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What is it like to sit on a rearing horse?

 This article has appeared previously with Equestrian Life. To see what is in our latest issue, please click here. 

Adele and Windy rearing, Film Livestock Australia - Photo Tom Healey

Windy showing everyone how it's done.

© Tom Healey

 

By Adele Severs

As a rider who has primarily stuck to dressage (besides a few club level eventing competitions) I’m certainly no adrenalin junkie. While my (now retired) mare used to delight in the odd buck (whether it was a bird taking off half a kilometre away or a day where canter transitions were just a little too arduous, a simultaneous lifting of both hind legs was always her preferred answer), standing on her hind legs wasn’t one of her talents.

A rearing horse wasn’t an issue I’d had to deal with; the experience had escaped me.

This was until my recent interview with Cody and Sarah Rawson-Harris of Film Livestock Australia. These talented trainers prepare horses for film work; much of this involves training the animals to work consistently at liberty before moving on to a range of ‘tricks’.

Of course, one of the tricks that is often required for the big screen is rearing.

Throughout the course of the day taking photos for Sarah’s liberty training article (which you can read more about in this issue of Equestrian Life magazine), I was introduced to Windy - a beautiful bay Andalusian mare who has ben used in plenty of film and advertising work.

One of Windy’s specialties is rearing on commend - both solo and with a rider in the saddle. Of course it wasn’t long before I was convinced to jump in the saddle and have a go.

 

Cody and Benny, Fim Livestock Australia - Photo Tom Healey

Benny showing us his ability to rear on command - more the height I was expecting to experience!

© Tom Healey



After watching their new liberty horse Benny practising his cute little rears (see above), I didn't expect too much height (how high can a horse really be bothered rearing when asked to do so on command?) I quickly realised that the more experienced Windy was able to produce the real deal. Sarah jumped on for a demo - the mare had no trouble getting vertical!

Cody explained that it’s all in the training; Windy had been carefully trained from day one to produce rears that were steady, controlled and balanced with little to no movement of the hind legs. Yes she was vertical - but she was also as solid as a rock.

So I jumped on.

“Relax, sit up straight and let it happen. Don’t lean forward, don’t lean back” were the instructions. Before I had too much time to think about it, a slight wave of the whip and Windy was up in the air…and then back on the ground. (Note: the whip is a training aid and never used as punishment in liberty training; when asking for the rear, the whip doesn't touch the horse.)

 

Adele and Windy rearing, Film Livestock Australia - Photo Tom Healey

© Tom Healey



What a feeling! Despite being almost vertical, Windy felt steady and controlled; it definitely didn’t feel as scary as it looked. As the mare rose, I was immediately shifted into a forward-sitting position without having to think about.

It was certainly an experience to remember. While I can now say I have sat on a rearing horse, I have no doubt I was sitting on the most controlled rear in Australia. That was enough for me!

Sarah and Cody will be running liberty training clinics in the coming months. To find out more about upcoming clinic dates, visit the Film Livestock Australia Facebook page or the Film Livestock Australia website.


 

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