September 12, 2023

First Ride Off the Leash

This horse is making me a better horsewoman.

I mean of course a near-green-as-grass baby will do that. But this one is a little different. He's so worried, but willing, so it's easy to overface him if I don't carefully think through what I'm doing and why. 

Whole family came to dinner last night

He doesn't "get over" negative experiences quickly or at all, so I have to figure out how to set him up for success with new things. "Success" looks like small asks with a clear objective in mind that is within his capabilities to get to in one session, and then patience as he realizes this new thing I've asked of him won't lead to his imminent demise. Which takes...a lot of time.

What Leah has termed his "processing ears", where after work he's suddenly like "Oh...that was it? I expected something much scarier, I'm sorry."

Last night was our first night "off the leash" as it were, and his first time in the hackamore which seems to be a better place to start with him than the bit, as I continue to put together the puzzle pieces of "what does he know and what does he not know." 

This looks a lot calmer than it felt. It felt like he was about to jump out of his skin.


  • How to go
  • How to stop
  • How to go in the right general direction that I point him with a combination of neck rein and direct rein


He's so sensitive that it doesn't take much to help him get the answers right, but he's so sensitive that we are weeks of daily riding away from this all feeling like less of an existential threat to him. But his owner is on board with the patience approach and so am I.


  1. i 1,000% feel ya on "this looks a lot calmer than it felt!" bit... and also on the "needs weeks of daily riding" too... sounds like a solid start, tho, good luck!

    1. Glad I'm not alone, it's been 13 years since I last started one and I really don't remember the early days!

    2. ‘Looks a lot calmer than it felt’ is my jam. You’re doing a great job.

  2. He reminds me so much of the cob mare Ginger I had when I first started blogging. She's been living a very happy life with her new owner for a lot of years now. Once she trusts her person she's absolute gold but it just takes a while for her to come around. No bad experiences I'm aware of, she just really gets her confidence from her person and is almost too genuine, she tries so hard for her person she's easy to overface inadvertently. I know that's a sample size of 1, but he's just SO similar in your descriptions of him that I think you're absolutely on the right path with giving him time and patience.

    1. Wow, yes, you're right! I had forgotten all about Ginger, but you're right, they are very similar. I have known a few Welsh Cobs like that, I think some of them are just a little weird, like the spicy shishito pepper in an otherwise benign bag of them, lol.

    2. I think I have another special shishito on the way!

  3. The sensitive ones can be so tough! But wow, the walk on him... I really think it will all be worth it, he's so lovely!
    It seems like you're taking the right approach. Slow and steady and all that.