Is circling a horse “limbo”?

 In ENLIGHTEN, Practical Guides

I was asked by a reader if the limbo to which I referred in my article “Holding on Hold” was similar to circling a horse. To which I reply…

Would that be circling while seated on the horse or lunging the horse, which is standing in the middle of the circle with a long lead on the horse as it circles? In the first case, yes. That is limbo. That is like circling above an airport. The point is to land, or, more precisely in the horseback riding scenario, to move in a direction.

We have to ask why we circle horses as we are riding. In my experience, I would circle the horse to regain my control of the beast. Perhaps it was distracted or even suddenly wary of the environment. Circling gets the horse re-focused on the fact that she (my mare) could move forward assured that I was in control. Nothing to fear.

For the horse, the circling is indeed a re-grouping, re-vamping, even remembering. For all the horse knows, circling is what she will do forever. She has no expectations other than what my flick of the reins indicates. She may eventually desire to return to her warm box and have some alfalfa and perhaps some grain, but I need to know that she would circle forever if that was what I asked of her. Even horses grow weary, however, so I would not recommend just keeping them in this holding pattern.

So what is it for the rider? That is a little different. The rider has a destination in mind. Even if the day is one of trail riding for fun, there is a point at which both rider and horse will return to home base. From the rider’s perspective and experience, the trail continues and must be traveled. The rider usually is aware of whether more potential hazards lie ahead. That would inspire the one whose bottom is in the saddle to want some assurance that this equine critter is responding to the master’s touch and will be ready for whatever materializes.

I once watched a 2-year old leading a horse around an arena. Amazing. Scary? Not really. Horses instinctively know that humans are to be feared. But they really do not want to injure people inadvertently and will do drastic things to not allow themselves to be put in harm’s way either.

When my younger daughter, Sarah, was training her horse, she was signaling for the horse to stay on course in a fenced arena. The horse could see they were coming to a corner of the fence. I could see they were coming to the corner. Sarah was not reining the horse to make the turn. The horse hit a dead stop, throwing her rider. The fall knocked the breath out of Sarah, but otherwise she was okay. I was so thankful that the horse does indeed have a self-preservation instinct which should be good news to riders.

So back full circle (oops, forgive the pun), when we find ourselves in a holding pattern, I would hope it is similar to even what the horse experiences. There is something we are to get from the shift in course that will make the next part of the trail doable, and hopefully even enjoyable. Neither man nor beast, however, can endure just circling as a life plan.

And as far as lunging goes, I highly recommend never getting on a horse, at least not a young one, that has not been lunged. When my son Josh was an early teenager, in our ignorance about horses, we had him be the lunger. No, not with a long lead. With his bottom in the saddle. That is no way to get the horse to work out the kinks before starting a ride. And it is certainly no way to value or protect a child.

Josh was thrown a few times and finally declared that i

Is being in limbo the same thing as circling a horse? While seated on a horse if the rider asks the horse to turn in tight circles, this is a type of limbo for the horse. Picture an airplane circling above an airport. The point is to land. In the horse-riding scenario, the point is to move in the direction required by the rider.

If we ask why we circle horses, in my experience it has been to regain my control of the beast. This works when the horse gets distracted or even becomes wary of the environment. Circling gets equine critters re-focused on the fact that she (my mare) could move forward assured that I was in control. She had nothing to fear.

For the horse, the circling is indeed a re-grouping, re-vamping, even remembering. For all the horse knows, circling is what she will do forever. She has no expectations other than what my flick of the reins indicates. She will desire to return to her warm box and munch on a bit of alfalfa with perhaps some grain, but I need to know that she would circle forever if that were what I asked of her. Even horses grow weary, thus I would not recommend prolonging this holding pattern.

What is it for the rider? That is a little different. The rider has a destination in mind. Even if the day is one of trail riding for fun, there is a point at which both rider and horse will return to home base. From the rider’s experienced perspective, riding the trail is still the goal. The rider is aware of the possibility of hazards ahead. That would inspire the one whose bottom is in the saddle to want some assurance that this equine critter will respond to the master’s touch, being ready for whatever materializes.

I once watched a 2-year old leading a horse around an arena. Amazing. The horse’s instinct is that humans are dominant, thus to be feared. These heavy creatures do not want to injure people but will go to drastic measures to protect themselves as well.

Case in point, when my young daughter was training her horse, she was signaling for the horse to stay on course in a fenced arena. The horse could see they were coming to a corner of the fence. I could see they were coming to the corner. My teenager was not reining the horse to make the turn. The horse hit a dead stop, throwing her rider. The fall knocked the breath out of my shocked daughter, but otherwise she was okay. I was so thankful that the horse does indeed have a self-preservation instinct, which should be good news to riders. It would have been much worse had the horse kept on the collision path with the fence.

Back full circle (oops, forgive the pun), when we find ourselves in a holding pattern, I would hope it is similar to even what the horse experiences. There is something we are to get from the shift in course that will make the next part of the trail doable, and even enjoyable. Neither man nor beast, however, can endure just circling as a life plan.

 

t was not a smart thing to do. We concurred, too late. He has never been on a horse since. He learned that wherever the horse was heading was nowhere he wanted to go. He knew he did not know enough to change the horse’s course, but would endeavor to be master of his own.

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