The only problem I really had was my two legger. He had absolutely no sense of timing, balance feel or focus. As a result I had no clue as to what he wanted. This was especially true when he wanted me to stop as he kept leaning forward telling me to go faster. He also kept leaning to the side and falling off.
Then one day he and his wife decided to go to a clinic on speed control and stopping. What a mess. He couldn’t get me to go into a trot without falling off, let alone go into a lope and stop. At the end of the clinic they talked to No Legs about taking lessons on a family plan.
A few days later they loaded the kids and all of us horses into the trailer and headed over to No Legs for their first lesson. He already had Storms saddled and warmed up. Just a few minutes into this first lesson he stopped everything and had my two legger take my saddle and bridal off, put my halter on and get on me bareback.
Needless to say my two legger didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. No Legs told him that he needed to develop balance to stay on top, and that he needed to be able to feel what I was doing in order to do that.
As No Legs led me off at a walk, he told my two legger to close his eyes and tell him when my right front foot was leaving the ground. At first he did let my two legger hold onto my mane for security. After several weeks of lessons (and practicing at home) my two legger could finally feel what my feet were doing at a walk. Next we practiced at a trot. By the time my two legger could feel where my feet were at a trot, he also had the balance to stay in the middle of me without falling forward or sliding off the side of me.
Next we started working on getting my two legger to balance himself in a way that actually communicated to me what he was wanting me to do. No Legs really concentrated on teaching my two legger to to get me to relax and give to pressure which was something I hadn’t really learned.
The whole goal to these lessons were to get the family, especially my two legger, confident enough in their riding so that they could take us on camping trips into the desert. After several months of twice a week lessons, No Legs began meeting us in the desert to conduct the lessons in the environment they wanted to ride in.
On the last ride we took with No Legs my two legger was confident enough in himself and me that he put the reins on my neck so he could light a cigarette. We were just coming to the bottom of a fairly steep hill at the time. I stumbled and dropped my head then started trotting off. The reins had dropped over my head, but my two legger had gained enough balance and focus that he didn’t panic. He simply said “whoa, reached down, grabbed both sides of my breast collar, and pulled up on it. Since we had been working together on the giving to pressure, and he remained balanced, I simply stopped.
Since then we have spent many enjoyable weekends exploring the desert, and he hasn’t fallen off since.
This story is out of my newest book From The Horse’s Mouth (walking a mile in your horse’s shoes). It would make a great Christmas gift for the aspiring horsemen on your gift list. It is available on Amazon.