Rhythm and Blues

There are a lot of chintzy sayings about horses out there. “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man,” etc. Well, to paraphrase a line from a very weird fantasy story I once read, horses don’t care about man’s stupid insides. Horses care about grass and wind and mares and foals and not being eaten by wolves. Fair point, I think.

(If you’ve read the story, gold star.)

And you know you’re always saying that your horses cheer you up. “Oh, whenever I feel bad, I just go ride my horse, I do all my best thinking on my horse.”

Really? I’m assuming you have a schoolmaster to pack you around, in that case. . .

I’m skeptical of how much critical thinking I may be able to achieve on horseback. Now, granted, I usually write my blog while I’m riding, but that’s about what I’m doing at that exact moment. So, one might argue, it makes my ride better, by helping me focus acutely on every move that he and I make together.

You promised me cookies.

I focus on him because, as a trainer, it’s my job to focus on my horse, not on myself. I’m here to keep my horse safe, as far as I’m concerned. If I do a bad job on Final Call, and sell him off to someone who can’t ride him, and they amplify all the mistakes that I’ve made – all bets are off. And if there is one thing you don’t want to be these days, it is a horse in a downward spiral of bad behavior. They just don’t live as long, or as happily, as the charming ones.

That being said, there is something to be said for finding a rhythm, and sticking with it, that lifts you above the ordinary, and away from your problems, and lets you live in the moment.

Today was a day for a trot, a long and beautiful metronomic trot. We tried out a training yoke today (that’s running martingale to you sporthorse types) just to sort of steady out that nose, as it was getting a bit, you know, poking out here and there. Not so hot with the straightness and the throughness, if you follow my drift. He seemed pretty comfortable with it –  I’m sure he wore one before – and so we just trotted, round and round, figure eights and serpentines and straight-aways, in a hypnotizing rhythm. Rising and falling evenly (feel that spring pull you forward), soft in the bit and light in the forehand, you felt that suppleness was just days away, in life as well as on horseback, and nothing else seemed to matter.

We trotted for ten minutes, and then I gave a gentle half-halt, sat, and was granted a sweet square halt. Good enough, son.

What a pleasure, to feel ten minutes of rhythm and partnership with a horse. Good enough. A high singing in your ears, a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling – almost as if – he made me feel good – pah, enough sentimentality. Final Call doesn’t care about my insides. All he wants from me is cookies.

(If only the feed store would get his brand of cookies back in stock. . . !)



Filed under Final Call, Training Diary, Training Theory

5 responses to “Rhythm and Blues

  1. HAHAHAHAHA! That’s one of the best horse quotes ever! I’m stealing it! Who’s the author? I like this post!

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      I can’t find the book.. keep losing copies of this book, it’s weird. But it’s from a short story by Nancy Springer, called “The Most Magical Thing about Rachel” and it was in the Horse Fantastic anthology.. here is the info on it:

      Horse Fantastic ed. Martin H. & Rosalind M. Greenberg (DAW 0-88677-504-3, Dec ’91 [Nov ’91], $4.50, 314pp, pb, cover by Braldt Bralds) Original anthology of 17 fantasy stories about horses, with an introduction by Jennifer Roberson.
      ix · Introduction: Equus Fantasticus · Jennifer Roberson · in *
      9 · Stolen Silver · Mercedes R. Lackey · ss *
      26 · Love at First Ride · Mickey Zucker Reichert · nv *
      49 · Dancer’s Fire · Josepha Sherman · ss *
      59 · The Phantom Watch · Charles Ingrid · nv *
      81 · The Czechoslovakian Pigeon Farmer and the Pony that Wasn’t a Paint · Mary Stanton · ss *
      87 · Riding the Nightmare · Jennifer Roberson · nv Copper Star, ed. Bruce D. Arthurs, 1991 World Fantasy Convention, 1991
      108 · When Lightning Strikes · Lee Barwood · ss *
      127 · Classical Horses · Judith Tarr · nv *
      153 · One Ten Three · Barry N. Malzberg · ss *
      162 · No Room for the Unicorn · Laura Resnick · ss *
      171 · The Horse Boy · Mary Stanton · nv *
      193 · The Power of Young Girls · Constance Ash · ss *
      214 · Malish · Mike Resnick · ss Pulphouse Jun 1 ’91
      219 · Wings · Barbara Delaplace · ss *
      234 · The Most Magical Thing About Rachel · Nancy Springer · nv *
      256 · Dream’s Quarry · Elizabeth N. Moon · ss *
      273 · Silverdown’s Gold · Janny Wurts · nv *

      It’s an extraordinary collection and I love “Malish,” “Dancer’s Fire,” and “One Ten Three,” which are racing stories. Ironically I have always enjoyed Jennifer Roberson on her own (She wrote a beautiful Robin Hood epic called “Lady of the Forest”) but I think her story in here is the lowest point in the book!

  2. While I definitely don’t do my best critical thinking about myself during a training session, I DO have some of my most creative thoughts while trail riding. That’s one of the things I like most about trail riding: the quiet, relaxed solitude without another human soul in sight.

    Metronome, Mary Had a Little Lamb…it’s all about the rhythm in the end, isn’t it? Once you clock onto that rhythm it’s golden.

  3. That’s it! That’s exactly how I want every ride to feel. My current goal for training my quarters is to get enough relaxation under saddle to get that soft, supple feeling. Granted one of them is a lot closer than the other right now.

    My old arab provided perfect rides for thinking. He was also a good conversationalist, he had very expressive ears.

  4. You yoked him?/

    How crewel;)

    I love that zone, when you can find it. Sometimes by looking for it, you don’t find it.

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