A while back I decided to start riding without a whip. It worked very well for some time, but then Talo seemed to lose some focus, and I decided to try the whip again.
With Talo, I don’t really need to USE the whip. Just holding it while I ride seems to make him understand that this is “work time” and we are not supposed to loaf about (we do that later 🙂 ).
I don’t like holding the whip, it makes holding the reins less comfortable, and it’s really an annoyance most of the time.
Last week, Talo became spooky and restless at the mounting block. I think it began because of a problem or two I had mounting him bareback. I can’t jump on his back, so I need a higher starting point than the one supplied by the regular block. I tried adding a small stool, but it fell a couple of times and scared Talo badly. Talo was starting to get antsy whenever I stood too high near him.
The situation escalated, and after a while, even mounting him regularly became a challenge. At some point I lost my patience (bad, bad, bad – I know) and we had a big argument near the mounting block, which of course made the place reminiscent of bad things – and mounting became even more of a problem. Talo just refused to stand still, ran away a few times, and even stepped on the reins and tore his (very expensive) bridle.
After that day, I decided to step back and think. First of all, bareback riding is delayed until further notice. Second, I decided to ride without the whip again. It’s been two days, and I’m happy to say it seems to be working. Talo stopped cantering out of the mounting block, and he seems much less anxious. The rides are OK, could be a bit more forward, but at this point, I prefer to have him relaxed. We’ll take care of the rest later.
Again, riding and Talo have taught me to be patient, to think calmly of problems and to try different solutions until something clicks.
Now, we wait for winter, which seems to have been delayed indefinitely here in Israel.