Monday, November 30, 2009

Laying Down on the Job

So living here in wonderful Seattle means that in the winter time blankets and rain sheets are a must!!! So I pulled out my Paint mare to take her for a spin and got her all brushed really nice and tacked up, then we head to the arena. I do my normal groundwork with her so she can let a bit of steam off and then I get on and proceed to do some walking flexing, circles, side passing, just little things to turn on her thinker.

Well at the moment her thinker was somewhere else. We were walking a nice circle and she lowered her head nicely, I figured she was stretching down or sniffing some horsie calling cards. She had her head all the way down and without she just laid down. Just like that, no warning. No pawing or circling, just laid her big 'ol booty down. It really took me a second to think about what I was supposed to do LOL. I'd seen horses lay down before with riders on their back, but have never been one of them. My mare laid down on her right side so I kicked out my right foot and dove/clambered over her and got the hell out her way. She attempted to roll, but with the saddle found it too difficult and once I had my wits about me I chased her up off the ground and sent her off to work. After a few minutes when I was done laughing hysterically, I proceeded to mount my horse and try this whole silly riding thing again....

It was truly a humorous and un-nerving experience all at the same time. I promised my mare that tomorrow I would let her roll FIRST, before I tacked her up and rode her. I guess with her winter fur, the moisture and her blanket she was a little itchy and needed a good scratching, just preferably not with me on her back.... I feel I can now say I've been through 99% of horse craziness. Bucking, rearing, bolting, falling and now laying down on the job....

I know some of you out there have your own stories of something silly a horse has done to you!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trust Me It's Just You

I love when people tell me that their horse misbehaves, or bucks or bites ONLY them. These are the horses that I work with and then I have my advanced students work with so that I can evaluate if it's the horse's issue or the owner's. Nine times out of ten it's the owner. The horse will usually not misbehave if you really make it do what you're asking and gain it's respect. I worked TWO horses today with that same deal

The first one is a well broke mare and the owner couldn't get her to lunge and then once under saddle couldn't get her to move out. So I worked with her for 10 minutes then we were soon loping around the arena. The owner gets so frustrated as to why she can't make her horse obey her and I tell her the same thing every time. STAY CONSISTENT and DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!!!! If you want her to move make her move, if you want her to lunge, do not give up until she does what you've asked of her, only then can she rest and get praise.

The second one is a more timid owner with her first horse, same idea she had to make her horse lunge around her, but she wanted me to do it first. So I showed her what to do and how nicely her horse was responding, the I had her take over and her horse was ALL over her. I showed her again and again, but it was something she couldn't grasp. It's OK to tap your horse on the rump with a carrot stick if you need too!!!

Our horses are not made of glass, they will not break or get hurt the way I train (I can't speak for every trainer), but the tasks I have them complete and will have my advanced students have the horse complete will not harm the horse in anyway. It can be MORE frustrating to an owner when they see that their horse goes better for someone else, but it's because when it's your own "sweet, precious, baby horsie" you have trouble making them behave. Some owners just can't bear to discipline their horse. BUT Respect for YOU as the owner and the herd leader is IMPERATIVE to the safety of you and your horse. Sometimes that means your horse may need a spanking, sometimes your horse may need to sweat and sometimes you may need to push a little bit harder, but in the end the rewards will be 100 times greater and you'll both be able to enjoy each other's time and company.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Warning: Stupidity May Cause These Side Effects...

One of the things that really gets me as a horse trainer is other trainers allowing their green, inexperienced students to do certain things and use certain equipment. Not only is dangerous, irresponsible and extremely STUPID, but it can wind up with someone or a horse getting hurt. Now, as a horse trainer, when I see these things I have to turn a blind eye to it. It's not my place to get involved or say anything, although damn I'd like too sometimes LOL.

Draw Reins~ not only do I try not to use them, but I'll be damned if I EVER would let a student of mine use them. You can very easily get your horse to flip over on you if you use them incorrectly.

Spurs~ Prince of Wales spurs or blunt ended spurs, hmmmm that's debatable, but spurs with an actual rowel, no way, never. Inexperienced legs can grip on a horse's side at any moment and if they're wearing spurs then OFF you go. Improper usage of spurs can lead to bloody sides and sores. They can make a horse dead sided and 99% of the time when a greenie rider wears spurs their horse takes off and then the rider falls off or they rip on the horses mouth and get upset or scared because the horse"bolted." Noooooo, the horse did what you told it too.

High Ported/Shanked bits~ Nope, wouldn't happen. Inexperienced hands with a bit like this is asking for disaster. Bloody mouth, rearing, evading the bit, hard mouthed, all products of inexperience. All products of disaster.

Whips~ Most bats or crops won't do too much, but longer whips and dressage whips if not used properly may lead to your horse bucking, bolting, diving to the side, they can leave welts and more. Emotions can play a big role too, you get peeved at your horse and haul off and crack him a good one *head shake.* Ugh, what more do I really need to say?

What a lot of people don't quite understand is that it takes time and patience to learn the proper ways to CAREFULLY use certain pieces of equipment. You don't just begin using spurs because you like the way they sound or you think you're a cowboy cause you're not, you're a poser who is endangering yourself, others and your horse. Time and patience... Always remember that you have to learn to crawl before you can walk and that's OK. We ALL started there. None of us popped out of the womb wearing spurs on our heels or a crop in our hands. Once you've learned how to properly and safely use certain tools, they can become extreme valuable, but do your time and your research first.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Ahhhh as a trainer I get to meet all different types of people and especially with older people they all say the same thing!!! "I remember when I was younger I used to ride ANYTHING! With no tack, helmet or bridle, no boots, just flip flops and shorts. But, now I'm terrified." Even when I've solidly trained a horse or have students ride one of my broke horses they feel the same way, still nervous.

So at what age or milestone does that mental block set in??? Is it because you feel you don't "bounce" as well? I don't bounce well and hate coming of too LOL!!! Is it when you get married and have children? Is it when you're 40???? When do we stop taking risks that we used too?? Even though now we have helmets that are amazingly tough and correct and body protectors...

More importantly how do we overcome it???? People who have had horses in the past and are re-riders seem to have the biggest issue. No one's asking you to gallop in an open field bareback in a halter like you used to when you were a teen, just to simply get on a nice solid horse and ride around in a secure soft arena. Yet it terrifies people, even people who may have never even really had a bad riding experience...

For me I always suggest a lot of ground work exercises, leading and lunging exercises. Maybe even riding a nice horse on a lunge line while an instructor or friend is helping you. Little things that build that confidence back up.

So ANY idea why certain people can mentally block themselves from something they so desperately desire??? Is it just in our nature? Our genetic makeup? Our survival instincts kicking in???? That once we hit a certain point in our life we start to become more fearful ?? This one is a puzzler....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Personality Plus

So a friend of mine and I were talking the other day about a horses training issues vs. personality quirks. Example: an Arabian mare I have in training is snotty, feisty, and pins her and curls her lips almost all the time. While she never bites or kicks or even threatens to do so, the owner just knows that this is her mare's personality. Another example: When I cinch up my Show gelding he will pop up and do mini rears in the cross ties, even though I have always tightened his cinch gently and slowly, but once you let him pitch his fit he is the Golden Boy!! A Perfect angel!! So where is the line between personality and training?

Well, it's a fine line and here it is. A personality quirk is something that just IS you're horse. Something like the specific way he may toss his head while playing or even stomp a foot of impatience. A training quirk is when you're horse is doing something dangerous, like nipping or kicking out, striking etc. A personality quirk is also something that you can accept as being a part of your horse, where as a training issue is something that you can not accept and that is fixable.

Sometimes it can't be fixed though and the horse's personality traits are too strong. My friend used to own a mare a long time ago who threw the most beautiful foals and was a wonderful mother, but she was sinfully mean and would literally try to kill a person who came anywhere near her. After many many trainers and thousands upon thousands of dollars the mare had to be put down. The mare was just a sour angry mare it WAS her personality, there was NO changing it...

So what are some quirks your horses have? What can you or can't you deal with???