Millie: John, explain why you would choose to work a horse, for example Honor A. P. in company versus working him or her alone?
John Shirreffs: Its like you when you train, if you’re out jogging or running or even in the gym exercising it’s always nice to have a training partner, they just help you do it a little bit easier, you’re a little bit more focused and its the same thing with a horse.
As you well know Millie, when they play in the field by themself, they may run across the field and then pull up and play around doing something else. So to maintain their focus, like when Honor A.P worked five eights of a mile, I wanted him to maintain his focus for the full five eights of a mile, and you don’t necessarily want the rider to have to do that.
So, giving him company is really good because it allows the horse to feel that competitiveness running next to another horse, the excitement of running next to a horse. It also allows the rider to have a sense of is the horse running straight next to another horse, is he or she leaning in or leaning out, is he looking around at something, is he bothered by the horse next to him or maybe the dirt in his face?
All those little things you can find out when they are in company. That’s really the reason for me, just to make it all a little bit easier to figure out and also to make sure Mike (Smith), in Honor A. P.’s case, is comfortable handling the equipment that’s on the horse.
Link to see work:
Downloadable clip on Honor A.P. in his stall: