Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Expert's Guide to Toodling

A large percentage of the time I spend in the saddle is what I call "toodling". I field enough questions about what exactly that means that I now give you the definitive expert toodling bible.
love this pic
What (is toodling):

Toodling is undirected meandering, generally on a loose rein, with loosely defined goals and limited rider input.


Why (is this different than hacking):

When someone says they're hacking their horse, they generally mean they are riding outside the arena in some sort of purposeful way. Toodling is in or out of the arena and while sometimes yes you're going in a direction with a purpose, you're also not hitting a step goal or fitness angle.
toodle time!
When (is toodling appropriate):

All toodles all the time. I mean, not really, but horses are pretty smart creatures. I'm all for a couple "work" rides a week, but above and beyond that, it feels like drilling to me and I find drilling intolerable. Toodling is a way to spend time in the saddle, but relax and rest sore muscles. It keeps riding fun and engaging on both sides so saddle time isn't always work time.
bliss
Where (does one toodle):

Anywhere, really. In the winter, we toodle around the indoor and smoosh things. In the summer, we go all over the property and should I ever get my rear in gear to haul out somewhere, we can do that too.
ditch practice
Who (should toodle):

I'm a highly motivated go-getter type of person. It is SO EASY for me to fixate and drill and push and suck the fun out of relaxation. (I'm terrible at vacation. Sigh.) I like to have a clear delineation for "this is fun and easy and simple and just be happy". If you're a person who needs more structure in your life or you're prepping for an imminent Olympics, then toodling is maybe not for you.

How (do I start toodling):

Slip the reins. Hold the buckle in one hand. Look at the world around you. Pet the horse. Wander the fields. Find a buddy to laugh with. Ride under the stars. Stop and watch the sunset.

Courage was a horse that was deeply sensitive to pressure--I probably had to toodle 3-4 times for every 1 time I schooled him. ZB is totally not worried about pressure, but I want her to have time to develop strength and recover, so it's probably more of a 1:1 ratio (counting training rides, haha).

As for the looming question, "aren't you a shitty trainer because you choose to have fun with yourself instead of actually teaching them something," well, no. Walking on a loose rein is a skill. Standing still is a skill. Boldly navigating terrain is a skill. Learning to not micromanage is a skill.
picking incredible browbands is also a skill
And that is how you toodle like a pro.

32 comments:

  1. SB and ZB = toodling champions of the world.

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  2. I really enjoy toodling and am finally getting my spooky red horse to do so. Real life question, did Courage just take to toodling, or how does one toodle a hot and self expressive creature? (I mean, once I figure out the bucking/bolting/rear-threatening/noping out stage left issues)

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    Replies
    1. The short answer to this question is that Courage is a super brave horse who was fantastic as long as he wasn't under pressure, so it came pretty naturally to him.

      The long answer is that we regularly had some discussions about boundaries and I had to draw some hard lines, but as long as I was consistent, he was good.

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  3. The various conjugations of toodle in this post have me giggling.

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  4. Truby and I are career toodlers. But we're not *quite* as smushy as ZB. Goals.

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  5. aw i'm so glad you have ZB to toodle around with. there's something so pleasant and rewarding (and trust building!) about just spending that quiet quality time in the saddle.

    and like, yea i get ya. not everybody wants to ride seriously every day. not everybody wants to ride dressage. or jump. or whatever. everybody finds their own happiness in horses in whatever way fills them with joy and fulfillment. which is possibly my favorite thing about horses - we can all get what we need from them commensurate with what we want to put in!

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  6. Very important critical question: Where did you get your Zoe sized western bridle??!!! Mine is so ugly but it's the only thing I could find that was both western and would go on a Perch cross head!

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    1. It's a generous off-the-rack horse size with a custom throat latch. The browband is a tich snug but I really love it so we're coping for now.

      WHY IS DRAFT TACK SO UGLY

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    2. I don't know but I hate it! I can get all my dressage stuff as beautiful as I want, thank you WBs, but western? Forget it. There's like two headstalls out there and only one in light oil so I can make it match the ONLY saddle that fits my horse. Uggggggggh. /end rant

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  7. Last paragraph = truth. Toodling creates solid citizens.

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    Replies
    1. I mean you have to do the schooling too.

      Or pay a trainer. Haha.

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    2. Or at least make the trainer get on first 😂 #betteryouthanme

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  8. I hope next horsey is willing to toodle. Jampy fears... well everything, so it's more stressful than it should be.
    Rio can toodle, but the epm limits our terrain options.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah those are definitely real concerns.

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  9. D and I spent all winter toodling bareback. There’s not many things as deeply grounding as a good tack-free toodle.

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    Replies
    1. I want to feel like ZB is a little more broke and a little less just being a super lady before we go that far, haha.

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  10. Toodling is the best!!! I do think it’s even better for greener/younger horses bc they learn to enjoy being ridden instead of working all the time :) Toodle away!!

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  11. Perhaps this is what is missing from my riding routine. I see a lot of toodles in our future as Cosmo goes back to work.

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  12. I really really want to be able to toodle on Carmen. I can't wait for that day to come.

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  13. Stinker is learning to toodle but I think our go to is exploring new places. Either way it’s fun to be able to enjoy pony time.

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    Replies
    1. Well caffeinated deer toodle at different rates than ZBs.

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  14. LOVE this. Ozzy and I were pros at toodling. After all that we did over the years, the toodling is one of the strongest and best memories. Everyone should toodle more.

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    Replies
    1. Enjoying horses is the whole point of having them imho.

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