Have you ever heard the saying: “Good things come to those who wait”? Well good things come to horses who “learn” to wait. Patients is a skill that horses have to learn. Like us, they are not born with it. So how do I teach my horse this skill? Another good question.
The best way I have found, and countless others over the eons of time, is to tie our horses up. This is a method of teaching the horse patients. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you go out today and tie your horse to the rail and expect him to lick this skill off the fence. This, like every other skill you will teach your horse, will take time. Some horses figure it out faster then others. Some don’t like it at all at first. So, you need to prepare your horse to “learn” to stand tied. The last thing you want to do it take a horse that has been standing in a stall all night long, feed him sweet feed, which I think you should never do, and then take him and tie him to the rail. That’s like giving a kid two or three candy bars and then trying to make him sit in a chair. It’s probably not going to happen. So how do I do it?
I usually will tie a horse to the rail for his first time, or for the first time that I tie him to the rail, after we have worked. In other words after he has worked, round penned, or ground work, or work from the saddle, and I know that he would just like to stand still for awhile. He is more apt to see the value in being tied, and left alone, if he wants to stand still. Then I will find a safe place where I can tie him. Don’t tie him to a fence that is made of panels. A tree is usually not a good idea either. I have seen horses run off with a panel fence and a tree tied to their halter. Don’t tie him to a low rail like a hitching rail next to the barn. I have seen horses end up over the top of the rail, upside down between the rail and the barn. I can’t tell you enough times: Make sure the place you are going to use to tie your horse, is safe and secure. I then use some sort of tying device. The “Clip” is the one I prefer. http://www.smarttieproducts.com/Default.aspx I don’t get paid to tell ya that, they are just the best that I have found. There are several way to use the clip so make sure you read the directions.
The Clip allows you to tie your horse up, but also allows the horse, if he gets nervous or scared, to pull back to the end of his lead rope. I have found that most horses when they pull back will not pull back very far. Once they get a little ways away from the rail and realize that nothing is going to hurt them, they stop pulling. Now some folks wonder why in the world I would let any horse pull back and get away with it. First of all I don’t want to break the horses neck or hurt him in any way. The friction that is created with the clip makes pulling back difficult, but not impossible. Once a horse does this a few times he realizes that it’s just easier to stand there and relax.
The first few times you tie your horse up, don’t leave him alone, and don’t tie him for long periods of time. You can work up to longer time on the rail once he gets better at being patient.
I spent yesterday with my buddy Mark, working with a horse that he just got, teaching the horse to pack.
In my experience, horses don't usually have a problem with packing the pack saddle and panniers. It's not much different, I guess, from packing a riding saddle and a rider. The part that is usually a little trouble, is the noise that the stuff in the panniers make. That noise can spook a horse, especially if the horse has never heard it before, and that was the case with Mark's new horse.
Notice in the picture that Mark has just taken the halter off his horse and is starting to walk toward the gate. Look at the horse and his ears. See where they are? Yep, thats right, they are looking back, if you will. See, Mark tied on some plastic bags to the saddle, helping the horse to get use to noise and movement from behind.
In the picture to the left you can see the horse toward the end of our session with him. His head is down and he is not the least bit concerned about all the stuff he is packing.
Sure you can just take your horse out, put a pack saddle on him, load him down with whatever you're going to take on the trip with you and hope for the best. Folks do that. But, the results are usually a wreck. Prepare your horse for what you are about to ask or do and you, and your horse will get along a lot better.
It's always a pleasure to work with folks that know their job. The owner of these cattle, Phil, has been a rancher or a rancher's son, all his life. To watch how he cares for his stock is a beautiful thing. His children, or at least his oldest, cause she is the one I worked with, has that same love for what her father does.
In the picture above you see my buddy Mark, closest to you, then Phil, the Boss, and then one of his hired hands driving the cattle to the pens.
Once we got the cattle to the pens we loaded them up on the truck and hauled them about 45 min. to their spring pasture. We could not get all the cows and calfs on the truck, so when the truck dropped off the stock we, Phil's daughter and I, had to hold them up. What that means is we had to keep them together. See, there were calfs that were delivered in the first load, who's mothers were still back at the ranch. They get pretty nervous without their moms. They have the tendency to wander off looking for them. If you let them go there is a chance that they will go thru a fence or worse, get eaten by a coyote.
Well it took the truck about 3 hours to make the trip back to the pens, load the remaining cows and calfs and make the trip back. In the picture above you can see the cows and some calfs up by the water. It took them about 3 hours to calm down and relax. We still had calfs that did not have their moms with them yet, wander around the whole time. That gave us, horseback, something to do, but there is a lot of time for thinking and enjoying the job.
Yesterday found Car, my horse, and I helping our neighbor out, gathering and moving about 80 mother cows and their babies. In the picture to the left, Car and I had gathered our country and started out with a few. In the next picture by the time we were done we had a hand full more cows and were heading to meet up with the rest of the herd.
It's been a while sense I've had a chance to help with this years branding or gathering or anything ranch related so I was really happy to be back in the saddle again, as they say. Most of you may not know but I've had some serious back trouble here the last several months and I was a little worried how it would go. Walking, no big deal. But I was really worried about how it would handle a full gallup. Well, it wasn't long before I would find out. We had a calf quit the herd and head back for home. Well, let me just say he did not head home at a walk. Car and I were hot on his trail when he made a sharp turn and left me and Car jumping over rough ground. Phil, the boss, came about that time and got a rope on the little guy and we ran him back to the herd. Had another one get away but I was able to get around him and head him back in the right direction, without having to rope him.
Once we got them to the barn, we loaded them up on a truck to take them to their spring pasture. We couldn't get them all in the Pot so Phil left his daughter and myself, with the first load to hold them on water till they could get the rest of the herd loaded and delivered.
I know that most of you may never get the chance to cowboy, and for that I'm sorry. There is nothing like working with your horse to get a job done. For both of you to get home, tired, thirsty and hungry. And, to know that you both got a job done. A job that you wouldn't have been able to get done, had it not been for your horse. I hope that for those of you that have dreamed of cowboying, that I can share with you my experiences.
More to come.
Yesterday I asked readers, that use a pedestal, to send me some pictures of the work they are doing.
Sue, a friend and a student has been using the pedestal longer then I have. In my conversation with her, she reminded me of how good this type of work is for the horse physically.
It provides the horse with a great stretch over the horses back. This work, coupled with an exercise call the obeisance, can really provide a horse with a great stretch over his top line, and the older our horses get the more important this could be for them. I will try to get some pictures of the obeisance so you can see what I'm talking about.
Getting all four feet up on the pedestal does not have to be a big deal for any horse, as long as the pedestal is big enough that the horse can find his footing easily. I would not suggest trying to get a horse up on a small pedestal until he has mastered a bigger one. then would him up to the smaller. Doing it this way will billed his confidence in himself, and you, and will help him to build the strength he will need to keep his balance.
Give it a try and keep sending photo's of you and your horse.
I think that it's happened to all of us that have a horse. We want our horses to progress faster then they are. I use to feel that way too, back in the day, as they say. Who are THEY any way?
Anyways, I use to feel that same way until I realized that my horses were not progressing as fast as I wanted them to because of ME! That's right ME! I realized a long time ago that horses don't wear a watch. They have no concept of time, other then when it's time to eat, which to a horse is all the time.
See, I was the one in a hurry. Once I slowed down and gave the horse just a little extra time to figure things out, things got better for me and the horse, and I got things done a lot faster. I started to apply a lesson I learned from playing the mandolin. The lesson? Slow is smooth. Smooth is Fast. The slower I work with horses, the smoother I am with them. Horses like slow and smooth, and they seem to learn a lot faster when I practice those things.
I have been working a lot on pedestal work with my horses. Getting a horse up on a large pedestal is not a very tough deal, but getting one to put all four feet up on a pretty small pedestal, as you see in the picture, will test your horsemanship and your ability to communicate with your horse.
I continue to learn a ton every time I work with my horses an the pedestal. Give it a try and let me know how you get along. I will post pictures here of those of you doing pedestal work, and your stories if you send them to me.
I haven't visited my blog in some time now. Have been on the road playing music, trying to make a living, like everyone else I suppose.
I found this picture yesterday on the computer. It's Kathy with a horse we use to own. His name is Hiawatha. We brought him here from Kansas 10 years ago. Kathy and I are fixing to go for a little ride and Kathy is checking him out to make sure he is ready for the trip.
Yesterday, I worked with three of our horses in the round pen. Did some pedestal work with Zeb the Black and, some tandem round pen work with Dickens and Pete/Soroce. Everyone did great and I'm starting to learn more and more about this circus type work.
Hope you are spending time with your horses too.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.