So sorry Jack

I saw this picture of Jack over a year before I saw him in person. There was something about him that simply took my breath away. Imagine my surprise and delight when he was available when I was looking for a horse. I went to meet Jack in person and from the moment I touched him I knew that he was the horse I was looking for...
I owe Jack an apology and want to let everyone know that. Every since the "werehorse" incident, the one where we discovered not only could I fly but I could still bounce, I have been puzzling why he would buck. I blamed the shoo fly, I blamed Jack's nerves, I blamed everything but the true source. You see in the past few months I have become a dedicated student of Jack's and in that time I learned a lot. The biggest thing I learned is that Jack bucked because that was what I asked him to do. Yep you read that right-I asked Jack to buck and he did!
So here is how to get Jack to buck on command:
1. Cue Jack to canter.
2. Tighten every muscle in my body
3. When he tenses in response to my tension think loudly "Oh shit, please don't buck"
4. At the same time that thought is going through my mind grip firmly with my legs.
5. As Jack speeds up in response to the leg cue, start to pull him around for a one rein stop while gripping even tighter with my legs.
6. As Jack jumps into the air because he has been goosed, dig in like you are a wild lion on his back.
These steps, although exaggerated for clarity and happening in rapid/unplanned succession, are a sure fire way to set Jack to bucking.
I learned this by rethinking what I did, watching other riders doing the same type of thing. But most of all I learned this from a wonderful teacher-Jack himself, by really focusing on what is going on while we work together. I have watched him face things that frighten him to death and still be aware of where I was. I have seen him turn to me, asking me to help him through tough situations.
When Jack had the bag on his saddle last week I discovered a lot about our relationship. Jack was afraid and would leave the circle and head to me for help. The first time he did that he came close to running me over, my fault because I didn't cue him. The next time he went to do that I held up my hand and as afraid as he was he respected the cue to stay out of my space and he returned to the circle. He also tugged the lead rope out of my hand on one of the circles. When the rope fell Jack had the opportunity to take off like a lunatic around the arena, he didn't do that. I watched him do two circles around me, I reached down and collected the rope and Jack continued to do as I had asked him...circle around me. He didn't buck once while we have been working on "horse eating" obstacles, that is why I know he did what I asked him to do when he did buck. I have discovered that Jack does exactly what I ask him to do (sometimes he does what I think about him doing), that if he seems to not follow requests it is because I didn't ask him to do something in a manner he could clearly understand. I always believed that any issues we were having were mostly mine, I have discovered that they are all mine.
I have enjoyed the time that I have got to be in the "School of Jack". Studying him, listening to him, and truly focusing on what we are doing together has made a world of difference for us.
So Jack I am sorry, I have been a slacker student and a poor partner. I was quick to blame you for things that were my fault. I promise to be a better DOR in the future. I am very lucky that you are patient and big hearted. Thanks for being a great teacher.
Enjoy your day and don't forget to hug your teacher/horse.


Florida Beach Basics said...

I'll bet you're a heck of a fine school teacher! marge

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm sure Jack is a great teacher and now knows what a great student of 'Jack' you are. It's amazing what we can learn from our horses if we will only listen.

Cheryl Ann said...

You have a wonderful horse! He is truly amazing!

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Thanks everyone. Jack is an exceptionally grand horse. I was really blessed when he joined my "family"

Pat and Abe said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post.The photograph you posted for this SkyWatch is very nice.

Pat and Abe

Victoria Cummings said...

Isn't it amazing what a horse teaches you if you are open-minded and ready to listen? I know that Jack appreciates and loves his DOR, especially when she has revelations like this one.

Andrea said...

Tell Jack that I have the same problem. Isn't it crazy how we really do effect how our horse works? It's amazing. I have a four year old gelding that I would love to ride, but every time I think about it, my palms get sweaty and I get so nervous that my horse gets nervous and we both freak out!! It's a mess, but I have other people ride him and he's fine. SIgh.....it's frustrating. But you are a wonderful DOR to Jack, keep up your wonderful work!!

Caprice said...

Your DOR is not so dopey. Sandy and Dani have made me aware that they are the ones training me!
When I eventually learn how to "speak" thier language, they respond and I learn what they need me to do in order to accomplish what I need them to learn.
Plain as mud, huh? Good boy Jack (pat-pat-pat) for being so very patient with your DOR.

Arija said...

I respect a guy who can aposogise. Sometimes it is really good to know we are not pefect.


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