58 vs 580

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I don’t actually know how much time I’ve spent riding Steen. I started keeping track in 2011, and since then I’ve spent 580 hours on his back (this doesn’t count the riding Brian has done). I can safely say I’ve spent vastly more time on Steen than any other single horse in my life.

Today, when I got off Nevada, I’d logged her 58th hour. That is, Brian has ridden her for 32 hours, I have ridden her for 26.

We rode today in the outdoor arena. The footing was a little softer than last time, and Nevada was happy to move out. We did more trotting than usual, which was super nice. She’s got a great cadence and usually pretty good energy, but in my experience most horses struggle with motivation when ridden mostly in an indoor arena for months on end. It is so nice to be able to get her out into the world a little.

But the word comes with more distractions. Today she was a little stiffer on the hackamore at times. I worked on this in various ways. Then Brian mentioned Steen was a little nervy at some gaits (he’s still not as settled with Brian as he is with me), and I told him lateral work often softens Steen up nicely. Then I realized I should be doing more lateral work with Nevada as well. So we did some leg-yields and side passes, and she just lightened up all throughout her body. We got glimmers of awesome collected movement for the first time.

Right now, we’re at a point with Nevada that the basics are there, but still need reinforcement. Beyond that, we’ve put in the broad strokes of some more advanced skills. I’m sure plenty of horses who have 58 hours under their cinches have done a lot more, but given that Nevada is the first horse we ever started from absolute zero, I’m pretty please with how she’s going. Today was definitely my best ride on her to date, but at one point I was watching Brian and Steen and I thought, “We’re a long way from being that effortless.”

But then, a few minutes later Brian turned around and talked about how he and Steen still have to work a bit to get totally aligned some of time. The difference is, Steen has over 600 hours of combined riding time, and Nevada has less than 60. It’s hard to totally comprehend that kind of differential.

Horseback Hours YTD: 39:00

Woh! Hey, look at you reading this entire post!

That's a bit of an accomplishment in our attention-deficient age. Kinda makes me wonder if you like to read things that are even longer than blog posts? Like ... books?

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Erica~The South Dakota Cowgirl~Anonymous Recent comment authors
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I've come to realize that I can train my critters to do pretty much anything a professional could, but it takes me a lot longer. So I guess I wouldn't worry too much about taking more time with Nevada. But it is nice to have communication with a animal down to the point that it feels effortless. That's such a great feeling.

~The South Dakota Cowgirl~

I'd venture to say it's not the horse. It's the person handling the horse. You've got more saddle time than Brian, so you're going to get more out of Steen and Nevada than he will. We like to say that the pencil (the horse) is only as sharp as the rider. So as the rider gets more experience they get more out of their horses. If Steen seems unsettled with Brian, we'd argue that that's a direct reflection of Brian's ability/comfort level, not the horse. There's a reason that Buck says horses are a mirror to our soul — they… Read more »


I've heard someone say "The horse has no time limit just the human. " Something I remind myself daily as I work with my first colt as well. Ride from where the horse is and progress from there! You'll never learn if you don't expose yourself to different horses, etc! Doing great work you guys! 🙂