Monday, May 26, 2008

Time to pull out less artillery!

As you loyal readers know, on rides #13 and #14 the VLC, having previously been utterly perfect, realized he was bigger than me and proceeded to develop some unpleasant behaviors including rubbernecking me into the middle of the arena and balking and refusing to move.

I realized a lot of this was due to having been lazy about getting him flexible in the neck. As a result I had a stallion with a big thick neck that was locked up and refused to flex. It was like pulling on a rhino. Nothing was working. Obviously I had to fix that problem or we weren't going to progress.

So, today I went back to square one. I started off with groundwork, asking him to turn circles around me both directions and flex his nose into the circle and give to pressure. That went very well. I put the headstall with the bit on him and while he still wasn't thrilled, he wasn't as angry about it as he had been the previous night. He mouthed it and made faces but it was just normal colt stuff - not "OMG GET IT OUT OF MY FACE!" So I decided we would try to ride with the bit on, but I'd just snap my reins to the halter. After all, if he was responding to pressure on the halter on the ground, why wouldn't he respond to it under saddle? I love the bitless bridle, but because it crosses over underneath the horse's head, it doesn't provide the direct pressure I needed to fix this problem. A sidepull would have been nice, but for some reason they seem to size them for teeny tiny little colt heads - it's like they only come in cob size. I have never seen one that would fit the VLC's very large head and massive forehead.

Good about girthing today (I did go back to the western saddle), bad about standing still for mounting. It's amazing though, when I finally growled HO! right in his face, he caught on that Mom meant business. Works wonders.

Well, I can't say enough good things about how riding in the halter worked out. He rubbernecked off the wall once, I pulled him right back to it, he never balked or stopped moving, and after a few more halfhearted attempts, he flat out gave up and was perfect again. Hooray! We'll be doing the next few rides this way and then I think I will probably attach a second set of reins to the bit and start getting him used to that.

Like most of our rides, this one made me think. How often, when someone has a problem like this - a big strong horse buffalo'ing right through their aids - do they pull out the heavy artillery? More bit. Draw reins. Drop noseband. 'Cause damn it, they're not letting that horse pull them around - no sirree! Of course, what do these tactics usually produce? Yup, a horse that learns he can barge through more bit, despite the draw reins and the drop noseband! The problem here wasn't that he was trying to be a beast - he was simply inflexible and wasn't really connecting the pull on the left rein with turning his nose left - he was taking it as an invitation to stop. He's basically lazy and he's really happy with stopping! Going back to the halter made it super simple for him and I got the exact results I wanted. I was extremely pleased and he got a nice bath and I hand grazed him out back where the deep clover grows until he was dry.

And how was your holiday? Did you ride? All of my friends went on a trail ride and I thought about it, but these folks like to go out for 4-5 hours and neither he nor I are fit enough for that yet! I need to get my friend with the Cute Spotted Stallion to haul so we can go on the wimp's trail ride (an hour max, somewhere flat and well maintained!)


Chezza said...

If I had a dollar for each time someone said "You are gonna need a..... when you take her outside"

My mare has been ridden with a tight flash and harsher bits in previous situations and with some time I have her listening MORE to me with LESS 'gear' We are riding in a snaffle. I might use a Kineton at some point but it is a direct pressure mechanism dragging on their mouth.

Heat Stroke in FL said...

Whew, glad to hear that he did better! I don't blame you for going back to the western saddle, LOL.

I rode my new girl today for the 2nd time. She tried the same stuff that yout guy did. She tried to stop and refused to move. This might have fooled me the first ride, but by the second ride, I knew she was beyond that. Obviously, she was testing me. I whipped her with my reins a few times and she refused to budge. What finally made her move was turning her head and getting her off balance. This got her to move again.

SO, she tried this a few more time and I threw her off balance each time. After that, she quit and was good as gold.

Lucky me, I am off tomorrow, too :-D

serensk said...

I've often wondered that as well. I've never really been in a situation where more gear might help, because I haven't collected enough gear to want to use it. :P

But my husband's gelding got put in a kimberwick at some point, and every now and then it's very clear that he only respects the snaffle if there's no wind blowing.

verylargecolt said...

heat stroke - Yep, same issue as me, same solution. You have to get them flexible in the neck so that you can turn them out of it and keep them moving. Mine does not care if I whack him, either. You have to outsmart them!

bluedude5 said...

when i first got my mare she hadnt been ridden for about 2 years and so i had her in a loose ring snaffle with a crank AND drop noseband done up TIGHT as she would spend the whole ride with her mouth wide open if i didnt
it become clear to me that she would start to shake her head as soon as i did up the drop so i thought what will happen if loosen it off a bit, she went ok, didnt shake her head as much
so we slowly started loosening the drop more and more each week until i took it off and left it off

now we ride in a full cheak french link (for our emergency stearing during cross country! :P) with no drop and the crank as loose as it can possibly be without flapping around the place

3catcrazy said...

Obviously I had to fix that problem or we weren't going to progress. So, today I went back to square one.

And it worked! All it took was some thought and patience. WTG.

Heavy artillery = quick fix. No thinking, no working through the problem. Too many people want to take the easy way out. Just want to ride or get the job done, except - wait - that just causes more problems in the long run. Or robohorse.

Happy to report I reached my first goal and rode my TB. It was a total non-event. Stood still at the mounting block, didn't move off right away, listened to what I was telling him. I didn't ask him for much so we could end on a good note.

Also rode my new draftX. I really understand the thick, unflexible neck thing. Wouldn't have before today. ;)

Sagebrusheq said...

Sometimes it doesn't work but I always try dropping down the severity before ratcheting up. In any event the latter method won't work for long if that's all the theory there is to the switch. Sometimes a bigger bit gives you a door in but it doesn't stay open long.

As far as getting them to move, I'm pretty thorough on the ground about getting them to follow my outstretched hand and to understand a cluck, 'walk' and a sharp 'trot'. Just the hand from the saddle- a huge leading rein- is usually sufficient; then voice, backed up by a cluck if necessary gets them moving- to the side albeit but its going. These are ground work exercises that readily translate to the saddle. I use no leg at all, none, at the beginning as it's meaningless. After a few rides I'll start squeezing first and get a pretty smooth transition from hand and voice to leg alone. I try not to slap and jiggle and so forth but have seen some get good results that way.


Princess Jess said...

When I first got my Saddlebred (the first time) he was being ridden with a twisted snaffle and a German martingale...

I decided, in all my wisdom at age 12 (horse was 17), that he didn't need it and switched him to a plain old eggbutt snaffle and lost the martingale, and he was perfectly fine with that. In fact, I think he was BETTER. After I made the switch was when I finally felt comfortable riding him bareback.

Sagebrusheq said...

I had two good rides today. Merlin was all I could hope for on his second day under saddle. But Molly was wonderful. Maybe shooing cows yesterday gave her a greater appreciation for the schooling ring- who knows- but she was all softness and light today. Unfortunately the cows are moved to summer pasture now or I'd definitely go after a few before my next lesson.

loneplainsman said...

Too funny VLC -- we had the same ride today!!

I rode my Not Very Large Gelding today with a saddle and bridle for the first time in about a week and a half. We'd ridden, of course, in that time period, but bareback and with a halter hackamore. He was giving me a beautiful soft feel in the hack - our back ups had never been softer - and everything was going swimmingly. So I figured he would be "even better" in a bit (this is a simple, double jointed snaffle, btw).

Ehh - wrong.

He was horrible - would not relax, his entire body was braced, refused to bend, all of a sudden forgot how to back up/stop/turn -- it was so wierd.

Stopped after 10 minutes, picked up my halter and replaced the bridle with my halter hack. Had a wonderful, smooth, responsive horse again.

Interesting, to say the least.

Picked up a lovely canter to the right and he finally realized that he could actually canter s-l-o-w-l-y instead of at mach 10 - which was lovely - so I decided to go to the left (his harder lead).

That's where things went bad.

First time around the circle he was fine. Second time around the circle, he dropped his outside shoulder and bolted across the 200' arena to the gate, did a quick turn, headed straight to the wall and rolled back faster than a reiner before I finally was able to bend him to a stop. Terrifying, to be honest.

I stayed on unscathed (did drop one stirrup in the process, but otherwise all was well) and after doing a lot of HQ yields to get him listening to me again (growling at him the whole time) I went back to try it again. He cantered a little but it was so strung out and imbalanced that we couldn't make a full turn. But, he was soft and listening again and had stopped trying to drop his shoulder and bolt, so I called it quits for the day.

Not sure I handled it well, to be honest, but at least I didn't just give up. We ended on a fairly good note, too, so hopefully next time it will be better. We'll see.

What I really need is for someone to put us on a lunge line so I can work out these canter issues without having to worry about steering or bolting. Maybe we can use the round pen.. but it's so small (60x60) and he's so unbalanced that I wonder if it's a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, a small space will force him to actually THINK about how he moves so he isn't so strung out and uncontrollable.

Any thoughts? Comments??

He keeps picking up the wrong lead, too, which doesn't help anything. I'm sure I'm blocking him with my body because other people have gotten it much quicker than I have. But being on the wrong lead just makes it easier for him to duck out... *sigh*

Not the best day today. We'll get it sorted, though.

I hope.

dp said...

Tried my new bitless bridle on Raven today and loved it. Can't imagine what others have had in her mouth over the years, but even a curved French link was too much for her to bear. Like so many other have said, most people think "hot TB = bigger bit" but sooner or later they snap.

PlaysWithPonies said...

My Icelandic mare used to get Very Upset when it came time to canter. She would fling up her head and crash into the canter from a normal aid. Finally, my trainer and I realized that if we asked her to canter with all possible lightness, she did a beautiful transition. It's been a theme with her ever since: if she's overreacting, we're over-aiding.

On another note, I had a lesson on my Small Springy Warmblood (henceforth SSW). He is going at about training level / first level at this point and is disgracefully unfit. He has been used primarily for puttering around on for the last year while I've taken a heavy load of lab-based science classes. However, my semester just ended, and I am back in the saddle with a vengeance. My trainer said that the SSW needed to go more forward, and so we went more forward, and the SSW's huge, floating stride feels as much like flying as it looks like flying. What fun!

Truthseeker said...

I heard Karen Russell ( once say that one can't force a horse to do anything, but that one can 'finesse' him.

Heidi the Hick said...

This is such an important thing to remember, because so many people want to head to the tack shop to buy the solution. Plunk down your cash and take home a problem solver. It doens't matter how big the bit is or how many straps you've got buckled over the horse... he's still bigger and stronger!!!

The older I get the more I think that any horse problem is due to a step missed or incomplete or forgotten along the way. I think you're handling this whole thing very well.

As for the saddle: most english riders I talk to say that they hate it because there's too much saddle between them and the horse. Do you know anybody who has a western with cutaway skirts that you can borrow?

Had to laugh about the sidepull problem though. I've got mine on the smallest adjustment for my gelding and it's still too big for my mare!

Heidi the Hick said...

oops- clarification!

As for the saddle: most english riders I talk to say that they hate it because there's too much saddle between them and the horse. Do you know anybody who has a western with cutaway skirts that you can borrow?

I meant, most english riders hate western saddles because there's too much saddle between them and the horse.

Seriously the cutaway skirt saddles are amazing. I rode my friend's show saddle and wanted to just stay there all day. Check it out if you can.

MsFoxy said...

You know, I have never been brave enough to ride Foxy with just a halter. She struggles with steering. She just does not seem to get the concept of turning with the reins. Yes, she sort of steers...we used to go all over outside the arena, and could do circles and figure eights in the arena....but she does not steer takes a lot of pulling to get a turn....or sometimes almost nothing to get a 90 degree change of direction.

It is kind of stupid because me of all people...I know she will run right through the bit if she wants to...she already did. No amount of pulling got her to stop when she bolted with me last year (right before she slowed down to buck me off). So I really should just try the damn halter and see....but I am wimpy! I like my false sense of security with that crazy, uh, regular ol plain snaffle (haha).

I really feel like ground driving is the answer. You've seen her work on the ground. She is calm and quiet and she tries so damn hard. Her groundwork is excellent. But I do not know how to ground drive (i know, i know, I keep getting told how to do it, but no...i dont "know how") and I really feel like that is the solution.

However, the other day when I was saddling her up for the first time in over a year...I took SO LONG to get it done, I was tugging and flapping and pulling the cinch tight and then releasing...over and over. I was so afraid she would explode before I could get it solidly buckled....she got irritated and kept backing up. She had gotten all the way backed up to the chicken coop (which is next to the arena) and I wanted to get her forward so I just held the saddle (it was on her back but not cinched) and clucked at her to go forward. And we walked with her slightly ahead of me, while I held the saddle in place, until we got far enough away. I think this may be a temporary solution....I could try ground driving from the side while we walk around the pasture. She is very much sound enough for that (she gallops around the pastures daily) and not only can we work on steering with shorter reins (I worry about an explosion that leaves her with long lines dangling...or me just getting tangled!) and me on the ground...and can also get out and about in the pasture with her saddled and steering without having to steer.

I think I could use basically set of split reins ran through the stirrups (but over her back and not behind) and I can walk next to her. I will have to speed up to keep with a right turn...but I can also switch sides and work each. Not exactly the perfect solution but it may be a way to continue working her while we get her feet/soundness straightened out. And without having to take the risk of long long lines...

It's always something with these horses with issues.....sometimes I think it is a test to see how creative you can be. Steering from up top is not improving so I think we will have to start with the ground.

BTW, I am thinking that I maybe should work her with an english saddle. I have this ridiculous fear of getting my foot caught and being dragged (I say ridiculous only because it is not an irrational fear but I am sort of ridiulously irrationally afraid of this in particular) an english saddle I could use breakaway stirrups! With the rubber band thing! And Foxy would be damn cute in an english saddle I bet...

Anonymous said...

Have you tried ? She can make sidepulls, bitless bridles, etc to your horse's measurements. Very reasonable prices.

mugwump said...

You go fugs. Less is always more.

Sagebrusheq said...

I don't like the round corral except for ground work where it's a great (but hardly indispensable!) tool. The last time I rode in one was about eight years ago with a horse that turned out to be a tremendously talented bucker. Getting launched is one thing- I try to avoid it as it often scares the horse- but getting launched into the rails of a stock panel became an instant phobia for me about 2 seconds into that particular ride and I ceased the practice. Beyond that though they're just too small. You're asking a green horse to canter a 20M circle with a rider on his back. I know that some would disagree and swear by them. More power to them I wouldn't argue that they don't have advantages. Replacing outside aids with a wall can be a handy device for some problems but after that it quickly becomes a drawback not to have straight sides with corners. You need a squared pen to make a round horse.


verylargecolt said...

>>The older I get the more I think that any horse problem is due to a step missed or incomplete or forgotten along the way. <<

So do I. It's very interesting. It would not have occurred to me twenty years ago, when I was doing this all the time.

These days, I just try to say to myself, why is the horse confused about what I want? Where did I go wrong? Or why don't I have the control over his body that I should?

Loneplainsman - I don't let them canter on the wrong lead. Even a very green horse. If they blow the lead, we stop immediately and start over until we get it. Make it easy, ask for it coming through the corner of the arena with their hindquarters off the wall - but stop if you don't get it. If he's on the wrong lead, he's set up brilliantly to take off out of the circle. Is he mainly doing this one direction that he doesn't want to turn to? If so you've got your answer as to what to work on.

I too tend to lean toward not asking a young, green horse to canter in the round pen with the weight of a rider...particularly the smaller round pens. I used to board where we had a 90 foot round pen. Now THAT was nice. That was a very useful tool, without being too hard on their legs.

MsFoxy, one thing I think you need to do is ride more. Are there other horses at your barn that you could potentially exercise? You need more riding time so that you feel confident that you can handle it if she has another episode.

I will check out sunsethalters - thank you for the tip!

Sagebrusheq said...

Not to be contrary- as a general principle I agree with these sentiments- but sometimes more is more. I have a big knot head of a gelding- a gaiter- that goes nicely in a kimberwick. I've never gone beyond that, so it's not a matter of more and more severity, but anything less is an exercise in frustration with frayed tempers and hard feelings for both of us. With the leverage bit he goes soft and sweet on a floating rein.

RussianRoulette said...

I used to ride an Arab and when someone wanted to use him for a lesson they were teaching they asked me about him... I said when he gets upset about something, his reaction is to put his head up and run. Her immediate response was, "Well what does he do when you put a standing martingale on him?" She hasn't seen the horse do ANYthing other than stand in a field and her first response is to tie his head down. In fact, I saw other horses that this person rode or taught on and they all had standing martingales. That was her answer to everything the horse did. To me it seemed like she was trying to get on with the lesson and do "more fun" things in order to keep her clients happy enough to keep paying her. I personally wouldn't pay for this sort of instruction. If my horse can't walk, trot and canter quietly around the ring then what am I doing attempting to jump or other such things? You need to have the basics...

As for my horse... This weekend marked the 6 weeks since he went on stall rest. I was given the go ahead to take him for walks. So we ventured outside. He'd never actually been outside very much at this farm. When he injured himself and needed stall rest, I moved him to a farm that could provide that. Where he was when he got hurt had stalls but all of the horses there lived outside and I wasn't going to make my horse stay in a stall completely alone. So we walked outside and saw the outdoor ring. We also saw some machinery, a blowing tarp, a whole bunch of jumps. Very exciting for the 3-year-old on stall rest. :) He was actually a champ. Jumped around a bit but overall, much better than other horses I've seen on stall rest.

MsFoxy said...

I was actually just thinking I need to really just break down and take a few lessons again. I wish I could take them all the time but cannot afford it. But I have not ridden at all in over a year and even the year prior had only ridden Foxy a bit here and there. The year prior to that I had a handful of lessons but prior to that....not for about 10+ years! I am very very out of practice.

I am making a few changes (selling truck! getting an old car back to drive instead) and may be able to afford a few lessons here and there. I need some confidence building...I don't think I am a "bad" rider, I am just very out of practice. If Foxy was owned by an experienced person she would be a superstar by now.

Sometimes I wish I had moved to Oregon/Washington instead....I need you to help me with her!

Redsmom said...

Great work, Cathy with the VLC. He sounds like a WP prospect for sure -- slow trot, slow lope.

Thanks for your individual recognition of my progress on your earlier post.

For those who missed it: I cantered on Dude in the sand arena and he didn't act up at all. I credit this to my concerted effort at improving my riding; i.e., there was not so much wrong with him as there was/is with me and my nerves plus rusty techniques. Thanks again for all the support on this board.

Sagebrusheq said...

I don't believe that there is any more security in a western saddle than with any other moderately deep seated style of saddle, other than mental security. And the encumbrances on a western saddle that supposedly keep you in also have the disadvantage of keeping you out if you do end up on his neck. As a perfect example of this take the video that was posted here yesterday. The young lady could never have regained her seat in that situation on a western saddle and may have gotten pretty bruised up before she ever hit the ground. There's a good reason why jump saddles don't have obtrusive pointy parts. Plus the position that most western saddles force you into is too far from the withers where the thrust of the bucks is the least. That, and the placement of the seat, plus the horn, make it very difficult and dangerous to grab mane- the most secure hand hold there is: after all it's securely fastened to the horse. It's worth noting that a bucking saddle is very similar to a jump saddle in it's placement, shorter stirrups, and balance. Western saddles are admirably designed for the job they are meant to do: working stock.

Lulu said...

4.5 hrs on the saddle for me over the holiday weekend. (trail riding)

Thought I'd share..... Was just watching "Downunder Horsemanship" with Clinton Anderson (I have the day off and its raining, so I'm stuck inside and bored to DEATH).... AND I QUOTE, "I start all my colts in January of their two year old year."

How can we expect change when the trainers that folks FLOCK to, are sending the wrong messages?

scaequestrian said...

I rode the Very Large Filly and the Little Red Fillly this weekend. VLF has her first set of shoes and is doing better at getting into a proper gait with them. She is flatshod of course, though that extra half-inch or so of height dosen't make it easier to climb on (where's my mounting block). LRF was doing the whole "growing roots" thing. I think she was a bit tenderfooted from her pedicure Friday, so I left her alone after establishing that we stop when *I* want to not when you want to. VLF is going to be one heck of a horse, lovely gait. She also has a nice TROT, on a TWH, imagine that. I don't want to let her get into the habit of doing that though, she needs to learn to gait first. Her biggest issue is with turning, she will gait fine in a straight line, ask for a turn and we forget what order our legs are supposed to move in. All in all though, they both did well.

deanna may said...

I went riding out in the field on Sunday. It was chilly and overcast, with a cool misty rain falling. We just walked, because the grass (while green, beautiful and picturesque) was kind of slippery. I was grumbling about the chilliness and my friend said, "Just pretend it's Ireland... does that help?"

And, actually, it did.

PS: Lead changes are regressing a little. It's hard for him to get a clean one because he gets so revved up when he thinks I'm going to ask. And it's hard to balance a horse when he's throwing his shoulders and hips every which way, careening around corners and more or less going around the arena in a hand gallop.

It might be time to set up poles in the corners to ask for changes over.

But still, he will do them, even after cantering around all crazy-like.

Lee_Chick said...

When I started my big STB last year I was with a trainer who believed that gear = control = success. Two months later I had a stressed out cranky horse who was performing advanced level work while the trainer was on his back but who was a basket case the rest of the time. A quick switch of coaches and a few hundred dollars in profits from the sale of all the old gear and now I have a fantastic free-moving dressage/eventing prospect who comes running to see me and looks forward to every ride. Recently my coach and I have sparingly introduced side reins and draw reins just to help support him a bit while he redevelops his neck muscles (classic harness racer's ewe-neck that is purely performance driven, not conformational). I'm still not a fan of draw reins in general but I do have to admit that they are helpfully in reshaping a horse that has been taught to carry himself in a ventroflexed position.

Latigo Liz said...

Lulu said...
How can we expect change when the trainers that folks FLOCK to, are sending the wrong messages?

Well, if people would start THINKING then they wouldn't be "flocking" to those idiots like Clinton and Linda & Pat and others of their ilk. There ARE good teachers/clinicians out there. They tend not to go around pumping themselves up so much and selling large amounts of gadgets. Some do sell a few items because their students can't find good quality gear locally.

Anyway, there a LOTS of people that ride with quality but don't profess to know everything. Many of them post in the comments of this blog, some have blogs of their own, some only read other folks writings...and many more out there aren't even on the internet, they're out RIDING horses. LOTS of horses. And they are learning from the best teachers of all, the horses!

Heidi the Hick said...

Not to be contrary or start an argument, just responding to Sagebrushe's comments:

" And the encumbrances on a western saddle that supposedly keep you in also have the disadvantage of keeping you out if you do end up on his neck."

Well... I admit, I have ended up on a horse's neck and managed to scramble back into the seat again. Of course, I was younger and more agile then... and being a girl, didn't have any delicate external organs to worry about... but I grabbed the pommel and got back to where I was supposed to be.

"Plus the position that most western saddles force you into is too far from the withers where the thrust of the bucks is the least."

I have to agree that near the withers is where the buck is felt the least... do keep in mind how many kinds of western saddles there are. Not all position you so far back. I tend to think the rider's position makes more of a difference here. Not to mention, in all my years of bareback riding, it didn't matter where the heck I was sitting, I didn't stay there long when the bucking started!

"That, and the placement of the seat, plus the horn, make it very difficult and dangerous to grab mane- the most secure hand hold there is: after all it's securely fastened to the horse. "

Yup, mane is the best handhold of all.

HOwever. I have never let the saddle horn stop me from grabbing a handful of mane!!! The horn doesn't make it difficult and dangerous to grab mane. It's a saddle horn, not a wall.

Folks, riding horses can be dangerous. That's not going to stop us from doing it! We just have to be sensible and practical and try not to lose our minds.

a beautiful disaster said...

my holiday was basically a wash (not literally- no rain until today) as the weather was gorgeous but the barn was closed so i couldn't ride. i did put Buddy out in the indoor for some playtime while i fed, but other than for the ponies too :)

i've said it before, and i'll say it again, less is more every time

Colta said...

I actually went in reverse when it came to tack. My new barrel horse has always been a bit touchy about the bit and doesn't like alot of pressure in his mouth, so I went to a sidepull and he's doing wonderfully! Sometimes less is more :P

Crazy3dayer said...

VLC: I'm getting ready to get back in the saddle. I'm not training anyone but have some MAJOR fear issues. Can I still post here if i'm not the one training but being trained?

Sagebrusheq said...

No argument necessary Heidi. Glad to read your comments. It wouldn't be a gathering of very capable horsemen if there weren't some widely diverging opinions going around. But we're probably not very far apart on this anyway. I wasn't always of the above opinions and even now that I've come to believe them I have never thought that the difference as far as security goes is all that great one way or the other. The point being that it's 99% balance no matter what you're sitting on.

Any saddle with stirrups is of course more secure than bareback. Also as you note there is quite a difference from one western rig to the next, some are nearly as forward as a jump saddle while others, but for looks, are more akin to a saddle seat. The terms western and English are pretty meaningless when you consider the disciplines that are lumped into each category.

I like a good stock saddle and use mine whenever it fits the task at hand. I also like to mount non riding guests on one, as much for my horse's comfort because of the greater contact area with the horses back, as for the riders sense of security. They have no balance anyway and in that circumstance I readily concede that there is a big difference in security for the rider.

Though I didn't mention it this time around, the #1 drawback with the western saddle for riding rough stock, as I see it, is the solid stirrup attachment.

Regards, S

Char said...

Well, our family went camping Fri-Mon to observe this holliday, so I got totally hosed on the three day opportunity to horse-it-up.

However, being the pre-planner that I am, I made sure to ride during the week last week. I got on my mom's mare and we used cones on the ground to make learning to steer smoothly with out doing the bitchy-mare-head-toss more interesting for the horse. (ok, and me. I hate this stuff. ULTRA boring...)

AND....I worked my gelding! Yes, the gelding that is bound to stall rest and hand-walking. He and I are both bored to death with just leading around and grazing. We've been doing all sorts of activities of ever-increasing difficulty such as : leading him with the lead rope slung over his back, then without me holding it, then without the lead rope, then without the halter...etc. Then I added an obstacle course where we had to incorporate backing, turning with him on the outside, me on the outside, a couple jogging steps.....ARGH! All too familiar and boring.

Then I had a brain storm...and thought of something I had NEVER tried with him. Ground driving. I don't mean lunge-gound driving, I mean me walking behind him holding reins as if he were pulling a cart!

MAN was that fun! I had finally found something that he had NO CLUE what the heck I was trying to get him to do and I was THRILLED at the prospect of teaching him something that would take more than 5-10 minutes to master. Ok, even so, he had a very good idea after 15 min and was letting me drive him around some without trying to spin around and face me to give me the "What the HELL are we doing?" look.

I am going back during the week this week and will practice this more with him as steering and backing straight from this position is not very pretty yet, but it's so nice to have something to do that uses both our brains again.

Also, I go on vacation next week and will have more opportunities to get on my mom's mare AND my gelding's follow-up x-ray appointment is also next week and we should be able to tell if he will ever be ride-able again or if I will have to retire him for good. However, I think we might have another career as a seeing-eye-trail-horse with this gound driving thing....

....To be continued

Masquerade said...

No help to ride since the weekend but I've done some more ground work. As my guy has also figured out the halt and grow roots I've gone to a method Apples suggested of using reins but being on the ground walking beside the horse with the hands up by the withers. I tried long lining on Sunday but he still isn't getting the move off and forward and without help that got to awkward. Today I lunged a bit then put the reins on and walked beside him. It was a bit better, but I still needed to tap him with the whip to get him to walk. We did lots of suppling both sides, some turns and small circles and I think I had some improvement at the end. Hopefully, tomorrow or Thurs I can go for ride 3. One good thing is he's not got much of a spook and bolt happening.......he's too lazy by far. New pics of him free lunging on the fugly forum.

verylargecolt said...

Crazy3Dayer - ABSOLUTELY! I mean, one of the main points of this blog in the first place was to discuss getting past fear, in general - and to stop acting like, woo, there's something wrong with you if you're scared.

I still say, it's like junior high school at most barns - admit you have fear issues and it's like you have cooties. Particularly if you're an "advanced" rider or trainer, that just isn't supposed to happen to you. Well, it does, and it can be worked through, just like it can be worked through when the one who is scared is the horse.

moi123 said...

I adore the sidepull I got from Its just a rope halter with rings to attach reins, but my 3yo Arab stud colt (to be gelded in the near future) that I'm starting goes very well in it. I love the rope she uses, its so soft I can put the entire halter in my jeans pocket. I've not been cleared to ride him yet (vet said he needs a few more months growth first) so I've not been on his back, but he's been tacked up a few times and we're working on all the other ground basics in the mean time.

I've been on enough runaway horses that I firmly believe that bits do NOT control horses. I'm going to break him out entirely in the sidepull and will introduce a French link snaffle in the future. I don't ever plan to sell him, but as we all know, things happen and I'd like for him to at least comprehend a bit - just as a bit of extra insurance for his future. He's already worn it a few times - once for an 8 hour photoshoot - and doesn't seem to mind it terribly.

which_chick said...

I went to the Devon Horse Show over the past weekend to see the pony hunters.

The Medium Pony Hunters was a class of about thirty nearly-identical medium pony hunters. Nearly two-thirds of the class was wearing what I, in my redneck way, would call "tie downs" (standing martingales).

Nobody but me seemed to feel that the standing martingale profusion in the pony hunter class was the least bit unusual. I guess the Standing Martingale is way better than the cable tie-down with plastic nose band that folks where I live put on their timed event horses, particularly the ones that are a little light on the front end. Maybe it's because they're made of leather?

icepony said...

Geez, VLC, timely once again! I just got back from the tack shop, where I purchased a (GASP!) plain, simple little loosering snaffle bit. I've decided to go back to the beginning and see if I can figure out why my SOG appears to think a bit will eat him alive, and must therefore be pushed out of the mouth with all possible alacrity. (Yes, I had his teeth floated after discovering, despite assurances from the seller to the contrary, he was in BAD need of a float and had actual sores in his mouth!)

Amazingly enough, the SOG is still willing to come down on the bit on his own, and carries it very nicely, after the initial drama is over. Of course, the minute I swing off, it all begins again. He's VERY polite about the unbitting process, though, so I'm somewhat baffled by all this. I figured the best place to go was to get the mildest bit I could find, and take it from there.

BTW, weather discombobulated riding plans AGAIN last night, so we spent almost 2 hours playing around in the indoor arena, learning about ground poles, scary barrels, and that grey horse that lives in the mirror, lol. All very nice and relaxed. I'll take it; it was fun!

Sagebrusheq said...

I like to keep things simple but I don't see anything wrong with a properly adjusted standing martingale. I have used them in the past and they don't hinder the horses movement at all for jumping or any other activity. Unless you consider star gazing a movement. They are cheaper than bridgework and I know some very good trainers who won't get on a strange problem horse without one. The hideous adjustment one sometimes sees on western tie downs is no argument against the sensible use of this harmless tool which only comes into play when the horse's head is so high that he can evade your hand.

Sagebrusheq said...

Speaking of tool abuse, the running martingale is one that I see misused a lot these days. And because it is a leverage device rather than a passive one I think the potential for damage to the horses mind is greater, though it's a tossup which tool's misuse is worse.

I see a lot of people using them with a short adjustment on young horses which totally prevents any sympathetic use of the hands even if they do by chance get a proper response. One fellow I know says the only reason he uses one is to keep his horses from bucking (?) for the first few weeks and then does away with it. Of course by that time one in six of his horses is reliably rearing. The other five have their heads permanently glued to their chests. That's collection, and I've seen this on some of the equimercials on TV! Besides those obviously poor role models, I think it's popularity is partly due to it's ubiquity in the hands of expert riders in the show jumping ring, where six figure sums are on the line for a three minute ride. That is a whole other class of riding and has no relation to some half trained fool trying to pull his horse's head down.

I shouldn't have got started. rant over.

Molly didn't feel like being caught today; and yesterday was so good that I decided to give her the day off and some grain with no strings attached. So instead of ponying Merlin down to the corral I saddled him at the barn and took him on his first solo 'trail ride'. For an hour or so we zigged and zagged, as you can imagine, until the direction was back to his pasture. Stood while I rolled a cigarette and drank a beer, (a real surprise) and trotted a little with no blow ups. Walked home head down. It was all I could ask for day #3. I think I'll let him wear a rubber snaffle tomorrow under the halter.

Th th th that's all folks, S

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the colt is such a gentleman!

My holiday was extremely uneventful. I got too much sun and crashed out around 3PM. All I really did was air out a featherbed and play in the water with my colt, but it really drained me with the 90 degree weather we've had!

Personally, I ride in a Tom Thumb bit and that works just fine. I also have a chain bit and a 3 piece snaffle, but so far I haven't used the chain bit because I am afraid of hurting Pixie's mouth. I am told she rides excellent in that bit though. I just figure that I don't really want to get in a pissing contest with a 800 lb prey animal, you know? She needs to listen in a light bit or she really isn't going to listen at all!

Jackie said...

PrimaDonnaDiva and I just walked yesterday...she did something to her shoulder and was ouchy at a trot, so we just took it easy...I really think that this damed MI clay goes hard practically overnight (from mud to hard), and she strains her shoulder on it in the pasture...she did it last spring, too (this time not as bad). Once she heals, it doesn't happen it's not founder, it's in her shoulder (I had a vet check last year). She gets going with the horses next door and wrenches herself.

I was proud of myself...we were in the small pastuer walking past the barn, and even though she goes past this one spot every day, for some reason there was something in the barn at one spot that *eats horses*...she started acting like that Arab in the video...backing, crow hopping...and I remembered to sit deep, stay calm, push with my legs, no hands, and worked her through it. She finally just walked it the eye. I think I'll keep her in that area today so she gets over it...

Oh, I too changed her from both a Tom Thumb and a twisted snaffle to a french link..she even takes the bit out of my hand now.

which_chick said...

I was just surprised because I guess I was expecting the ponies at Devon to go along quietly on a plain snaffle. The extra gear threw me for a loop.

Certainly, if I was paying twenty or thirty thousand (prices under discussion by the mommy and Pony Shopping Advisor sitting next to me) for an autochange packer show pony for my kid, I'd be okay with one that was a violent head-thrower or spent most of his time above the bit, evading the rider's hand. :)

Anyway, the bulk of the medium pony hunters at Devon were canterplodding forehandedly around the ring, leaning on their standing martingales. The standing martingales were under tension when the ponies were cantering with their heads in a reasonably-normal canter position. The ponies were, to my taste, a little on the forehand and nose-out, but I'm not a devotee of the hunter ring and maybe that's normal for hunters.

Sagebrusheq said...

Which Chick;

Sorry to hear that. My defense of the standing M was meant to be general in nature and upon reading your second post I realize I should have been more general in condemning its misuse as well. Though the image is apt, to single out the western 'tie down' was unfair and misleading. It's discouraging that such things pass in any discipline.


mugwump said...

I ride many horses in a full bridle. I'm not brave enough to try a spade yet, but I'm getting there. So I would say that qualifies as "more".
But every single one of my bridle horses will still work in a snaffle or hackamore.
If they don't they're not ready for the big guns.
Of course none of this works with yanking, towing hammer heads that I didn't create, but have to fix.
Then my goal is to work back to less. You agree?

mugwump said...

Oops, I forgot....When I ride I want my heels, hips, and shoulders aligned. If the saddle I'm in won't allow it, then I change saddles.
It doesn't matter what kind it is.

Sagebrusheq said...



Without reservation.

Crazy3dayer said...

OK, I got on my friends apx QH gelding. 1st time I've ridden since I had an emotional meltdown on my horse. I only rode about 5 mins and was mainly showing her how to get a horse to bend around the leg. I was ok until I got off and was driving home. Started shaking and sweating. I have decided I need to address this and am looking at leasing a dead head trail horse. I want to start there to just get my nerve back. I've sold my horse (his trot was this beautiful LONG FORWARD stride, scared the shit out of me) Thinking about leasing b/c it's a way for me to ease myself back into it. I will ride my friends QH and hope some of this goes away. Not sure where it stems from. Haven't had any bad falls in years but I just get sick to my stomach thinking about it.

lusitano epiphany said...

I fell off the semi-green 16.3h friesian/percheron when I last rode him on Wednesday. He had the Spook to End All Spooks, which resulted in a bolt that was immune to "WHOA" and pulling back. By the time I attempted to turn him into a circle, he had already reached the corner of the arena - which left me on the ground, seeing as how I am in no shape to ride out a 90 degree turn at a gallop. I landed on my knees and hurt the right one badly, though nothing is broken or torn.

So...if he were my horse, then yes indeed I would be going back to groundwork with him. But he is not my horse, and to be quite honest it's going to be another week or two...or more...before I feel like fiddling with him. I don't blame him for spooking - he is a horse, after all - but with all the work I missed being at home unable to walk, I will simply have no time to work with him. I'll leave that to his owner, whom I sure wish had done that in the first place...

Ironically enough, the purpose of my ride on the day I fell was to relax and "feel" the horse. I was thinking back to an earlier VLC entry about relaxing and letting go of anxiety. Too bad my horse didn't want to go with that plan!

PS - I DID manage to relax a, before I fell, anyway.

Sagebrusheq said...

I'm reluctant to roundly condemn the spade because two of my favorite horsemen are reinsmen, even so I tend to view it in the same light as knife juggling: an interesting and impressive exercise displaying great skill, but lacking practicality, and hazardous. I heard Ray Hunt muse that he always wanted to start a horse from the git go in a full spade, just for the challenge; that he had no doubt it could be well done given the time and patience to do so. I don't doubt him on that. He then went on to say that the great thing about the snaffle was that you can put them on the job on day one. And that if you can't get it done with the least you certainly won't get it done with the most.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Crazy3Dayer - good strategy. The smartest thing you can do is make it easy on yourself. Just go back to an easy, easy, easy horse and get your confidence back. It will come!

Crazy3dayer said...

I'm going to try this boy on the 6th. I'm excited and nauseated at the same time. The barn I'll be moving him to is all DQ but EVERYONE of them is so nice. I've never met this many NICE DQ's. It's also 325 acres of pastures, trails and space. 3 rings so if I melt down I'll have some privacy. That's my biggest fear, that I'll melt, loose it and lock up. It's happened before. Thank goodness it was on a packer school horse. The owner wont sell her to me, sigh. She'd be perfect. Lusitano:Do you feel any anxiety about getting back on after this last fall?

mugwump said...

I'm on year four of developing my bridle horse...we're in our two rein year, I love the juggling with knives explains my reluctance to dive in. I am comfortable with a half-breed though.
The advice I live by concerning spades, if you need it, you shouldn't use it..

Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog . I don't really know a lot about spine anatomy or art, but that's just my 2 cents. Really great job though, Krudman! Keep up the good work!