Neu Perspectives

Just Pause

Luke Neubert takes a break on a young cutting prospect. Sometimes doing nothing goes a long way.

If timed right, an extended or brief moment of inactivity can do wonders for the horse.

By Kelli Neubert

March 23, 2017

Luke Neubert takes a break on a young cutting prospect. Sometimes doing nothing goes a long way.Luke Neubert takes a break on a young cutting prospect. Sometimes doing nothing goes a long way.

Last year, my horse got too heavy and too behind to be competitive at the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity, so we turned him into a using horse. But as of two weeks ago, I’m throwing my hat into the ring again. I’ve sent my first non-pro payment for the 2017 Snaffle Bit Futurity. I’ve got a 3-year-old gelding named Jax that’s on track, and I’m just tickled that the countdown is on to October.

By nature, I am a competitive, goal-driven individual. I’m prepping both my horse and myself to succeed in three different events, and there’s a lot that goes with that.

However, with all the tracking of cows and working on reining maneuvers—not to mention hauling and exposing my horse to as much as possible—there’s a story that I need to remember. It revolves around one very important word that, when applied correctly, can make a huge difference in our horses.

Pause.

My father-in-law, Bryan Neubert, worked for horseman Tom Dorrance years ago. There was one time in particular that he can recall when he and Tom were riding some colts for a fellow. One time, they went around the back of a barn and sat still on their young horses. They had a visit, during which Tom explained to Bryan that it was very important for their young horses to learn how to stand, be patient and settle their minds while someone was sitting on their backs. He said that sometimes it was best to do it behind the barn, because often times, the man that hired you doesn’t understand why he is paying you to sit around on his colts and not actively ride. It isn’t wrong to whoa up and have a visit on the clock—in fact, the pause is incredibly beneficial. It just isn’t something that everyone understands.

Some days, the pause can last for a good while. Your horse can be rewarded when your neighbor pulls up in the yard, you drop your reins and the two of you share a cold beverage and chat about the weather. At other times, the most beneficial pause lasts for just a second or two. Stopping your movement can mean so much to a horse when timed right, say, catching him out in a field and letting him settle for a second when he offers to stand for you. Anyone who has loaded a lot of green horses in trailers can attest that pausing at the right time (like when they are thinking about jumping in) can help make that process a lot quicker in the long run as well!

It offers our horses reassurance when they need it the most. It can build their trust and confidence, not to mention their patience. It helps for them to remember that we are on their side, not against them. And to be honest, it’s good for us, too. Some of my best ideas come from sitting in my saddle, giving my horse 10 minutes to simply exist.

The concept sounds so easy, but can be so tough to remember. Many of us only have a little bit of time allotted in our week to ride. We want to squeeze in miles and feel accomplished. Those of us who make a living horseback feel that those four hooves need to keep rolling in order to make progress. I’m not taking anything away from drills, exercises or wet saddle blankets. I’m just challenging myself that in the next six months, I find pockets of time to let my horse relax and sit while I’m on him.

If it all works out, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to compete in the Snaffle Bit Futurity. I’ll do my best to nail my lead changes, pick good cattle to cut and have a smokin’ run down the fence. The countless hours in the saddle, the circles loped and the maneuvers learned are all incredibly important.

But I truly believe that some of the best stuff can happen when we remember—and honor—the pause.

 

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