Rocky Says: What is it Like to be Ridden?

Well humans, you asked. You also decided it was a good idea to sit on us and make us go, so I’ll try to be clear about what WE horses think about all of this. Here’s the clear answer: It depends.

The first thing is how the human is approaching the whole thing. Do they give us a good brushing first and get rid of all the itches? Or do they just slap the saddle on an itchy back? Usually, we all like a good brushing. It relaxes our muscles which relaxes our minds. Then, if the saddle is comfortable we kind of forget it is there. If it doesn’t fit right and is pinching or rubbing somewhere, it is ALL we can think about. Mostly because we really just want to be comfortable and we can’t get away from it!

The next thing about riding is this: How well is the human communicating? If the human is really good at talking to us, we horses can get in the ZONE. We love this clarity and the intimate communication. In those moments, everything is clear, the human is the clear leader, and it feels so good to move our muscles! If the human doesn’t communicate well it is frustrating. We have no idea what they want and they just get louder and harder and seem to get angry and they are sitting on us, so we can’t get away from the confusion. Some of us (like me) will just decide to shut down. I’m really good at sort of going to sleep and waiting for the discomfort to pass. Some of my herd mates have a different approach. They will try hard to get that human as far away from them as possible!

The other thing about riding is this: What are we doing? It is more exciting to go somewhere new (as long as we trust you) and see the sights than to go around in circles inside. Now remember, if you’re communicating really well, asking us lots of questions and having a conversation with us, riding in circles can be rewarding. But there is NOTHING better than going outside (especially with a herd) and exploring. Remember, we like to move.

Oh yea. That’s the other thing. If we aren’t understanding each other, don’t ask us to stand still. This freaks us out! We feel so much safer if we can move. And if you’re communicating with a horse like me that doesn’t like to move QUITE as much as some other horses (it’s not because I’m lazy. It’s because I like to conserve my energy), then be clear when you ask me to move. And if I’m stopping by the arena gate, I’m communicating something back. Such as, “I’d rather be out there eating grass.” It’s true. We’d all chose eating grass over riding if the two things were just sitting there next to each other. It’s just our nature!

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About the Author : Holly Jedlicka

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