Monday, May 5, 2008

Maybe we're better trainers than we used to be?

I was thinking about this tonight. I put ride #6 on the VLC with my friends hanging out in the arena. (Unfortunately without cameras, sorry, I really am going to get more pics soon!) At one point, the VLC saw them (AKA the nice girls who do not feel compelled to sit on him) and so instead of circling away from them, he balked and tried to rubberneck the other direction. I opened my left rein and bumped him with the right leg and he gave up eventually. The next time I asked for a circle there, no balk. The rest of the ride, he was perfect. We trotted both directions and he actually wanted to trot at a speed faster than snail level going to the left so we did a posting trot. Wow, is he smooth! He is going to be a killer equitation horse - you barely have to rise out of the saddle. He was so good. Kept trotting several times around each direction without too many reminders and was surprisingly consistent toward the end.

He is just so smart. He's making this so easy on me!

Anyway, the little balking incident made me think. Twenty years ago, when I had no fear about a horse's reaction, I probably would have overreacted. I would have booted him a good one in the ribs, or smacked him with the little leather pony-beaters on the end of the reins. He would have jumped around and been scared and gone the direction I wanted. would have been totally unnecessary. You know, you don't need to beat them over the head with a hammer about every little thing. Back when he was cowkicking at the girth? Oh yeah, he got in Big Trouble about that - because it was actually dangerous. But there's a ton of little stuff you can work through with a lot less drama than you see a lot of trainers - my younger self included - apply. If you can fix the problem and still keep the horse calm and the head low, why wouldn't you do that?

Well, I guess it does not look as cool.

So, the thing I realized tonight is that despite having less of a seat and less balance and less guts than I used to have, I think I'm actually a better trainer today. I think I am using my brain more - because I have to - and that the experience I have may actually be more useful with a lot of horses than that velcro butt I used to possess. And I'll bet I'm not the only one.

Is this true for you too? Are you, despite age, despite loss of balance/guts/seat/muscles - a better trainer than you used to be? You know, if the main thing that mattered was having balls the size of Toledo and the ability to stick any buck, we'd be bronc riders - not horse trainers.


oneidea said...


The old adage "with age comes wisdom" has some truth to it, at least for me. I am, in most facets of my life, just less reactive than I was 20 yrs ago. Maybe I've slowed down... maybe I've wised up. All I know is that I'm a better trainer, coach, mom because, frankly, I'm less likely to freak out or overreact.

And if it weren't for the internet, I'd be a better employee too.... ;-)

oneidea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mugwump said...

I have become very, very calm. I have absolutely no anger, (I swear, it's true)at least towards my horses. God help my clients and students.
I can get in and whale on a horse that needs it and know exactly when to stop.
I also am much better at not creating a fight that doesn't need to be fought.
I read my horses better. I spot tension, pain, anxiety,and deal with it better.When I wa a kid I was oblivious.
I appreciate the wildness that comes with riding a good cowhorse. At my age I don't get to feel wild much.

OutRiding01 said...

This is definitely a very good point. A lot of my original experiences with training came from little shit head ponies that you had to "prove" yourself to, so it was necessary. I think a lot of the problems I had with my jumper (although he was such a great boy that there really weren't but one or two) came from me being too aggressive and him being very sensitive. Since I'm still young with a "velcro butt" I am probably guilty of overdoing it quite often. Since I'll be going home to a barn full of youngsters (I'll be putting the first ride on a VSF - Very Small Filly- in two weeks) this is something I will certainly keep in mind.

On a side note, we're still hoping VSF will still have a miraculous growth spurt (yeah right). She's a half sister to Margie Engle's Hidden Creek's Perin and is going to be a pony-sized grand prix jumper if she keeps it up much longer.

Sagebrusheq said...

Indubitably. With experience comes a little wisdom, hopefully; the ability to see a bigger picture. Regarding your specific example, one learns to overlook things that don't matter, that once seemed important, confident that they will either go away by themselves or can be worked on later.
For example, I had a poor session yesterday, at least I didn't accomplish what I set out to. He was more interested in some cows that had been moved to a new field than in me, not gaga but preoccupied. I stuck with it and tried to find a way around him, rehearsing the past and loading him up with things to think about but I could see it wasn't going any where. He didn't get the day off, but I was careful not to put a lot of pressure on him and called it quits when I felt my patience wearing thin, without getting much done. He's not a horse you can push too hard but once upon a time I would have done so and created the beginnings of a problem. He was happy to see me today without a hint of suspicion and I gave us a day off.


brat_and_a_half said...

I'm just starting out in my journey to training horses. I've been riding for just 5 years (I'm 18), but in that time I've been doing a lot of riding in and out of lessons, riden and worked with a lot of different horses and coaches, and have watched my coach work every horse she's started in the last 3 years. I guess it's because I don't have a pile of years under my belt, but every time I get to work with a horse that's difficult, I really learn something. I've seen my coach work through a lot of things, and most of the time we talk about them after the session, but it sinks in so much more when you actually are in the situation yourself.

I get to help start a 3 year old warmblood filly (one of my coachs horses) that I've absolutely loved since she was a baby. I did some showmanship stuff with her as a 2 year old, and am now doing some of the 'inbetween' stuff with her (lunging, tack, ground manners), under my coaches supervision of course (I would hate to do something wrong!!). She's been work 6 times now and we have her lunging with a saddle calmly with the occassional "What if I don't wanna work??!" and then back to "Oh wait, never mind. I'd rather work than go through that again."
Working with her (and other certain warmbloods and mares here lol) have really taught me to be more tactful, and less loud and persnickity about what I'm asking. Like today with the filly, she wouldn't trot with me in hand. So I backed her up. No she can't balk her shoulder at me, no she can't fling her head. But yes she can back up crooked, have her head above level, and move back at an easy walking speed. I get the result without having to dig into her hard. Because really, I'm just diseplining her for not trotting with me, not working on her back up.

Lol shut now. Anyways, I have a sneeking suspision this is going to go down hill when I get into college and I'm not working horses consistantly any more, but it's sure nice to see a new way, style, feeling, or whatever working with these young horses :P

Horsegal984 said...

Brat- It's a temporary loss. I had started two colts before leaving for college, the first of which was a 14.1h Paso Stallion. Who quite frankly I had no buisness training, as it was my first horse to train and he was a stud.

But anyway, I got back from school and started a few more horses, and yeah I was a little rusty, but I remembered what I had learned from the first ones. You might forget the details big the big concepts stick.

So actually had a good ride on PITA today, we managed to trot well for about 10 min each direction, and then after a break to catch both our breaths we cantered pretty uneventfully both directions. Got our cues and leads on the first try. Finally figured out what his balking issue is and why he was bucking and pitching a fit, he would do it everytime we were about to ride out of the shady side of the arena and back into the sun. Hmmm.... dark brown colt, bright sunlight, working hard, heat and humidity... yeah, he's being hot and lazy! I expect him to work out of it pretty well, especially now that I can predict where and when he's gonna react!

Latigo Liz said...

I KNOW I am. I am a better listener, and not just to other people, but to the horses. I thought I was a good student before, but I sucked. Now I hope I am catching every little thing, but I know I am not. Every new thing I learn I see 10 million more things that I still have to learn. That is the joy of working with horses!

Lythinae said...

Oh god yes!

I'm still stubborn to the point of stupid sometimes, I really don't like anything (not just horses) to get the best of me. It's like I can take a mental step back and just think a little bit more.

Like, I don't need to get on that thing a ride the buck out of it and go into it all gung ho (like I did as kid), I'm more likely to figure out why that behaviour is happening. I guess it's partly 'cos I understand more about bitting/saddle fitting/soreness issues, and partly 'cos I don't want to fall off a couple times a day anymore! Becoming a woos made me more sympathetic, or something ...

Mugwump, I so understand the part about not fighting when you don't need to! It's taking awhile (riding a green OTTB has help HUGELY! 'specially after my last boy, who was a big dumb warmblood in a suposed-to-be-TB body), but I did get there eventually!

which_chick said...

Sunday night I had a good ride on Project Horse, our planned little "trail ride". Friend and Sensible Horse came with us for moral support.

PH wanted to stop and eat the grass in the hayfield (we had to cross it to get to the dirt road in the woods), several times. I had to nudge her with my legs and jiggle the reins (still riding in a rope halter, learning more about bit and bridle will be this week's project) to keep her moving forward. The hardest thing there was mediating my correction -- PH is not a horse that handles overcorrection well. Less is more with her, so that she did the right thing W/O getting upset was a win for me.

On the goal list was "attempt a jog" which we did several times without incident. PH has a nice jog, didn't get sudden or excited or anything.

PH has brakes and fairly successful steering! Yay! Bending, not so much. We need to work on bending.

Anyway, it was a good start, if a short, easy ride. (Note to self: Rome not built in one day.)

We also crossed a tiny wee creek (with mud) and saw some ATVs zoom across the trail in front of us and walked past A Dairy Cow. All of that stuff happened mostly without incident -- she did give the ATVs a pretty good look, but her feet didn't move and she didn't assume the Ayrab Posture Of Imminent Death (the one where they plant the front feet and get rock hard and three inches taller).

It was good. I'd like to work on bit/bridle under saddle in the yard (bending and giving me her head to both sides, mostly at the walk, some figure eights and stuff) this week with possibly a bigger trail ride this coming weekend. Friend's house has a nice no-traffic trail that goes up a mountain for a mile and a half, then comes back down again. The trail itself isn't technical or challenging (a car can drive it) and it's wooded, trees on both sides, so will feel "secure" (for me) with a defined area to ride on. If we do that with some friends at a walk/jog pace, it'll be plenty for PH.

ellen said...

All of the Classical Masters tell us that horsemanship is in large measure a matter of mastery of oneself -- and I'd hope to be better at that at 50 than at 15!

There is also the matter of experience -- having handled many many horses between 15 and 50, I am much better at anticipating what comes next and dealing with it before it happens.

I also have far less to prove these days -- it's hard to have one's IDENTITY so closely wrapped up in horses without investing it with a good deal of EGO as well, but that, too, dwindles with age.

Perhaps there will be a magic moment, when the maturation of my tact and skill crosses the decline of my physical capability, when I will actually be GOOD at this.

LongBranchFarm said...

I know I'm a better trainer than I used to be. I have learned that getting mad does nothing, and if I get frustrated, to get off and put the horse away.

I rode my little brown colt last night, and he decided that the big red shed that has been there since the day he arrived was obviously harboring a Horse Eating Monster. When I was stupider, I would have forced him over there, and most likely ended up with a good fight.

Last night, I just started asking him for walk/whoa and circled him closer and closer until we were next to it with no big fuss. He then promptly tried to eat a tree...good to know he wasn't too upset. We stood there quietly for a couple of minutes, then I got off and in we went. That ten minutes of riding should have gone a long way towards his brain development. I'll let you know the next time I ride him.

Chezza said...

Yes....I am also willing to do alot more walk/trot work to get my horse in shape instead of...."okay we did that for a few minutes, let's go galloping". So my horse gets more straight and mroe balanced and her canter is coming together better b/c we are doing lots of trotting. LOL I would have said "OMG how could I fix her canter with a trot" in my younger days.

Heidi the Hick said...


I actually am a better rider now though, than I was as a teenager. Not as brave, nope, but technically better. And I've got a long way to go.

I feel I'm a better trainer now because I've done more of it, I understand that every rider is a trainer, for better or worse, and that I don't want to have to kick the snot out of my horse for every little thing.

What really did it for me was this:

Three years ago I was all stuffed full of antidepressants that made me dizzy. I didn't ride much that summer. Instead, I slapped helmets on my kids' heads, bridles on the horses' heads, and sat on the cement steps beside the barn while my kids rode around the corral. Bareback. I could not be bothered to saddle up. Besides, those little feet couldn't reach the stirrups.

The kids were 11 and 9. They weighed, like, nothing.

The fiery half-Arab who used to be my barrel racer was Mr Mellow. The 4 year old filly was next to perfect. The horses did not need to be man-handled or kicked or pulled. These little fart kids were doing a great job, even jogging from one end of the corral to the other. It was beautiful.

I had been trying to train them to light cues for the show ring, and also because I wanted to have fun riding instead of fighting. THis just proved it to me. Horses don't need to be bonked over the head. They get it.

I'm still tempted sometimes to do the old kick and grab. I have to remind myself that it just is not necessary... and that I know better!!

4Horses&Holding said...


A perfect example is when I was trying to get my mare to pick up the correct lead (story told in 'What Was Your One Moment in Time'). Back then, I just kept stopping her, and trying to cue her into picking it up. On a large circle. There was no physical need for her to pick it up, so I was asking her to do something "for no reason" (at least in her mind). It, of course, cumulated in her temper tantrum.

Now I would take her into a situation that necessitated a lead change, a sharper turn around a barrel, bush, cone, and cue at the time of the turn. That way she would begin to associate the lead change with the cue. *shrugs*


Also, the 'very bad mare' (story told on the training forum here), has an issue with occasionally backing if she doesn't want to go forward. Once upon a time, I may have booted her until she moved. I may have argued with her about backing up, trying to stop her and then asking for forward movement - which easily could have turned her reverse motion into "UP" motion.

The way I have handled it now, is through body weight, vocalizations, and a little bit of constant leg pressure. I don't care if she keeps backing for miles (well, really I do, but...) I'll keep up the 'pressure' until she goes forward - even a step, then immediately let off. It's worked beautifully so far.

When you are older, you don't want to fight with them. You know that it's possible that you can't stick on a horse as well, so you try to use less stressful methods, to keep the horse relaxed. It works out better all around.

In horse training, the fastest way to achieve good training is often the 'slowest' route.

4Horses&Holding said...

I've also learned that if I am in a bad mood - not to work with the horses, at least not in a 'training' mindset. If I am stressed or crabby or mad, I may brush them or pet them, but I won't ride them.

I can remember several 'fights' that I had with my poor, long-suffering mare (who's 'finishing training' was all from an unenlightened me), just because I was already in a bad mood. I wasn't as patient, I was already annoyed.... and you can NOT successfully teach a horse to sidepass (first memory that comes to mind) when you are impatient and wondering "WHY THE HELL DON'T YOU JUST GET IT, ALREADY?".

Francis said...

Ah yes.. with age comes wisdom? Not for everyone..

But at least I feel that I am way less reactive and think through problems with all the horses, not just the young ones these days.

It also helps that for the past three years I have been helping other riders try to "get a feel" and by simply talking about it, it has helped me be easier and clearer when I communicate with my horses.

Immediate, clear communcation regarding problems.. slow thoughtful communcation when I am asking them to understand something.

I don't know.. it is easier now .. or maybe its my way of not getting into a physical fight with somethign that weights over 1000 lbs. Or maybe, just maybe, I learned along the way that you get more when you ask rather than demand.

Ask me again whey my filly does something really stupid!

Sandy M said...

Oy! I had an interesting weekend with my VLC. Firstly, he's been quite good since January. We had some very discouraging rides last fall/winter that were making me reconsider the wisdom of an ol f**t (62) like me riding this BIG Araloosa 3-coming-4 year old. Hmmm.... but since January he's been very good. I trailer out regularly to two different trainers - a dressage trainer and a cowgirl (who started him for me). He was 4 on 4/19. Two weeks ago we lunged him out in pasture/on the trails, then I rode him "outside". He behaved quite well. SO.... I usually warm him up in our covered arena, then if he's being "good" venture outside to our "scary" outdoor. He's been quite good out there too. He's working nicely into the bridle, canter's pretty decently on the left lead. Takes the right lead readily enough, but is rather giraffe like until he sort of finds his balance and accepts the outside rein, etc. But this Saturday, I decided we should try to warmup "outside." I walked him quietly into the outdoor (no fence, by the way, just a low dressage railing). I was half-way down the long side and out of sight, but not out of hearing, came the pow!pow!pow!pow! of a nail gun! VLC went VERTICAL. In a split second, I thought, "I don't know how good his balance is...." and bailed. Ooof!! On my butt, fortunately (yes, wearing hard hat AND eventer's vest). He wheeled, and ran into the indoor(chicken!!) where he quietly stood munching the ivy. OOOOO0-Kay. I got my lunge line and lunged him outdoors as the nail gun continued its racket. He didn't settle entirely, but at least was responsive to my verbal commands after about 15 mins. So I took him back inside and rode him and he was good. I kept waiting for the nail gun to stop so I could venture outside again when he was worn down a bit, but it never did within the hour I allotted for riding him. Sunday I took him to his first show. I entered two W/T classes, but knew full well I might not even get on him. As was, indeed, the case. There were over 60 entries for the show, trailers coming in and out, ponies, kids, A-rabs, ATVs, music, loudspeaker announcements, etc., etc. I lunged him in the warmup before there were too many people there, and he was air born half the time. When he wa finally more responsive to voice commands, I snapped on a lead rope and took him i nto the show arena and did ground work with him there for about 30 minutes. I had by then decided that it was NOT, as Worf might say, I good day to die, so I scratched his classes, but kept him at the show for several hours, standing by the arena watching, tied to trailer, walking around warmup, etc. At least it was some exposure for him and a learning experience.

Gillian said...

Well I'm a 21 year old (without the velcro unfortunately) with the exact same tendency to overreact and I'm definitely a worse trainer for it. (Insofar as I'm a trainer in the first place, I have an internship with a trainer) My mentor is 60ish and he doesn't even raise his voice to a horse (major exception, rearing sometimes calls for yelling he says.) I've learned not to yell, I've learned to ignore almost all unimportant shenanigans on the lunge line and long lines. Under saddle its a different story. My uber sensitive, super hot arab gets a milder response most of the time, and she's come along the fastest. Everyone else gets waayy to much fuss I'm beginning to realize. Hopefully I'll be able to act on that realization without taking a decade or more.

bigpainthorse said...

Hmm, I sure don't consider myself a trainer, at least not on the level of many of the posters here. But in the sense that everything you do with a horse "trains" it in some way, I notice two big differences between the way I handle my horse now and the way I handled horses earlier in my life.

The first is, I'm much more attuned to what the horse is trying to tell me (er, you know, in the "I'm scared, I'm confused, I hurt" kind of realm, not the Friends of Barbaro "mystic visitation with a message" kind of realm). In my younger days, if a horse did something other than what I'd asked him or her to do, I just put it down to obstinance (because I was an obstinant teenager, what a surprise). Giving any thought to what had caused the reaction was just not part of my playbook back then.

The second is that I'm more willing and able to correct when necessary. Figuring out the right balance between "what's wrong, Horsie?" and "STOP IT RIGHT NOW I'M NOT KIDDING" is pretty much a 40-year-long lesson.

LittleBit's Mom said...

i am hoping to become a great far I have only gotten the horse after it's "broke" I get to start my first and my only personal horse this year. Blog Site just started:
I am hoping to take a little of what I learn from everything I read and apply it where I can. I am hoping that being 30 something and just doing my first will allow me to have matured enough to make MOSt of the right decisions where Little Bit is concerned. I sure know the ground only gets harder the older you get! I am not looking forward to meeting it intimately (again) in the future! LOL! If any one would like to follow please pull up a chair and mosey over to my page and give me their 2 cents worth! Even if I hit the ground It will be on there!

animageofgrace said...

When I was young I was taught to kick, spur, whip my horse when it spooked. Sure enough I ended up with horses that would spook and then run because they knew what was coming.

When I started riding Western an older wiser trainer taught me to not overreact when my horse spooked. We were able to make the spooky object our happy place by working at the other end of the arena and resting as close to the spooky place as possible.

I now have a horse that when she spooks at something she stops, looks, then walks towards it to check it out. I much prefer that ride as opposed to the spook, spin and run I had created in all my horses growing up.

As I've aged I have learned to make my way the easy way. When something does go wrong the first question I ask is what did I do wrong?

animageofgrace said...

I think the best advise the wiser trainer gave me was "Ride the horse you have each day." That means I have to give up my agenda. If my horse is dropping her shoulder on the day I planned to work on lead changes, I have to fix the shoulder issue first. It might be the only thing we get accomplished that day, and that's OK with me.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>When I was young I was taught to kick, spur, whip my horse when it spooked. Sure enough I ended up with horses that would spook and then run because they knew what was coming.<<

I was taught to smack them for they would trip and then bolt. Yay, GREAT combo. Good grief. You know, because no one teaching me knew anything about collecting them and getting them off their front end so that they don't trip in the first place!

Sandy M, I would say that bailing was a VERY wise choice. I would have done the same!

Anastasia said...

Nothing to do with this post, but I recall your guy is girthy.

QueenSkankarella said...

I think I've mentioned before that I've been cursed with having had an amazingly bombproof horse for years. I think that having a green mare is making me a better rider, as there are some things that she does that I've never had to deal with in the past. I'm still getting my seat and balance back, and I've turned into an absolute chickensh*t in the meanwhile, but on the whole, I'm calmer and more patient about the whole thing in an odd sort of way.

Funny how that works.

Sandy M said...

Here's a pic of my VLC. This was taken last November. He was about 16.1+ then. He's about 16.2+ now, and is beginning to fill out more:

His sire is under 15 hands, but his dam is 17h.h.+, so I don't know how big he's going to get. String test says 16.3, but I've found there's about an inch of wiggle room either way on that.

barrelracingmom said...

Yes, I too, definitely agree! I even think I would have been a more patient parent if I were to have children now. I have found that I am able to differentiate between the times harshness is needed and firm encouraging is needed.

I wish I had the balls like I had back then, though!

fssunnysd said...

I listen better than I used to, at least I hope I do -- at very least I try harder to think about the "why" of the reaction I get. But it wasn't until I started handing the babies from foal up that I noticed the change in how I was going about things.

Dealing with older horses whose origins are uncertain you never know exactly why you're getting the response you do -- but when it's a baby I've handled from birth, that negative/positive reaction to [insert cue here] may very well be my fault either way.

I know that I don't want a big reaction, so while I may work up to waving scary things around in hopes that they no longer find them scary, I'm a firm believer in baby steps!

Plus, as someone once said to me, "Arabs have memories like elephants." Haven't yet found that to be untrue, however it's applied!

blondetherapy said...

LOL You know, you are starting to sound more and more parelli-like.
**Duck and run for cover*** LOL
Congrats on the good safe and smart ride!

horsesense102 said...

I am glad Fugly is beginning to learn some good horsemanship methods, and hopefully some other people here who admit to 'whaling' on their horses. Especially after all the ragging on people about horse abuse, I don't understand some of the continuing old fashioned remarks about 'teaching him a lesson' and 'smack him good', etc.. For those of you who still lose your temper and smack on your horses because they are simply confused or being forced, I feel sorry for your horses. I made plenty of technical training mistakes in my younger years (still do but can figure out pretty quick now where I went wrong in showing the horse what I want) yet one thing I never did was think that putting fear in a horse was the key to solving an issue.

And Fugly, you will always have a girthing problem and even more problems down the line unless you go back to square one and show this horse that he's not going to be in trouble or hurt when it comes to the saddle and girth. You have to help him, not force him. He obviously hasn't accepted the saddle and girth yet, but your ego and enthusiasm to hurry up and get on and ride is going to set you back in the long run. He may be putting up with it now but you are going to have an explosion later. Forcing your horse to accept that girth before he's properly prepared is only asking for trouble and you are continuing to teach him a lifelong habit. At least you won't be one to send him on down the road when he becomes unmanageable but too bad if you ruin this horse by rushing through the basics.

I sincerely wish you good luck because he looks like a really nice horse.

Theresa said...

I read a comment by John Lyons where he said, "Good horse training is boring to watch." The older I get, the more I understand that comment. All of the "exciting" stuff--rearing, bolting, bucking, whipping, spurring, etc.--isn't as inevitable or necessary as I once believed.

I only wish that I could go back in time and give my long-suffering and probably still-traumatized 23 year old retired-on-pasture mare the type of training that I am now capable of instead of what I called "training" at the time I was riding her. Poor girl. I can't decide if she should just stay retired with her buddies at pasture or if I should spend some time trying to fix all of the problems I caused so she can be retired with better memories! lol

crazyhorse said...

After joining a gym about 6 weeks ago, I am beginning to find my balance again...yesterday I rode my sorrel overo mare huntseat and my daughter noted my balance looks 100% better and my legs were uber quiet!!! I was dizzy with elation over this news! So the hour a day panting and glowing like a pig is working...
But yes despite my lack of balance, looks, and change in gravity, I also noted my 'in-born' assertation of a horse in pain or distress with a rider on it's back...when something doesnt look right to me, it generally isnt right with the horse...
Too bad we arent allowed to take this knowledge and experience back to the beginning and start over looking hot and babe-ish...dammit!!

mugwump said...

Ahh horsesense 102...I love your self confidence. The only horses I ever have to whale on are the ones that have been spoiled rotten by well meaning but uneducated horse owners.
They become dangerous and end up with me because their owners good intentions were not backed by education or experience.
The worst horse I ever got was a third level parelli graduate.
I was the last stop before the sale barn.
Yes, the rude, aggressive pig got whaled on.
Then I whacked the horse too.
Both horse and owner are still together, and happily so. Now there is no whaling.

verylargecolt said...

Horsesense, there is a time and a place for physical discipline with horses (and with kids, for that matter!) Most of us have seen the results of a total lack of any discipline with horses, and you can see the results of a total lack of discipline with kids on any Saturday at your local Wal-Mart.

Of course it depends on the animal. There are horses you only have to raise your voice to, or use body language, to correct. Part of my point in this post is not to use more than you need. If all you need is a tap, don't get out a hammer. Pretty simple logic.

However, there are certain behaviors where I hold with the old rule that for 3 seconds (or less) the horse needs to think he is going to DIE. One of those behaviors is kicking. Kicking at a person is never okay, even if you are scared, even if you are uncomfortable. There may be a time when you are scared and uncomfortable because you are hurt, and the vet needs to stitch you up - I do not want you thinking you can clock him in the head with a hoof.

The girth is not killing the VLC. He has has the normal amount of time to get used to it that I would give any horse. He is not sore and the saddle fits him. I am not punishing him for moving around, and I am slowly tightening the girth, with rest and movement breaks in between. He has only been punished for kicking, and - shazam - he has now stopped doing that. Amazing how that works.

Some horses simply do not care for the girthing process and if you think that you can correct that by doing enough groundwork, I have a 22 year old mare to send you. You will be doing groundwork til she is 30 and she will still be bad about it - on certain days, when the moon is waxing, and the wind is blowing. All of her former owners simply elected to give up and not ride her - since I've had her, she's won blues at schooling shows both with me and with a 15 year old kid who had only ridden her a few times. If you think you can fix every quirk every horse has ever had with groundwork, I believe you've been watching too many NH videos.

Just my 2 cents. And from talking to Mugwump, I am 100% sure she does not thump on a horse unless it is absolutely necessary to correct dangerous behavior that could hurt a human and send the horse down the road to the local auction.

It's like spanking a child who was going to wander into the street. That spanking is going to hurt a lot less than being hit by a car.

horsesense102 said...

Mugwump - yup, I do have a lot of self-confidence with horses. Being a tiny petite person, I had no choice but to develop early on ways to work with horses without a fight - patience and understanding and learning the fine balance of firmness and kindness was the key for me. I admire you for taking on dangerous spoiled horses and trying to help them and their owners.

VLC - But you see, your ego is still getting in the way a bit here, and human ego is the main problem most horses have. You have a very, very nice colt you have raised with no baggage. I assume you had no problems with this horse until you started the saddling process. As soon as the horse was unconfident with the girth, you 'taught him a lesson' by making him feel he was gonna die if he didn't accept the girth. So now you have instilled fear. This horse has never offered to kick you before, right? He wasn't a spoiled horse out to get you. So you should read this behavior as not trying to attack you but that the horse is trying to tell you that he is unconfident with what you are doing. The more you force this on him, the more he will resent it. And that's how you may end up with a 22 year old horse who is good in every other way but will forever resent being saddled.

You have a chance now, before you continue to instill bad behavior, to go back, spend 30 days or less with helping the horse accept the saddle and girth. You have to ask yourself, is it easier to spend 30 days or less (probably much less) consistent time desensitizing to the girth and saddle or continue to force this on him and end up with this same issue many years from now that may never be able to be resolved. You get to make the decision of showing him who's boss, or showing him who's going to help him feel safe and secure with whatever you want to do with him.

Your analogy of spanking a young child to teach them not to wander into the street doesn't fit this situation. I think the analogy that fits what you are doing is taking a normally well behaved child to the pool to learn to jump off the diving board and then smacking the crap out of the kid because he's scared to do it. So you smack the kid enough he's going to jump off the diving board but how's he going to feel about that?

mugwump said...

Have to confess
Had a large, big hoofed OTTTB (too many t's?) that came to me fat, hairy, and wildly rude.
I began to curry some of this mare's nasty, dead winter coat. She let me know she was thin skinned by almost kicking my head off.
I let her know I would curry her with whatever I wanted. Yes, I thumped on her. Hard.
Once she let me continue with the metal curry,I got out a soft gel curry and used that. We were both much happier.
Was I an idiot for using that metal curry on the mare in the first place?
Well, yes I was.
Did I take that into consideration when she tried to mash my head in with her very large foot?
No I did not.
Did I take 30 days to show her the joys of gentle grooming?
No I did not.
I fixed the problem in a very short time.
I continued with her training.
I accepted the fact that it was my fault, and used the right grooming tools after that.
She hasn't kicked at ANYONE since.
Her life is good.
That's all I have to say.

horsesense102 said...

Mugwump - Everyone makes mistakes and I'll bet you've never started off with a metal curry on an unknown horse again.

It's just unfortunate that when the human makes the mistake, for many people the first reaction is to punish the horse. People tend to take it so personally when a horse reacts instead of seeing what's happened or happening from the horse's point of view. The horse is simply reacting with surprise and pain so it gets thumped on - hard. I just don't get the ego that thinks - well, you're just gonna stand there and let me hurt you again and it's another thumping if you react. Instead of thinking, oh hey, sorry I hurt you there, I'll use this softer curry instead and carry on with the grooming and you never have another problem grooming thereafter.

Sure, there's a time and place for more extreme measures if you're dealing with a very dangerous horse, but why go thumping on a horse who is scared or when you're the one who hurt it in the first place?

It's kinda silly of you to imply taking 30 days to teach a horse the joys of currying regarding the scenario you described when it was simply a choice of the wrong grooming tool.

My point to VLC was simply that there are easier ways to help an otherwise kind and gentle horse accept training other than thumping, whumping, smacking and hitting when they react.

I haven't trained a lot of horses in my lifetime, probably only 70 or so, yet I've had very good results turning out willing horse partners by taking all the time it takes during the basic foundation without ever having to smack and thump on them. Everyone has their own style - mine just happens to be encouraging cooperation and leaving the violence to those who can't think of any other options.

Truthseeker said...

Yes, I am a better trainer than when I was young. 28 years of marriage, 2 kids, and more mistakes and errors in judgement than I could ever hope to count have made me softer, kinder, more tolerant. I can think my way through training challenges that used to stump me. I am still learning, however, I am still a work in progress.

Taliana said...

I totally agree with you about age making us better. I am far more patient and cautious and less impulsive than I used to be.

I stop before I do things and ask "Could this hurt me?"

It's about damn time the self preservation kicked in!

Taliana said...
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