.

I decided to be diplomatic and not get offended.
As I hung up the phone, I sat back and stared out at the rain driven sky.

How many hours of training had I put into Badger, Opal, Sunshine, Patchy, Cheyanne [my old mare], and now Siera?
Hours upon hours.
Tune up, training, handling, and not just riding.

This lead to respect and bonding between me and my equine.
I'll continue to 'tune up' my ani-mules occasionally. I'll continue to work with them each time and keep it in the back of my head that
I ride
or handle
an animal
training it.


  1. Very good and practical advice.

    Side note: My very first, but not new to me, horse. We were given a new, and better, bit for Christmas. Oh boy, took him out on the trail. The bit was NOT a better bit after all. My runaway horse, fell on me on slick pavement. Ambulance ride to the hospital. Spent my Christmas vacation on crutches. Lesson learned the hard way. Never assume that a trained horse or mule can't learn new things.... as can the RIDER! It's never-ending!!

  2. So true MJ, that is why I was so concerned with this.

    Unfortunately even when I offered my limited skills, she said no!