I have had a few emails about Tim the Gray's trip to the vet. and it's nice to see that folks really take serious the health and safty of their ponies.
Had a friend email that the same day that Tim and I were heading to the vet. she was heading to her vet with a horse that had colic. She almost had to take him to have surgery, now that is scary. Everything is good now and he is back to his old self, so glad.
We are counting down the days till our clinic in the Membres Valley with Sue and all the other folks. Kathy and I could not be happier with the number of folks that are coming to participate, as well as the folks that want to just watch. Trouble is we are runing out of room for everyone. So if you were thinking about coming, but find out that the clinic is full, please think about hosting a clinic of your own at your place or at an arena near you. Folks often say they just don't think they could do that, but it's easy. You just get 4-5 of your friends together and invite them over for the day of fun. It's not a ton of work, I will do all that, and you and your friends will learn tons. Some folks are just not up to that on their own so I tell them get a friend to help you. Does not have to be a big deal and it WILL be a hoot.
Ruth had another lesson on Wed. which she did great in. I was teaching her how to leg yeild her horse down the fence, which can be a little tricky if your horse does not understand what your leg pressure is all about. The horse that she was riding, one of mine, Quarto, has all that figured out. What started to happen is when Ruth would come to the rail they would start to get in a tug of war with the horse throwing his head from side to side trying to get away from Ruth's heavy hands. After a little bit of that I suggested that Ruth just bring her horse to the rail and leave his head alone, just putting her leg on his side and see what happens. She did and he went down the road like a champ. Again, he knew what he was doing, he was just waiting for the chance to do it with out the human getting in the way. When it comes to horses, less is more. The less presure you put on your horse, at the right time, the faster he will learn the lesson and the better you will both get along.
I smell bacon in the kitchen... need to see what that's all about..
Yesterday, while the farrier was here, I noticed that Tim had some sort of something, coming out of his ear. At first I thought that he had laid down in the dirt and got, stuff in his ear, but this was different. I asked Carl, the farrier what he thought and he said, maybe ticks. We don't have much of a problem with ticks, mostly because of the dry weather we have. I have seen calf's with ticks that surround their eyes that we have to take off when we brand but nothing on horses, so I thought it must be something else. It was not there the day before, the discharge that is, cause I did not see it when we rode the day before. He did not seem to mind when I looked in his ear or handled his ear so I thought it must be something else. So when we were finished I loaded him up and took him to town to my vet. That is an hour drive. When we got there the doc put him in the stanchion and tried to put his finger in Tim's ear. Tim would have nothing to do with that. But after a little time and effort the doc was able to and sure enough Tim's ear had at least on tick. The doc left for a bit and when he came back he had a bottle of mineral oil and some other magic ingredient that he said would kill any ticks that might be in there. Tim took it like a champ and in minutes we were back on the road for the trip home.
I will give Tim a few days off to get this ear issue sorted out. I bet it is pretty hard to concentrate when you have a tick in your ear. What's amazing to me is that Tim never gave me any indication that he was having a problem. And I would have never known anything was wrong with him had stuff not start to run out of his ear. He is an amazing horse, kind, patient and forgiving. I'm lucky to have him.
A little about vets. I have been blessed to have had really good vets in my career. We had one of the best when we lived in Kansas and we have a pretty darn good one here. Folks will often ask me what I think is wrong with their horse, things like if they are limping, or coughing, or their eyes don't look clear. With a horse the list can go on and on. What I tell them is, if you think there is a problem and you don't have the know how or skill to handle the problem, or your just not sure, take your horse to your vet. I don't have years of training in vet medicine so at best, I would be guessing, so why take the chance. Sure there are things that you just know. You know your horse and, you know when they are not feeling good. Just like us, somedays they are just not themselves. We take that into account and if we can we give them the day off, or however long it takes till they are feeling better. I also think that folks take their horses and other critters, to the vet without real need, but that is a personal issue. If you are not sure, take them to the vet. It don't cost that much and you will sleep better. You will probably find that most of the time it's no big deal, but there will come a time when you will be able to prevent real harm to your horse if you respond by taking them to the vet.
If you have a really good vet, he or she, is going to help you understand what's going on and what you can do in the future to take care of the problem yourself, or help you know when it is serious enough that you need to bring your horse to town. I know that they are trying to make a living, but they are not like people doctors, who are so worried about being sued, that they have us jump though a bunch of hoops so they are protected. I understand why they do it, I just don't like it. I have often called my vet with symptoms and, over the phone the doc has helped me figure out whats wrong and how to fix it, without having to take the horse to town.
So if you don't have a good vet, find one. Asks friends. If you have a good vet. hug em.
This morning the shoer was out. Carl. Great guy and tons of experience with horses. I usually do my own shoeing cause it can cost a ton, but I try to get someone that really knows what they are doing to take a look at my work and, if I need it, which I usually do, get me straightened out and back on track.. Carl is great at that.
Will take Tim the Gray to the vet today. He has a little discharge coming out of is right ear and I don't know what it is. Was not there yesterday when we rode so need some help with that..
Had lessons yesterday with Ruth and Stan. Took Ruth out for just a little trail ride so she can practice the skills she has learned in the arena. She did great.
Stay did well too. He is starting to get the hang of it. Still get a little confused from time to time, but he has stopped blaming the horse, which is really good progress for him...
Kathy and I took the afternoon off and went swimming at Ted and Heidi's. They have a pool here on the ranch and it was nice. 90 degree water, just the way I like it... These legs have not seen the sun in years so Kathy has to lather me up with that sun screen stuff... felt a little like a turkey being baseted. Was great tho..
So need to get after it... sorry a little late on the blog.
I got an email from one of my students this past weekend about her horse and her friend. She was working with her horse when her friend showed up and started to tell her she was doing everything wrong. I call this the Ford Syndrome, They always have a better idea. That can be hard to deal with when you are working hard and you see the progress that your horse is making using a method you like and works good for you and your horse. What do you do? Well you have lots of options. You could tell them to take a hike, get off the place or a whole host of other unkind comments, but they are your friend after all. Or, you could thank them for their observations and forget about it, or you might be able to find something in their comment that you can use.
I know when I put on clinics folks are paying money for me to tell them what I think and to help them, so I am pretty straight forward with them cause I want to help them. But there are other times when I am watching someone work their horse and I see that they could do things a little different, I keep my big mouth shut. They have a plan, a program, may not be the plan or program that I would use but it's not my horse. I have no idea what they are doing, well I do but, or how long they have been at it or the progress that they think their horse has made. They did not ask for my advice so who am I to think they want it. I watch and I try to learn something, either what to do, or, what not to do...
It has happened to me too. I have put on clinics where someone in the crowed watching would try to tell me how to do a certain thing. My usual comment is. "If it were your horse you could do what you wanted, but it's not, and it's my responsibility to make sure this horse gets trained and stays safe so." That's usually good enough but not always. Here's the deal. Their idea probably will work. Shoot I have seen lots of things done that I would never do like, teach a horse to lead by tying the horse to your truck and driving down the road. It works, but I think there is a better, kinder way to get the same thing done. I have seen tons of stuff just like this , done to and, believe it or not they say, for horses. And folk can do that, it's just not how I would do it. There is a reason why I do what I do the way I do it. And folks who have worked with me or are working with me know those reasons and see the value of it. You can't just walk in off the street and start giving advice if you don't have a clue. But, lots of folks do.
There is a great radio program on, on Sundays at 6 pm our time. It's hosted by a good friend of mine back in Tulsa Okla. and I just wanted to pass on the info to you if you are interested. It is a bluegrass show and he plays some of my tunes from time to time.. You really need to check it out...Time to get ready for lessons and have a pot of coffee.
Tim loves the girls!
Worked yesterday with Tim. You may remember he is the gray horse that Kathy and I got because he was bucking people off. Anyway, we worked, for the most part, on turning on the backend. He does a pretty good job turning on the front end but gets confused when asked for the other move. In order to teach your horse to spin or roll back he needs to understand this exercise. He did well but we have a long way to go before it is really good.
As I get older I'm beginning to understand that, had I taken my time when I was younger, things would have turned out a lot better in a lot of situations. And when it comes to horses if we can apply that magic pill to our training the results will come much faster then we ever thought. Our horses are never going to develop as fast as we would like so we might as well get over that as soon as possible.
Trailer update: Charles and Nancy got the new trailer doors on the trailer. The new doors are on the left. Very excited about this. The door you see on the right is one large door and on the roads that we live on out here on the ranch, they just fall apart. I don't know how many times I have had to weld on the old doors. Will probably have to weld on the new ones, as time goes by, but I hope it not as much. Charles did a great job getting them on for me.
I'm off to the dump this morning. The dump is more like a social event then anything else, and right now I can't decide what to wear. Perhaps a cup of coffee will clear my vision.
I got an email the other day from a horse owner and lover that asked me how they could get more confidence when it comes to working with their horse. And that got me to thinking about that. They admitted to being a little afraid of their horse and wished that they could be more confident and less afraid. First let me say that there is a big difference between being afraid of a horse and, being respectful of a horse. Horses are huge animals, in most cases, that can hurt you and not mean it. So just their size demands respect. Fear on the other hand can prevent you from doing anything.
I think that the opposite of fear is confidence. Now the question is how do I get more confidence and less fear? I think that as you gain confidence fear will go away and be replaced with respect for the horse. So how do i get more confidence? Confidence, with horses, comes when we start to understand what horses need and give them that. I think that most folks that have horses give horses what THEY think they need and not what HORSES really need. Horses are not looking for a friend in the sense that we look for friends. Horses have survived for thousands of years, not because they made the other horses their friends, but because they focused on survival. And for them survival depended on, either being a good leader or having a good leader. One that would watch out for the best interest of the herd. Turns out that when the leader of the herd is looking out for the best interest of the herd he, or she, is looking out their best interest at the same time. So when you are watching a herd of horses, be it two or twenty, it don't take long to figure out which one is the leader.
So how do I become that for my horse, especially if I am nervous about working with my horse? You do what horses do. What's that you ask? Good question. The way that horses dominate one another is by making the subordinate horse or horses, move their feet. For example. If you put a pile of hay in the middle of the arena, in which there are a few horses, and lets say a subordinate horse gets to the pile first, what happens when the dominate horse comes to the pile of hay? Well, the dominate horse will pin his, or her, ears and the lesser horse will move off, move it's feet, away from the pile of hay to a safe distance and with his or her, turn to eat. If the lesser horse does not move what happens? The dom. horse will turn it's hind end to the other horse and will, strongly recommend that the lesser horse move. If that don't work he, or she, is going to get kicked, or bit.
Having said all of this, it's does not mean that you have to be mean or a bully. You just have to be more dominate then the horse that you are working with. Some horses are easy to get along with and don't mind you having a higher station in the herd. Other horses don't want to give up their place in the herd to someone, YOU, because they are not sure if you are a good leader or not, we have to prove that to them. How do we do that?
I teach exercises that you can work with your horse. These exercises do what horses do to horses. They get them to move their feet in the direction and speed that you, the leader, want. Every horse is a little different, but it usually does not take very long for a dominate horse to be willing to give up his place in the herd, as long as we continue to be good leaders. It takes time to accomplish this, but it's worth the time because, if you don't, you will always be nervous, afraid, around your horse and your horse is going to know it. I teach, what I call, trust exercises that teach your horse to trust you and they teach you that you can trust your horse.
I teach three principles of horsemanship that are so old that most folks have never heard of. Intuition, control, trust. You will never have trust in your horse if you can't control him, and, your horse will never trust you if you can't control YOU, your emotions, your body language. It takes the magic pill, TIME, to get this done but it is so worth it.
Remember, I'm here to help. So please never feel afraid to ask.
Was a pretty slow day with horses yesterday, but sometimes I have to make time for other things to get done. So I had to replace the toilet in the bunk house. There is nothing wrong with it, other then I think it was meant to be used in a grade school for little kids. It was so little you felt like every time you used it you were camping. So out it went and a new one went in, one of the really tall ones for old farts like me.
After that, I needed to make copies of the ground work review dvd that Kathy and I produced a few years back. We made the dvd as a way of helping folks that come to our clinics remember the exercises that they learn there. It's hard to remember everything that you do and why you do it in one day, so the dvd has really been of help to folks that attend. They, the folks that attend the clinics, get the dvd for free. Others have asked about it and so we have made it available on the web site. I think it is under training or something like that. And it's cheep, the cost is, that is.
While making copies of the dvd, it takes a little time to burn forty or so of them, I looked at some educational info I have in the bunk house. I have thousands of dollars of educational info from all over the place. Some of the folks you would recognize from t.v., others I'm pretty sure you may not know. Anyway I spend the afternoon re-looking at some of that info. Some of it is great and it is so nice to have some place to go to remind me of other ways to get things done. So it was a nice afternoon.
I often tell folks when working with them that what I am about to show them is a way of doing things, not the only way, but a very good way. And I encourage them to explore other methods of training so that they have a lot of information to use when working with their horses. We all have stuff to sell folks. We are trying to make a living at this, but when someone tells me that they have the only true horsemanship method I get a little nervous. My methods, some, are ancient and other parts of my method come from the hard working cowboys I have had the privilege to ride with. Some work really good in one situation, and not so good in others, but time and experience helps you to know where they will work and where the won't. When Kathy gets the mail, she is always bring in something that I ordered online and asks "More?". I say yes dear, and she just smiles.
Charles and Nancy have finished up the garage, the picture at the top of the blog, and have finished up the repair to the barn, where I tried to tear the door down. Charles has finished up the new doors on my stock trailer too... Just some updates on things I have talked about in the past.
Now it time for coffee and time to get after it.
Monday is the day I do a few lessons with folks that live on the ranch or close by. Ruth rode yesterday and continues to make really good progress. We are working on trotting and she is starting to get it. Yesterday I had her just trot around the arena, not worrying about where her horse went, just as long as he goes forward. Well of course her horse wanted to stay close to my horse, thats natural especially if the rider is not showing much leadership. So I trotted around with her, leading. We trotted for awhile and then stopped in the middle of the pen. I asked Ruth how she was doing and she made an interesting comment. She said that the longer she trotted the easier it was getting. And that makes sense if you are really working at it. She was able to find the rhythm of the horse's two beat gate and was then able to figure out how to post. The same could be said for the horse. He was able to settle into his trot and figure out what the rider was trying to do as well. So the moral of the story is, you have to be willing to go as long as it takes for both of you to settle into the exercise that you are working on.
Stan was next. Remember he has only ridden a few times in his life, if that, before he started to take lessons from me. I got him in the arena and had him ride the rail at a walk for a few minutes, so that he and his horse could get comfortable. When he said he was good, I opened up the gate and took him outside. When I opened the gate he said, "Oh no." Stan has never been out of the arena horseback. I explained to him that horse will get bored to death if all we do is drill them in the arena, people too. So it is always good to get out and see some conutry and let our horses just relax. When I have horses here in training I try to take them out for a gentle ride in the country side once or twice a week depending on what we have time for. They love it and so do I. Stan did great and really enjoyed his time out of the arena. We will be doing a lot more of that.
You will remember Norma and "G" Man. Well Norma has been a little nervous about riding G. Remember she was bucked off of G not long after he came back from another trainer. Her husband Jerry also was bucked off the same horse. So I went and spent some time with her and her horse to see if I could help. I watched her routine for a bit and then offered my observations. Norma works her horse in the round pen after she gets the saddle on him. One of the things we worked on when he was here with me, was to stand to be saddled and he did that like a champ. She then brought him to the center of the round pen and mounted. He stood to be mounted, another thing that Norma wanted me to work with G when he was here. He did that just fine. I was riding my horse Tim the Gray. Norma goes thru her routine each time before she rides. I knew why she was doing it. Lots of people will put their horses in a round pen, before riding, and run them around and do round pen work. Why? To try and take some of the fresh off of them. By fresh I mean, buck. Folks think that if they wear them down a little they won't want to buck, and I guess that's true on some level but if they are working a program they should not have to do this at all. The better our horses get at their ground work the less we should have to do it. It should work like this: Less ground work, more riding. Horses don't really like or want to buck, it's a lot of work. The reason they buck, most of the time, is because we have taught them too, and so they think that is how they are suppose to react. So we have to be very careful if our horse is bucking every time we put the saddle on them, we have probably created the problem. "G" does not have this problem at all so I encouraged Norma to work less and less on the ground and do more riding.
One thing I have found is most folks when they go to the round pen or to the arena, don't have a plan, a program of what to do and when to do it. I talk a lot about this at clinics and when teaching horsemanship one on one. So I helped Norma come up with a program that will give her confidence and give her horse confidence too. We rode for about a hour and when we got back I could see that Norma was a little nervous about getting off of G. She has had problems with him moving when she is trying to dismount. I instructed Norma to just get off of him like she has been doing it for twenty years. She did and G stood still. Our horses get the confidence or, lack of it, from us. So if we will just act confident, even when we don't feel confident you will be amazed at the reaction of your horse.. Norma is making really great progress with G. He has some other issues with his head that she continues to work on and is doing really well. I helped her see a way that she could still ride her horse without making a big deal about the head issue... Will keep you updated on their progress.
Jerry and Car
Diane and Lucy
I thought I would share an email I got last week from Diane, you will remember her from my last blog post. Anyway, I spend a couple of hour with her working with her horses and she sent this email. I think it's really good for other folks to know that there are people out there really working hard on their horsemanship, despite their having to make a living, having a family. They make time for their horses and it shows.
Thank you so much for coming and spending some time with me again. Thank you also for your write up on your blog. That was really special for me.
So-- After you left on Friday I worked Lucy some more then I saddled her up and did some sitting,flexing,etc. Then I got real brave and had her side passing down the rail a little bit while I was on her. Like you said Lucy knows stuff. She did really well. I was so impressed that I could get her to do it while I was on her. I just followed your directions and she did it.
I put Amor in the round pen next and she did much better. She is starting to really settle down and work. Or more than likely I am just communicating better.
Today I put Niña in first and had her side passing both directions. She did well but she will get better as I get better with the asking.
I tied Niña to the hitching rail and went and got Mack. I had only had him in the round pen for a little bit when again, I thought about what you said about lining them all up tied. I tied Mack and went out and got Lucy and Amor and tied them to the hitching rail and put Mack back in the round pen. I worked a lot more with him on the yielding the hindquarters and forequarters. I didn't think I knew what I was doing well enough yet to try it on him. I will keep practicing on Niña and Lucy for a while.
When I was done with Mack I tied him to the rail and put Lucy in. After I worked on the exercises with her for a while I was side passing her down the rail. She did so well going to the right. When I tried to do it going to the left I had her so confused she didn't know which end was up. I know it was me. I told her "time out". I did some more trust exercises and went back to things she know pretty well so that we could end on a good note.
I tied her back to the rail and put Amor in. She is doing so much better. I still think she is going to be a lot like Lucy. If I can manage to get my "poop in a group" and get better myself she will be amazing.
Thanks Diane, looking forward to seeing you and working with you again in the future.
Time for coffee.
Diane and Lucy!
I did not write this morning cause, I had to get up early to get to Deming. I have two clients that live down there that needed a little help so .......... "have horse, will travel"...... I made that up...... You have heard me mention Diane and her husband Craig? Well I spent the day with Diane and Craig about a month ago and wanted to follow up on her progress... She has sent me emails with what she was doing and how she thought she was getting along, so I could hardly wait to see for my self, her progress, or her lack of...... I can't tell you how proud I was to watch her work with her horses, she has four. She is doing such a great job with them. Here is a lady that works five days a week, anywhere from ten to twelve hours a day, so to say the least she does not get to spend a ton of time with her horses.. But, she takes the time that she has serious, and her progress shows it. I have spent a lot of time working and thinking of ways to make horsemanship possible for the average person. The persons or people, just like Diane. I have often thought, what is the sense of having a horse if you have to spend seven days a week, eight hours a day working with them to get done what, it seems, everyone else is getting done. I once was told that it takes two life times to become a great horseman..... Well, guess what? I only have one. So I thought that is a ton of B. S. So I wanted to come up with a way, a program, that the average horse owner could follow, even if they only had a few minutes a day or, like Diane, only had two days a week to spend with their horses. The results of that effort was proved. Diane is doing a great job. She was doing a few things that, I thought, were a little unsafe and pointed them out to her. She saw right away what I was talking about and made the adjustment.
I showed Diane another exercise, that in order for it to work, her horse needed the skills that she was working on. When I showed her what I was talking about, I think, she was blown away. Not that her horse could do the exercise, but that she could get her horse to do the exercise. Remember, horses know how to walk, trot, canter, backup, and everything that we will ever ask them to do. The secret is not in the doing, but in the asking. It's how we teach them what we want and when we want it. They have all the other stuff figured out. They are just waiting on us...
I can't tell you how proud I am to see someone like Diane, who works so hard for her family five days a week, spend the days she has off, working to be a better horseman.. I take my hat off to you...