Reluctant Cowgirl

My Horsemanship Instructor, Instagram

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We’ve had some successful rides lately. Both in the arena and outside. After a year back in the saddle it’s starting to make a little more sense to me. I’m braver. I’m developing feel.

Today the sun was stubborn in the way that it tends to be in Oregon springs. Even over here on the dry side of the state. We are mud and hunger. Everything drizzle and damp. The cow patties sprout toadstools, or they would if it warmed up a little.

I spent some of the afternoon on the couch, as I am wont to do on weekends in March, watching college basketball with a book. But the mustang had had a day off yesterday and I know how that spells trouble. It wasn’t raining and I had the idea for what to do out there, so I caught him and brushed him and headed up to the arena.

What I had a mind to do was something I’d seen on Instagram. It’s embarrassing but I’m addicted. (At least it’s not Facebook, I tell myself.) A woman in California who trail rides her quarter horses all over greater Los Angeles posted a quick video of everything she requires of her mounts for groundwork basics. The list was short and simple but very important.

  1. Yield the hindquarters
  2. Yield the forehand
  3. Sidepass
  4. Back
  5. Flex
  6. Desensitize

I watched her horse move its feet in that brief video and thought, yes. That’s something I can bite off. That’s something I can practice regularly and keep us both sharp. Even in a few minutes.

The mustang is great at yielding front and back. His sidepass has a favored direction. He backs like a reining horse. His flexing has a favored direction, opposite the sidepass preference. He twitches at a flag for 7 seconds then gets over it. He holds tarps and plastic bags in his mouth for fun.

I have days when I wish I were a Luddite who eschewed technology and spent her days doing nothing but reading books and going out to attack whatever it is she wants. Then I have other days when I learn a valuable lesson from a social media post that leads to me being a better horseman, a stronger partner in our team. It’s easy, after this process, to not have regrets.

Author: jess

I love my dogs and equines and good food, drink and music. I believe that the world is a better place because of bad Sandra Bullock movies, Hank Williams, and honeybees. I used to think I would never live in the middle of nowhere eight hours from the ocean or own a horse as an adult, but now both are true, so I may be an unreliable narrator.

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