I decided to give Dually a break yesterday and ride a horse of mine, one of our sales horses, Doc. He’s a very cute little dun horse (QH); a turbo-charged cutter. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden him and we had a great time, well, perhaps me more than him, even though he was a little fresh.
It’s good for me to ride the sale horses every now and then and get to know them, so I know who the perfect buyer for this horse will be, and so I can do a decent job of showing the horses to the buyers. I love buying and selling horses, but I only deal in pretty high quality stock—that’s what makes it really fun. Sometimes the horses have temperaments so transparent—so solid and uncomplicated, that I feel like I know them well, even after only a couple rides. Others are more complicated and I need more time to understand them and match the perfect buyer. From dealing with thousands of horses over my career, it is fairly easy for me to type-cast different horses, their breeding and temperaments, a horse trainer’s form of profiling, if you will.
Doc is a little more complicated, which is why we’ve kept him for a while. He’s a sensitive horse—one that is highly sensitive to environmental stimuli—that’s what makes him a good cutter. That’s all stimuli—sounds, touch, movement. Dually is highly sensitive too– that’s what makes him a highly complicated horse to ride (and high maintenance, I might add). But there is a blissful side to riding a sensitive horse—the slightest thought you have about riding, the sensitive and well-trained horse will respond; he’ll respond to your slightest shift in weight.
That’s what is fun about riding Doc. First, I love his size. If Dually were that short, he’d be my true dream horse. Secondly, his gaits are glass-smooth plus he moves off the slightest cue. That’s what makes sensitive horses not a good match for novice riders—they either give the wrong cues or are constantly cueing the wrong thing without even knowing it.
Now, sensitive horses are often smart horses too—at least you hope. So they are easy to train and easily desensitized. One of my favorite horse behavior trivia is that horses are the most sensitive and flighty domesticated animal, but the most easily desensitized. Seemingly contradictions, but these two traits actually go together. If they didn’t, horses would perish in a constant state of flight.
I could go on in the subject of horse behavior for hours, and often do—at expos and clinics. But today I have a list of tasks a mile long to get accomplished. But first I’ll try to find a picture of Doc to post.
So until next time,