This really is a process, and we’ve got to let her slow down at her own pace.
If you were to watch the process of a skyscraper being built, you’d see that it really doesn’t look like the finished product until the very end of the whole construction. Keeping that idea in mind, it’s easy to understand why we train these horses the way we do — the first thing to me, is to teach our young prospect all the tools we will need to build our great show horse, and then to use those tools to put our horse in the proper position and create the “look” that we’re going for in today’s modern show horse. Without the foundation of creating the proper tools, you’re not going to be able to fix the inevitable problems that creep into your horse down the road, I believe in taking the time to put all the fail-safes and “future-proof” your horse by having a solid foundation.
With that in mind, my training process through this whole point has been nearly entirely focused on getting my horse to do the maneuvers properly and start engaging the correct muscles through them, so I can use them to set my horse up to succeed when I do ask her to round up and lope properly as a show horse sometime in June through October of this year. As I’ve said time and time again, there’s a big difference between backing up by moving physically backwards and backing well, where the horse puts their front feet closer to their hind feet through the process and learns to lift their back. By the same token, there’s a difference between turning and turning well, giving our hips up and giving them up well. As we talked in the last lesson, we’re going to first shape our horse left-to-right while keeping in mind the 3rd dimension of shape as we do it, so today’s lesson on Peanit is about beginning to shape her body around in the different parts and pieces at a lope and a jog.
To relate it back to the skyscraper example, what we’re doing is building the scaffolding around the outside of the building so that we can continue to work our way up. There are a lot of extra pieces involved in laying down a great foundation, that will eventually be torn off and mostly forgotten about in the finished product. You may come back and revisit them from time to time on your finished horse, but for the most part, you’re going to just polish the windows and clean the floors and not have to worry about tearing a wall down to redo the plumbing except for every once in a great while. By the same token, if we build a solid foundation now, our maintenance program on the finished horse can be one that’s just vacuuming and dusting off some maneuvers rather than completely having to tear them apart and address major issues except for once a season.
When I was a kid, I used to take a sheet of paper and crumple it up and undo it, crumple and undo, crumple and undo for an hour at a time when I was bored in school. If you did it enough, the paper would eventually get super soft and become basically like tissue paper, and that process used to keep me fascinated for whatever reason (I may have been a bit nerdy, looking back on it), but I realize now it was just preparing me for the process of horse training. By pinching our horse up and releasing a million times, we’re going to take our horse that starts out stiff as a board and create something that’s moldable like clay. That texture is what I look for when I’m working through my horses, I want to feel like ultra soft and pliable and I can position them wherever I need them to be without resistance and fight. How do we get there? Put in the hours and lay down the foundation, brick by brick!