Although strikingly beautiful, with a shiny coat and sleek build, Tiki has an ugly disposition. He just
isn't friendly. He sulks in the back of his stall much of the time and glares at anyone who comes
near. If you give him a treat, he acts like he's doing you a favor by taking it. He's a sophisticated,
grumpy old man, but all bluff and no bite.
Other horses regard him as a bit of a misfit. In the field, he gets picked on by pint-sized ponies.
He's basically considered a wimp.
Despite his less-than-charming nature, Tiki has never harmed a human being. He's just come to
associate people with something he doesn't want to do, namely, work. With his posture, he's telling
you to go away. But under saddle, he's spirited and knowledgeable. Compared to other school
horses, he's advanced. In addition to being responsive, he moves forward willingly, but not
dangerously so. He has impulsion. You won't need a crop.
Approaching and handling a horse like Tiki requires thought and skill. When you enter his stall, he
may be standing in the back, sulking as usual. Approach him from the side, the least threatening
direction, and keep your arms down.
Calmly, slowly, and confidently, touch his neck or shoulder first. Do not try to pet him on the head
first, which many people do. Many of us are naturally drawn to the horse's beautiful eyes, but many
horses don't like their faces touched. They've gotten one too many fingers in their eyes.
When you encounter a less-than-cooperative horse like Tiki, never let him get between you and the
door, and never close and lock the stall door behind you. You want to be able to exit quickly, if
necessary. And remember, if Tiki or any other horse turns his butt toward you, lays back his ears,
bares his teeth, or swishes his tail at you, don't enter the stall. If you're already in the stall, leave.
Self-protection comes first. Then ask your instructor what to do. Good instructors really don't mind
your asking for help; they welcome the opportunity to teach, and this is the kind of situation that can
provide an important learning opportunity.
You'll find that with horses, especially those like Tiki, your body posture says a lot. Tiki can
intimidate people, but if he hasn't issued any aggressive warning signs, you can handle Tiki yourself.
In you go. Confident, calm. You approach him from the side and pat him on the shoulder. He gives
you a dirty look, but that's all. You take the reins off his neck and over his head, and lead him out.
You walk him to the ring for mounting.
The Half Halt
The half halt is, just as the name implies, half of a halt. It's a very important way of controlling your
horse. In lesson 6 you'll use this move to signal a pending change in movement to the horse. But
for now, you simply want to slow Tiki down, not stop him. Start by reviewing the aids to the halt:
Aids to the Halt
1. Sit down (or stop following the horse with your back).
2. Set your hands (don't give to the horse with the reins).
3. Gently close your legs on the horse.
4. Stiffen your back, pushing into your hands.
To make this a half halt, do these things with less intensity than you would if you were asking Tiki
Too much to remember? Then pull back on the reins just a bit. A half halt should only take a
fraction of a second to accomplish. Half halt, release. Half halt again if needed, then release.
Steady pulls on a horse won't work. You'll just get into a pulling match and Tiki will win.
If you issue a half halt and Tiki stops, you issued the aids too intensely. Ask Tiki to move forward
and try your half halt again. The second Tiki responds, stop issuing these aids. Any time Tiki
speeds up when you don't want him to, half halt him.
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049