With time various topics, most connected to the 'ancient ways,' will be covered. Some of these might be controversial in nature - you're most welcome to contribute.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Running with Horses ...

Jeremiah 12:5 ~
"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?"

 
 Endurance Riding Namibia

I run my horses in hand on a regular basis and it is just part of training.  I often get asked why or how??  I'm not alone here, because some of the old North American Indian tribes walked/ran a new horse for two days and two nights, before they did anything else with it.  I've met an old Warrior here in Australia, close to his 70's now, who still breaks horses and walks them for hundreds of hours before he does anything else with them.

I learned to run my horses from a very special teacher ... a very 'difficult' horse called Blaze.  She nearly killed me a couple of times and I decided to get in some 'help' from so-called 'horse trainers.'  I went through 5 of them, one I asked to leave and the others refused and said I must just sell her to the doggers (people that kill horses for dog meat).  There was just something about Blaze and the process started ... it started with running her ....

It was not that easy, because she was known for her aggressiveness and during a run she kicked me to bits ... I struggled to walk for two weeks.  I changed my training, but we continued with the running.  Later I cantered her with a rope halter on the roads, she actually 'asked' me to get on her back.  One of the people who was reluctant to train her, later bought her from me.  Blaze is now a horse for the disabled in Brisbane.

 
Blaze, the difficult one ...who taught me about running with horses ... 

Blaze was known for her dominance and 'aggressiveness' - she attacked a few people.  Running with a horse sort all of those issues out, long before you need to get on the horse.  There are many, many ways of 'breaking' a horse ... as many as sticks to beat the hell out of a dog.  'Breaking' a horse or riding a horse is a very dominant thing to do.  Horses hang out with each other and slowly work out their position within the herd.  This is a slow process of body language and movement within the herd structure.

A horse knows exactly where it positions it's feet and how close it is to you.  The ears tell a story and how the horse 'pushes' you around tells another.  You can sort all of this out in the walk/run and sort it forever.  A horse that steps on your foot or push you out of the way while moving ... or standing still, knows you are 'down there.'  Some horses will test their dominance every single day ... you can only sort it permanently if your feet is on the same level as the horse's feet ... my opinion anyway ... or you can always break the horse.

Running Star ...

Running with a horse does not involve movement on a level even surface ... it means running in all kinds of terrain in all kinds of conditions ... it is here that the horse start to work with you.  You can teach a horse to run on your left, or on your right and to switch sides when you ask it to.  You can ask a horse to run by your side with the head at your shoulder or slightly ahead ... this is important if you want to see the ears and use it as your radar, in certain conditions.

When space is limited, you can ask your horse to run behind you ... with the nose between your shoulder blades or further away ... you can alter the space as you choose.  In very steep areas, you can ask your horse to run in front of you and you can hang on it's tail, pulling you along ... of course, the trust factor is needed here and you can only sort it by doing it.

Most humans don't understand their physical design, when it comes to running.  Humans have more or less the same endurance as a horse and a human is designed for running, especially in the heat.  Your fitness is also very important and plays a huge role in how you interact with your horse.  On a 15km trail ride, it's not going to hurt the horse if you run 5km's of it.  As your horse have the same endurance as you, possible less cooling ability than you ... it is a good practice to run the same areas and hills as your horse.  A horse doesn't have a sound for pain, so put a bit of weight on your back and do what your horse do!!!! You'll soon see how important it is for your horse to be in shape ... and for you to be in shape.  If you can't run for whatever reason walk it ...

In Namibia we have endurance races where you won't be able to ride your horse, you'll have to keep up on foot.  The same situation might pop up when your horse gets hurt in the middle of nowhere.  Your horse will only respect you if you do the right thing every now and then ....
Endurance rider collapsed after long climb run on foot in Namibia

Another important factor is the physical development of a horse ... it takes about 5 to 6 years for a horse to fully mature.  The old theory of some horse breeds reaching maturity sooner than others is just dated.  For some reason there is a hurry to 'break' a horse and sometimes is starts at the age of 1!!!  A lot of these early practices are well known in the racing industry.  Why the hurry?  Why not just hang out with your horse ... just walk and run it???  Sort all the pushing and shoving out first ... sort it out on the ground.  Teach the horse that you can sense things as well, the spoor and scat of animals ... let the horse smell it.  When your horse tell you via ears and body language that there is something around ... stop and circle, look for tracks or other signs.

When you see a person, an animal or a snake, teach your horse by specific sounds that there's something.  Be patient and let your horse see it ... this way the horse starts to respect your input and automatically work with you.  These are very little things ... but on a horse you can see things the horse can't.  I always spot snakes first here in Australia ... in Africa it was the horses who were more alert, because of the presence of the Rinkhals (spitting cobra).  Horses can sense thing you can't ... but you have to learn their way of telling you ... you can start learning this, long before you ride a horse.  It is a language and a type of dance ... a very special and intimate communication system ... a way of 'feeling' ...

Running Hakahn ...

Running with your horse build trust, especially at night and with younger or inexperienced horses.  Horses can feel your energy, can feel when you're scared or unsure of yourself.  Sort all of this stuff out, before you get on a horse.

Running with a horse is not a job, it is one of the most beautiful things one can do, it is a very intimate thing to do ... to feel the horse, to 'see' the horse and to feel that the horse feel you and is totally aware of you.  Once you know the feeling, you'll know when it is not there when you're on a horse.  It is all about total awareness and trust ...

In the end, we expect horses to learn our language and our ways ... while we sit way up there.  How about learning the way of the horse first, with your feet on the ground???




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