Up a creek: Using what you have

Have you ever really longed for something that was out of your reach, something that someone else has?

It’s called coveting. Well, sometimes, wanting what you already have is just as good, maybe even better, as I recently discovered.

A horse named Pumpkin standing on the banks of a creek

This creek and bank provide a natural obstacle course.

On a horse-training TV show, the trainer taught owners how to help their horses navigate all types of obstacles. The obstacles included a huge rectangular structure that had what looked like giant stair steps. The owners sent the horses up the lowest step and then had the horses jump down. Then, it was on to the next level.

Oh, how I wished I had that type of obstacle course at the place where I board my horses. The obstacle helped build confidence in the horse and trust between the horse and owner.

For more than a year, I’ve been working on those two issues with my Missouri fox trotter, Pumpkin, and my Quarterhorse, Steel. We’ve come so far, but we have a ways to go.

So, this obstacle, I thought, would really take us so much further in our training.

Then, I realized something wonderful: I do have such an obstacle where I board. Actually several such obstacles.

The unitiated call them by simple terms: ditches and creeks and steep hills. I call them training aids, I’ve had three sessions so far with Pumpkin using them.

First, I sent her up and down the banks of the creek she navigates daily. Oddly, while she’s OK going up and down on her own, she was reluctant to traverse them under my guidance. The more I asked her, the more confident she became. Ultimately, she went up and down both sides of the creek, stopping in the water itself.

The next time, we went to a part of the farm that she’s never explored, and we repeated the exercises on the creek and the bank. Then, we went uphill, an area with a few sharp drop-offs. Again success.

The third time was again in the new area, but this time, I actually rode her through some of the obstacles and into unexplored territory. I could immediately tell the difference in her attitude in going off into strange places. She hesitated only briefly but did as I asked each time. Well, almost every time.

Mind you, horses don’t have the greatest depth perception, so every time she went down a steep area or into the water was a great achievement, one that builds trust. One that ultimately, I hope will lead to her calmly walking on the trailer, standing while I shut the door and allowing me to take her on a trail ride.

What started out as coveting some expensive and beautiful obstacle course that a professional horse trainer put together and charges hundreds of dollars for folks to use has turned out to be a great opportunity for me to appreciate what nature offers.

My newly discovered obstacle course is far closer to what my horse and I will encounter while trail riding.

Best of all, this course is free.

4 thoughts on “Up a creek: Using what you have

  1. That certainly seems like you need a lot of patience but well worth it in the end. It reminds me of Zumba class where people are really hesitant about the step and with practice and direction they soon learn the enjoy the fun and truly easy way of getting some exercise. See you in class and give Pumpkin and Steel some hugs for me.

  2. Hi,
    Good luck with your horses, it will all be worth it, they are such magnificent animals.
    I would also like to thank you for the mention of my post.

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