Now that the grass has finally popped back up again, I like to let my Human stretch her legs (and arms) with a good hand grazing session. It’s a good way to limber her up before, (and after; and sometimes in the middle of) an under-saddle session, and I like to think that she’ll one day follow my example and go vegan.
Jitter’s hand-grazing tips:
- Suggest to your Human that hand-grazing is an honorable pastime by busting inferior stall guards, crossties, and halters and wandering out to the nearest pasture or grass patch.
- After the dense little biped finally gets the idea and brings you to an area for grazing, it’s best to take a survey of the available roughage. This may require you strike up a strong march or jog straight out of the barn. If you have a bottom-heavy Human who’s likely to plant herself in one spot as soon as you step outside, pretend you think she wants to longe you.
- After a few rounds of cantering, bucking, and inverted jogging on a five-meter circle around your Human, settle in for a few appetizer bites and check her heart rate. If it isn’t at least 90 bpm, you haven’t yet done your job.
- Chewing takes time. Life is short. Draw the obvious conclusion.
- Same goes for swallowing.
- Give your Lardcake about six seconds to breathe before beginning the yoga portion of her workout. Many equids make the mistake of grazing until they find tension in the leadrope, and then wander back to their Human. This is a mistake. You need to be firm with inferiors. I like to test the tension in the rope and parlay it into a never-ending, ton-of-bricks tug. Yanking your person’s arms too hard will likely result in soft tissue injuries that you’ll spend weeks managing, so a slow-moving pull is best to stretch her arms out.
- Turn your back to your person periodically if possible, changing the angle on your stretch. This does come with the risk of biped shoulder dislocation, but all great methods have their downsides.
- After you’ve exhausted the grass selection in your grazing area, it’s time to begin shifting your radius. If your Human has decided to sit on the grass and gab on her phone, it’s very possible she is covering up the best foliage with her planet-sized rear. Expand your gentle tug into a full-body draft pull and slide her (carefully…maybe) like the ball-and-chain she is to better ground.
- If she has chosen to stand while you eat, introduce her to the concept of “grass-skiing” by putting your back into the pull and sliding those discount paddock boots wherever your heart desires.
- Pump up your student’s arms and keep her attention by placing your toes near the limp lead rope, threatening to “accidentally step on it and startle yourself.” She’ll begin hauling back and doing all sorts of funny dances to keep you from snapping your halter. Lull her into a sense of complacency and break that foul thing when she’s not looking.
- Finish off the grazing session with some cardio as you sample grass species from different regions of the barnyard. If you’re feeling really ambitious, take the game off the farm and sample those candy-colored blossoms in the neighbor’s flowerbed. Who knows—you might even acquire another training client.
|Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky.
Follow Jitterbug on Facebook!
Photo by Dark Horse Photography.