You have to stay on a bucking bronco for eight seconds, or that is what I have divined from the occasional cowboy novel and that weird cow-painted nightclub in downtown Gainesville, Florida. Eight seconds.
Eight seconds doesn’t prove much, unless you’re on an incorrigible bronc whose sole purpose in life is to buck people off. If you’re actually going to school a horse, you have to stay on considerably longer than that.
I’ve decided the magic number, for my lot of Thoroughbreds anyway, is five minutes. Kick through five minutes of silly and you’ll be rewarded with fifteen minutes of exemplary (relatively speaking) behavior!
I had two horses back me up on this today, and I’m thinking two horses is a perfectly acceptable scientific number to prove my theory, especially as they are SO different: a 2 year old filly fresh off the farm, and a 4 year old colt who has been at the track for a year.
The filly was leaping about her stall to begin with, which was one of the reasons why I thought I’d better ride her. Thoroughbreds are cruel bosses: if they’re too bad to bother with today, they’ll only be worse tomorrow. It is the first time in my life when I have stood outside a stall, studied a horse whose ass is higher than their nose for better than ninety seconds, and thought, “Ah, something to ride.”
She put in her five minutes by spooking and rearing at everything. Spook first, rear after, think way later. To her credit, she does think. Eventually. OH MY GOD A FEED BUCKET IS HANGING ON THAT WALL OH MY GOD A PERSON OH MY GOD A HORSE TRAILER OUTSIDE THE BARN OH MY GOD THE HORSE TRAILER OUTSIDE THE BARN IS GONE and so on. For.. five minutes. After which she arched her neck, mouthed the snaffle, and jogged around the shedrow like we were outside the dressage arena preparing for our championship ride.
Now the colt, he put in his five minutes by lunging, bolting, rearing, and wheeling. You know, the fun stuff. He seemed hell-bent to damage one particular person who wasn’t feeling good, which I think was just cold-hearted of him. I have a very unlady-like mouth when horses are naughty and I let loose some choice ones. I also proved my insanity by laughing every time I pulled him back from one of his stunts. I can’t imagine what people must think of me. Anyway, after his five minutes he jogged like a million dollars, and when I sat down and dropped my heels, he whoa’d into a walk as if he, I don’t know, knew what he was doing, or something. (That seems unlikely, but hey…)
Five minutes, that’s all you need. Scientific proof, right there for you. Ride’m for five minutes, and you’re free to teach. Or, you know, just wear them out. Depending on your needs.