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Tess Harms

AGSC 2950
Equine Practicum Journal - TA for Horsemanship I

January 10
Absent - Gone on the Ag Tour of Texas Trip

January 17
Today Con went over catching, saddling, grooming, and more groundwork basics with the class.
He talked about where to stand and where not to stand, such as standing by the shoulder is the
safest place for a person, especially a beginner. He discussed the importance of recognizing
that horses are a prey animal and how you approach them is critical to how they receive you. I
think that next week will be really interesting since it’s the first time the class will be interacting
with the horses on the farm.

January 24
Today was our first day interacting with the horses. We started off class by Con using his horse,
Badger as an example of catching, grooming, and saddling in the arena. All of then went out to
the pasture and the students selected a horse to practice grooming and tacking up with. It was
interesting to see how some students interacted with the horses and see the timidness that they
have approaching them. I helped Cara Bahney with catching Misty, she had a hard time to
catching her because she went up to her from behind and was driving Misty away instead of
setting up an environment for her to catch her. We talked about angles and how to not drive a
horse when you want to catch them.
After everyone had their horses caught we went over the quick release knot. It was a little tricky
for me trying to teach it for the first time because it’s something that I just do now and it’s hard to
think through how to do it without actually doing it. I think picking feet was definitely the hardest
thing for the students. Some of them were really timid and afraid that their horse was going to
kick them or react. Michael Christianson had a really hard time with Hay hay. He kept trying to
pick up her feet using the cannon bone or when he did have her hoof he wouldn’t be holding it in
a position to keep hold of it if she tried to take it away. Chance Richwine also struggled with his
horse’s feet. He had Moonshine and she was being a little bit nippy about having her feet
picked. It was interesting to see how I have changed so much with my confidence with working
with horses that are a little nippy after my summer internship. I did get bit once over the summer
while I was taking vitals on a critical care mare at 2 am because I was so tired that I was trying
to focus on her gut sounds and she just got me by surprise; while it did hurt it definitely wasn’t
the worst thing in the world and I think that it gave me a lot more confidence in being able to tell
a horse to knock it off when they start getting nippy but I also feel like I’m not as afraid of getting
bitten as I was before getting bit. Obviously it’s unpleasant and painful and you don’t want your
horse to behave like that around you but I know from the summer that I won’t die or anything so
I think that with Moonshine I was more challenging her and I hope that Chance learned that it
does help to have more of a confident stance when it comes to dealing with that.
Saddling went fairly well. There were some struggles over cinching and how to do it but for the
most part everyone got it.
Bridling was interesting. I ended up helping bridle Sissy because she was not in the mood to be
bridled and the student saddling her was really nervous about it.
I definitely saw things through a different light today. I’ve always been at least somewhat
comfortable around horses on the ground so it was really interesting to see people that were not
at comfortable with them. I think that there is a lot of room for growth with these students in this
class and I’m excited to see their progress throughout the semester.

January 31
Today was definitely an adventure with this class. It was their first day getting on their horses.
There’s a lot of green riders in that class so it was a challenge getting them to understand how
to be the dominant one in the relationship between them and their horse. There was a lot of
stirrup adjustment and trying to explain to them not to drop the reins when they go to adjust their
cinch or their stirrups. I thought it was really interesting to watch how some students want to
figure things out and see how they’re doing things wrong, some students blame the horse, and
some are scared of their horse.
Megan is a really green rider, has never been around horses before and it definitely showed that
she didn’t feel very confident and that her horse knew that. She chose to ride Pancho. It started
off really rough for her because she let Pancho be in charge when we were going to the arena
and Pancho basically dragged her over to get some grass so I had to help her with being the
one that is in charge of where they go, not the horse. I think that most interesting thing to me is
learning that the horse really does know when the person that is leading or riding them is not
confident in their ability and that they can get away with doing what they want. I rode Pancho
the next day in my horse 2 class and even though he still had a bit of an attitude I definitely
noticed a difference in his behavior with me and his behavior with Megan. You have to have the
confidence and expectation that the horse you are working with is going to listen to you if you
want them to respect you.
Another thing I noticed during this horse 1 class was that I think certain people do better working
with geldings versus mares and vice versa. I have noticed that just from riding Poca during my
horse 1 class last spring and then when I was riding Sissy today that there is a difference when I
ride mares versus geldings like I’ve been riding in horse 2. I think that personally I tend to be
more in sync with mares and that we get along better riding than I do with geldings.
I’m excited to see how much progress this class makes because I think that there is a lot of
room for growth and improvement and that they have great potential.

February 7
Today was a little better than last week. Saddling went a lot better and is progressively getting
better each time. Some students are still struggling with their quick release knot but slowly they
are getting it. Riding has been very interesting in this class. A lot of the students are really
struggling with control and not letting their horses take over. I rode Moonshine today and all of
the mares wanted to come into the middle to be around her so it was a lot of trying to explain to
students that even if their horses want to do one thing that we have to be the ones in control of
direction and speed. I think that it’s good for me to see that other people struggle with that. I
know that sometimes when I’m riding Pancho in my horse 2 class I’m kind of battling with him
over who gets to be in control and I feel like I’m the only one that struggle with that so it is nice
to see that I’m not the only one and to see how far I have come to where I’m not letting my
horse completely control everything.
I think that if the students in my class can gain some confidence and figure out how to control
their speed and direction that our class will be really great.

February 14
Today was a lot better than last week in certain aspects. Everyone is continuing to get better
with tacking up. There was a bucking incident with Moonshine and Nebo. Michael was riding
Nebo and got really close to Moonshine’s butt (Cara was riding Moonshine.) Moonshine, with
her personality, did not appreciate having another horse up her butt and lost it. She started
double-barrel kicking Nebo into the panels. It only lasted probably 40 seconds tops, but it
seemed like it lasted a long time. I think that it was a really good lesson for this class because
this class has really struggled with spreading out and having space between their horses. Now
they know in a very real scenario what can happen when you crowd certain horses.

February 21
Today there was a bit of difficulty with students maintaining control over the horses they were
riding. Megan chose to ride Miley today, which was not the best match ability wise. Where this is
Megan’s first time ever riding horses, she lacks a lot of confidence in her capability and doesn’t
have the most direct cues. She also really struggles with increasing and maintaining variable
pressure. Miley needed a little bit more direction and confidence in a rider than Megan had and
she was definitely taking advantage of Megan. Because Miley was failing to listen to Megan, we
ending up switching horses. We did a couple of switches during the class to try and help match
riders better with horses that they were on the same level as. I think that it’s interesting to see
how much horses pick up on the vibes and energy that riders are giving off. They really do know
when a rider is tense or relaxed and so forth. A really positive thing from this week is that Sissy
stood really well this class period. Each and every week, she is getting better and better at
standing still and relaxing, which is something that she really struggles with since she has such
a high energy.

February 28
Today was a really good class session. We went on our first trail ride and it went really well.
Everyone did really well with the horses that they were riding; Megan rode the new paint and
they were a really good fit for each other on the trail. I think that trail rides can be really
beneficial in Horse I because it helps the students to relax a little bit and see a more fun side of
riding and that there is a reason to work so hard on grasping the basics of riding. Sissy was very
anxious being in the back of the group, but I think that was a really good thing for us to work
through. I think it’s really good that she is learning that it’s okay to not always be the leader of
the pack and that she doesn’t always have to go go go.

March 7
This week was the best one yet for tacking up. Only a couple of people needed help picking up
one hoof and with bridling. Today our main focus was working on improving posting and sitting
the trot. It’s interesting to see how some students are starting to understand the rhythm for
sitting and posting, and others are still struggling to get in sync with their horse. Megan had to
work a little bit more on her cues with her horse and keeping him out on the rail instead of letting
him go to the middle. Cara learned about why it’s important to not have your reins too short; she
rode Mater and had her reins too short, which led to him throwing his head up a lot until she
softened her hands and give him more of his head. We also talked about how to disengage the
hind end and how it’s different and how the cue is different from turning them normally. I love
how Sissy is so sensitive to cues like disengaging the hind. It was really cool to see some
students get the cue and successfully have their horse disengage their hind end because it was
like a lightbulb moment for them.

March 14
No class - Spring Break

March 21
We went on a trail ride today. Everyone did really well. We went up and down some more hills
and everyone handled their speed and direction a lot better this week. I think that going out on
the trail is really good because you get to work on the skills you are learning and trying to
improve in a real-life setting and situation instead of just in an arena.

March 28
Today we loped some. We took longer on our warm up and cooling the horses down because
many of them have colds so we wanted to give them enough time to really warm up and cool
down. Everyone loped except Sabrina and Megan. Hopefully, they will want to try and lope
before the end of the class. Out of everyone that did lope, they all seemed to enjoy it. Everyone
struggled to sit deep and not bounce and most of them did not have their heels down. It was
interesting to see how more green riders lope compared to my loping and I think that from those
observations that hopefully I will be able to improve my own riding.

April 3