Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Laying Down On The Job...

So while I was in Sacramento, one of the things I really wanted to do was to pick the brains of some of the other trainers. I saw a couple of the trainers have their horses lay down. I've always found that a neat trick, but beyond that never thought too much about it. So one woman trainer, who I became close friends also had her horse lay down, so I had to ask why?

What is the ACTUAL point of it? What was her reasoning? She told me that getting a horse to softly lay down is an ultimate trusting gesture. The horse has 2 defense mechanisms, it's legs and teeth and when it lays down it has sacrificed the use of both of those things. So her thoughts are that if a horse doesn't trust her enough to lay down quietly, calmly and relaxed, then why would she dare get on it??? Makes more sense to me than just having them lay down as a "trick pony."


I found that to be a decent answer... Not that I'm going to lay down every horse I train or ride, but that could be a way of your horse showing you where you stand LOL!!! She also told me it is NOT something you ask the horse everyday, more like once a week or every couple weeks. So of course I had to try it on Sole' and she nailed it... I was so stinking ecstatic!!! It was just a neat thing to see up close with one of my horses LOL!



So what are your thoughts on laying a horse down. Remember I'm talking about gently and softly laying the horse down, not hobbling it and pushing it over...

6 comments:

The Crossroads said...

I have no quarrel about it. I think if your horse lays down as easily as yours did and my three year old did the same thing. Then there is no harm in it. The child in me says that it's "Uber cool." but that's not the reason I ever laid my three year old down.

I have to agree with the trainer that it seems that if they're willing to surrender their ability for flight, than you've got that horse in the palm of your hand. It is an amazing feeling when they trust you enough to lay down.

How did you execute it?

The Crossroads said...

Like method wise that is :P

lachellesays said...

I am all in on laying your horse down. But I am also for teaching your horse lots of useless tricks.

When you can't ride, tricks are a nice way to keep things interesting : )

How did you get your horse to lay down gently? All of the methods I have read about I just can't seem to get my horse to do.

ponykins said...

I train trick horses, so naturally all my horses are taught to lay down on cue. The training usually takes about 15 mimutes for a horse to lay down the first time. Of course, up until that point, he's had lots of the standard ground training, so he understands how to give to pressure already, you are just asking for more and more of it until he lies down. All training is teaching a horse to give to pressure - be it a SMS horse, a reiner, or a trick horse. Laying down on cue is simply an advanced form of submission. When you first start a horse to learn to lie down, his muscles are tight. But, the more you work with him, the more he understands and trusts you, those muscles get softer, until he just totally relaxes and lays down for you. You can not not make a horse lay down just by asking him to, if he does not want to. Plain and simple. He has to WANT to, and therefore is the whole reason I teach my horses to lay down. If I can teach him to WANT to lay down on cue, then I can easily use those same principles to teach him to WANT to calmly submit to clippers, trailer loading, scary trail trolls, etc. Teaching him to give to leg and rein pressure is a piece of cake. The reason I train trick horses is not to have a trick horse when I am done, but to have a horse that is submissive (light to the aids), obedient, relaxed, confident, and a whole host of other benefits - all of which are useful to any horse for his entire life. Which, make him more useful, more enjoyable, safer, and happier in any discipline you use him in.

ponykins said...

Edited to add, I train my horses to lie down on cue and I make it a pleasureable experience for them. It's there choice to lie down or not and my job is to teach them to WANT to lie down when asked.

However, everyonce in awhile I get a bronc that I think will benefit from being made to lie down and stay there. It can be quickly and easily done without fuss, fear, or resentment. You gently lie the horse down and then gently rub and pet his body. Once he accepts gentle handling, you let him up. It seems to quickly rewire the horse's brain. It's rare that I have had to use this form of laying one down, but when it's needed, it is very useful. But, it must be done correctly, not just done by throwing them down, tripping them, tying them up and leaving them to struggle, like you see in the movies or imagine a backwoods trainer doing for a quick fix. It's very calm, very gentle, and there is no fear to the horse - when done correctly.

Jackelopette said...

Curious if anyone here has read The Tao of Equus. It's a fascinating read, but wonder how many others share the author's viewpoint, especially about laying a horse down.