- June 30, 2015
- Rachel Larsen
My husband and I are homebodies, as a result our horses are too. However, I am never uncomfortable with taking one of our ranch horses to “town.” Our older horses have a solid foundation of long slow range miles. When starting colts we head outside the corrals and put cattle in front of them, as soon as we able. Our theory is developing a shared sense of purpose in the task at hand, does more to cement your relationship with an animal than any amount of loping circles. That said, this is what works for us and I am not implying this approach to horsemanship is for everyone. We’re comfortable refining a horse’s handle over time, because precision is not required in the pasture to the same extent as in the show pen. As a result, we may have several years of riding a particular animal under our belt, before we may execute a flying lead change. Typically the horse’s mind is relaxed and calm, due in no small part to the miles and hours logged prior to achieving the maneuver.
This year, we’ve had more opportunities than usual to test our skills, with good results. Our entire string of saddle horses, have picked up several rodeos this summer and proven they’re up to the challenge despite their relative inexperience in the arena. It’s the long slow miles or LSMs as they’re called by Olympic Eventer Denny Emerson. Those long slow miles over hills, through creeks, and around cattle are the foundation of fitness. Fitness of the rider, the horse, and of the mind and body are a product of the time you invest in your horsemanship. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to provide our horses with a lot of miles. Maintaining a calm mind, in and around the arena is important, too. When picking up, my husband likes to spend quiet time in the arena before an event, walking circles, swinging his rope, and exposing his horse to the sights and sounds, without the added excitement of broncs. Meanwhile, as I warm-up and cool-out our additional horses, I practice the cultivation of a calm mind and quiet body. I know it sounds a little out there, like I’ve whipped some Zen on you, but it works (if you remember to breathe).
It seems like an oversimplification, but long slow miles truly are the key to our success with our horses. I would love to know how time and long slow miles have improved your horsemanship journey, please share your story.
Thank you, Buffy Kelly for the use of the lovely photos. You may see more of Buffy’s work on her website.
About Rachel Larsen
Rachel Lohof Larsen is a fifth-generation rancher, mom, wife, cowgirl, and blogger. Originally from Montana, Rachel has a BA in Environmental Science from Colorado College. She and her husband, Guy, bring a sense of integrity and a strong interest in sustainability to all their pursuits....