I can't find a picture of Kathy with her horse. She is the one who takes all the pictures around the outfit. The only one I could find was this one with her prize cantaloupe. Anyway, this past weekend we put on a little clinic in Deming, NM. That's not that big a deal, and it's not that big a deal that Kathy was there, and helped me. What was a big deal however, was Kathy rode in the clinic. Now your thinking to yourself, "so?" Well most folks don't that Kathy has not ridden her horse, or any horse for that matter, in nearly three years. Now that is a big deal. Folks that know Kathy know that she suffers from back and leg pain. The reasons are complex, but she found a medication that she is taking for her legs, and it has made all the difference in the world. She has been feeling better and better, for the past few months and when she got home from taking care of her family in Kansas, she started talking about riding. I can't express how proud I am of her. Before I met Kathy, she was bucked off a horse and they thought she had broken her back. They told her that she would for sure never ride again, and probably would not be able to walk. She fought thru all of that. When we met she was not riding, but wanted to, so we started really slow, just a few minuets at at time. She was doing great when she developed this back problem, and we both thought that she would never be able to ride again. We are both so excited about the time we will get to spend now horse back toghther. She was a little sore after her day in the clinic, but she said no sorer then anyone would be that hadn't ridden in three years... Paint me excited.
Today we get back to the colt and his education. But coffee first.
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Sorry so long in writing my blog. Have been in Kansas with family helping Kathy's mom. She got out of the hospital last night, so that's good. Will just have to see how she gets along. May have to go back.
Yesterday was a big day for Charlie. He had his first few rides. He did great. By that I mean he did what every other colts does that has never been ridden before. I think that we sometimes expect way to much out of these babies. All I really want is for a colt to pack me around the round pen. I don't expect him to know how to turn right or left, or how to stop, that will all come in time. As far as that goes, most colts don't even know how to go. That's why I take my time. I try to teach them a cue to move forward while I'm working with them on the ground. The cue that Charlie seems to really respond to is when I kiss to him. I use this cue for this very reason. When I am working with a colt alone I have to have a way to get him to move without kicking him, and this really works well. But in order for it to work you have to teach it to your horse on the ground. He did great, packed me at a walk and a trot, both directions and then toward the end of his third ride, we started to make more turns and added leg presssure. I won't ride him with spurs for several more rides. He doesn't need them right now.
Teaching the turn!
We will continue to work on his ground skills, adding new ones each time we work together and ride each day after those. Each day from here on out will consist of less ground work and more riding. We will be in the arena by next Tuesday or Wednesday and after a few days of that we will be out on the trail. I try to break up the arena work with rides out. That way we can practice the skills he is learning in school, in the real world.
You can do it!
I'll tell ya who I am very proud of and that's Charlie's parents. They realize that the best way to help this colt was to give him the magic pill, time. They have committed to ninety days of training for their boy, and it is going to make a huge difference to him and them when he goes home in Jan. This is something that most folks don't understand. It is best not to hurry these babies. If we can take our time and give them a chance to ease in to what we are asking, it is better for them physically and mentally.
I will use more of his pictures as we go along to show some of the skills he is learning and perhaps they will help you with your horses.
Coffee and then to work.
Had to go back to Kansas to check on Kathy and her family. They just took Miss Temple back to hospital for more test. Will be here for a couple more days to make sure she is ok.
Had one of my clients email with a problem with her horse not seeming to understand what she wants in the round pen. Horse will lope but will not come down to trot when she ask. Sometimes we don't let our horses work long enough for them to WANT to listen to us. This is really true if we don't get the chance to spend time with them or our time is limited. The fastest way to a horse's head is though his lungs. If you will just let him go and figure out, for himself, that he does not have to run around in a circle, it won't take very long to figure it out. It may take more time then we want, but he will figure it out if we give him the magic pill, time. She is going to give it another time and wait on her horse. stay safe out there
Folks have been asking, " What is the Colt's name?" To be honest I had no idea till yesterday. The owner, Anthony, called to check on his progress so I thought I better ask. When it comes to horses, I'm not one for names, I know you have to give them a name, so when you send someone to get them they know which one to bring back, but I really don't think that the horse cares very much. I never here any of them calling out the name of horses in their herd, but, your right, we're not horses. So I thought I better find out what this young fellas name is. Well his name is, Charlie. And to tell you the truth that name sure fits him. We had another really good day working together. Ground work continues to improve, he is taking the bit better and better each day. He is standing tied with our pawing the ground or pulling back and, he is loading in the trailer like a well seasoned horse. I put a foot in the stirrup yesterday and layed over his back and rubbed on him. He stood still like I asked him to do. Funny but there are times when a horse seems to ask you, to just get on, let's get this over with. That's where Charlie is right now. He is ready for the next step in his training and I think he is just about there. I am going to put his first few rides on him next week, when Kathy gets home. It is really a good idea, when you are starting young horses, to have someone there that can help you if you get in a jam. Kathy has helped me start several colts by being there to help the horse move forward if they refuse and lock up. That way all I have to do is sit the horse, she will do all the work to make the horse move. So next week should be a full day for the colt and me, and I know I'm looking forward to it, and to his continued progress..
Better get to it.
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colt jumping barrels.
Was another good day for the colt and me. We continue to work on his ground skills. He is lunging better, still pulls a little when he gets excited, but that will get better with time, and I added side passing down the rail yesterday. He did pretty good one direction, once he figured it out, but is having more trouble going to his right. This tells me that when we get in the saddle, if he don't have it figured out on the ground, it's going to be a fight when we start to ride that exercise. So, I will spend a ton more time on his bad side to help him get ready for the riding part. I say bad side, but I don't mean bad in a bad way. He's just like me, I do a lot of things better with my right hand then I do my left. If you wanted me to sign my name with my left hand, I could do it, but you probably would have a hard time reading it. Not a bad thing, just a thing. I could get better at writing left handed if I worked at it, and the same is true with the colt. We will just keep working on the side he is having trouble until he is better.
I have not mentioned the trust exercises that I'm teaching him between the exercises he is learning. Most trainers, that I know, would call these exercises, desensitizing exercises. I however, don't want a horse that is dull and not sensitive. What I do want is a horse that will trust me. That if I am around, there is nothing that is going to hurt him, no matter what it is. So I teach, at clinics and demos, these skills so that folks will have that same trust in their horses and their horses will trust them. Trust is the third principle of the three principles that we teach, and at time the hardest one to help people understand, but it's worth the effort.
Now time for coffee.
Yesterday was a pretty big day for the colt. He wore his saddle for the second day and he wore a bridle for the first time yesterday. You may notice that there is no saddle pad under the saddle. Because I'm not going to ride him with this saddle, I'm not terribly worried about having a pad. Usually for the first saddle or two, I don't worry about a pad, it's just something else to get in the way and it causes him no harm and makes the saddling process, at least for the first few, a little easier for him and me. But again, he had no problem with the saddle, and altho he was not sure what the heck I was doing, he took the snaffle bit with very little trouble.
don't taste like hay
In this picture you can see him gaping his mouth. He has only had the bridle in his mouth for about two minutes. As you can see he is trying to figure out what it is and what to do with it. There are all kinds of ways to get a horse to take a bit, some of them good, some of them not so good. You want to do everything you can to make the first time as pleasant as you can make putting a piece of metal in his mouth. Think about it. He has never had anything in his mouth, other then food and water. As far as he is concerned, that's all that's supposed to be there, so when he finds out it's neither, he is going to have questions, and you can see him asking it in the picture above. It did not take him very long to come to terms with the bit and realize he could not eat it and that it was not going to hurt him. I left him tied for several minutes, not asking him to do anything else but think about what had happened, and in no time at all he was ignoring it. Prior to this we had spent about an hour, doing ground work skills. He was jumping barrels for the first time and had no problem with that. That tells me that his courage and confidence continues to increase. These skills he is learning with me on the ground, will help him when we ride out of the arena in the future. There will be times I am going to ask him to step over a log, a rock, or cross water. I want him to learn that if I ask him to do something he can trust me that he is not going to get hurt. I try to expose colts to as many things as I can in a controlled environment, so that if things go bad he won't get hurt and I won't either. The more I can show him in the arena and expose him to, the easier it will be when we take our first ride outside.
He also got his first shower yesterday. Now I have had this discussion, in the past, about what we do with and to horses, thinking that we are doing it for the horse. But you all know that if you give a horse a bath and trun him lose in is pen, what's the first thing he's going to do? That's right, roll in the dirt. See, we think that they need a bath, they think they need to be covered in dirt. So a bath for a horse is for us, it's not really what they want, or need. So you may be asking. Why did you give him a bath then? And that is a great question, sense you know how I feel about it. Well, here is your answer. Water is a great tool for training a horse. How you ask? With water, I can touch a horse in places I may not feel safe doing with my hand. For example, if I am a little worried about a horse's back legs and don't want to reach down there and try to pick up his foot, I can use water to test the waters, so to speak. With water he can kick at it, if he sees the need, without anyone getting hurt, him or me. Water coming out of a hose makes a scary noise too. So you can get a lot done with water. I have used water to load wild horses that we needed to get in a trailer. It is a great tool, but you never hear anyone talk about using it as a tool. I share it with you so you can at least consider it when you have a horse you don't know or are not sure of.
Today will be more of the same. I am hoping to ride him for the first time early next week. He is still a little jumpy about some things on the ground that I would really like to have going better before I decide to get up on his back. I need, and want his first ride to be one that he at least, feels ok about. If something scares him when I am on his back, it could be bad for both of us. So if I can get him passed some of his concerns before we ride, then the ride will go much smoother, and that's what I'm after.
Now time for coffee.
Yesterday was the first day that the colt wore a saddle. This can be a pretty scary thing for a young horse, if you don't take a little time to prepare him for it. I have been perparing him sense he got here for this day with the ground work skills that I have taught him, not going to the next skill till he had the other skills down pretty good. By doing it that way, you are able to build on the horse's confidence and courage. He wore the saddle for a couple of hours, just walking around in the round pen, looking back to try to figure out what that thing was on his back, but never did he acted afraid of it, more curious.
He is loading in the trailer without any issues now and will finish his trailer loading program on Friday. If things go according to plan I may try to ride him later this week.
I usually start colts with a snaffle bit, but have at times started them in just a halter. Sense the folks that own him will be riding him in a bit I will start him in a snaffle. I will see if he is up for trying that out today and if so, will let him pack the bit around for a couple of days be for I put reins on it and start to use it. He will just pack the bit and we will do all his exercises still using the halter and lead rope. That gives him a chance to feel it in his mouth and get use to the feel before we start to use it to give him directions. It usually will only take a couple of days before the horse will become use to it and ignore it, for the most part.
Stan had his weekly riding lesson, and did a heck of a job. We have been working, really hard, on his focus. I could tell that he had been thinking about it all week cause the horse responded very well to Stan's direction. We spent time this lesson working on trotting. Stan did a pretty good job of it by the time the lesson was over. He felt that, if he had a longer trot, that he could get in the rhythm of the horses two beat gate. I asured him that he was right, but just starting out, I think it's best not to beat the student up with trotting for miles. Next week he will spend his hour doing nothing but trotting, and I'm sure he will get better and better at it...
Kevin on the job!
We finished up the cow works for my neighbor Sunday. Was a lot of riding but we got it finished. There is a little bit to do sometime this week or next, moving a small bunch to their winter pasture, then that will be pretty much it. Took Kevin the cow dog with me one day and he did a great job. Helped me get a cow down off a cliff and saved me from getting, myself hurt or my horse hurt. So pretty proud of him.
Tim the Gray.
Got a chance to drag calfs with Tim the Gray. This is the first time I have ever had a chance to use him in the pens to drag calfs. I have roped a little outside with him and he was fine, so I was excited to see how he would do. When we first got in the pens he was a little concerned about the branding pot, the fire. It makes a pretty loud noise, with the propane fire burning, but it did not take long for him to forget about all that, once we roped our first calf. He did a great job. Was quiet around the cattle and did not get in a hurry to take the calfs to the fire for branding. I sure look forward to doing more of that with him down the road.
I get the chance to work with some pretty fair cowboys as well. Some are full time cowboys, others are guys that work in town or have their own little herd, and do what they can to help their neighbors. They always have a story to tell, and three always seems to be time on the trail for tellen em!
From time to time I have the oppertunity to take folks that I'm working with on some of these gathers. If you think you would be interested in getting involved, let me know and I will see what I can do to get you in there...
Have riding lessons this morning so I better get after it.
Kevin the Cow Dog!
Was a good day gathering cattle yesterday. We were a little short handed but, like I told the boss, when you have good hands you don't need as many. That's suppose to be funny. Anyway got one large paster cleaned out and will work on the next one today. They were trying to hinde in the brush yesterday so I'm going to take Kevin the cow dog with me today. He is a heck of a hand, and good company.
Worked with the colt after the works yesterday. A little more ground work and trailer loading. Now I have to be careful about opening the doors to the trailer that he doesn't try to knock me over getting in the trailer, before I want him to. He is learning this lesson well, which will serve him and his owner for years to come. I hope to get a saddle on him next week and, depending on how he is handling all that pressure, try to get a few easy rides in the round pen. Then we can move to the arena and really start to work on some riding skills. We will still do the ground work, adding new things and twist to it, but it will be more riding a less and less ground work as we go along. He is standing tied pretty good. We will increase the pressure while he is tied as time goes on. Right now I just want him to find comfort in standing tied, and so far he is.
Need to get at it, but first coffee.
My neighbor and good friend Heidi rode her horse to day after about two years of not. She had some health issues, not to mention a new knee, hip, can't remember all the new parts she has. And she did GREAT! She is a very good rider and kind and gentle with the way she handles a horse. She really doesn't need lessons, heck, she rides better then me, I just don't want her to ride alone right now... I'm pretty proud of her..
Worked with the new colt again today. A little ground work and then loaded in the trailer. Now, all I have to do is open the door to the trailer and you can't keep him out of it. Just what I was hoping for.
Tomorrow I will start day working for my neighbor Pat. This is his pay day for the year. All his hard work of caring for his cattle will come to another end, and, another begining. He will get his cattle to their winter pastures after he gets his calfs shipped, and start to plan for the next year. This is always a stressful time for the rancher. He works all year for this hand full of days in the fall. When you day work, like me, you don't have the worry that he has, but you can sure feel for him, and that's why I do it. It's what neighbors do for neighbors. I will try to get pictures. I suck at that but will try.
A buddy of mine was reading my blog about spurs, and he reminded me that there is another reason for wearing spurs. So that you keep your jeans, that are to long for you, out of the dirt.. How could I have forgotten that one.. Thanks Billy.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.