Short cuts are one of the most brilliant ways to be more efficient. I mean what can be wrong with doing something faster, right?
In our commute
We find the fastest route, whether that’s to avoid a traffic jam, or just to beat a well known long light. So what if it really ends up taking a minute longer, at least we are still moving so it seems like a short cut. Or even better, cutting around a slow poke or honking impatiently at the pedestrian only to end up slamming the brakes at the next light with the car you smoked slowly stopping next to you.
We try to get our tasks done as efficiently as we can and if we can find ways to cut out a step, we do it. Maybe something as simple as not cleaning up your workspace because your time is better spent on the task at hand, however the chaos of your desk ends up eating up even more time with distraction.
In our personal lives
Sometimes shortcuts mean texting, or social media instead of face to face interaction. Or rather than appreciating the company in front of you, you keep checking your phone for some trivial interaction via one of the many “e”lationship websites.
Then we come to horses. Oh the many shortcuts we find in riding.
There’s the training shortcuts:
There’s the supplement shortcuts:
Those are the two biggest and most common shortcuts. But there’s plenty more. Like horse management shortcuts recognizing injuries before they become severe, proper layup, proper conditioning, proper shoeing, proper feeding, proper veterinary care, proper turnout…
Basically using common sense and putting your horse before your ribbons.
But not all training aids are bad. Draw reins can come in handy now and again, if used sparingly and responsibly. Going to a more severe bit on a horse who is strong out of eagerness is different than putting a severe bit in a horses mouth that is strong because they are fearful, unbalanced, or untrained.
There are good reasons to put a horse on a calming supplement, especially if they are worriers, have ulcers, or are going through some intense stress. But not for a horse to calm down for an inexperienced rider, to take the edge off of a horse that isn’t getting worked properly or for any of the previously mentioned.
Then there’s literally cutting corners.
I can stand on a soap box about this because I don’t EVER cut corners. Frankie even knows not to cut corners, I trained him and corners were installed during his first few months under saddle. This is mostly because it was all but beat into me as a kid, “USE THE GODDAMN CORNER!” During my junior years I helped steer more than a few wobbly OTTB’s into their first corners. Yes, even the George Morris clinic I participated in as a youngin’ I was praised for my use of corners.
I use my corners. And everyone should, but it seems that not many people do. Why would I harp on such a silly, stupid, useless thing as a corner. How bad is it to cut a corner?
Well, if you break it down. A corner is a part of the ring that can save your ass when you are coming to a fence, especially a diagonal fence. Your line changes drastically depending on your corner, but more importantly your horses bend changes drastically. Those that cut the corner will almost always have a bow, a dropped shoulder, hind legs lagging. You will lose your line to the fence. Guaranteed.
But if you ride the corner, like you practice everytime you work on the flat, you will never lose your line.
Even if you don’t jump, your corners will help you down the straight side, they will help you on a circle line. They will help you with your transitions. Why? Because if you are consistent with what you expect from your horse, ALL. THE. TIME. You will have a happier, more responsive horse. Period.
I have yet to ride at a barn where the corners are used, consistently, by riders other than myself. I know this because I notice the tracks, I observe the rail and how at the corners it generally doesn’t get worn down and there is usually not a clear track.
Shortcuts theoretically are a great idea. But if you are looking to do things right — whether its at work, on the road, at home, or in the saddle — You’re better off putting in the time, and effort. It may not get you a blue ribbon in your next local hunter class, because I’m pretty sure those are judged on shortcuts. But it will make you a better rider, a better worker, a better driver, a better companion, and a better horseman(woman).
Frankie has approved this message.