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Rocking The World

Posted by vwkoch, 16 March 2009 · 135 views

Horse Stories
My horse has great aspirations. She revealed her ambition to me one day during an otherwise normal ride. I have to admit I was quite impressed.

The story begins when I introduced her to some trail class obstacles at the stable where she was boarded. One of those obstacles was a wooden bridge. Although she has a tendency to be afraid of almost everything, she walked across the bridge without much of a problem, so I decided to make it more challenging. I put a jump pole underneath it so it would rock as we crossed it. (Note: If you decide to try this trick yourself, make sure the pole is stabilized so that it doesn’t roll. The idea is for the bridge to rock, not to disappear out from under you.)

The rocking bridge was definitely more of a challenge, but she eventually learned to take that one calmly in stride, too. Then, I decided to teach her to stand in the middle and rock it back and forth like a seesaw. When she realized she’d get a treat for making it rock, she thought that idea was a grand one, but it took her awhile to figure out how to work the “seesaw.” Shifting your weight from front to back again and again while standing still isn’t exactly genetically programmed horse behavior. Once she figured it out, though, Tori loved this new trick. In her opinion, there’s nothing better than being able to earn treats with a minimal amount of effort.

At that point, it became difficult for me to get her to do anything else. If we were near the bridge, she wanted to get on it. If we were crossing the bridge, she wanted to stop and rock it. If I made her step off it, she’d continue shifting her weight back and forth, trying to get in one more tilt to earn one last treat. She truly gave new meaning to the term “rocking horse.”

The ultimate revelation of her great aspirations came one day when we were riding in the indoor arena, though --- far from the little ring with the trail class obstacles. We’d been walking, trotting, cantering, doing the things riders do on horseback, when I decided to end the session by trotting her down the middle of the ring and stopping in the center --- the objective being the achievement of a nice square stop right in the middle of the arena. I got the nice square stop, but then, something strange began to happen. My horse’s body was moving back and forth, even though her feet were still. For a moment, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but then it dawned on me. My horse was trying to rock the world!

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