On my Facebook feed I keep seeing posts about the 100 miles a month challenge. Maybe you’ve seen them too? The idea is that over the course of a month you walk a hundred miles with your horse. Not riding at a walk, but walking with your horse. The goal is to develop partnership, help your horse listen to you, and increase your horse’s confidence.
As regular readers of Equine Ink know, two Januaries ago, Zelda fell with me on the ice. It’s left me a bit leery about riding when there’s snow and ice on the ground (like there is now), so I thought I might try it. Please note: I’m not advocating pro or con the program, which costs $99. I just used the idea as an inspiration.
I’m now on Day 3 of my walking adventure. Day 1 was sunny and not too cold. Freedom doesn’t have winter shoes yet, so I thought he’d enjoy some time outside his pasture. We headed out for our normal trail ride, keeping off the slippery bits.
But my normally agreeable gelding, who never hesitates to leave his barnmates behind, had different plan. He became the proverbial kite on a string. A 1200 pound kite on a leadrope that seemed quite insignificant.
He twirled and bounced and screamed for his “girls” back at the farm. He circled me at the end of his rope and I was pretty much at the end of mine! There were times when I wondered if he might get away from me. I
figured the worst that could happen would be that he would run home.
I tried putting the chain over his nose, but that had no effect at all. In desperation, I put the chain through his mouth. Bingo. Instead of a bouncing lunatic, I had a well mannered horse who stayed by my side, even if he did prance and bounce.
We covered about a mile (Freedom probably covered fifty percent more), and it took us 45 minutes.
Day 2, I took Zelda. Given the first day’s experience, I decided she should wear her bridle, rather than a halter. I probably didn’t need it. She was a perfect lady. In fact, she seemed bemused that I was walking beside her and perhaps, appreciated not having to work.
Zelda and I covered almost two miles. The biggest problem that I had with her was that she kept trying to eat.
Day 3 was Freedom’s turn again. This time he wore a bridle but he was a different horse. He balked a bit but for the most part he had figured it out. No calling, no twirling and no circling me. Thank goodness, because he made me really dizzy.
Do you ever take your horse for walks? How did it impact your relationship with them?
8 thoughts on “A Kite on a String”
YES!! after a show were my horse was a bit of a train wreck (we dont get out much..lol) i decided we were going to do walks. I dont feel comfortable riding him in all areas yet. WE walked every morning and it was so nice! I need to get back to it, but yes we did have certainly some moments where only 2 feet were on the ground but many more moments of calm curiosity!
When I first got Freedom he hadn’t seen much of the “real world” (he’s off the track), so I did spend quite a bit of time hand walking him on the trails. I’d forgotten how helpful it can be. Plus, I get more steps in :).
Can’t wait to check this out! Sounds like an amazing adventure.
I do a lot of horse walking 😬 A friend of mine has a horse I’ve been helping out with that isn’t rideable anymore but still needs some brain stimulation so we walk a lot. The current barn I’m at has a small track so we use that a lot.
I used to take Jordan for walks often. The very first time he was confused, but from then on, it was more like walking with a very large dog rather than a rather small horse (he was 14.3). we both enjoyed it, and I learned how different a world looks when you’re looking at it with a horse in hand. He liked to ‘look’, he wanted to stop and sniff everything, wanted to investigate things. I’ve been told that horses ‘don’t look up” but Jordan was always one to stop under a tree and look up into the branches. He’d want to go into people’s drive ways, and of course, there were other horses in their paddocks lining the road. They always seemed envious that Jordan was walking…not carrying, walking with his human.
The hardest part was the dogs, though. Dogs thought that my walking a horse past THEIR TURF was a challenge. One family allowed their dogs to roam. They chased every vehicle that drove past their home. A horse perplexed them, but while they never got close enough to bite Jordan, it was because of his size, not because they didn’t want to bite. I had a lot of problems with them. But then, so did everyone else on the road. I took to carrying bear spray. Never had to use it, but was prepared to use it on the dogs…the bears in our area have never offered to hurt a thing.
However, the first horse I ever leased, Hank…most definitely was an arena horse and nothing else. He could NOT deal with even leaving the barn’s vicinity. I tried taking him for a walk, once. Like your proverbial Kite on a String, he was in the air more than on the ground, and I gave up, figuring taking him for a walk wasn’t worth my getting hurt.
I take both my horses for walks. The Doctor no longer can be ridden, so he enjoys getting out of the pasture or paddock for a stroll in all seasons. I often walk my mare Frannie a 1/2 mile before mounting up and a 1/2 mile after our trail ride. She often stops at the dismount spot without me asking, turns her head, nudges my toe, then looks at me as if to say, “You can get off now.” (I love mares). In winter I hand walk her more than ride. Stopping to snack is a given.
Zelda definitely sees the benefits of having me walk: no saddle, no bossy rider, we don’t go as far . . .