It’s my job. Teach Encore! good manners so nobody gets hurt. Yes, it’s the fall of her third year and we are serious. Sixteen hands tall and about one thousand pounds of horse power, this girl needs to know how to look out for me. Presently her reliability factor is zero. That means that I have to be reliable for her. Hence, it’s “time in the saddle” to bring her around to bomb proof.
Today we lunged, long-lined, walked and then rode around the compound. Lungeing walk, trot and canter on voice command, and then leading or long- lining around the five acres, before I saddle and ride, is how we stay safe.
Today, walking next to me, Encore! shied at chickens flapping their wings, moved a quick two step for no obvious reason, at the top of the property, by the observation deck, snorted at the small pond up by the caravan, and hurried through the soft branches of a small pine tree.
We spent some time just standing still. I sat on the edge of the deck and asked Encore! to stand motionless next to me. She stood and watched her surroundings. It was late afternoon. No wind. She thought about nibbling some grass shoots, but had second thoughts when I wiggled the reins and said, “Hey!” These quiet times, walking and standing still, are perfect for putting voice commands into practice. Once on board, the voice commands are all I really have to guide Encore! around the property. My hands on the reins are barely there, my seat quiet and relaxed, my legs just draped around her barrel. My voice, and her understanding that it must be obeyed, is the only thing that keeps everything under control. Later on she’ll learn that my legs, seat, back and hands have more to say. Now, it’s simply “walk on”, “hey” and “whoa” that keep us going forward and out of trouble.
Sargent Reckless, the little Mongolian racehorse turned US Marine with a purple heart, is my benchmark. This means soon I will load-up Encore! and travel to every possible terrain to teach her to be fearless. It’s being fearless that will keep her hooves on the ground and her face moving forward. Along the way, we’ll talk to other people who are doing their encores, facing their fears and following their passions. It promises to be one hell of a ride!