Spent most of the day, yesterday, with Tim the Gray. He was trying to colic so I took him for a trailer ride most of the day. He seems to be fine this morning. He seems to be prone to this issue. It is about the 3rd time so far this year that I have had to work with him to get him passed this. No one, even the vets, know what really causes colic. Change of food, water, environment, weather. No one knows. We have gotten a new load of hay in last week but the other horses do not seem to mind it. So, who knows, just part of the deal when you own horses.
Worked just a little with Pepe yesterday on the ground so will ride him out today.
You’ll remember that my buddy Mark and I went on a scouting trip earlier this week with Casino, so here are some pictures of that trip…
Good day with Pepe. He worked in the double reins yesterday. I don’t have a picture of him but here is one of a good guy, Ted and his pony working for the first time in the double reins at a clinic we did this past spring.
As do just about every horse, Pepe fought the idea at first but by the time we were finished he was starting to get the hang of it. I will put him in the double reins this morning and then ride him out in them. I’m sure he will be just fine once he figures out the drill. We are trying to decide if Pepe is staying or going home this week. I really think that he is ready for home given what the owner wants to do with him, trail ride, but he will require more work, as they all do, when he gets home.
One thing that horses need it to know that a bad behavior is not acceptable. How do you teach a horse that bad behavior is unacceptable? Your back with those really good questions again. The way I teach this is, let the horse commit the bad behavior. When he does, then you can correct it. If you never let the horse make the mistake you will never be able to fix it or help him with it. That means you have to have a plan for what to do if the horse makes the mistake. All of the ground work exercises that I teach are designed to give you those tools. With a little experience you will be able to transfer those ground skill to the saddle. Once you figure that out you will be amazed at how much you can get done with your horses.
My neighbor, Mark and I went for a pretty long ride yesterday scouting for elk for the big hunt in Oct. I took Casino on this trip and he did really, really well. As you may remember he has been a little jumpy about stuff, so I was looking forward to seeing how he would do. Well right out of the trailer, we headed up the forest service road and there was a rattle snake. Not a big on, only about 2 feet long, but the snake was making that rattling noise, that can scare a man half out of his pants. Casino did not react at all. He just kept his head down and went along his way. My buddy Mark, has a little trouble hearing, well he has a lot of trouble hearing and he did not hear the snake at all.
A little further and there was a forest service crew out cutting down small trees. Casino was more interested in that but did not shy or spook. He just kept a watchful eye on them till we were past. Another mile or so and we came across a few deer, which Casino saw and just watched them move out. Then came the elk. Again, not a problem for him. I was pretty proud of him and Mark was pretty impressed. Mark has seen Casino from the day he got here till now and could really see the improvement in him.
Today Casino will get the day off and Pepe will start in the double reins. This is a process that I have talked about in the past that I learned from Al Ragusin from south Texas. It is a great tool to teach the concept of collection and away to really get control of a horse. We will start out slow in the round pen and work from there. He has been in the bungee reins a few time, on his own and now it’s time to add a rider to that mix.
Had a good day with Pepe and his owner, Laurie. We worked in the arena on controlling various parts of the horse’s body and then to the round pen to let him work in the double reins. I will start riding him in them come next week. Looks like he will be with us another month, which is good. We were thinking about having him stay another week but what happens is I’m under a lot of pressure to get him to a place that, I and the owner want him and sometimes that just does not work. The TIME crunch does not work with horses and seldom works with humans.
Off to day to take Casino on a pretty long ride into the national forest. The country it very challenging and should be a good ride from him and me.
Casino will be heading home the end of next week or the early part of the week after. His owner has decided to find a new home for him. Miss Jene is in her 70’s, and as much as she likes Casino, she does not need a horse she has to be on guard all the time with. If any of you are interested in a full blooded Arabian, who has lots of ability and would do well in the world of endurance, please let me know and I will put you in touch with his owner.
I was talking to Herb, of Herb’s Body Shop the other day and he said that his sweetie had him in the bunk house making Man Bars again. He said he was making Lemon Grass Lotion Bars and his girl had him working on a new sent Bergamot or something like that. I’m sure he will blog about this new flavor soon so check out his web site www.herbsbodyshop.com
Montana, our middle daughter, left her little dog pocket here while she is in the process of making a move. I just thought I would post a picture of her so Montana could see and we could share her with you all. She has been a hoot. I’m not much of a little dog person, but pocket has, well, gotten into my pocket.
This week will be a big day for Pepe. His owner Laurie will be here for the next couple of days. We are going to evaluate whether he should stay another month or if Laurie feels she can handle his education at home. Laurie is a capable horse person, but she is having some back problems that limit how much she can do horse back right now. So we will see how that all goes.
Pepe is making progress but he is a dominate horse. Dominate horses do not like to give up their place in the herd of two and really don’t like to be told what to do. It takes a kind, but firm hand when working with a horse like that. It with horses like this that folks watch me and wonder why he is acting like that. It’s always because I am asking and, I expect the horse to do what I ask. If he chooses not too, then there is just a lot of work for the horse. The horse does not like that and will try to get out of the work by pushing on your leg, resisting your leg. He will pull on the reins to try and take them out of your hand, spin and a lot of other things to get you to just leave him alone. It’s times like that you have to hold your ground, YOUR place in the herd, or it will take even longer. I’m pretty sure that when Pepe gets home he will not be asked to do half of what he is being asked here, which is a good thing. I really think that Laurie will get along just fine with him, but we all need to know where our horses comfort level is and either help him over ruff spots or know where those ruff spots are and try to avoid them. The trouble with avoiding them is one day you may not have that option.
Casino is getting ready for a big ride tomorrow. My neighbor Mark is scouting for his elk hunt in Oct. and we are going to ride some country in preparation for that. Will Take Casino on that ride. Casino is doing good. He is a hoot to ride. He is still a little nervous about life in general but that’s just who he is. I have friends who are like that. It’s just who they are and you either learn to live with them, if you can, or look for other friends.
Had a good day with the horses yesterday. I had to take care of some tire trouble I had earlier in the week in the morning so I waited till it got a little cooler last night.
Casino is doing fine, just Casino. He, as his owner Jene says, is a little different. He is just as sweet as he can be and then he steps on the water hose and just about jumps in my pocket. I really like this little horse, you just have to do a lot of thinking for him.
Pepe had a good session outside. It was his second ride outside sense he has been here. The first ride outside was a little scary. I did not have much control of him and I know I was just asking him for to much to soon. Last night was a bit different. He still had his nickers in a knot but toward the end of the ride he started to come around to my way of thinking. It’s just going to take him some time but I think he is going to be ok.
Tonight I start a workshop at the community center on musicianship and performance. I have had several folks ask if I would be willing to do something like this for awhile, so the community center is going to sponser me. Looking forward to seeing how that all works out. Will try to take pictures if I remember to take the camera…
How hard to push.
This happens a lot when I get new horses in. I will be working with the horse and the owner will say something like, “He never acted like that when I took him for a ride or when I work with him”. Your thinking what in the world is he talking about.
Horses usually come here when the owner knows that something is wrong or they feel, sense that something is wrong. They may not know for sure what the problem is, but they can just tell by the way the horse is acting that something could happen to set the horse off and cause him to buck or dump his owner. Or, he has bucked and dumped his rider/owner.
My experience is that the owner has gotten along with the horse because the owner had never asked the horse to do anything. Or, they have asked and the horse rebels by bucking, kicking, biting or a list of other things. The horse is not trying to be a bad horse, let’s make that clear. He is just being a horse and in the herd if a horse tells him to do something, and he does not want to do it or feels it threatens is place in the herd he will fight to maintain his place. Or, he does not KNOW what you want and is frightened or confused and is trying to figure out what you want. If in this process we stop asking, whatever it is, and the horse gets away with bad behavior, he thinks he’s done the right thing, and that’s what he will continue to do each time you ask him to do, whatever it is you were asking.
So the reason a horse will act up or throw a fit when I’m working with him is, he has gotten away with this behavior in the past and this is how he has reacted to get the owner to leave him alone. The difference is, I’m not going to leave him alone until he dose the skill, or makes an effort that I can reward, or changes his behavior.
Most folks do not know how hard to push their horses and so they don’t. When I say push I mean, apply enough pressure to get the horse to act or react. If a horse, under pressure to do something, comes apart and starts to buck or spin or a whole host of other things, I need to know that as a trainer and you need to know it as an owner. By knowing these things we can HELP our horse past his fears or help him understand his place in our herd of two.
Casino and Pepe continue to make good progress.
Matt my grandson!
Had a long day yesterday. I gave Casino the day off. He has been on some pretty good rides and deserves a day or two off out of the ordinary.
I rode Pepe in the arena. We are working on more control for him. He is doing better but has a ways to go. I was working with him teaching him to give to leg pressure. I teach side passing on the ground and use the rail to teach this skill. Once the horse understands this we move to the saddle. Pepe was getting the concept on the ground but when we went to the saddle he was good in one direction but would fight the leg pressure to the point that he would push harder against my leg and push till he had my leg penned to the rail. I tried to get him to understand what I wanted but it was going no where. So, I got out of the saddle and we did some ground work, focusing on yielding to that leg pressure. There are a few things that I have picked up over the years to help with this. We worked at it for about 5 min and then went back to the saddle to see if he had it figured out. He did better but still he was trying to pen my leg to the rail so I couldn’t use it. Then I figured it out. Using the same exercise I was working on the ground, I used the corner of the arena to get it across to him. He would yield his hind end when his head was flexed without issue. So when we crossed the corner of the round pen I tipped his head just a little toward the corner and asked him to just yield his hindquarters. When he did I let his head out of the small circle, he thought he was going to go in and when he drifted off my leg the rail would catch him and he would be standing by the rail. He was great on his good side, the other direction. I was not long before he was doing much better about yielding to my leg and not getting so excited.
He has a long ways to go, but is trying hard to figure out what the right answer is. The more he does it the better he will get at it…
After that I went to Deming New Mexico for hay. Blew two tires on the way home, not my trailer, had to have Kathy come and help me, so messed up her day. We finally got home around 5 pm… Have I mentioned how much I hate going after, getting, paying for, just about everything that has to do with hay??????
Flexing to a Stop!
One more day of Flexing, I promise.
Teaching your horse to flex to a stop is very important. If we have worked at flexing from the ground, and still are, and we are flexing when we get in the saddle, before we ask our horse to go forward or walk off, then flexing to a stop will come pretty easy. Why flex to a stop? There you go with those really good questions again.
Flexing to a stop teachs your horse a ton of things that, at the time, you won’t be thinking much about and your horse won’t either, but down the road flexing will come in handy. The way I teach this skill is ask my horse to walk off for a few strides and the put my feet forward, take a deep seat and then flex my horse to one side or the other until he, flexes and comes to a stop. I don’t turn loose of the flex until the stops and then softens. By soften I mean he will look back to my foot or finish the flex with a relaxed neck. Once he has stopped and softened I will flex him from side to side a few times each direction and then let him stand with his head straight for a few seconds. I don’t ask him to walk very far. I’m not working on walking; I’m working on flexing to a stop. It may take a little while but what will start to happen is, every time you put your feet forward in the saddle and take that deep seat, your horse is going to start to figure out that you are about to ask him to flex. It’s much easier for him to stop and flex, if he has his feet up underneath himself. So when you put your feet forward take a deep seat he will get himself positioned to stop so he can flex. When this starts to happen, DON’T FLEX HIM. What you have taught your horse is how to stop from the feel of your seat and legs and not with the reins. I let him stand for a bit, tell him what a good boy he is and then I will flex a couple of times and off we go again. This is the easiest way for me to teach a horse to WHOA that I know of and the easiest for the horse. You will want to do this at a walk a trot and a canter in time.
This flexing to a stop is a great tool for so many other things but I’m guessing everyone has heard enough about flexing, so perhaps another time. This flexing to a stop is a great if something goes wrong and you need your horse to stop NOW and relax. I can’t tell you how much I work on this with horses that come to me here on the ranch. I promise, you probably will not do this as much as needs to be done. But if will do it even a little, you and your horse will benefit a ton.
Kathy and I got home last night from a trip up north. Had a wonderful time but is always nice to get home. Montana, my middle daughter is still here with us and she took care of the place and the animals while we were gone. Was very sweet of her to do that. She will be leaving today. Not looking forward to that. We have not gotten to see her much over the years, so to have her here with us, well, is pretty special. Going to miss her.
I have had a few emails on the post about flexing, so I thought I would just continue for a bit with it.
We talked about flexing from the ground, and the value of doing that. Now lets take a look at flexing from the saddle.
If you have taught the skill well on the ground, when you start to mount your horse he will know that standing still and relaxing is his job. That means he will not walk off or try to move when you mount. I think that most accidents happen when people are getting on or off their horses. Here again is a huge reason to teach flexing. If your horse knows the skill he will understand that nothing bad is going to happen if he just remains quiet and stands. When I have my horse flexed to one side I will then start to mount. I will put just my toes in the stirrups at first and rise to the horses back with out putting my leg over. This way if the horse does start to move I can step off and correct the horse for moving. I correct by flexing the horses head to his side until he stops moving his feet. When he stops I reward him by turning him loose and rubbing on him. Remember, rubbing is relaxing. Then I start again. It won’t take long before he figures out what he needs to do.
When I am in the saddle I will keep his head flexed to the side, until, I have my off foot in the stirrup. Once I am securely in the saddle I will flex his head from one side of his body to the other without letting him rest in the center. This way it keeps him thinking about flexing and not about walking off. I want my horse to learn that just because I’m in the saddle does not mean that we are going to go anywhere. This teaches him to stand to be mounted and wait. Wait till I ask him to move forward or backward or to the side. His job is to WAIT!
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.