What next? Well, that's really up to you and your horse. Some folks are satisfied with how their horses are and don't see any need, or reason to change. Others see, in their horses, that there are things that they would like to see changed, for the better. Still, there are others who see the possibilities. The things that they and their horses could do, or be. So, it's really up to YOU!
The horse I ride most of the time is Car. No, that's his name, Car. I came across Car once in a land far, far away. That's suppose to be funny. He was in need of help and my father, God bless him, got hold of the horse. He, the horse, had, had no training to speak of and had sent his last owner to the hospital in an ambulance, after kicking him in the chest when he tried to put a saddle on him. Anyway, there are things about Car that I love and admire. Having said that, there are still things that I would like to see he him do, become. He is smart and willing, and a good mate, as my Aussie friends would say. So, even tho he is what most folks would agree is a well broke horse, there is so much more to him.
He and I, are working on the spanish walk. I want to teach him some dressage moves to impress the folks that do that sort of thing, but really, those things are good for him, mentally and physically. We are also working on some pedistal work that I am learning from Allen Pogue. See, I've had Car for close to 12 years now, and I can still see, in him, and me a lot that we can do together.
So, again, it's up to you. You may not believe this, but in this blog, I have given you the secret to becoming a horseman. And if you put your heart in it, to become a great horseman. What I wonder is do you know what it is?
That's a great question and so glad you asked it, seeing's how I was going to talk about that.
In this picture to your left this horse is confused. He's trying to go to his right when it's to his left that I want him to go. What do you do? Just relax and take your time. Notice that my right hand is starting to point in the direction I want him to go. I will just keep pointing in the direction I want him to go and I will move to his right. Pretty soon we are going to be at that panel behind him and I will be in his way, so he can't go to his right. The instant he moves in the direction I want him to move I will put my hand down - showing him he did the right thing - and will let him lunge around me, going the direction I asked.
Another way you can do it, and I have, is just stop. Just stop and start over. Point in the direction you want your horse to go, make sure you're not in his way and encourage him with a cluck (or kiss) and then if you have to, use your stick or, in the case of the picture above, the end of my lead rope.
The important thing is don't get upset or frustrated if your horse does the wrong thing. Chances are pretty good that he just doesn't know what the right thing is yet. Give him time and he will figure it out and will allow you to be the leader in your herd of two.
In this picture the horse has it figured out and is heading off in the direction I asked for. Take your time and enjoy working with your horse.
So how will the horse know he's done the right thing? Another good question! Remember that a horse want's two things. Food and comfort. He will forgo eating in order to be comfortable. So in this picture I'm letting the horse rest. I try to let him rest as long as he worked. So, if it took 5 min. for him to figure it out, and he does, I will try to let him rest next to me for 5 min. He soon learns that being with me - the leader - is a lot better than all the other stuff he's been doing. It's not long until he will let you be the leader, cause you are fair. As long as he's doing the right thing, you will make sure he gets what he wants. Comfort.
So, how do you get a horse, in this case a stallion, to understand that he doesn't have to fight, that you won't hurt him? First he has to learn that you are the leader of this herd. How will I do that?
Well, how do horses do that, among themselves? It's pretty easy actually. The way that horses establish themselves as dominant is making the subordinate horse move their feet. How do they do that? Let's use, as an example, two horses at the feed bunk. Let's say that both horses arrive at the feed bunk at the same time. How will the dominant horse make the subordinate horse move away from the feed so that he or she can eat first? The first thing that he will do is pin his ears and lower his head. This is his way of warning the sub horse that he needs to clear out. The next thing the dominant horse will do if the sub does not move, is bite the horse. If that don't work he will wheel around and kick the horse.
Now I know what you're thinking. I can't pin my ears or bite a horse not to mention kick him. And, you'd be right. So, we have to teach the horse that the cues we are going to use - our body language - is going to substitute for the actions of the horse.
So, I substitute their cues and body language with three simple cues. I point in the direction I want the horse to move, I cluck to, or kiss to, the horse and then the third thing I do is use my stick and string to "bite" if you will, to motavate the horse to move in the direction I have asked.
I'm teaching the horse that "I'm" the leader in this herd of two. He understands that because I'm making him move his feet. I decide which direction he goes. I decide how fast he goes and, I decide when he stops. In a horse's mind, that's what dominant horses do. He understands that cause that's what he would do if he was in a herd and he was the dominant horse.
This picture shows the horse moving in the direction that I asked. At first, because they are not sure what is expected they may get a little confused and try to turn the other direction. What do I do then? I'll tell you tomorrow.
Every now and then, a horse comes along that has not had a very good start with humans. Could be that humans did not do right by him with they started working with him, or it could be that the human just never worked with him at all, and so, has no idea what is expected of him. He thinks he's the leader and has no reason to think otherwise.
Well, a while back, I had such a horse come to my barn. He was 5 years old and a stallion. Now when I say the word "stallion", most people get all nervous. They think that a stallion has got to be the toughest horse in the world to work with or gentle. But, that's not been my experience. Here's why.
Stallions only have a couple things on their minds. Food is one, comfort is another. But for Stallions they have one other thing on their minds and that's breeding. Mares on the other hand only think about breeding on occasion. After that has been taken care of by the stallion, they have no use for the stallion. They, the mares, worry about the stallion trying to hurt or kill their colt after it is born. That's what happens when horses are in the wild. So, long story even longer, stallions don't have many friends. As a matter of fact, they have NO friends. Mares only want him for a day or so, then they will kick the, you know what, out of him if he comes around. Other stallions, if they are in a herd in the wild, will fight each other to get to the mares. So, really, the stallion spends most of his time on the outside of the herd. No one wants him around.
So, when a stallion comes to me for training, the first thing he thinks is I don't like him either and all I want to do is fight, just like everything else in his world. So, it takes time for the stallion to accept you as the leader. Some are harder than others.
He really wants to get along, he just doesn't know how to do that.
In the picture to the left, this stallion is starting to understand that I just want to get along and get to know him. He is still pretty nervous about the whole deal, you can see that in his posture here, but he does come around.
I'll talk more about how that all happens tomorrow.
When a person is riding alone, a lot, or is trying to work on and exercise or skill, sometimes it's hard to see what you are doing wrong. And, it's equally hard to see what you're doing right.
I have been doing clinics and giving lessons for a while now, and often I will tell a student that he, or she, is doing something wrong. Take a look at these pictures. I was explaining to this student that he was not sitting straight in the saddle. He said that he did not think he was doing anything wrong. So I took a couple of pictures so he would be able to see it himself. For the hour of his lesson he was convinced that he was sitting the horse and saddle as it should be done. No amount of me explaining, or telling him that he was tilted would convince him.
It wasn't till I emailed him these pictures that he would admit he was not setting properly.
The reason I bring this up is to encourage you to work with someone that can help you, not only see the things you need improvement on, but also the things you are doing right.
Their have been so many times, when working with a student, that I will tell them that they are doing a particular skill or pattern well. I will ask them, "Did you feel that"? "Can you feel that"? Then, in that moment, they know that what they did was correct. They then will look for that feel again, so they know they are doing it right.
There are a lot of really good horseman and women, out there. So, if you feel you have reached a place where you could use some help, get it.
Remember: If you want a better horse, you're going to have to be a better horseman!
Some of you may have been wondering, where the heck did he go? I have been out for a few days helping Kathy with a show she was doing. So I apologize to those of you that read my blog regular.
Last time, I was talking about the SPOT device and that I had to use it one time to help someone out.
There were a fews guy hunting just north of our house, about 4 miles away. A young man came to our back door and told us that one of his friends, the hunters, had an accident. That the man had broken his leg and they would need a helicopter to get him out. Well, I jumped on the four wheeler and followed him back to the place where the accident happened. When I got there the man had a compound fracture with the bone of his leg sticking out. I turned the spot on and placed it close to the injured man. I left them some supplies and headed back to the house to see if anyone had arrived to help. Now keep in mind, we live out in the middle of no where.
By the time I got back to the house, first responders had already arrived. See when you turn the SPOT on for 911 help, they will call the contacts you have in your SPOT. So they called Kathy, sent her a map of the location of the SPOT device, and she had taken the map down to the first responders. Unfortunately they could not read a map. So, I took them to the man that was hurt. It took a little while, but a helicopter arrived, using the SPOT information that SPOT had sent them.
To make a long story even longer, the man got out, with the use of the helicopter. Lost his leg but lived to hunt another day.
So if you ride alone, or even if you ride with someone in an area that cell phones don't work, do yourself, and those that love you, a favor and get some sort of device to help keep you safe.
To late for coffee.
I have spent more time riding alone, then riding with someone. Mostly because of the location of our place on the ranch. Not many folks on the ranch ride, and those that do may ride once a week or so. And of course, when you cowboy you spend the better part of that time, on your own looking for cattle.
So, if you find yourself in a similar situation what should you do? Well, when I am riding a young horse or, just a horse here in training, I ride just about everyday. And, where we have our place in NM, cell phones don't work. What I would do is let Kathy know what my plans were for the day, and what training trail I was going to take. Kathy has been all over that ranch and has ridden with me when I've been on those trails. So, she knew where I was going to be and, if I did not get back in a reasonable amount of time, she would at least be able to tell the search party where to start looking. We did that for a few years. Then I discovered a device called the S.P.O.T. You can look them up online www.findmespot.com The device does not cost a lot of money and the price for the service is really inexpensive.
The SPOT uses gps satellites so you don't have to count on cell service, which as I mentioned does not work on the ranch. It makes it possabile to check it via an email that is sent. With that email Kathy would get my gps coordinates and a map, where she could see where I was at the time I sent the message. If I had a little trouble, but did not need a rescue, I could hit a HELP button. That would send Kathy a message telling her that, it was not a life or death deal, but I could use some help.
Of course if things went really bad, there was a 911 button I could hit that would contact a control center in Huston TX, who would in turn contact the first responders in my location to come look for me.
I have never had to use this device, other then, to let Kathy know where I was. I have had to use the device to help someone else, and tomorrow I'll tell you that story.
Well, another week has come and gone. The weather is starting to really cool down. Kind of chilly in the mornings but warming up to the 80's and 90's in the afternoon.
We have slowed down a little working with Jeep and Starr. Jeep, in the picture above, had some surgery done on his right hand and can't do much for a week or so. He still comes out to the barn to check on the horses.
Starr had a ride last night with a couple of the ladies that board here. She had a blast, she said, and, is looking forward to the next time. It's always nice to get to ride with other folks. You can learn a lot from experiences like that.
Riding with someone else is also safer. Not that they could do anything to help you if thing go south with your horse, but they would be able to get help or help you thru a tough spot on the trail for example. Starr was telling me that they went under a bridge. Well, she was riding my horse Car, and I'm pretty sure Car has never gone under a bridge before. But the other girls and their horses had. So, they took their time and Starr and Car were able to navigate that obstacle without much trouble.
You can't always ride with someone. So, you have to be careful and have a plan. Lots of folks here have cell phones and if something goes wrong, they can just call for help. There are other places I have ridden, where cell phones don't work. What do you do then?
If you remind me, we will talk about that next week.
When I first came to Tucson, it was hot, I mean way hot. 104-112 most everyday. Folks here at the barn were telling me that it will be really, really nice, come Oct. or Nov. Well this morning was an incredible morning here at the barn. Pictures won't do it justice but will post one for you all to see.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you folks that read my blog. All of you that LIKE and SHARE my FB page and for stopping by the new Harmony Boarding Stables, FB page as well. There are a lot of other things you could do with your time then to read my ranting, but I thank you for doing so.
The first of Oct. marks the end of my second month leasing this barn in Tucson, and marks the beginning of my third month. But you have already figured that out, cause you're really good with math.
I have a new student here at the barn. Her name is Lori and her horse's name is Tess. Lori really loves this horse, but has had some issues with Tess, running over her. She is enjoying what she is learning and it's the first time that she has really understood, what she is doing, and why she is doing it. She has had a lot of lessons at other barns, but told me, no one ever really explained how the horse felt about what was going on. Knowing that, she says, makes being Tess's leader easier. Lori is learning what Tess really needs, and is working hard to give that to her.
Had one of the other boarders ask for my advice with her horse. So, I think that some of the boarder, are beginning to see that I'm not a bad guy, and, just because I wear a cowboy hat doesn't mean I'm mean to horses. Some are starting to see how important it is to me, that they stay safe. We all want to do this till we drop, so being safe, all the time, is the only way we will be able to.
Coffee today. I don't know what all the fuss is about tea!
Mornings start pretty early around here working with Harmony Boarding Stables. The staff is up before the sun clears the Rincon Mountains to our east. There a plenty of horses to feed, water and clean up after, so there's never a dull moment.
I've been working with Starr, one of the staff here, and her project High Noon/Dickens. We started out on a trail ride a few days ago and the horse that I was riding had not been ridden in, probably 3 years. He was a little wound up. I suggest that I take my horse back to the barn and do some work in the round pen. I felt that I would get a lot more done there then trying to force the issue out in the big wide open world. They agreed and went on with their ride.
Well, to make a long story even longer, when Starr got back from the ride she was a little concerned that her horse would not stop when being asked, and pretty much tried to do whatever he wanted. Now, whats interesting about this is, Starr said that before, before she met me and started to think about horsemanship and not just riding off into the sunset, she would have just let the horse do what he wanted to do, and, hope they made it back to the barn.
So, we are working on some things in the arena and I'm sure that we can get her horse fixed and going the right direction.
I talk about Intuition Control, Trust when working with folks on their horsemanship. These three principles of horsemanship, have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. I learned them for the grandfather of a very good friend of mine in New Mexico, Heidi Saunders. I think that maybe it would be good for us to take a look at the principles and see how they can and will help your horsemanship. Tomorrow!
Time for some tea.. yep tea.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.