Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pony Up, Cowgirl!

It’s time I put on my big girl panties and start ponying my ponies.

"Ponying."  Pic borrowed from www.hollisranch.com
In case you haven’t heard the term, when you “pony” a horse, it means you ride one horse and lead another at your side.  It has many advantages. 

For one, it’s a good way to train a green horse to become accustomed to a rider being “up there,” not on his back, but on his buddy’s back.   It also teaches him to control himself at different paces, based on a rider’s direction.  He also learns to be good while walking next to another horse, a great preparation for shows, drill teams, group trail rides.   

This latter advantage also applies to the lead horse.  Since I ride alone so often, my horses don’t get to learn how to behave themselves while riding with other horses, and I’m always surprised when I first bring them out into a group ride.

It's time Her Royal Highness learned to behave herself when riding with others.
For instance, Hudson takes offense to horses being too near to her personage, and has been known to throw a kick.  She needs lots more experience with having horses nearby, and hearing from me that kicking is not a response she should be choosing.    

Starlight, on the other hand, decided she might like to bite the horse nearest to her during her first trail ride and stretched out her lips sooooo lonnnnng to do so that I was able to stop her before it happened.   Then, when the horse behind her trotted, she would trot and bite the butt of the horse in front of her, as if to say, “Hey, stupid, get going.  Don’t you know it’s time to trot?”  Luckily, the object of her poor manners was totally unflappable, and used to riding with newbies.

And finally, ponying also lets a single rider exercise two horses at once, and this is something I’m very motivated to do, during these short, blustery days.

So now I’m contemplating my matches – who will lead whom, and where to do it, how to start it.  It’s not a quick process, but one that I have always planned to master, and to have my horses master.  

It’s go time!



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