What IS a Garrocha pole?
The garrocha pole is used in Spain by the cowboys (called vaqueros ) to move cattle around rather than using the traditional roping
For me, it all started here….
“You just need a curtain rail from Bunnings’ which is just the right weight and fits in your car for easy transport”
It was awkward and fun- and very enlightening, all at the same time.
Fluidity in the movement becomes your best friend, so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself OR your horse.
The miracle starts to unfold as you sit lighter, as well as more centred and within the movement of your horse.
Also, you want/ need to be very nice to your horse doing this work … and so, all of the sudden the tables have turned, you take accountability /ownership of your mistakes!
But I soon saw the benefits and the fun of it.
I swear my horse started to grin every time I pulled out the pole, because it meant slow, steady, coordinated work- where I was the one who had to do the work.
My balance had to stay soft, centred, coordinated and light within the movement to ensure I did not block her movements.
You have to let instinct take over and feel back through the movement.
Also, I very quickly learnt that ‘over-correcting’ certain movements was a really bad idea …. Ooops!
Every rider wants to be as even as possible and, as the pole weighs a bit ( which I started to notice after just a few short minutes) I switched hands.
The rider equivalent of stiff and hollow is left and right, so how do we work on these imbalances so they work together?
Regardless of whether I was sitting, standing, leaning or turning my body halfway left or right, I helped my horse succeed in doing the work I asked of her, as effortlessly and effectively as she possibly could.
Much of the time I was dropping the pole or dragging it or just quickly lifting it up to get it out of the way.
Especially as the pole I used didn’t have the traditional length – it was shorter – and so I had to improvise some movements, but the point is, it wasn’t the ‘perfect pole’ but we still did it and we were able to get some learning outcomes from the exercise.
Practice, practice practice!
Your seat comes alive!
Some horses eye it off suspiciously to start with, but then they always amaze me and you can see them with a grin on their face and pure enjoyment – while the rider has to figure their balance and independent seat within the horse’s movement……..Nice and slow.
Beyond developing fit, supple, athletic horses, this work taught me that there is an intimate relationship between confidence and balance.