Pasture Practice

Yikes! It’s starting to get hot and humid in my neck of the woods. Definitely a good time to stand in the shade like Shiloh and I are doing here!

Due to the wicked forecast, not sure how much upcoming riding I will be doing. But this past weekend, I rode Shiloh in my South pasture. The pleasant morning temperatures were offset only by a swarm of bugs everywhere we went.

I started out planning to do a video from the saddle as we bopped along. Unfortunately, Shiloh began the ride a little worried.

Shiloh walked super quick with his head up like a camel. He needed a rider who could keep him contained and eventually get to the point of relaxation. In other words, it wasn’t the right time for me to fiddle with my phone.

My husband was still outside at that point so I ditched my original plan. Instead, I asked my husband if he would film us.

After I handed him my phone and resumed the ride, a switch flipped. Shiloh walked off relaxed. Ha! Oh well, video footage from the ground is good too.

In this first clip, here we are strolling along the far fence line. Beyond the fence is a creek-type ditch that is home to a variety of winged and furry creatures. They have a habit of popping out at inopportune moments and scaring the horse (and the rider). But this day, all was quiet. Makes for a boring video clip for the viewer. But boring isn’t necessarily bad when it comes to horses.

In the second clip, as we traveled in the opposite direction, you can see how well Shiloh handled the pressure of an oncoming truck. It passed loud and fast.

He got a little worried, but it was a very mild reaction for a horse. I know more than one mount that would have cut and run.

This final clip shows why working with gaited horses can be so interesting (or maddening depending upon how you look at it). Most gaited horses can do more than one gait all within seconds.

To foxtrot at his best, Shiloh needs to be on smooth ground. Our south pasture is unfortunately uneven. It creates a challenge to his balance and timing of his footfalls. He responds to the challenge by going from a pace to a foxtrot to almost a pure trot back to a foxtrot.

We are also still at that point in the year where I am struggling to encourage him to really reach down and out towards the rein contact. It all makes for a bit of a performance mess. Nevertheless, I could tell he was making an effort to balance the best he could given the circumstances.

It’s one reason I do very little gait work out there in that pasture. But it’s a good test to do periodically. I can get a sense of where Shiloh is in his strength, balance, and coordination cycle. I can also see whether or not I am able to influence his gait mid-stride as I encourage him toward the foxtrot (he is a Missouri Fox Trotter after all).

I listened to it the day after my pasture ride. She talks about the differences between riding specifically and non-specifically. As in riding in a very focused, specific way versus riding just for the enjoyment of it with the horse on auto pilot. She couches it in terms of making deposits or withdrawals from a bank account you have set up with your horse. It’s all about the balance.

Anywho, riding in a big pasture space is good practice for the trail ride I’d eventually like to do with Shiloh. Speaking of trail rides, did you hear the podcast that Stacey Westfall (of bareback and bridleless reining fame) recorded while on the trail?

As I listened, I reflected on how I did a bit of both types of riding during my pasture jaunt. It was interesting to learn her take on a subject I don’t hear talked about very often. Not to mention, I thought it was cool that she recorded the whole thing from the saddle!

If you’d like to give the 17 minute podcast a listen, go to The podcast is Episode 186- Specific verses non-specific.

6 thoughts on “Pasture Practice

  1. aw Shiloh really looks like he is (and wants to be!) a good boy, definitely seems like trail riding will be right up his alley! also, i love Stacy Westfall, her “Jac” series on youtube is one of my all-time faves

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Emma! Good to know you are also a Stacy Westfall fan. She seems to have a unique perspective on a lot of horse-related topics, and I really enjoy learning from her. I appreciate your kind comments about Shiloh, too. Thank you for reading and commenting on The Backyard Horse Blog!


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