Random Brain Dumping

Musings and observations about life

The power of whoa

I watched in horror a video of a woman whose horse reared up and flipped during a rodeo event, the horn of the saddle almost slicing off the woman’s face as the horse landed on her.

One word may have saved the woman’s life.

When I ride my horses, I tend not to use vocal cues. I don’t say, “walk on,” “canter,” or “trot” to get them to move at different gaits.

Instead, I use leg cues. If I want the horse to walk, I squeeze both legs and the cheeks that touch the saddle. To get the horse to trot, going a little faster than a walk at a one-two pace, I kick both legs just a little and make a clicking sound with my mouth. For the canter, even faster but rocking-chair gait, I make the kissing sound and press only with one leg, depending on the direction I want the horse to go.

The leg cues all are done when I’m mounted. The horse literally gets a feel for what I want it to do. I’ve heard others using vocal cues, and I was taught to use them on other horses. My logic for not using them was I didn’t want my horse to confuse my words with another’s if we were riding in a group.

I worried that if a fellow rider told her horse to canter, my horse would start cantering on her command and not mine. I’ve been on a horse during a riding lesson where the instructor told me to pick up a canter, and the horse, hearing her command, picked up the canter without me telling it to do so.

Just recently, though, I was reminded of that video, and the word that may have saved the woman’s life.

I decided to start using that one word when riding. It’s a powerful word, an effective word to use whether mounted or unmounted.

On my last ride, I told my horse to whoa, and she stopped immediately. I hadn’t taught her that, but someone had.

As the woman in the video was dragged in the arena, she realized her foot was stuck in one stirrup. With a clear mind, the woman yelled, “Whoa,” and the horse stopped long enough for her to remove her foot. The horse then trotted away.

The woman survived, and her face was reattached.

Doctors and a four-letter word saved her life.

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December 10, 2012 - Posted by | Random Brain Dumping |

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