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Tunnel vision...

Herd of horses grazing at Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship Wellington Somerset near Devon

I came up to the yard today aware that I wasn’t in the best mindset ever. That said it wasn’t the worst either and Bronson had already had a couple of days off so I decided to lunge him. Now that I’ve realised just how much lunging helps with my riding and visa versa I am enjoying it even more!

Pip had moved the herds around so Bronson was back in the field where I had committed the crime, many moons ago, of bumping him with the gate. The way the gate and electric fence are set up does require a little more consideration, so I thought it through before I went to get him. I do try not to make the same mistakes, but sadly often make interesting new ones instead, as would prove to be the case today.

As I approached Bronson he considered not coming in. I don’t blame him if I’m honest, I wasn’t delighted to be with myself either! After I slipped his headcollar on and turned around I noticed Pip had followed us into the field. I knew she would be there for a reason, but wasn’t sure what it was, so just carried on walking towards the gate. In so doing I had completely failed to notice that Zeus was following us. He is a young horse staying with Pip for training and, as well as not noticing him behind me, I hadn’t considered what the change of field would mean for him.

Pip called out to say he was following me and I needed to send him away. I did it but not very convincingly so the magic words ‘mean it!’ came across the field. Then I started walking towards Zeus to send him away at which point Pip had to intervene again. “Don’t go towards him to send him away, he thinks you’re following him!”. How a situation can flick from me being in a dominant to submissive position in a heartbeat never fails to amaze me.

In the end Pip sent Zeus away whilst I brought Bronson through the gate and she showed me what to do. She explained that as it was a new field Zeus had to learn the rules anew. He was not to come within a certain distance of the gate, either when I was bringing Bronson in, or was putting him out. The reason Pip had come up to the field was that I was the first person to go in the field since the horses had been moved. She was there to make sure that it all went smoothly, so Zeus and the other horses would know what is expected of them. Happy that I had taken it all in, and would know what to do next time, I headed down to the yard to tack up Bronson.

I used our lunge session to focus on pace, alongside all the usual things. We tend to slow down, both ridden and lunging, when there is a change uphill or downhill so I was keen to use this opportunity on the ground to maintain pace regardless. In that respect things were going well. I was really happy with our work and we changed rein. Towards the end of our session Bronson tripped. I wasn’t sure why, but he was sound, so I carried on working giving him a slightly longer rein and whilst we didn’t achieve our earlier success it was ‘ok’.

That was the point at which two things happened. I finished the session and Pip called out ‘your reins are in the wrong place’. As I looked to see what she meant, to my horror I saw that the surcingle had slipped round. I just simply could not believe that I hadn’t seen it! I was so focused, or so I thought, but far from being focused I had gone into a state of having tunnel vision!

The hardest thing about learning horsemanship is that my mistakes are made at Bronson’s expense. I was gutted. The good news is that Pip checked him over and said he would have been uncomfortable and wondering what on earth I was doing but he wasn’t hurt or harmed. I also know, as with the gate so long ago, I will never make that mistake again!

Days like today are great for learning but hard on the heart. Tomorrow I WILL do better!

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