A SHOUT OUT TO GIVING TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1st, 2020

Yes, I know it is Cyber Monday today, but I wanted to post a reminder about tomorrow’s Giving Tuesday.

Created in 2012, #Givingtuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. Wikipedia defines it as “a global movement that unleashes the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”

If there has ever been a year that horse rescues and other non-profit equine organizations need help, the year 2020 ranks high on the list. If you are in a position to do so, please consider participating in Giving Tuesday this year. YOU can make a difference!

Remember, too, that if you live in the USA, the CARES act has a provision that allows for a 2020 tax deduction on up to $300 in cash donations to 501(c)3 charitable organizations even if you don’t itemize. Contact the Internal Revenue Service through http://www.irs.gov or your tax professional for more information.

“. . due to the coronavirus pandemic and the CARES Act that was passed in March to provide relief for it, charitable donations of up to $300 can be deducted for 2020 tax purposes, even if you don’t itemize on this year’s return… Here’s what that means. Normally, if you don’t itemize and give away $300, you get none of that back in tax savings. This year, if you give away $300, the IRS won’t tax you on $300 of income. If your tax rate, based on your total income, is 22%, that means you effectively get $66 of your donation back”.

From the USA Today Newsletter dated 11/23/20

Don’t know where to donate? Read on for a few ideas.

  1. SMALL HORSE RESCUES IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
    Every dollar counts in a big way when running an all-volunteer rescue organization or operating on a tiny budget. If you don’t know of any local horse rescues off the top of your head, a quick Google search should give you some options. In addition to cash donations, many need donations of physical items and volunteer time/labor. If you aren’t already aware, you might be amazed to learn about the rescue work that goes on in your own community.
  2. SADDLE UP AND READ- A 501(c)3 charitable organization Have you heard the podcast Young Black Equestrians? One of the YBE co-hosts, Caitlin Gooch, is also the founder of Saddle Up And Read, a literacy program that combines the wonderful worlds of reading and horses. From the Saddle Up and Read website, “Saddle Up and Read is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based out of Wendell, NC. Saddle Up And Read is on a mission to encourage youth to achieve literary excellence through equine activities. In 2017, founder Caitlin Gooch noticed the literacy rates in North Carolina were low. Caitlin acted immediately by creating an incentive with a local library. As a prize for reading, this incentive included a day at her father’s horse farm. The only requirement was for children to check out 3 or more books from the library. It turned out to be a great success which led to Saddle Up And Read (SUAR).” Visit the program at https://www.saddleupandread.org/ to learn more or donate. Saddle Up and Read also offers for purchase t-shirts featuring their eye-catching logo.
  3. WILD HORSE EDUCATION- A 501(c)3 charitable organization I mentioned the non-profit Wild Horse Education in my post “For The Wild Ones,” at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/for-the-wild-ones/. WHE works to not only educate the public about wild horse and burro issues but also to film and document horses on the range and those controversial government round ups. WHE explains to the public why it is important to keep wild horses and burros on the range instead of removing them. While the Bureau of Land Management continually puts out information stating that horses are starving in mass numbers and destroying land, the WHE provides ample evidence to the contrary. WHE also advocates for wild horses and burros on a national level working with government law makers to try to improve protections for these animals. Protections were enacted into law almost fifty years ago but are continually manipulated and trampled on by competing interests. Go to https://wildhorseeducation.org/2020/11/28/countdown-2021-public-top-ten/. There you will see their blog post about the important work they did in 2020 AND this photo below. Look for this photo to click and donate BETWEEN DECEMBER 1st THROUGH DECEMBER 6th to have YOUR DONATION DOUBLED!

An Example of Growth and Change in The Horse Industry

Thank you to photographer Kirsten LaChance via Unsplash for use of this photo.

Something I love to see is a horse professional who is willing to actively grow and change. Someone who is already professionally established yet willing to explore new ways of training and being with horses? To me, it sets a great example for the rest of us “everyday horse people” to follow.

Two well-known professionals that come to my mind in this regard are Madison Shambaugh and Warwick Schiller. You may have read about Madison Shambaugh, otherwise known as “Mustang Maddy” and Warwick Schiller of “Warwick Schiller Performance Horses”. Both are successful horse professionals, riding and training at a high level.

Frankly, if I were as successful with horses as they are, I would probably sit at the end of each day and simply bask in the glow of my own fabulousness. I certainly wouldn’t think that maybe there is another way for me to ride and train and provide horse care. Clearly whatever I had done in the past to reach my level of achievement must be just fine, thank you very much.

Interestingly, that is clearly not how these two operate. If you follow their work, you will have heard them talking about different points in their horsemanship journeys that caused them to question certain aspects of their training philosophies. Even after achieving competitive success. Even after accumulating large social media followings. Even after making money with their previous methods of horse training.

I really admire the example this sets in the horse industry. I think so often horse folks are afraid that if we admit there is a different way of doing things that we will somehow invalidate ourselves or all our prior work. We forget that we can grow and change without throwing everything we ever did in the past under the bus. That we can balance the traditions of our chosen breed or discipline with modern scientific insights into how horses might actually feel about those traditional methods of horse keeping or training or riding.

I look forward to seeing how their evolving insights might help change the horse world. Their examples encourage all of us to continually examine how we care for, interact, ride and think about our horses. How refreshing and inspiring!

Get Your FREE Subscription to Equine Wellness Magazine!

Image taken from The Equine Wellness Magazine Website

This offer popped into my email inbox yesterday. I am excited to share it with you. For a limited time, Equine Wellness Magazine is offering a FREE one-year digital subscription to their magazine!

My USA readers may have seen the glossy, print version of the magazine on the book rack at a local Tractor Supply Store. With this digital subscription, you can access the magazine anywhere in the world!

Equine Wellness, published five times a year, offers a natural/holistic perspective to horsekeeping. This makes it a bit different from most mainstream equestrian publications. For example, the magazine offers lots of information about the use of herbs, oils, massage, acupressure and horse training tips that are a little outside the box.

Sign up via the link below. You will be directed to register a user name and password for the digital magazine service ISSUU. You can then redeem the coupon code given to immediately access your first free issue. The magazine can be read online or downloaded to your computer for future reading. You will receive an email each time a new issue becomes available to read. This is a limited time offer so hurry over to their website to take advantage of this free offer at https://equinewellnessmagazine.com/free-digital-subscription/.

Shiloh’s First Virtual Horse-Show Experience: Results and Conclusions

Readers may recall a previous post where I shared my experience in entering my first online horse show (https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/shiloh-and-i-make-our-virtual-horse-show-debut/).

I chose to enter one class (a walk-only dressage test) in the 2020 Gaits Wide Open Championship through North American Western Dressage. The show was sponsored by the gaited-breed advocacy organization Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH).

In my work with Shiloh over the last two years, I have been bringing him back into riding work after he spent the previous five years unridden at pasture. Shiloh was understandably out of shape, no longer used to the sustained mental focus and physical demands of having someone on his back.

I know from reading, watching and listening that the basic principals of dressage can be applied to help a horse use their body in a healthy manner. So in my work with Shiloh, I have been trying to apply my understanding of those basic principals. Without any formal dressage training,though,I wasn’t quite sure if I was on the right track or not.

My goal in sending in a video of a ridden dressage test was to get feedback from a judge. I like winning placings and ribbons as much as the next person, but the critique was what I was after. Dressage is the only discipline that I know about that gives its participants written feedback from the judge. Marvelous!

For those of you unfamiliar with scoring of dressage tests, here is a brief primer for you taken from the How to Dressage website https://howtodressage.com. “In a nutshell, a dressage test is made up of a series of movements and each movement is awarded a mark out of 10. At the end of the test, all the marks are added together and turned into a percentage where the highest percentage wins. Each mark correlates to a predetermined standard that all registered judges are trained to observe.” The judging scale ranges from a zero (for a movement not performed) to a 10 (excellent). Overall, scores of 60-69% are considered good with scores of 70% or over considered very good.

For this Gaits Wide Open show, I could enter up to two free classes thanks to the FOSH sponsorship. Since I only submitted one video, I was given the option to have the same video critiqued by two different judges. Doubly marvelous!

What I took away from the written feedback is that I am on the right track, but that even at a walk, I have a long way to go.

Shiloh and I received an averaged overall score of 60.25%, combined from one judge’s 59.5% and another’s 61%. This put us in 2nd place in our small class of three. We were a quarter of a percentage point lower than the winner- so close! All of our individual movements were scored between 5 ( meaning “sufficient”) to 7 (“fairly good”). There were also overall scores for gaits, impulsion, submission and rider’s aids. We scored between 5 (sufficient) or 6 (satisfactory) in all of them.

What stood out to me the most is that we definitely need more impulsion, more spring in our step. Not faster exactly but rather more dynamic movement. I figured we’d get some comments to that effect, but I didn’t realize the extent to which this would be considered important.

Most of the comments were peppered with notes about needing more energy. Some quotes were “Show more energy (march)” and “ask for more energy/forward (more forward will improve suppleness)” and “a more supple back will allow for a more active walk.”

I know that compared to where we started, Shiloh IS more supple and active than he WAS. But clearly still, he would benefit from developing FURTHER activity and suppleness. That is EXACTLY the kind of feedback I was hoping to receive. It tells me we are heading in the right direction even if we aren’t meeting the mark right now. Rather than discouraging, I find that exciting.

The other thing that stood out to me was that my use of the arena could use some improvement. I need work on my timing and application of my aids to get rounder circles, more accurate transitions and more square halts. Apparently in dressage, the instructions to perform movements at specific letters is to be taken as a directive and not a mere suggestion. 🙂 One judge’s comment of “Watch your geometry” pretty much sums it all up! Need I mention that math was always my worst subject?

Putting my questionable math skills aside, I do know you can clearly see the effectiveness of a rider in how well they guide the horse through a pattern. Effectiveness in applying my aids at the right time, in the right combination with the right touch is something I have always struggled with so I thought the comments were very fair.

Anywho, I was particularly pleased to see the comments about Shiloh’s connection and contact with me. “Appears attentive and confident”, “Appears to be very willing to accept requests”, and “A quiet and harmonious team” were some of the most positive feedback.

When I first started riding Shiloh, he reacted to any contact by tossing his head and pushed through all of my aids as he ignored/didn’t hear them. Riding him now is like riding a different horse. He accepts rein contact with so much more relaxation than he used to and will organize his body in response to my seat now even before I apply leg/rein aids. I know he is tuning into me in a way he just didn’t/couldn’t before. So to have a judge make those types of positive observations is super affirming to me in my work with Shiloh.

I’m glad that I decided to participate in the virtual show and would like to enter again next year. Hopefully we can even add a two-gait test to our repertoire. I’d like to see if after another year of practice, we can register any improvement in our 2021 scores using the feedback from this show to guide us in our work.

If you might like to explore participating in your own virtual show, take a look at the North American Western Dressage website. They are very welcoming to the average horse and rider. Every breed accepted. They offer all kinds of tests, including in-hand and trail, for the beginner to the advanced. Visit them at https://www.northamericanwesterndressage.com/ .

The Backyard Horse Blog Word Search

Do you like to do word searches? What about creating your own?

I recently came across a free online program that allows anyone to create their own word searchs (and more) at http://www.worksheetworks.com.

I put together a word search featuring words from some of my favorite blog posts. I used words from posts that were particularly fun to write or notable to me in some way.

If I had a different web hosting program, I could have uploaded my creation to the blog as a downloadable PDF for readers to use. But I don’t, so I can’t, so I didn’t. 🙂

If you want to play around with making your own word search, check out the Worksheetworks website. Seems like a great idea for teachers of all sorts to make fun word searches including for folks who host Summer horse camps, give riding lessons and provide other equestrian educational opportunities.

“On Demand” Equestrian Video Subscriptions

Anybody have a subscription to Horse and Rider On Demand, Dressage On Demand or Equus Prime? Each of these subscription services offers its members access to a select group of videos on riding/horse training/horse care.

For many of us going into Winter in colder climates, the change in weather will soon mean less riding time. 😦 Now might be the right moment to take advantage of the free trials that each of these services offers (You have to sign up with a credit card to access the free trial but then you can cancel your membership before the end of the free trial if you don’t want your credit card charged for the full membership fee).

I haven’t taken advantage of the free trials yet myself but I certainly plan to. If anybody out there has a membership already, I’d welcome your review. Let me know in the comments below.

Here are the relevant links:
https://ondemand.dressagetoday.com/
https://equusprime.com/
https://ondemand.horseandrider.com/

Wanter to enter for a chance to win one of these memberships? The Equine Network and Equimax are hosting a contest to win a prize pack of memberships/subscriptions. You get your choice of a horse magazine subscription, your choice of an On Demand membership AND a USRider membership (horse trailer emergency road- side-service in the USA). Final day to enter is November 20th, 2020 at https://equusmagazine.com/page/equine-network-giveaway.

Photo taken from the HorseandRider website

Just Enjoying The Ride

Last week in my area, a period of unusually warm weather was coming to a close. I managed to squeeze in one last ride before the more seasonable weather returned.

I decided to take Shiloh out for a little walk in our South pasture with our only agenda to enjoy the weather. I don’t often ride Shiloh there due to the uneven footing. It is okay for walking but not much more. I had never even taken him out to the South fence line.

I figured he might be a little nervous about our new riding venue. I decided to test the waters. I made sort of very big, long serpentines where we’d go out only so far before heading back closer to the barn.

I expected to feel him speed up heading back to the barn and slow down turning away, but he actually did the opposite! It finally dawned on me that he actually WANTED to go out further. Leaving our “safe” area nearer to the barn wasn’t an issue. I was the nervous one not him! So on we went for a mini adventure around the South pasture.

We visited the neighbor’s cows.


We checked the tree branches that could have used some trimming like yesterday.


We observed the farm equipment finishing harvesting and prepping the soil for next year.

Then we circled around to a nice patch of leaves. I have not been fortunate enough yet to take Shiloh out on a trail ride. One of the things I really miss about trail riding is riding in the Fall when all the leaves are gathering on the paths. I love that crunch, crunch, crunch sound under the horses’ hooves. Tree cover is sorely lacking at my place, but along the far fence line there was a little section of fallen leaves to walk across. Those ten seconds of crunching were like music to my ears.

At the end of the ride, I decided to dismount away from the barn along the South fence line. The bitless bridle and the reins with the buckle ends made it easy for me to unhook one rein end so I could hold the reins like a lead rope. I let Shiloh graze as a little reward for being so adventurous.

Thanks for the ride, Shiloh!

Visited The Backyard Horse Blog over at Pinterest?

So my horse, Bear, wants to know! Have you visited The Backyard Horse Blog over at Pinterest yet?

When I began The Backyard Horse Blog in January 2020, I chose a free WordPress program to host the site. I have nothing to compare it to since this is the only blog I have started so far, but I am overall happy with the free site.

An unfortunate downside to many free programs is that you are limited in the features/plug-ins you can offer. This hampers my ability to link my blog posts to some platforms.

I find it funny that the only outside platform that I participate in (Pinterest) is a plug-in NOT supported by my free WordPress program.

On the blog website at the bottom of each blog post, you will see buttons for sharing my posts to Twitter and Facebook but not for Pinterest. Bummer.

Even though I can’t seamlessly move The Backyard Horse Blog posts to Pinterest, I have been able to pin some content from The Backyard Horse Blog over to the Pinterest site using back door methods. And of course it is fun to build boards with pins from other horse pages. Neat to see so many folks sharing their creativity on Pinterest.

Maybe someday with a website upgrade, I will be able to access that coveted Pinterest plug-in. In the mean time, go to https://www.pinterest.com/thebackyardhorseblog/ to follow along with The Backyard Horse Blog on Pinterest and check out The Backyard Horse Blog boards and pins.

Also, if you have an equestrian Pinterest site of your own, please post the link in the comments below! I’d love to see what everyone else is up to on Pinterest!

Another Horse Field-Trip Report

Last weekend, I completed another field trip with Shiloh and Bear. We went over to the nearby training/boarding/lesson barn again. I mentioned in previous posts that I have been trying to tick off several items on my riding “to do” list. My goal for this trip? To ride Shiloh with another horse.

For most people and horses, riding with others is standard practice. Shiloh and I are an exception. We had never ridden with anyone else.

Overall, the ride went fine. Nothing terrible. I did struggle though to keep Shiloh “on the aids” with the extra distractions. We were in the indoor where Shiloh is not as comfortable. There is a row of eight stalled horses, two huge doors with views to the outside, an observation room with people coming and going. I suspect Shiloh sees it more as haunted house than barn.

We also did something a little different with Bear for this visit. Instead of the outdoor roundpen, Bear stayed in a stall in a separate part of the barn. Bear was completely out of sight.

Being in the indoor combined with Bear’s absence definitely created a different feel to the ride. Since I’d eventually like to do more adventurous things with Shiloh, these are necessary small steps to practice. Bear, I was told, looked unhappy at first alone in the stall, but apparently settled better by the end.

After Bear walked out, our riding partner walked in. The presence of the other horse being in the arena was fine with Shiloh as long as we were on opposite ends. The other horse was a tall Saddlebred with a different energy and movement from Shiloh. He was also longer strided and faster. In order to pass going in the same direction, the other horse had to halt while we walked by or had to be walking while we foxtrotted past him. Otherwise we would be forever trailing.

Closer up, though? Shiloh was intimidated. Passing left shoulder to left shoulder with Shiloh on the outside between the wall and the other horse brought Shiloh to an abrupt and complete halt.

I felt Shiloh with his body say something to the effect of “I think it would be best to turn and spin 180 degrees and high tail it outa here before the other horse gets too close, yes?”. He was all for social distancing.

Those dicey situations can be tricky for me. Keeping a horse mentally in tact during tense moments can be a struggle. This was a major issue for me with a horse like Bear who is quick, extra sensitive, nervous by nature pretty much 24/7 (most likely due to those speed racking bloodlines of his). At twenty-five, Bear is a quieter horse than he was, but even so, he still has his fiery moments.

Shiloh generally needs less support from his rider than Bear. He was just born a quieter, more relaxed fellow. In those situations where he becomes hands-down frightened or otherwise overwhelmed with emotion, though, he needs me to step up. He needs me to provide direction and support. I know this intellectually, but sometimes I do a better job of actually coming through for my horse in those moments than others.

Anywho, Shiloh thought about spinning away but didn’t. Rollbacks are actually kind of a fun movement to sit. That power when they roll over their haunches and push away quickly in the opposite direction feels pretty neat. But it’s a movement that I would rather ask for on a well-trained horse, not happen to me unexpectedly in the course of a spook!

At the end of the ride when the other horse left the arena, I wondered if Shiloh would object to the desertion. He is a herd animal after all, even if he was a little unsure about the other horse.

To my surprise, I actually felt Shiloh relax when it was just the two of us again. I might have actually heard him say “phew!”, but I’m not sure. We practiced a little bit of backing and then I dismounted.

Shiloh was a touch sweaty at the end of the ride while sporting his Winter coat on an unusually warm November day. He was no doubt a little tired too, both mentally and physically.

I think Shiloh’s highlight of the trip was being fawned over by the young daughter of the person who rode with us. The daughter is an equestrian herself and was riding in a lesson as I arrived with my horses. I thought Shiloh might fall asleep as she talked to him and stroked his face. Apparently loving adoration in the package of an enthusiastic child is just fine with him.

I didn’t get any pictures of the ride so the window shots of Bear and Shiloh loaded up in the trailer will have to suffice. I feel thankful for every safe and drama-free travel experience that we can accumulate under our belts.

More About Horse Illustrated and More Contests to Enter!

Say it ain’t so! Horse Illustrated magazine is going from a 12x a year format to a 10x a year format. This comes after I featured their October issue in a recent post at https://thebackyardhorseblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/09/read-horse-illustrated-lately/. I mentioned in that post that HI was still one of the few horse magazines that published monthly. Well sadly no more!

Granted, that is still better than Equus, Horse and Rider and Practical Horseman. All three of them went from a 12x a year format to a quarterly format. Even more surprising to me was seeing Dressage Today, another 12x a year magazine, disappear completely as a stand-alone entity. It was instead absorbed by Practical Horseman.

Anyhow, I suppose I should be grateful that Horse Illustrated will mostly still be published monthly. The publishing schedule will now be January/February, then monthly from March through October and finishing the year with a November/December issue.

Despite my disappointment over the publishing schedule changes, I still love sitting down to relax with a stack of my favorite horse magazines. I also still love entering contests. If you are a USA resident, here are ones you might want to enter.

The company Weatherbeeta is celebrating their 40th anniversary by giving away prize packs of blankets! Enter at https://www.weatherbeeta.com/weatherbeeta-competition by November 10th, 2020 for your chance to win.

The University of Kentucky is asking owners of horses 15 years and older to fill out a survey as part of a research project. Participants will be entered in a drawing to win feed/treats. Learn more about the research and the link to enter at https://news.ca.uky.edu/article/uk-gluck-equine-research-center-launches-national-survey-horses-aged-15-years-and-older. Survey closes November 20th, 2020.

Enter the Mannapro Inspiring Moments photo contest for a chance to win a $1,000 Visa gift card, horse treats and more at https://www.mannapro.com/promotions/inspiring-moments. All entrants will receive coupons for up to $15 worth of Mannapro products. Contest ends November 30th, 2020.

Equus Magazine is sponsoring a contest for a 501(c)3 horse rescue to win a Horizon Barn Structure and other prizes! See details and the link to enter at https://equusmagazine.com/page/barnfest-2020. While the rescue would win the two-stall barn and more, the person who nominates the winning rescue also wins a prize pack of horse items! Deadline for entry is November 30th, 2020.

Horse Illustrated is sponsoring a contest to write about your favorite veterinarian. Link to enter is at http://www.horseillustrated.com/best-vet with an entry deadline of December 15th, 2020. Sounds like a nice way to give your veterinarian some recognition while also entering yourself to win a two-year subscription to Horse Illustrated!

Bear as Artist

The windy Fall weather in my neck of the woods must bring out the artist in my horse, Bear. I am not sure if this photo is “life imitating art” or “art imitating life” or “life imitating life”? Hmmm. Whatever the case, I think Bear did a bang up job of getting his tail to copy the tree in the background. I was taking photos of his tail flipping in the brisk wind and didn’t see the relationship between his tail and the tree until I transferred the photos to my computer. Weird how something can be right in front of you, and you don’t even see it.

Banter About The Canter

Last week after three frustrating days of having my riding plans thwarted by a bunch of windy, wet days, I finally managed a ride.

It’s a different experience riding in the cooler weather. Each year, I forget how much preparation is involved.

I track the forecast like a meteorologist to pinpoint the exact time of day when the combination of temperature, sun and wind will allow me to ride without turning into an ice cube.

I have to remember to bring my bridle inside the morning I plan to ride. It unstiffens the leather and makes sure the metal parts of the bitless bridle aren’t freezing cold when it makes contact with Shiloh’s face.

Then there are the layers of clothes. I feel like the Michelin man by the time I’m done dressing.

For this ride, I wanted to attempt ticking off another item on my “before I stop riding at home for the Winter to-do list”. Earlier this year, I started asking Shiloh to canter periodically on the lunge line in our roundpen. I finally I felt we were ready to canter undersaddle.

My first attempts were pretty funny. I decided to do a gradual sequence of aids by taking a deep breath, thinking “canter!”, squeezing my legs and then moving my seat as though we were already cantering while making a kissing noise with my lips. What I got was a fast trotting horse with me trying to scoop my seat as though I was cantering. Sounds as ridiculous as it felt.

Shiloh didn’t seem upset, neither mad or scared by my requests. I figured he legitimately thought that I must be asking him to hard trot rather than gait. I couldn’t fault him for an honest response. I was pleased that at least he increased his energy at my requests if nothing else. As a low energy kind of guy, anytime Shiloh offers a bit of “umph” that is not tension-filled, it is a moment to celebrate. His bouncy trot makes me laugh so I just kind of had fun with it.

Lots of things have been like that in the course of re-starting Shiloh to ridden work. It often takes me awhile to figure out what cues he responds to best and for him to suss out what I am asking. As long as we both stay relaxed through all the hits and misses, I am okay with the process. Sure, I’d love to have Shiloh further along than he is. The slow pace of our progress is disheartening to me at times, but it is what it is, and whether slow or fast, I am still riding. Not something to take for granted.

I mixed in my canter requests with gait work in the foxtrot, work over the poles, backing up and changes of direction. My husband kindly came out for a minute to capture some media of our ride. As a “to it yourselfer” I mostly have to judge riding progress from “feel” but having photos/video is super helpful and much appreciated.

Towards the end of my riding time when I kind of figured we probably weren’t going to be cantering that day, I gave Shiloh a longer halt break and stopped to chat with my husband for a minute before he left.

I’m not sure why, but I felt suddenly very compelled to ask Shiloh one more time to canter. Much to my pleasant surprise, when I took Shiloh back out to the rail and asked again for the canter, I felt a little bit of hind-end tucking and his front end lifting. There is was!

Sure enough, Shiloh did like three strides of canter before dropping out of it like a flipped pancake. Plop! But I must say, those three strides felt pretty awesome. I brought him down to a quick halt, dismounted and gave him a big hug and fussed over him.

I know that three strides is not exactly noteworthy in some people’s eyes, but I have found that the best way for me to work with Shiloh is to build very gradually. I praise any initial effort like crazy.

If Shiloh and I are fortunate, we can play around with the canter transition a bit more before the start of Winter and then build on it next year. A trick going forward will be to try to ask him to come back down to a walk BEFORE he drops from the canter on his own. That sort of timing gets harder for me the faster the gait or the more intricate the maneuver. I have to be quicker than Shiloh in those moments. He’s a slower type of horse, but he’s still faster than I am.

Canter on, Shiloh!

UPDATE: To read about our canter progress since this post, go to https://thebackyardhorseblog.com/2020/12/18/more-banter-about-the-canter/.