We Ride Sport and Trail Magazine November 2018 - Page 20

I’m still laying in the dirt with the social media stampede. Please take some time and “like” www.facebook.com/Jeff-Wilson-Cowboy-Dressage so I can stand back up and dust myself off. That’d make me happier than a full breeze from a corn-eatin’ horse. I have been training horses for over 35 years and value the western horse lifestyle in my approach to training. Giving clinics and seminars on how to reach your full potential with your horse through the training foundation of Cowboy Dressage keeps

me young.

how much room a horse can find within the

confines of just simple bit contact to internally

morph from a delicately balanced horse, one that

follows my hands forward into a relaxing horse,

one that follows my hands forward into a relaxing

position, or collects back into a horse readied to

switch gears…to sneaking into a forward-engaged,

gas-pedal down, adrenaline-seeking speedster. I

know and understand how much a horse can really

rely on the security of your hands, and to depend

upon the contact to feel supported. I can even

endorse a bit of leaning on a young, green horse.

But this boy discovered a new tier of “lean in.” This

subtle act of intelligence was sheer brilliance. It

was undetectable to me. Lorenzo would lean into

my hands ever so much as we rolled along the hills

—the Catskill Mountains offering their vast array

of trail diversity—up and down and around.

Lorenzo loved it. He grew more engaging and "into

it!” I watched and enjoyed my protégé all summer,

but as he grew less and less light, his lope turned

into a canter, and his mind became less and less

about walking. At first I thought, “This dude’s an

athlete and he’s really getting into the best shape

of his life. Let him be a teenager,” to “What is

happening?” Lorenzo seemed to have forgotten

everything I had taught him one day. He began

throwing his head with every downward transition,

and seemed to forget all he’d been taught. Instead

of self-carriage, instead of engaging his hinds and

coming back into my hand, he would brace against

me, completely unengaged.

It was a hostile take-over, and I was along for the ride. Then it hit me.

Riding one handed, as I was doing, I had allowed

him to remain steady on the bit. He understood the

contact, and devised his own plan. Lean into it

ever-so-slightly, and give yourself a surge of go-

juice. I had created an adrenaline junky. Any of you

suffer from this kind of head-smacking tunnel

vision? Yeah, I got trained. I’m fairly sure I could

start a FaceBook page for other dupes.

The fix is simple enough, to go back to direct reining. A single rein in each hand. With direct reining, Lorenzo could never lean on just one rein. With indirect reining, or neck reining, pressure is often times on both reins at the same time—it’s just the nature of that style. It encouraged Lorenzo to develop an appetite for moving up under the contact and ever-so-lightly push against my hand. With each rein now, bending him each time he decided to lean, reengaged his slick ‘lil Morgan hiney and backed him off my hands into his light, self-carriage I had put so much effort into. Yeah, I said, “Whew,” once I got everything figured out. One thing about a Morgan, they are a wee bit like a Border Collie—brilliant!

You can watch Lorenzo’s video on my FaceBook page if you're so inclined.

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