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
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
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 to halt.
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
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