Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tipping Point

I mentioned in the last post about Kat and I having a run-in with the irrigation ditch. Something has been on my mind since then. 

At the last ADT I was talking to one of the club members who offers lessons in our area. I had mentioned to her about one of our previous outings when we encountered the garbage truck 3 times and how each time I stopped Kat, hopped out of the cart and stood by his head. When the truck went by, I hopped back on and we went on our way.  Kat doesn't often spook and doesn't often bolt & run like a twit but I felt better, safer, standing by his head and making sure he was calm and relaxed, seeing me there calm and relaxed.

I was told I should Never dismount the cart in a situation like that. If he were to spook and bolt, he would be running away and there is no way to stop him or bring things back under control. It is better to sit in the cart and wait it out. You have more chances of preventing an accident that way then to step off the cart and head the horse.

Ok, that makes sense and I understand the reasoning behind it, but I also know that sometimes there is a time to just get off the horse and let them kill themselves too. In cases like that, have at it horse. Take yourself out, but you aren't taking me with you.  Sometmes they handle things better seeing us on the ground, standing safe and calm while crazy shit happens around us. They see and feel us blowing it off, looking but not scared and do the same.  You aren't freaked out, why should I be? is their reaction. 

Knowing this, when things started to go south and the ditch was right there, I went with my instincts and stepped off the cart. I didn't let go of the reins, never got excited or lost my mind, but instead, stood there and waited for Kat to get his mind back and stop reacting to everything like he was. Sure it could have gone seriously wrong, but I did what I knew to do and waited for Kat to slow down and figure it out.

I know every horse is different, we are all different, every situation is different and how things turn out in the end vs. the could have, would have, should haves is all going to be different too. But do we all know what our own 'breaking point' is? Do you know when to get off and when to stay on and ride it out? What is it for you that defines it? Sometimes it is a gut feeling, reaction, instinct or you just know... but when do you hang on and when do you bail?


fernvalley01 said...

I have always worked on the theory "you don't jump out of a perfectly good airplane , or off a perfectly good horse " "perfectly good being the operative word" I can't say just when or why I would step down ,or off the cart(though that has been many years since I drove)
Kind of when your gut says do it . If it is already going wrong and you know to fight it out will end in a bigger wreck , pick your spot and take the dive . When trying to be proactive , seeing a possible wreck coming and choosing to step down , again trust your instincts, what ever is going to make you and the horse remain safe

phaedra96 said...

The only thing about jumping out and standing by his head is he could become dependent on you doing that whenever a "scary" situation arises. I seriously do not know how to overcome that dependence. I will ask some of my Amish friends how they train their buggy horses to "stand at corners". I do know their advertised road horses "can be jumpy at corners", "notices large trucks" and other things like that. Trusting your gut and imparting trust to your horse that he will stand or keep moving when told to; never tried to train that. My "go-to" cart horse came that way....that is why he is my "go-to"! My Percheron teams came Amish-trained also....hit the road, hit a trot and maintain it til you arrive home again.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Every time a horse person tells me I should "always" or "never" do something with a horse in some situation, I take it with a grain of salt. There are exceptions for everything. I think it is reasonable to expect a bad outcome if a horse is experiencing something new and take precautions. I also understand how people feel that the driver is responsible for controlling the horse from the cart, but to the point of risking one's own life?

I used to dismount green horses when big trucks drove up my road or around the arena at the Fairgrounds. I don't think it did any harm, because eventually I could keep riding them when those trucks came around. You don't throw your kid in a pool and tell him to swim. You start by holding the child in the water and giving lessons.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I think knowing if and when to bail is a learned response. Gut feelings are developed. You have enough experience and know your horse well enough to have a pretty good idea what is the best course of action.

I generally like to stick with them when they blow up...but once I lose that feeling of control...I'm looking for a place to bail. When I was having problems with Frosty blowing up...I learned, for was that 3rd jump. If I didn't (or couldn't) get his head by that 3rd jump...I bailed. After that he just had too much steam and went 'blind'. When them suckers lose their minds like that...I'm out of there. ;-)

kestrel said...

I bail when the horse has gone blind. I'm too old to have that much ego anymore! Doing whatever it takes to get a horse through a potentially deadly situation makes more sense than picking a fight to me. I can always regroup and fix training issues later, especially if we are both still alive!

It depends on the horse, and it depends on the human's response. That's why so many training tips present different options.

I hate heights, so picking a fight or trying to 'ride one out' on a mountain trail is not a sensible solution for me. I'd rather get off and lead them out of it, because I'M so tense in the situation I'd make it worse!

I think you know yourself and your horse well enough to figure it out. Training procedures are much different than the procedure you'd use for a totally made horse.

Amish Stories said...

Hey Linda just wanted to say hello and to thank you for dropping by my own blog. Have a great weekend. Richard