So there you are, riding your horse at the walk and you simply want to turn right. What do you do first? You look where you want to go, you turn your head and your “self” to the right. This automatically ( or aromatically as they say it in South Texas) increases the weight in your right seat bone. If your mount is a “schooled” horse, he may already be turning right. He will do that by slowing down, and taking shorter steps with his back legs, while reaching to the right with his right fore-leg, and crossing over it with his left foreleg. But if he doesn’t already know how to do that we need to help him. So, after we turn ourselves right, we reach down with the right rein, and squeeze it a couple of times to get him to turn his head slightly to the right. Then we move our right leg away from his cinch leaving a small amount of air between our right leg and his right side, putting a little more weight in the right stirrup. Finally, we bump him softly with the left leg at the girth, to ask him to “move shoulders over”. If he takes a step to the right we immediately go back to “neutral”with our body, our reins and our legs. That takes the strain out of his body; it is his reward. The release is the reward. He now knows that taking a step right is the proper response to your body position. This must be repeated hundreds of times on both sides, in order to become a new habit for him. Now, coupled with the “hip move over spot” and the “shoulder move over” spot, you will have a pretty maneuverable old pony. Don’t you wish your pick up had this capability when it comes time to parallel park!
Meanwhile back at the “spots on the side of the horse,” we started with the fourth spot out of four. Typical of a cowboy to do everything “Bass-ackwards”! But there’s a reason for beginning at the end. The “Move hind leg over” spot is the most difficult one to conquer. It’s more difficult for the rider, and it’s more difficult for the horse. For this reason I recommend you “start early and stay late” on this one, that way you will get not your self in the habit of leaving it for last because it’s harder to do.
If you look at a horseman from The side, sitting in his or her saddle, he should look like he is standing up, not like he is sitting in a chair. His thighs should angle only slightly forward and his calves slightly back, so that his ankles are directly under his shoulders. That puts his calves about at the level of the cinch. If he touches the horse there, he will be asking the horse’s shoulders to move over. We will go into more detail on the this tomorrow, but that is the number two spot on the side of the horse. Number one, then is a teeny bit farther forward and has to do with stopping and backing up. Finally, spot number three is halfway between number two and number four, along the rib-cage of the horse, and has to do with moving the whole horse over, and with “bending The horse”. The rider who wants to “get things done” with a horse needs to be able to shift these gears easily with his horse, and to do so he must “educate” his horse. We in the cowboy world call it “Skoolin’ “.
The “pull and slack”, that was what I learned first. We would put a Hackamore on a colt, tie a long rope to the end of the reins, turn the colt out in the square pen (about 40 feet across) and when he took off, Buck would wrap the rope around his hip and “double him”, immediately releasing the rope as soon as the colt “swapped ends.”
This was repeated enough times that the colt began to move at a steady trot without trying to bolt away, but miraculously it usually only took three or four doubles on a side. After that, only the lightest tug on the rope would cause the colt to sink his hocks into the ground and stop. I didn’t know about “round-pen” or “liberty” work in those days. But the effect was similar, because the colts learned pretty quickly to “pay attention” to a human being as they loped or trotted circles, frequently turning around to strike off in the opposite direction. Never was the colt allowed to “lean against” the bozal, ( bo-SAHL) the rawhide noseband, for that would encourage him to “bull into it” later. And once I was actually aboard a colt, later on, the main thing I would hear from Buck was “Don’t hang on their head!” He advocated “doubling” or turning them back on the fence instead. Colts rapidly learned to work on a loose or “draped” rein this way. It was never brutal, and the psychology was that which is now called the “one rein stop” very “en vogue” In natural horsemanship. Buck – using an ancient method, was a man ahead of his time.
Most years we are blessed with more deer and feral hogs then are required by the balance of nature. Without enough predators like cougars and wolves around, we two-leggeds have, for better or worse, taken on the task of “culling the herd.” As a result, there is usually an abundance of venison and wild hog meat at our house. Some like to make it all into sausage, but I prefer cooking it in roasts, and tenderloins. Sometimes I marinate venison prior to cooking but like as not I fail to plan ahead that much and I just braise it like beef. Here is my favorite recipe for a venison haunch.
In a Dutch oven, brown a clean venison rump roast which has been rinsed in apple cider vinegar. I usually brown it in olive oil which is hot (like 350°F).Then add liquid, such as red wine, beer or broth, about halfway up the sides of the cut of meat. Toss in a handful of garlic, and onion cut into rings, and place orange slices complete with rind over the meat. Season with salt and pepper. You can add anything else you like, such as liquid smoke, seasonings or tomato paste, and even a bit of brown sugar, whatever you think will enhance the flavor. I put in it in the oven, or in the Dutch oven and cover with coals to cook at around 250°F for six or seven hours while I go ride horses. In the evening, bring the pot out of the oven or open the Dutch oven and shake the meat off the bones. Serve with taters and beans.