TRUE TRAINING 11 - The Free Burn
My apologies for missing my usual 10th-of-the-month blog post! True didn’t buck me off or anything—don’t worry, that’s still coming. I was busy correcting page proofs for Horse Brain, Human Brain. A manuscript is just regular old 8 ½” by 11” paper with double-spaced typing on it. Page proofs are fully designed documents that look like each page of an upcoming book. The fonts are in place, and all the diagrams, illustrations, boxes, sidebars, and headings are set into the layout. It looks like a real book with the pages left loose. Authors then get to have a look at these page proofs, re-read all the text, check all the illustrations, and make corrections. It’s our last chance to fix errors or embarrassments that would otherwise persist through the lifetime of the book. Next, my publisher has some small design changes to work on, then the corrected page proofs will be off to the printing press. It’s exciting! Plus, now I can take a deep breath in preparation for the next task.
Meanwhile, True has been my most frequent companion during these strange pandemic days. I can see and ride him without a mask, get within six feet of his cute nose, and even cut his hair! It’s been windy here, and he is presently in a small paddock while the spring grass gets a good healthy start. What this means in three-year-old horse language is that he cannot gallop giant circles in his pasture as often as he likes and is building up energy that I have trouble burning off. In that state, when the wind rustles through dry leafless trees or sends tumbleweeds flipping through the arena, we are in danger of imminent explosion.
True responds fairly well to general calming techniques, but he's also needed what I call the Free Burn. I turn him loose in a large arena and let him run at his own pace. Which is usually fast! He runs, bucks, scoots, spins, slides, rears, hops, kicks, sunfishes, and otherwise displays his athleticism as much as he likes. I just watch. You might think longeing or round penning would serve the same purpose, but there he must behave. The Free Burn is more effective because for a young green horse, “work” means manners and obedience. True is sometimes too full of himself for manners. He needs both the physical and mental release. Once he burns off steam for a while, I can then ask him to work and he is much better able to concentrate.