We had some rain a few days ago and it gave me a chance to work on the arena footing. I have a ways to go to get it to where I like it, but it's a lot better after this last working.
We got a new horse in here at the barn. A fella and his wife from up north. He will be brining a couple more horses next month, so that will be good.
Morning have been in the 30's but I'm not complaining. Espicially when I see the weather other folk are having. It warms up nice, in the 70's so no complaints.
We found Bonita, our donkey, a new home. She will be keeping a horse that I work with a couple years ago, company. We are very happy that she could go there and be of some use.
Have horsemanship lessons with my new student Hylan this morning, so looking forward to that.
The picture above is from the conner of the barn when the sun was coming up. I know that all you folks have wonderful sunrises and sunsets. So, not trying to compare just thought you might like to see what it looks like from the barn.
I don't think most folks know, but my wife Kathy, is one heck of a hand when it comes to horses. I learned the principles of horsemanship, that I teach, from her.
We got a chance to see her work with Dickens the other day, and it was a wonderful thing to behold. Kathy cannot do as much as she use to, because of a back condition she has. But, when she feels up to it, she loves the chance to work with horses. She has a soft way about her, but can be firm when she sees the horse's need for it.
She is joy to watch and it is a real treat to see how the horses react to her and her work.
She is a real hand!
Sitting here this morning trying to come up with something to blog about and, coming up empty.
Was pretty chilly here this morning. But, is already starting to warm back up. I think it's suppose to get into the 70's today. I can do that.
So, if there is something that you have always had a question about but, were afraid to ask, now's the time.
Hiland is making really good progress with horses. She is learning how to become a leader in the eyes of the horse and you can see her confidence coming up. Yesterday she worked another horse and did a great job and today I will video tape some of it and try to get it up here on line. Not sure how that's going to happen but will give it my best shot.
I have received some really good feed back from her parents and her grandparents who are here visiting us. They all say, they sure wish they would have known about these methods of working horses when they first started out. Good thing is, Hiland will get the chance to have a good start with horses and, if we are careful, she won't have the bad experience that so many young one have had with horses.
First, let me start by telling you where "not" to buy a horse.
Unless you are a very experienced horseman, chances are pretty good you're not going to find what you or your child needs, at an auction. I know guys that have, but they were hands and could fix just about any horse that came along. Some of the best horses I have ever owned I got, cause they were bucking their owners off. I got them cheap, fixed the problem and had a great horse after. But, most folks looking to buy a horse for their child, or for themselves for that matter, probably don't have the skills to get that done. So, where do you look?
If you are buying your first horse or a horse for your child, get help. Someone that has been around horses and knows what you're going to need. A good safe horse.
Don't let price of the horse be the determining factor in looking for a horse. You can find horses all day long for between, $200-500. But, I will bet ya they don't have much, if any, training on them. Remember: Green on green, makes black and blue.
Don't buy a colt with the idea that the colt and your child can grow up together. It just don't work that way. I remember a fella that did that for one of his sons. The boy was mostly scared to death of the horse and when the dad came out to the barn to saddle the colt when he turned 3 years old, the colt kicked him in the chest and sent him to the hospital. The colt ended up at another home.
Look for a horse that is older, and has experience. I was talking to my buddy Skip, who is here visiting from Montana, and he told me that he use to go and buy horses that were, for the most part, wore out in the minds of the pros that were using them. They were to old to compete, or at least win, and the owners needed a place for the horses to go. Skip said that he could get them at a good price and the owners were happy that they were going to a good home. He would mount his kids on a horse that had experience, skill and, know that the horse had other skills that would keep his kids, for the most part, safe.
Bottom line: If this is your first horse or your just not sure, get help.
Jeep and I have been working with his project horse on some pedestal work and yesterday he was able to get his boy to put all four feet on it. Not once, but twice. Now I know that probably don't sound like much to most of you, but it was a huge step for both Jeep and the horse. This is only after working with him in three sessions. Jeep did a great job.
While working with Jeep and the horse, I realized why it's seems harder to those just starting out with horses and training, of any kind. For example: When working with Jeep, we talked about how what we want, and what happens, are usually two different things. Jeep could see his horse standing with all for feet on the pedestal but, did not see how to make that happen. So, in the process of trying to get the horse on the pedestal he either was out of position or, had the horse out of position. I showed him a few things that the horse was going to need to know, in order to do what he was asking.
See, all the things we ask our horse to do are really made of a lot of little request. For example: If i want my horse to pick his foot up, on his own, how am I going to get that done? See, he has to pick his foot up to put it on the pedestal, and, the front feet are easy, it's the back feet that are the challenge. So, how do you do it? Well, here's how I do it. I start by tapping on the horses hind leg, or any leg that I need him to pick up, with my stick or a dressage whip. But, I do it very, very gently. When he moves, any at all, I stop. Then I ask again. Again, gently. The minute he picks the foot up off the ground I stop tapping. I don't stop tapping until he picks his foot up this time but, the second he does I stop. See, the stop tells him he did the right thing. Me leaving him alone after he does it, is his reward.
It takes a little practice but, the better you get at it, the better your horse will do the trick.
Sorry no blog yesterday was under the weather.
So your child has bugged you enough that you are ready to go out and find him, or her, a horse. What should you look for? Who should you go to for advice or help?
The biggest mistake I see parents making when buying a horse for a young person, or someone who may not be young any more, but who is inexperienced is, they let they're checking account determine the horse they buy. I understand the reason for this, but it's one of the biggest mistakes you will ever make when buying a horse.
I always tell people, when they are shopping for a horse, to have the owner ride the horse so that they can see him move and how he acts, or reacts, as the case may be. Then, ask yourself: "How much is this horse going to cost me in hospital bills"? If your answer is say, five thousand dollars, then take that five thousand dollars and go buy your kid a horse that has a some training and experience.
But, you say, I can get a young horse, say a colt, and let them, your child and the colt, grow up together. Big mistake. There is a little saying that goes something like this? Green on Green makes Black and Blue! I have seen this happen over and over again. The result is, the child gets hurt, or you, the parent gets hurt, by the young horse that has no experience with humans. The horse gets the blame and ends up at the killers or someone else ends up with the horse cause you can't do anything with it.
So have someone you trust help you find a horse. Be willing to spend a little money to get a horse that won't hurt you child or you. Say a horse that is older. Even a horse in his twenties can provide you child with a safe a rewarding experience. True, he may not be around to many more years, because of his age, but your child will be. Then you can look for a little younger horse the next time, depending on how well your child is coming along with horses.
More about where to look for a horse on Monday!
The best place I have found over the years, to get a young person, or any other person for that matter, started with horses, is teach them how to work with a horse on the ground first. There are several things that happen when you start this way.
One is, if taught properly, that the person will realize a lot more about the horse then if all he does is ride. He will learn what the horse need from this relationship and, the young person will realize how to give that to the horse. In the picture above, my grandson Matt, is working with a horse that I had their at the barn in training. Matt learned how to move a horse around in the round pen and in the process, his confidence grew and he realized that he could get this large farm animal to do what he asked.
The horse learned something too. That even a little person can be his leader. Matt was a good student and it wasn't long before the horse was following him around the round pen and they were good buds.
This may not be something that you feel you have the skill or knowledge about. No worries, there are folks around that would be happy to help you out. Just make sure they are qualified. Heck if you want to come to see us in Tucson Az, for a visit I would love the chance to help you out.
Depending on the age and mental maturity of your child, working on the ground may be all that he or she, can handle right now. And you know, theirs nothing wrong with that either. I love the time that I get to spend with my horses, teaching them new things from the ground or just reviewing what we already know.
In the picture above, Matt and I are talking over what he has been working on. Matt is a great student and worked really hard to work with this horse.
In this picture, Matt has the horse following him around in the round pen. The horse wants to be with Matt and Matt, has become the leader in this herd of two.
So, the ground it a great place to start with kids and horses. It's fun and informative for both the horse and the young human.
I've heard some, when trying to impress me or others, that they were riding horses before they could walk. That may be true, but my guess is they were being held by someone else when they were riding that horse. Having said that, you can never start to early to get your kids around horses. Heck, it's never to late to get your kids around horses.
I think that it's important that we not put our kids in a place where they are afraid or unsure. Kids are all just a little different about things. Some have no fear, no matter what it is you put in front of them. Others are a little shy about stuff and don't just jump in with both feet. You know your kids, you will know how best to handle that.
If you aren't a horse person find someone who can give you a hand with introducing you and your child to horses. It may be a neighbor or a stable that can help you out with that. Then, TAKE YOUR TIME. Don't rush your kid or the horse. Give them both time to get to know each other and start to feel comfortable with each other. Some horses are nervous around little kids. They may have never seen one before, and because they are short, they just don't see them the same way they do an adult.
Now I've seen some pretty young kids riding, on their own, so don't underestimate your child. I remember day working for a fella that use to live up the road from us and when I got there he had his three kids with him. Two boys and his daughter. The youngest was five years old and sat his own horse. I was impressed to say the least. He stayed with his Pa and he worked the entire morning, just like the big boys.
If you take your time and make your child's first experience with horses a joy, maybe he can be one of those that can say, he never had a bad experience as a child. More tomorrow.
Kathy and I have some friends from Montana here, Skip and Sue. Sue and I were talking the other morning over coffee, about her kids and horses. She thought it would be good for me to talk about kids and horses, and how to get them started right, so that they don't get hurt right off the bat.
When talking to older folks about their experience with horses, those that have come to the barn to watch me work or just in conversation, almost all of them have had a bad experience with horses, when they were young. Everything from, the horse ran off with me, to the horse bit me, stepped on me, bucked me off, the list goes on and on. That got me to thinking. I know dangerous, but none the less, thinking. I wonder, how many of them would still have horses or would be open to having a horse, if the experience they had when they were young was different? A good experience. Well for the most part we'll never know but I tell you right now, most would not consider having a horse or ever riding again.
So, how do you go about, at least trying, to make your child or your grandchild's experience with horses a good thing and not something they will fear the rest of their lives?
I hope it's a little better now, but maybe not, we use to just put our kids up on a horse and tell them to kick to go and pull to whoa. My buddy Jeep, who's here helping me in the barn, said that his dad would send him out to exercise his race horses. Jeep did not know how to saddle a horse when his dad sent him out, but he figured it out, and did as he was told. He'll tell you he's just glad he survived it. I guess that, that probably still happens but I'm guessing it's not the best way.
Anyway, I thought that this week I'd talk about getting your kids started with horses and maybe in the process those of you who have had a bad experience with horses in your childhood will think about giving the horse another chance.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.