(“Simple politesse requires that first you meet the horse on terms which he is used to.”)
Pretty much in all of life how you are permitted to behave—what you can get away with—depends on how people perceive you going in. I once heard that the difference between a hotdog and a schmuck is that initially they each behave the same way, but the hotdog can pull it off successfully while the schmuck cannot.
The question at hand is how do you behave when you’re invited to ride someone else’s horse? For the moment let’s exclude two scenarios: the instructor climbing on her student’s familiar horse after watching her fumble around in a lesson and how you might ride if you’re trying out a horse for purchase. That’s all for a later blog.
This might be a “preaching to the choir” situation. A lot of riders will instinctively do what I’m suggesting, and many who will not, won’t change their behavior even if I hit them over the head with a shovel. But in the hopes that this might strike a chord with some of you, let me proceed.
If you get on a friend’s horse, I’m not counseling that you be passive or wimpy. But I am exactly suggesting that simple politesse requires that first you meet the horse on terms which he is used to. You may sense he’s slower to the leg than you want him to be, but insulting the horse (and the owner) with bolt-from-the-blue violence isn’t a very good solution. Getting on a new horse is an exploration. Figuring out not only how he reacts but WHY opens pathways of communication. Incremental and experimental aids spiced with immediate rewards will help you determine how this horse thinks. “Too Much Too Soon” is apt to either shut him down or make him anxious enough to lose his confidence in you. It’s OK to hotdog, but it better work and of course his owner better still be your friend when you get off!