I’m currently reading “The Way to Perfect Horsemanship” by Udo Burger and there is one exercise which I think would be very good for the headstrong mare I’m leasing. To quote from the book:
“Sins of the past, which have upset a horse, can be redeemed by the same method, of frequently letting him stand perfectly still, completely unrestrained. My old master Oskar Stensbeck used to educate head-strong horses by riding into the manege, coming to a halt, and letting the horse quitely ‘chew’ the bit from his hand; he would then light a cigar and read his newspaper until the cigar had burnt out. During all this time, he would never let the horse move from the same spot. Then he would quietly dismount and have the horse led back to his box. This “meditating exercise” for the horse, alternated with periods of walking with the reins adjusted to a contact, was one of our favourite lessons, the benefits of which were felt for the rest of their life by both horse and rider.”
OK, sounds simple enough - ride into the ring, halt, and let the horse stand on a loose rein for a length of time then dismount and go back to the barn.
A few questions though:
He mentions “alternating with walking” and I’m a bit confused if the standing exercise should be one entire session or if it could be used throughout sessions, for example stand 10 minutes, walk a bit, stand 10 minutes more. Or if it means one session standing, then next session relaxed walking, repeat.
I do not plan to smoke nor read while in the saddle and as I don’t smoke cigars I’m not sure how long we should stand for. 10 minutes…? Google says a cigar takes 30 minutes to an hour?
Has anyone tried this exercise with an older horse that has ingrained tension/spooking issues and if so how did it go?
What happens if the horse spooks halfway through - should I start the time over?
It sounds so simple but I often think my mare could use some meditation in her life. We’ve gotten much better with spooks while riding as I’m spending the whole ride keeping her mind busy, shoulder ins, circles, getting a feel for when she feels like spooking etc. But now we are having spooks while standing after the ride, when other riders are dismounting or the trainer is giving us a recap and the reality is there are times in her life where she will need to occupy her own mind and that’s why this very-simple exercise has piqued my interest.