Yesterday my vet was here for one of the other horses on the farm and we got to talking about Zelador. She checked his back again for me. It’s fine. We discussed girths and she explained that elastic is what she prefers. She likened it to a girl’s first bra. If it didn’t have elastic the girl wouldn’t be able to move or breathe!

I’d taken the leather (no elastic) girth that someone recommended (must have been someone I respected) to have a keeper repaired. I use it on both boys. While it was in the shop I used a girth with elastic on both ends for two days. I noticed a huge difference in Zelador. Since day one of being ridden he’s had his nose in the air. He does this about every three strides. I’ve taught him “head down” and use the Philippe Karl “turn the neck/head to the side, release, and the head goes into the proper position” technique. I have to use it over a hundred times each ride. I recall a quote from Einstein that goes something like, “Stupidity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. With the elastic girth his head was down, long and low, and he was soft.

My vet and I also talked about intelligent horses. She said that a client will mention, “My horse is really smart.” And she thinks, “Boy, you probably don’t want a smart horse!” What most people need is a horse that does grunt work (like some people…the ones who build pyramids, farm a new country…). The smart ones, the upstarts, are the rebellion leaders.

I mentioned Aurum (a trick horse I recently learned about who is very difficult under saddle) and Templado (the star of Cavalia). She was surprised to learn that Templado was basically unrideable. She says that the intelligent ones had darn well better understand totally what you want when you’re riding or you’re going to have problems. Also, teaching EVERYTHING you possibly can from the ground does help.

I remember Etienne (a French Classical trainer who helped us with the boys when they were three and comes here once every year or so to help again) started from the ground. He was patience personified. Once on the horse’s back he calmly and quietly repeated the ground exercises. With Zelador he often dismounted and presented the exercise from the ground AGAIN.

I mentioned to my vet that I think Zelador does so well with tricks and liberty because he has the total freedom to leave at any time. He is also able to express his opinion and interpret things his way. We work in our arena, not in a small, confined spot. As a result, he rarely leaves me. Over the past five years he might have left twice, probably only once.

My leather (with no elastic) girth was fixed and back on Zelador yesterday before my talk with the vet. He was sort of OK, but not as good as he was with the elastic girth. So, today it’s back to the elastic girth. It’ll be very interesting to observe his reaction!