Today was the first day in the four days of training that Mission stood for the saddle. Consequently, there was no round penning. I tied the rope to each side of the bosal and ground drove him. This was the second day of ground driving and he already knew what to do.
Ground driving is a good exercise in desensitization (getting the horse used to stuff). The rope running under his tail or sliding around above his hocks is a scary at first, but he quickly began to respond correctly to the cues on the bosal and forgot about the rope dangling on each side of him and sometimes on his hocks.
After 10 or 15 minutes of ground driving in the round pen I took the saddle off and jumped onto his back several times. I did not straddle him. I had to jump to get my torso over his back and this startled him. He jumped several times but then he settled down. I kicked around gently and put my hands all over his right side. Aside from that first jump he responded thoughtfully and received my weight without protest.
When I was a kid I thought you’re supposed to encourage the horse you are training to buck in order to take it out of them. Now I do my very best to avoid bucking, not just for my sake but mainly for the horse. When I was down in Iowa some years ago I bumped into an old friend, Clarence Pal, who shared lots of good horse mentoring with me when I was a kid. When I met him this time I was probably 40 and he was probably 80. The first thing he said after recognizing me was; “If I ever told you to buck out a horse…that was a mistake and I’m sorry. Try to avoid bucking. It’s bad for the horses. It can make for bad habits!” By that time I knew enough not to let a horse buck if I could avoid it, but I said, “Thanks, I’ll never do that again!”