Ha! I know what your thinking. "They aren't called feet". Your right, but there are lots of folks that read my blog that don't have horses but probably, at least I hope they do, have feet. But your right, it is called a hoof. But maybe if you can think of your horse's hoofs as you would your feet, you may better understand what I'm trying to say.
I do my own shoeing. I'm not that great, don't claim to be. The reason I do my own horses is because I can't afford to hire someone to do it for me. Years ago, I use to have a cowboy fella I know, do my horses. At the time I was having 6 horses shod every six weeks or so. He was charging me $60 a horse, it's more now. So you can do the math and see it was costing me a bunch.
I told my shoeing friend, Dean, that I just could not afford to have them done any more. He told me that a guy like me needs to know how to shoe his own horses. So, he spent sometime with me, and taught me the basics. The big thing that he taught me was to shoe the foot. In other words, don't try to change the foot. I got to thinking about that, and one day I was looking at my boots and realized that the wear pattern on the left is different then the wear pattern on the right. That's when I understood what he meant. I've knowns some pretty good fairer's in my time, and I got to talking to them, and they have told me that, that's just what they are trying to do.
So, just like you and I have different wear patterns on our cowboy boots, so do horses. As a matter of fact, my left foot is bigger then my right. So, when I buy boots I have to fine another boot, same kind of boot I hope, that's a little bigger.
Most folks I know don't do their own horses, and I would recommend that most people have someone take care of that part of their horse. Just like you probably would have a qualified person take care of your horse's teeth. Unless you're a dentist by trade, then you may what to give it a go. Just kidding. But, there may be some of you who have the "want" to learn how to do a little stuff on your own. I don't see anything wrong with that.
This week I sure did a lot of talking about a program for your horse and you. It don't have to be some big deal or hard to do. Just have an idea of what you want to accomplish and then, figure out a way to teach your horse just a part of the process. For example, one that I used this week, getting your horse to catch you.
Remember we first just wanted to get our horse to look at us, pay attention to us. Then, we let the horse rest, one thing that a horse needs to be comfortable. Once we had our horse doing that pretty good, we would ask the horse if he wants to come closer, by, backing up each time he took a step toward us. Then, would the horse be willing to follow us around the pen or round corral. Each piece of this process makes up the program. But you can't get the horse to "want" to catch you, if you can't even get the horse to look at you.
You can, and will, find lots of things on the internet on how to do this or that. I have a way, I'm not saying it's the only way, but it's worked pretty darn good for me and lot of other people who were willing to give it a try.
I'm always looking for ways to improve my horsemanship. I hope you are too.
Remember: If you want a better horse, your going to have to be a better horseman. Takes a little work, but it is so worth it when you see your horse "want"..
Yesterday we were talking about what comfort means to a horse. Horses want two things, food and comfort. A horse will forgo eating in order to be comfortable.
So, How can we use that knowledge to help us get along with horses? How can use that knowledge to train our horses? All good questions.
Let's say, you're having a hard time catching your horse. You have tried all the tricks. The halter in the bucket of feed, so that when the horse puts his head in the bucket you can slip the halter on him. That, by the way, never worked for me. Anyway, all the tricks have stopped working and you can't get your horse caught. You have seen me work in the round pen and you think that you could "teach" your horse to catch YOU! How will knowing what your horse needs, help you to catch your horse?
Ok. Let's say that you start working with your horse in the round pen. What is your goal? Your goal, in the end, is to have your horse come to you. But in order for that to happen you have to have some smaller goals. Try asking your horse to look at you when you back away from him. If he does, and he will if you stay at it, let him rest. A horse needs two things? Do you remember what they are? Well, I'll help you. The big one is rest. So, if, when your horse stops and looks at you, you back away and let him rest, he learns that if he will give you a little of what you want, you will give him a lot of what he wants and needs, rest, no pressure. Now, let's say that he takes a step toward you. Perfect, now you back up another step. What happens? You take the pressure off of him and you allow him to rest. It won't take long, and your horse will figure out that, if he will come to you there is a whole bunch of the stuff that he needs. Rest.
It's funny but, it seems to take a lot for us humans to come around to our horse's way of thinking. For some reason, we think that they should come around to ours. Just so you know, that's never going to happen. This simple concept of rest, will change everything for your horse, and will give you all the things you want, that's right want, from your horse.
Coffee time for me..
If you listen, your horse will tell you what he needs. They are not like us in this regard. Most of the time I can sure tell you what I WANT, but, what I need is something completely different.
So, your wondering: "How in the world can I know what my horse needs"? Well, to start with, you need to forget what everyone out there in the equine industry is trying to sell you. Most of what's for sale is not needed by the horse. Trouble is, if you don't buy it, use it, everyone around you looks at you like you're a BAD horse owner. I know, sometimes they look at me that way. So how do I know what a horse needs?
Let's start by taking a look at what we do. We all, or most folks, like to see their horses clean and shiny It's true they are sure pretty. But, wash your horse, with whatever it the latest greatest product. Then turn them out in their pen or arena and.......... What happens? They lay down and roll in the dirt. Why did they do that? They did that, cause that's what they need to be comfortable. We think they need a bath, but they don't. We do that, the bath, for us, not for them. There's nothing wrong with that, but we should call it what it is. Makes us feel better, but the horse needs something else all together. The list goes on and on, the things that we put on horses that they don't need or want.
So what does your horse need? Your horse want's to be comfortable. But he wants the comfort he understands. What is that? To be left alone. Horses want two things in life, if their not a stallion. They want food and comfort. A horse will forgo eating, in order to be comfortable. But a horse comfort, or what a horse sees as his comfort, is standing quietly with his or her, herd mates. Swishing flies off of each other. It's that simple.
So how can you use that knowledge, to help you get along with your horse, and teach your horse?
A program, implies that you have a process, a method of doing something. In this case, it's training a horse. So what program or process, do use when you are working with your horse? Most people I come across, with horses, could not answer that question.
The answer to that question maybe, and usually is, a little different, or a whole lot different for folks. I truly believe that the horse does not really care. What the horse needs if for the trainer to be consistent, even if it's not a very good program or process, as long as the human will keep doing the same thing each time, the horse will figure out what they are after and will do his or her, best to do what is asked.
So that means that, the easier we make it for the horse to understand what we want the quicker the horse will learn what we want and respond correctly. So how can you make your program, or process, easier for the horse? The answer lies in understanding what the horse really needs. Horses are pretty, black and white animals. Their needs are simple. But, most people don't have a clue what this is. They, the human, has what they want to happen fixed in their minds, even if the horse doesn't have a clue. For example: If you want to teach your horse to lead, follow you, and the horse has never had a halter on, you could tie the horse to the bumper of your truck and head off down the road. True, the horse will learn to lead, and you could call that a process or leading program, but we left out what the horse needs. I've actually seen folks teach their horses to lead this way.
But, what if you taught the horse, before you put a halter on him, to follow you around in the round pen, a round pen program. Then when you put the halter and lead rope on the horse, you walked off. Chances are good, that if your round pen program is a good one, the horse would start to follow you. Not pulling or dragging his feet, but willing being lead by you. See the pulling your horse by the truck will work, but if we can show the horse the he will get what he needs, if he gives us what we need, him to follow us, he will really want to try and figure out what we want, in exchange for what he needs.
What does he need? More stuff to talk about tomorrow.
I often hear myself saying things like, "it a process", "it's a program". So, I got to thinking that some folks may not have a clue what I'm talking about. Most of my cowboy buddies would tell you that they don't use a program or process, but they do. The difference with someone who rides a horse for a living, like a cowboy, is, his living is the process or program. For example: I talk a lot about trailer loading and that I have a trailer loading program. A day working cowboy has a trailer loading program. My program last 5 days. The cowboys program last the rest of the horse's life, or as long as he has the horse. See a cowboy will load his horse 2-10 a day. It don't take the horse long to figure out that the trailer is a good place to be.
However, for those of you that don't ride a horse for a living, you have to give it more attention. Here at the barn for example, I have only seen one horse trailered in the 2 months I've been here, and we have 23 horses. So trailer loading just doesn't happen much in a horses world, unless we are using them everyday for work.
So, we need to have a program to teach our horses what we want, and need, them to do, trailer loading just being one example.
So, what should my program consist of? Good question for Monday.
Dicken's mom stopped by to see him yesterday. It was good to see Norma. I got Dickens from Norma just before I took over Harmony Boarding Stables. She got to missing him and thought she would take a drive from Deming NM to rub on him.
Norma and I have worked together with another horse that she has a couple years back now I guess. And, we have become good friends. She was looking for a place for Dickens to be, and I was happy to give him a home. He has become Starr's project and Starr too, thinks the world of the horse. It was good to spend a little time with Norma. She seemed very happy with his new home, and she's talking about coming back and riding with us some time down the road.
This morning Jeep had stuff to do in town so Starr and I worked on some of her riding skills with Car, my horse. Starr is learning to post the trot, which can be a painful learning experience. There's a lot going on in the posted trot that you don't realize. Takes time to get in rhythm with the horse and, while you are out of time, your backside pays the price. Starr started to figure out the timing to the trot and, by the time she was done, she was starting to get the hang of it. Still has a sore backside, but it will get better.
Patty, one of my readers, noticed that I have not been signing off with "Coffee". I have coffee, but often by the time I get finished with chores, it's a little passed coffee time. But not today.
This morning Jeep and Starr rode their horses for the first time. These horses have been ridden before but Jeep and Starr were aproching these horses like they never had been ridden.
Starr has been waiting for this from the time she saw this horse. We did not do much. Mostly teaching Starr to focus on where she wants to go and letting the horse follow her focus. We rode in the round pen today but that's probably the last time we will ride in there. We will move on to the arena and get started on the second phase of the horse and riders training.
Jeep did great as well. The horse that he is riding is a horse that I have 90 days of training on but that was several years ago. I'm the only one that has ever ridden this horse, up till today. Jeep is learning to focus to and learning how to use less to get more. Jeep is amazed at how little it takes to get the horse to do what you want him to do.
We are off to a good start and looking forward to more.
Was a good day of training with Jeep and Starr. Both of them are starting to see the value in the little things I teach, and why they matter so much to me.
Jeep is starting to understand how to turn down his energy level to help the horse to settle, and Starr is beginning to understand why it's so important to keep the horses attention always focused on her, when she is working with him.
They are also beginning to develop their own rhythm to their work. Starr is still trying to get extra credits but is finding that she doesn't need to work that hard to get them.
I was asked what to look for in a horses conformation. How can I tell if the horse if fat or fit? This question is not so easy to answer, and my guess is, your will get as many answers and people you ask. People are looking for certain things when they are looking to buy a horse. A certian breed of horse wants certain things to be there. For me, I look at the horses mind. What was his or her mother like, if that information is available. What about the father of the colt. Those things can give me and idea of what the horse will be like but will not tell me everything. I don't pick my friends on how fit or fat they are. I don't pick my horses based on those things either. I'm looking for a well behaved horse that has "want". The want to learn, the want to try.
Yesterday I put on a trailer loading demo for the folks at the barn. The turn out was less then I would have liked but I know that folks are busy. However, the folks that did show up were very happy with the demonstration and felt that they learned a lot. I had one fella there, Kent, who is not a horseman and does not really care that much for horses, but wanted to learn how to teach a horse to load in a trailer. He said that he has often seen people trying to load their horses, and could tell that something was wrong, but had no idea how to help. I had him load the horse that we were working with. This morning he told me he was surprised how easy loading a horse in a trailer could be.
Jeep and Starr were both there for the demo, and I had Starr load our demo horse in the trailer a few times. And, this morning she is putting that horse in my trailer loading program. Jeep is putting Soros in the trailer loading program as well.
I can't tell you how excited it was, for me, to see, even the very few that came, enjoy what they were learning and they all asked really good questions. I'm looking forward to seeing these folks out with their horses, which I saw this morning, working and becoming better horseman. Cause, remember, If you want a better horse, your going to have to be a better horseman.
Coffee is still on
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.