Thursday 3 June 2021

Throwback Thursday: Naia's Ride #1-#5

As of starting this post, Naia has 22 rides on her. There are many ways to start a young horse. Naia isn't my first green horse but she was the first one I bought unstarted. Please don't think for a second that I am an expert or offering any recommendations on how young horses should be started. I just want to share what the journey has been for Naia and I because it has changed several of my preconceived notions and has been a huge learning experience for me.  

I haven't been involved in young horse starting myself before, but I have been exposed to it somewhat through friends, fellow boarders, grapevine etc. I am most accustomed to the system where you send a young horse away to a trainer for 30, 60, or 90 days where they are worked almost daily and come back green but knowing basics of carrying tack and a rider at all 3 gaits. The owner (assuming a fairly experienced rider) can then start riding themselves to focus more on their discipline of choice and teaching the finer points. This is pretty much the opposite approach from what I ended up doing with Naia.... 

 ... Naia now has 22 rides on her, all with me as a the rider, and spaced over 10 months. Some of this was by intention and some was just due to circumstance. I am going to do some Throwback Thursday posts to document her first 20 rides, 5 rides at a time. 

 Ride #1 July 18, 2020 First time fully climbing onto Naia's back. This was 5 months after I got Naia so we had already built a solid foundation of groundwork. Ride #1 was done at a clinic where Naia was bareback and the clinician was acting as ground person who was fully controlling Naia, I was just the "human curry comb" weight on her back that was petting her and rubbing her all over. Note that I have worked with this clinician several times before, and this clinician is the mentor of my regular trainer, I would not do this with a clinician that I did not already know/trust. In preparation for this step we had done lots of work in previous weeks at having her line up with mounting block and me putting some weight on her back and swinging my arms and legs around her sides (but with always keeping one foot on the mounting block). Naia was led around a little bit with me on top but very short ride to keep it light and positive. 

Ride #2 July 19, 2020 Same as Ride #1 and in same clinic, but this time I got on and off a few times and was led around more at walk. I also held the reins but did very little with them. 

 Ride #3 July 21, 2020 Same as last ride except with my normal trainer acting as ground person instead of clinician. 

 Ride #4 July 31, 2020 Same as last ride (so still being led around by trainer bareback at walk), but longer duration. Walked until Naia let go of that last little bit of tension and fully relaxed. 

 Ride #5 November 14, 2020 The three and a half month gap was not related to Naia herself, just the combination of me working 75 hours a week for 8 weeks and then having surgery and associated recovery time. This ride was my first ride in tack. I rode in my western saddle and with a bridle. Note that we did a lot of work with tack before even ride #1 but the first rides were bareback to make bailing easier if necessary. On this ride I did have ground person holding Naia's lead rope at all times but I did give some aids myself instead of just being led around.