1963-Voice Of The Tennessee Walking Horse 1963 July Voice - Page 11

Voice of the Tennessee Walking Horse 9

From Show Ring To Round-Up

By ALETHA WIEHL 5211 East Sunset Drive Yakima , Wash .
1 . Start out with a Tennessee Walking Horse . 2 . Proceed with horse sense . 3 . Return on s a m e Tennessee
Walker . When we bought “ Bay Gem ” for a pleasure horse , we realized his training for , and experience in , the show ring could be quite a handicap for the type of pleasure riding we enjoy . But , we wanted to give a Tennessee Walker a try , and this little horse with the big way of going and endearing personality appealed to us . Just out of the stake class at the Pacific International horse show , he was obviously ‘ broke to death ’— but for the show ring . Obviously we ’ d have no problem if we rode English and stayed in a ring or on a bridle path . But , what about our type of riding ? Could he even keep his feet under him on our terrain ?
He walked over , put his head in my arms . We decided to gamble on his adaptability . If he couldn ’ t walk , he ’ d be some pet !) And , we could always ride him around the training track under English tack . But , it might be a trick to switch him over to Western pleasure riding without breaking his legs or our necks . The big question was : Would we live long enough to see that day ?
Lighter Shoes Installed
Now Bay Gem is about 15 hands . He came to us with a 4 .% inch toe , thick leather pads , and 42-ounce shoe on each front foot . We cut him back to 4 inches , omitted the pad and put on a 22-ounce shoe . Then for 3 days we turned him out in a good-sized corral in the daytime where he had the opportunity of getting used to his new feet on an even , smooth , level surface . ( We had been careful to keep the same angles on his hooves .)
On the fourth day he was turned out in a blue grass pasture which was level but not as smooth as the corral surface . Here he had long straight-ofways and could try his new shoes in any gait and at any speed he might choose . He gloried in this freedom , and his hind feet were pointed skyward more than once !
After a week or so of this , we opened another gate so he could go up and down a hillside . Again , this was blue grass pasture land , but bumpy in spots . Going up and down that hill brought some unused muscles into play , and he
( In Three Easy Lessons ) learned to handle himself starting and stopping in all his gaits at all speeds . Many times we held our breaths , fearful he would hurt himself . But , even in his play , he showed a good sense of timing and a knowledge of just how much should he try to do . He walked slow and fast , he did his rocking horse canter , he ran , he kicked , he played , and he made some mighty fast stops when he came to the bottom of the hill and there was the fence ! So far so good .
We waited for a calm day , not too cold , when the ground was dry and not frozen , for our first ride . We let him look at the Western Saddle . Snort ! Then he touched it with his nose and looked again . We eased it on him , a % rigging with front cinch alone . The bridle and bit were those to which he was accustomed . For this first ride we chose the ys mile ring on our place . It is next to the highway so there ’ s considerable traffic along one side of it . Awaited Familiar Cues
When Bay Gem stepped in the ring , he was ready to show , on the alert for familiar cues . But they didn ' t come . He began to get nervous . This rider wasn ’ t playing the game right at all . And he could scarcely feel the familiar leg cues . Maybe he ’ d missed something . Nothing but a flat footed walk , first one way and then the other . Surely he was warmed up enough now to go on ! Now in to the center and in and out around 4 barrels , still in a walk at that . And as we turn left there is the pressure of the right rein on the neck . That ’ s strange . And as we turn right , there ’ s that same pressure only this time on the other side of the neck . Then all the way around a barrel with that pressure on the neck . Very strange . ( But , by this time he had ceased to wonder when the next ‘ show cue ' was coming .) He was still a little nervous . After all , what was coming next ?
We left the ring and rode zig zag across the pasture , up hill and down , to the fence and stop . Out in the middle . Stop . Get off . Lead a few steps . Re-mount . And to the barn . What kind of a work-out was that ! The whole thing took about 15 minutes . The temperature was in the low 40 ’ s or high 30 ’ s . We hadn ’ t been out of a flat-footed walk , yet Bay Gem was wet under the saddle . But , he had responded promptly to new as well as old cues , had made not one false move and his rider was very pleased .
But how he stretched for me to dismount when we reached the barn ! Without a cue !
Knew Each Other Better
However , now we knew each other a little , and next time would be different . It was . One trip each way of the ring , then out in the pasture where we checked on the fence line , back and forth , with the now familiar feel of the rein on the neck at each turn . There were some rocks to be picked up and carried to the fence . On again , off again . And then there was that stray dog . He doesn ’ t belong here . By golly ! At last she ’ ll let me do my running walk ! And look at that pup skeedaddle !
More fence line inspecting ( best inspected fence this side of the Mississippi ) and back to the barn . Again we ’ d been out about 20 minutes , same kind of weather , but this time scarcely a hair was turned under the blanket . Ho-hum ! Really now , this was a breeze ! But we sure got that pup out of there !
The third time out , we headed straight for the hills , with another horse and rider along , both of whom knew the country . We had about two miles of fairly level going at first , but we encountered some rough and rocky going underfoot . I did my best to guide him thru the easiest way , riding with a rein in each hand , and watching every step . But , even before we began to climb , Bay Gem was beginning to watch and help pick his way if I relaxed for an instant .
He had started out too fast , a bit excited , over-eager . But from the start I was able to rate him as I wished , even though he was on edge with a “ where ’ s the show ring ” attitude . No need to urge him onward !
Soon I put both reins in one hand with fingers between , so I could give him some mouth cue with the neck rein too , and tried it out on the first sage brush we encountered . With the help of a little extra shift in body weight , it worked .
A pheasant flew up from right under our noses . Bay Gem didn ’ t blink an eye . ( I nearly fell off ) The air was brisk , a slight breeze was blowing . The mountains in the distance were beautiful . Meadowlarks were singing . And this horse was poetry in motion ! How wonderful it was just to be alive !
Yes — He Is Sure-Footed
That mood held for the entire trip ! He did everything asked of him and did it beautifully . What a relief to find he was sure-footed . Not once did he stumble , and we encountered some ( Continued on Page 11 )