Oft-Spoken Words

I’m not a big talker while I’m riding. Some people can ride around, chattering forever either to themselves or their horse, and seem to be able to ride just fine. I am not one of those people. I’m not very chatty to begin with, plus let’s be honest it takes every ounce of concentration and ability that I possess just to be able to ride. There’s no room for chit-chat.

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concentrating on not dying

But I have noticed that there are a few things I find myself saying to Henry quite often. “Good Boy” is the most obvious one, and he loves that. Anyone who has watched a Henny helmet cam video has seen how he reacts to an enthusiastic “Good Boy!” after a great effort. “Oh my god she’s right… I AM A GOOD BOY! ME HENNY!” as he gallops away, ears pricked. I’m a big believer in the power of a well-timed “Good Boy”.

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There’s also “Sorry” – another obvious one. He hears that from me probably a lot more often than he’d like. “Sorry” is sometimes used in conjunction with “Good Boy”. Such is the life on an amateur horse. Sorry Henny. Good Boy.

Then there’s the one he gets from me A LOT… at least a few times a week. His feet get toย moving too fast and then he startsย tripping a lot, which prompts the reminder “Slow your feet down so your brain can catch up!”. It’s valid, trust me. Those hamsters in his brain can only spin their wheel so fast.

trip
exhibit A

In the barn the most common is probably “I felt teeth”. He likes to rest his head on me, or lick me to death (it’s kind of disgusting how much he likes to lick), but it’s inevitable that he’ll start testing the limits. First he starts pressing his teeth against you, then he’ll tap you with them. If you don’t give the stern “HEY!!! I FELT TEETH!!!” reminder at that point, he’ll happily go one step further and take a nibble. Such a cheeky little shit.

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Yes Henny, you’re hilarious.

What about you guys with your horses? What phrases do you find yourself repeating all the time?

59 thoughts on “Oft-Spoken Words

  1. Frankie hears me say “Good man!” roughly 20 million times a day. He picks his feet up to be picked: “good man!” He gives a prompt canter depart: “good man!” On the flip side, he hears a pretty nasal high-pitched “ANHHH” not-quite-growl sound (doesn’t really lend itself to typing) when he does something wrong. Like when I feel teeth.

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  2. I am also pretty silent. Mostly only talk while jumping, which often results a weirdly George Morris-esque ‘woah oh, woah oh’ or ‘eeeeeeaseeeeee’ with a big ‘good boy’ when he listens. ‘Sorry’ happens a lot, as does ‘shit, sorry’ when I realized I just fucked him over to a distance.

    I also have a growl that comes out when the horse feels like its sucking back before a fence, but that has not been needed for new lease dude!

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  3. Sorry is the most prevalent phase to leave my mouth when mounted. With Rio I never had much to say other than sorry and also good boy (he loves that too). But with Jamp and Romey I tend to ask a lot of questions. “What are you so afraid of?!” “Seriously Jamp, there’s NOTHING there!” “Why don’t you trust me? I’ve never put you in a dangerous situation, why are you so concerned that I will?” “Romey, stop biting the martingale (or draw reins) and just f-ing TROT!” “Romey, I can’t tell if your lame if you won’t actually trot so I can feel it.”
    Clearly, I have no concept of riding, so I just have to ask them verbally.

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  4. I’m one who talks under my breath to myself/my horse while riding. Years ago an instructor taught me to talk so that I’d breathe and not tense up and the habit has stuck. The things Kachina hears most would be:
    “Good girl” – self explanatory
    “Hey!” – her reminder to not paw, second reminder adds a growl to the Hey
    “iit’s okaaay” – chill out, nothing to worry about here, said whenever she gets anxious, alternately “yoouu’re okaay”
    “Come on” – come on come over here, come on move your butt, come on pick up your foot… basically whenever she is a bit slow in responding to my aids (much more on the ground than in the saddle)

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    1. I leased a horse once who had the good boy = walk installed and I didn’t know it. When he finally settled into a nice canter and I said it, I nearly got flung over his shoulder by how fast he hit the brakes!

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  5. “You’re Fine!” when Bella sees something scary, and “NO ASSHOLE!!” when Ghus decides he would like to buck (really more of what you refer to as a dolphin leap..).

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  6. I find myself much chattier on my green bean than on my (slightly) older more well-schooled horse. One, it seems to help her relax. Two, it helps me relax – if I’m talking, I’m also remembing to breathe, haha. I used to get so tense during dressage tests that my instructor told me to sing a song for the duration of my test (under my breath obviously) and it was kind of amazing how much that helped. Of course, in the moment, my brain blanked on the lyrics to any song so she suggested “we are the champions” ๐Ÿ˜‚

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  7. Besides the obvious Good Boy, which I also say a lot, I picked up the habit of saying “You’re Fine, Go On” on cross-country. Justin has been known to plant and run back toward the warmup or the group in the middle of cross-country, and I found that If I’m just talking to him he feels more confident. So basically my whole course is me saying go one, you’re find over and over and over. I might sound crazy, but it works!

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  8. While on XC or in Stadium: a fine woven tapestry of obscenities as Marcus is ignoring me and concept of whoa.
    In the barn lately ” Do not blame me for your poor life choices” (usually while scraping or hosing the layers of mud off M)

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  9. I use “chill” a lot, often paired with “use your brain!” when working on cantering under saddle and downward canter/trot transitions. Sometimes, if the saddlebred is strong, there are “Hey, look – look at the jump – use your eyes” on approach to fences. “Good boy,” “Easy,” “You’re fine/you’re okay,” and “just walk please” are also very frequently used on days with high levels of anxiety.

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  10. I am definitely one of those chatty riders. But I am very extroverted in general.

    One thing I do when I ride and my horse gets tense is sing. It helps me keep breathing and stay relaxed.

    I actually once sang “I believe I can fly” to Crimson when he wouldn’t get on the trailer. I really belted it out. I don’t know if it helped, but it was pretty damn funny and made me feel better, so whatever. There you go folks – R. Kelly will fix your trailering issues.

    I also sing the ABCs to trot jumps. Helps me maintain tempo and keep my post rhythm the same.

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  11. “Seriously”? All. The. Time. Since I’m currently horse-less at the moment, I’m riding my trainers OTTB, Colby. “Seriously Colby”? “Why did you poop in your water”? “Seriously Colby? “Why did you steal a brush from the box and fling it at my head”? Yes, he honestly went rooting around in the brush box and grabbed my body brush. He was tossing his head and he lost grip on the brush and managed fling into full speed into my head. Thankfully I had my helmet on at the time.

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  12. I will sometimes allow my stream-of-consciousness thoughts to come out of my mouth when I’m really concentrating. Or if I’m trying to get into a rhythm in trot or canter (I’ve been riding rushy horses recently) I might chant something out loud, like, “One and two and one and two…” or a new one with my new trainer is “Jack. And. Jill. Went. Up. The. Hill. To. Fetch. A. Pail. Of. Wat. Er.” Sometimes I’ll also talk to the horse for encouragement especially with a hard exercise or scary jump. Just a simple, “here we go,” or “we got this,” or “come on, pal.”

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  13. “Pretty is as pretty does.” To my (I believe) strikingly handsome mare. She’s pretty, but she is SUCH a bitch sometimes (okay, often) that I’m always telling her to stop being a grumpy ass. (Her nicknames include Grumpy – which is embroidered onto her Baker sheets – and Princess.)

    Also “sorry” because amateur.

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  14. I tell the horses “Good boy!” or “Good girl! Good mare!” very frequently. I talk more to Gina than I do to Moe, for whatever reason. (Because she’s smarter than he is? His brain can only interpret things like “Good boy!”) I’ll say things like, “You can do it, big mare! I know it’s hard. You can do it!” when we’re working on challenging stuff. Around the barn, it’s mostly “Who’s the best horse? YOU ARE!” to Moe and “You’re the worst Gina. Just the worst,” to the other one lol

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  15. Hmm. When he only drags one or two feet over the ground pole and doesn’t feel like we will imminently face plant while doing so? “SO CLEVER!!”

    Taking him to new places where he, without fail, stands around with a cocked foot and sleepy expression? “CALM DOWN CHARLIE”

    Trying to do anything involving moving away from the left and toward the right? “turn. Turn. TURN!!”

    While observing his bared teeth, pinched up nostrils and furious expression when I make him get out of my space in his stall? “D’AWW SO PRECIOUS!!” (yea I’m kinda an enabler)

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  16. “Little focus here, please?”
    “HEY!!”
    “Whozaprettypony?”
    “Excuse ME!” (reduces brats to quivering submission)
    “SAY THAT AGAIN TO MY FACE!” (invariably followed by instant repentance)
    “That’s better!”
    “It’s OK, darling.”
    “You’re a good good good boy/girl/pony!”
    “Whooooaaaaaaaaa”

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  17. Chatty Cathy here.
    I generally have a running commentary going while I’m riding, flatting or jumping doesn’t matter. Sometimes under my breath and sometimes loud enough bystanders hear it all. It’s directed at me and horse “Ok let’s do this, oops sorry, good job, give me more, you know what I want give it to me, thank you, soften hand, look up, breathe, Forward,” are generally rattling around my head and out of my mouth.
    On the ground my rather touchy ADH gelding hears “Please stop touching things with your face”

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  18. Java is still Everett green, /9 praise is on top of the list. We’ve got “good man!” (in an obnoxious high voice that just comes out of me; I don’t know where it’s from), or “good kid!”, and “gotta use all four of them” when he gets noodly and starts tripping. I’m at a point in baby-horsedom where there’s still a fair bit of bucking and silliness, to which I usually say “that was rude!” and add more leg.

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  19. I am one of those assholes who never actually shuts up when I’m working with my horse. I am a deeply introverted person otherwise, maybe I use up my word allotment on Tris?

    Most common phrases: “DO NOT EVEN” when he is bracing or thinking about spooking or generally contemplating hijinks; “Actually trot, please,” if he’s sluggish. “Good boy” is my most common praise.

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  20. “Four feet, Firefly. One. Two. Three. Four. You still have four of them.”
    “Knock it off” – followed by a very sheepish look, if on the ground.
    “I’m the only thing scary in here!”
    “Honestly? I can see right through you. You fool no one, Mister”
    “What a smart kid!” often accompanied by an enthusiastic “G’boyyyy”
    “Move your feet! Let’s go!!” or “Let’s motor!” to get his rear in gear
    “You’re fine – I won’t let it/him/them eat you, I swear”
    Which is often followed by “What a BRAAAAVVVEEEE boy you are!”
    And, of course, the “ANHHT!” angry growl. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    “don’t be a punk”

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  21. “NO! BAD HAFFIE!” – used in almost every circumstance because Paddy is always into *something*
    “Hey, I’m up here!” – when whoever I’m riding finds something more interesting than me
    “REALLY!?!?!?” – when Taran spooks at a shadow/the dirt/a pee spot/nothing in particular
    “If you die cold and alone in this arena it’s because I’ve killed you” – after Paddy has screamed for someone, ANYONE to come save him for the 192937123th time

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  22. If you’ve ever watched any of my helmet cam videos, you know there are joyful conversations. My friends make fun of me.

    The conversations continue of the ground because I’m usually home alone and I hear things anyways, so why not okay along. But, the most common comments are :
    “Bacon, you’re so cute. You’re a pain in the ass, and if you didn’t weave you would be the best horse in the world. But you’re still the cutest.”
    “Goddamnit Pandora, you evil witch.”
    “Lucy, you’re so fat and cute.”
    “GOAT KIDS. WHERE ARE YOU NOW. PLEASE STOP EATING THE TRACTOR.”
    “Meaty, could you not leave a snail trail on all of my furniture. Thank you”.
    “Moo, you look so old.”
    “Husband. Plz halp.”

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  23. I mostly babble nonsense with “Good boy” or “easy” or “you’re fine” thrown in on course or if we’re doing something tricky or new. Val seems to take a bit of a breath with the regular stream to remind him I’m up there I guess and I do think that tone matters a lot for him as well, so several relaxed “you’re fines” helps him to breathe a little.

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  24. Xc I chat. A lot. Helps my brain slow down and keeps me breathing…
    LOTS of “Good girl Georgie” and “You’re the best” when we are out there… I like to use her name in case she thinks I am up there chatting to someone else ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  25. I talk more now that I have a driving horse – most of the signals you give them are verbal, so I think that has made me a bit more of a verbal rider.

    With Suzie, I don’t really say too much. When I was riding her, I usually would say things like,
    “Good mare.”
    “Suzanne!”
    “Git!”
    And often a multitude of laughter.

    With Spud (driving mini), I chat to him all the time. We kind of have conversations. But to narrow it down a bit:
    “Easy bud, it is just a dog. Walk on.”
    “Good boy!”
    “Good for you.”
    “Go right”
    “Go left”
    “Eaaaasy”

    I talk to Annie a lot when I am riding her, especially since she is a green-bean.
    “See what you get for being a snot?”
    “Just stand.”
    “Easy mare.”
    “Good mare”
    “You’re so brave”

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  26. Good boy! and quite oftenwhen he is spooky or nervous ( which can happen in new surroundings or shows) I say “you’re fine” and make the “you’re” a higher note than the “fine”. so it is similar to the whoa two tone I use when lunging. I really does calm him down.

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  27. I don’t talk too much either. Mostly it’s “You’re fine.”, “It’s not going to kill you.”, or “Seriously heifer?!”. Sometimes I talk to her just to help her relax and so that I don’t hold my breath. I usually get more of a response from a scratch on the neck, pat, or letting her stretch though.

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  28. I was having a hell of a ride last week. Gav decided that ducking out of this one particular apparently unfriendly looking fence was his calling in life. He goes straight up to the fence and then ducks in the last stride. Many a god-dammits were shouted. And then I started positive talking him “We can do this! This is no problem!” *imagine this coming out of a winded, sweaty, somewhat disgruntled rider*. Well, we got over the damn jump going both directions. It helped me, and maybe him – but I know I looked totally insane.

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  29. I have somehow turned “good boy” into a “stop what you’re doing and take a break”, so I try not to say that much anymore! lol I often mumble a bit to myself when riding, mostly to keep myself from holding my breath. The one thing I have started saying out loud is “MORE TROT!” – it is something my old coach always said when trying to get my western pleasure horse to do a proper English trot. I think I talk more on the ground that when I’m riding – when I get the grumpy ear pinned face in the mornings, I say “good morning handsome” and laugh at the grumpy face.

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  30. The one I’m most infamous for is ‘No kill!’. Theo does not like other horses in his personal bubble and will snake his neck at them or strike. It’s actually a command for him, a reminder that he is not a stud and his alpha mare will clean his clock if he strikes at another horse. Trainer is very embarrassed when I use it away from home.

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    1. Also “I’m not here to be decorative!” “Who’s driving?” “There’s my studmuffin” “This is my left leg, there are many like it, but this one is mine, get off of it” “Good papi” “You’re lucky you’re cute”

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