I got some great comments the other day on my “Riding with Buck” Post. So I thought I’d go into detail about those in separate posts.
I should preface this by saying, I’m not Buck. So I’m not attempting to speak for him. I’m going to try to explain how I understand this style of horsemanship works.
Picture this for a moment – horses grazing in the pasture, happy, content, quiet. The occasional swish of their tails, a flick of their ear, and they’re generally peaceful. Should one horse disrupt the status quo, it’s often a simple disciplinary kick, or threat from a tougher horse and they all go back to being at peace. Horses don’t hold grudges. That’s a human notion.
I said that getting on from the fence isn’t really about getting on from the fence and there were a couple of you that wanted me to further explain that.
So here goes:
It’s more about teaching the horse to search, allowing him to learn and letting him find the answer and find peace with you.
Allow me to elaborate.
If you’ve ridden with Buck at all you’ll know there’s 4 ways to teach a horse to move their hindquarters. One of those is rein with no leg. When we ask with our rein and NOT our leg, we’re saying to the horse “hey, buddy if you’ll just search and try, I’ll reward every try you make and we can become partners!”
The same can be said of getting on from the fence. The horse won’t know what you’re asking, but you’re going to allow him to search for an answer, and find a release with each try. By letting our horses search and rewarding their try, we’re helping build a relationship with them that says, “I’m a good, safe place to be. I will be as patient with you as I need to be, so that you can find peace with me.”
By contrast, if you jerk and snatch on the horse he’s less likely to find you as someone he wants to be around. We have to let our agenda go, and work within the parameters of the horse’s world. And that’s what getting on at the fence is all about.
Allow me to give you an example of this in a setting other than climbing on from the fence- though I’m sure you’ll see how it relates.
For my 31st Birthday I was given the Gumpy. I used to spend hours chasing him around the pen trying to catch him.
Zach, on the other hand, could walk into the corral and come back, horse in hand, in oh, about 2 freakin’ minutes. I’d cuss around and throw my coat, and the halter over the fence after an hour of trying and “demand” that Zach come catch my horse for me.
You see- a horse is very much aware of us long before we are aware of them (mother nature has dictated that or they wouldn’t have survived in the wild)- if we allow it. I wasn’t in a mindset of allowing the horse to want to be with me. I wanted him caught, I wanted to ride and I wanted to do it now, dammit. I wasn’t considering that I needed to help him get ready to be caught. It was about catching the horse. Not about helping the horse.
My body language told Gump that I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it and there was no getting around it. Looking back, if I were horse I wouldn’t want to be around me either.
When Zach finally helped me understand how to get him ready to be caught, and how to be aware of what Gump was saying/telling me, and how to be looking for my horse long before he looked for me, I got to a place where now, he’ll look me up in a corral, or even a pasture and I can catch him in 900 acres if need be. But I had to work on myself- I had to work on relaxing my shoulders, being someone approachable, and I had to move my feet and be ready to beat my horse to where he’d be next, so he got to a place where he’d think, “gosh, she knows where I’m going to be! Maybe she does have a pretty good idea what she’s doing, and she’s not got a bad attitude about it either!”
By allowing the horse to search for the answer (once I got to that place, of course), He realized I wasn’t going to demand anything of him and that I’d allow him time to think. That’s what getting on from the fence is about. That’s what moving your horse’s hip with no leg is about. That’s what asking them to get soft vertically in your hands is about. Allowing them to be a horse and think and process the request.
Happy Trails and Happy Riding!