Kathy and Barrs!
Kathy and I had a nice weekend in Kingston NM, riding in town for the New Mexico Centennial celebration. Kathy and I and our good buddy Mark were the only ones in town on horses and it was fun to see the reaction of folks, who don’t get to see horses everyday. Then, Kathy and I played music for the folks on the stage they had set up behind the lodge.. Was a good weekend and was nice to see Kathy horseback again.
This morning is Stan’s, one of my riding students, first long ride outside the arena. He is pretty excited. We will ride from Ted’s barn to our house and then haul the horses back in the trailer. Will try to take pictures, if I remember.
Casino and I had a really good session last Friday. He is doing great. He is walking by things that he use to look at and get a little nervous. He still looks but I can feel that he is not near as nervous as he has been in the past. He is a young horse. Not in years necessarily, but he has a young mind, an immature mind. What do I mean by that. Horses usually as they get older, will start to mellow, slow down and not be as worried about things as they did when they were older. And this is true of Casino, but just about everything is brand new to him every time he sees it. That part is getting better but you can feel, sense that he is not sure of himself. He lacks confidence that his age should have given him. So is there something wrong with the horse? Not at all. Horses are like us. Some of us are not sure of ourselves, we lack confidence or courage. Some of us get that in time, some of us never do. The same is true of horses. It is their personalities. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing that we have to keep in mind when working with them and around them. I have a horse Tim the Gray. He is around 9 years old or so and has seen a ton of stuff in his time. But the other day when we were riding we came to one of those green electrical boxes that are out here on the ranch, and he jumped. He didn’t jump far, I stayed on, but we have been by that box a ton of times and he has sniffed, eaten by, stood by them so many times I can’t count. So, why did he just about jump out of his skin when we came by this box, this time? Who knows. But, because of his training he did not run off. He jumped and then waited for me to tell him what to do.
But this is one of the things I know about him. So, I have to watch out for him, help him when we come to those kinds of places and make sure that he sees them and that I’m ready. Most horses will get passed stuff like that, some horses never do.
It’s our job as a trainer, a leader, to understand what our horses can and cannot handle and try to help them past them. Time, it all takes time.
Casino waiting his turn!
I know I talk a lot about the magic pill, time, but I think that I need to remind myself that it applies to me too. When you train for a living you know that folks who are paying you money are watching the clock too and that old saying, time is money, is true and can, and will affect the way you do things. Does me any way. And that can sure affect the way you go about doing things if you are not careful. We don’t get horses here very often that the owners are willing to invest in the magic pill, so when that happens I can take a breath and know that I don’t have to get it all done in 30 days or today, and that sure makes my job easier. But when you get a horse that is only going to be with you for 30 days you worry that the owners will not be happy with the results. You can only get so much done in 30 days, and most people know that, but you still feel the pressure and what happens is, you put that pressure on the horse. Some thing he does not understand, or like, and what happens is you cause yourself, and the horse, more harm then good. So I have to keep telling myself. Take your time. See it’s not the horse that minds swallowing the magic pill, it's the trainer and the owner that has the problem. Funny thing is, it’s always the human that gets in the way.
Kathy and I are in Kingston NM this Saturday to ride in their centennial celebration. We are just going to be riding around the little town with our horses so that city folks can get a feel for what it uses to be like. Herb, of Herb’s Body Shop has asked if I would mind packing some of his famous “Man Bar” lotion to sell while I was up there. Herb don’t have many friends so I told him I would be happy to. So if you have ever wondered what the “Man Bar” is all about just stop me and ask.
Gave Casino some time tied to the rail yesterday after his big ride the day before and took one of my riding students out for a long ride. Ruth has not had a lesson in some time. She spends part of her time here on the ranch and part of it back east and when she is here she is pretty busy, so it was a treat that she had the time to do it. There are so many really pretty places to ride here that it is hard to decide where go. The weather was perfect and we both had a good time.
Will get Casino back in the arena this morning and start working more on control and him standing still. Who knows why horse do what they do. When you think that they have something figured out they always seems to know you think you are doing a pretty good job. So, they want to keep you humble and they start to go backward. So we will just start at the beginning with the skills he needs to understand that standing still is his job. I’m pretty sure it won’t take him long to figure out it’s much better to just stand still then the work he will have to do if he chooses to move around..
What I see happen with folks when their horse seems to forget a lesson or a skill, like standing still, they get frustrated. They start to blame the horse, when it is probably something that they did. I think that’s were we are with Casino. I have put Casino in some places in the past week that he has never been in before and I think it may have been a little too much for him. Not that that’s a bad thing. You have to give your horse new experiences to know where the holes are in his training. Those give you the chance to help your horse. But at times, when we give our horse to much they will get confused about what we want and try hard to find the answer. Trouble is they may fine the wrong answer and think that it’s the right one. You and I have to always ask the question: What can I do better to help my horse? How can I become a better horseman? If we do that, then we will be able to find the answer or the tool we need to help our horses.
Had a good day and long ride with Casino. He continues to make good progress, but like all horses seems to find himself slipping back to some bad habits. Standing still while you mount and dismount is so very important when it comes to horses. Most accidents happen when we are getting on or getting off, so it’s very important that he understands this skill. He has been doing really well up till just a couple of days ago. So we are going back to some basic work to make sure he has this figured out. His owner does not need to have this as a problem when he gets home.
Other then that we had a good training ride yesterday. Most of the time he spent either trotting or loping. Very little walking for him. He has tons of stamina so it’s no big deal for him to do either of those things for long periods of time. We have a lot of green electrical boxes out here on the ranch and he sure gives them the eye when we pass but he does not shy away or jump away from them, which is good.
I think that horses that shy are sometimes encouraged to do so my US! When our horse sees something that makes them a little nervous and then we get a little nervous, because of what might happen, our horse gets more nervous till he just won’t go that direction or come up to the object that he is worried about. It’s hard for us to keep calm when we see our horse getting worried about something, but we need to remember that our horses get their courage, or lack of it, from us. So, altho I’m paying attention to what he is paying attention to, I think in my mind “ride on” and do not look at the object. I look where I want to go, where ever that is, usually straight ahead, and I focus on that.
Some folks say that you should force your horse to go up to the object and face his fears, and I’m ok with that if the rider is up to the task. What I prefer to do, and is what I will do with Casino, is just ride past the object again, and again, and again, and again till he gives it no consideration. True, we are going to come up to other things down the road that may cause us a little problem, but over time, as the horse gains experience and age he will come to trust that no matter what it is that we are going to face, he can count on me to protect him and I can count on him not to dump me on the ground. It don’t always work that way, but that’s what I’m shooting for.
Yesterday, one of my riding students when for a long ride. It was her first time to get any distance away from the barn and we had a blast. Took her to see some country she had been to before, but on foot, and she agreed it was much nicer getting there by horse then by hiking..
My neighbor Mark caught up with us during the ride. But got there about the time we were finished. We gave him a lift back to the barn in the truck. After Deb had left for home, Mark and I got to talking about natural horsemanship, and why neither one of us like the term. I told him that I was writing a paper on why I did not like the term. He suggested I send it to Western Horseman magazine. I’m pretty sure they would not like what I was writing but thank him for thinking it was important enough that they may listen. Anyway, I will share it with you all when I get it finished.
Sense I did not get much of a chance to ride with Mark I suggested that we do a little something with his horse in the round pen. Mark is always up for learning, so we did. I showed him Al Ragusin double rein method. He thought it was great and just in a few min. you could see the difference in his horse. I think he is going to give Al a call and see about getting the equipment, so he will have it at his place.
Ted and his boys!
Today I’m taking one of my riding students on a long ride. Well long for her. We will be horse back for a couple of hours and will see some Indian ruins and some petroglyphs. This ride is sure a pretty one so I’m excited about getting to take her.
This country, we live in here in New Mexico is so rich in history. I guess that’s pretty much true about any place in this country, if a person just looks around a little, and I really enjoy showing people places and things that I have seen and I know that they too would be interested if they just knew. So if you ever want to come to the ranch and ride for the day or for a few days, I hope you will contact us. We have a bunk house and a place to keep your horses and it’s affordable.
Am continuing to work with Casino and Tim on collection. They are both doing a really good job and making good progress.
Today is suppose to be a beautiful desert morning so should be a great ride. Kathy is starting to get things in the garden. We just got a ton of stuff from town that she planted yesterday. She loves that stuff and I love to eat it..
Time to get after it, but first, coffee.
Mara and Mackie
I say this a lot at clinics and when working with folks here at the ranch. I got to thinking, “I wonder if folks know what I’m talking about”? So, I’ll talk a little about that this morning.
Because we are humans, we think that we should have everything NOW! That holds true when it comes to horses. We want them to learn a skill or exercise, and we want them to learn it now. For example, I want my horses to lower their heads when I go to put the halter on or the bridle on. I teach this skill by putting pressure on their neck just behind the poll and between the ears. When the horse lowers his head I will take the pressure off and rub him and tell him what a good boy he is. I will do this a few times but not any more, till the next day or when it’s time to take off the tack. I chip away at this skill each day everyday that I handle the horse. Over the course of time, it becomes second nature for the horse to lower his head when I hold the halter open or when I ask him to take the bridle.
I have done this the other way where I EXPECT the horse to do it NOW! And I have learned that if I do that, it will just take longer to get the horse to where I want him to be. Don’t get me wrong. I want the horse to do the exercise or skill, but once he does it, I don’t ask again till the next time. This way the horse never resents being asked and once he figures out that once the halter is on it’s over, he will hurry to find the place to put his nose so he can get back to what he was doing, whatever that was.
So, with horses, take your time. Chip away at things you are having problems with, and you will find that in no time at all, the problem will just go away. Besides if you are in to big a hurry to enjoy the time you have with horses, you may be better off taking up model trains or something else.
You’ve heard me talk, or write, about the need to be consistent with our horses and a training program, but often that can be hard cause we get a little bored with what we are doing. Trouble is, we get to thinking that our horse is getting bored when, in reality, they are just fine. I don’t know about your horses but mine can stand in the sun and sleep for hours and not get bored, but it's hard for me to stand and watch them do that. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that in order for our horses to get the most from our program, no matter what that is, trailer loading, hobbling, collection or just basic control on the ground, we have to stay with our program and not stop and go on to something else, because we are bored or just want to do something else.
For example lets take trailer loading. It could be anything that you are working on really. When I am working with a horse on trailer loading and he has figured out how to get in the trailer by himself we will work on that everyday for 5 days. Now that does not mean that we won’t do other things, ground work for example, but I won’t add a ton of stuff until we have finished the trailer loading program. Once he has finished that program I will add more to his education, but I will work hard at not missing a day during that program if I can, and most of the time I can, he will never forget it and trailer loading is never an issue again.
Don’t let your boredom be the reason your horse does not learn a lesson as well as he can or will. What I hear from people who are having problems with their horses is usually the horse just can’t get it, won’t get it, his breed prevents him from getting it. I rarely hear owners say, I really need to spend more time with my horse and work on this issue.
So stay with it. Stay with your program, no matter what it is, and if you spend enough time, the magic pill, you will see the result that you want and your horse won’t forget it.
Working with Mara!
Had a good day yesterday with Casino and Tim the Gray. Some folks may wonder why I am working with Tim, isn’t he a finished horse? And that is a good question. We talked about this at the clinic. To tell you the truth, I have never owned a horse, and I have had my share, that didn’t have something that needed to be worked on. Tim is a great horse. We got Tim because he was bucking people off and he was headed to the sale barn, which meant he was heading to the end of the trail. Kathy and I saw something in Tim. He was good on the ground and was not a pushy horse. So it took us a year to finally get the owner to call us back, but she did and here we are. Like I said, Tim is great, but he still needs help in some areas and that’s what we are working on.
We are getting really nice emails back on the clinic and how much everyone learned, in spite of the weather, and they are talking about doing something again before the years is out. Kathy and I are looking forward to that.
We have a private clinic coming up in a couple of weeks and we are pretty excited about that. I hope that we will have pictures of that too.
One thing that keeps coming up, weather doing clinics or private lessons, is the need to be consistent and take our time when working with horses. I often tell folks that horses don’t wear watches and their concept of time is not the same as ours. Having said that, I also tell folks to take a watch or a clock to the arena when they go. I do, and the reason I do it is I don’t have a very good enteral clock. So I will be working a horse and think to myself, “I have sure been at this a long time” only to look at the clock and realize that I have only been working at it for 5 minutes or so.. Most of the time it’s me that gets tired way before the horse does, or I don’t give my horse the chance to rest like I should. So wear a watch or do what I do and get a big clock you can hang in the arena or round pen, and let your horse rest as long as he works, you won’t believe the difference it will make in your horse.
Sue using the double reins.
At our clinic last weekend, I shared with some of the folks there a method of teaching the concept of collection to a horse and rider. It is a method I have used for the past several years and I haven’t found anything yet that is better. It is a method I learned from watching Al Ragusin on t.v.. Al lives in east Texas and had a great act called Al’s dancing horses. http://www.dancinghorseshow.com/
I have not shown this method to many people because some folks get the hair, on the back of their necks, in a wad when they see you use any sort of device to teach a horse to collect. Trouble is with about 95% of the horse owning population is they don’t ride well enough or have good enough hands to teach the concept of collection to their horses. So, they spend, some of them years, trying to get their horses to collect and it never happens. They bring their horses to me asking for help, which I am happy to do. In less then 30 days I have taught the horse how to collect and the owners are tickled.
The method that Al had developed over the years is simple. Almost to simple. People just don’t believe it when they see it. I have recommended Al’s method to other more advanced students who really want to learn and they have really enjoyed the process and the results in their horses. I guess enough of them have called and bought Al’s double rein system from him that he felt compelled to call me yesterday. I have purchased Al’s double reins a couple of times so he had my name on his list, but I never expected him to ever call ME… What a treat to get to talk to him and to hear where he has come from in the horse world.
He called to tell me that if I wanted to use his name as a reference that I could. Now first of all, Al did not have to call and he sure did not have to offer me his name if I thought it would help us make a living, but he did. That’s the kind of guy that Al is. He really wants to help people with their horses, just like Kathy and I. So check him out, and if you have any question you can sure call him, he don’t mind or feel free to call or email us.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.