Friday, June 27, 2008

Two out of three ain't bad...

Last night's report:

The Beautiful Thoroughbred Mare

Honey is doing really well. This was our third ride and she was just as quiet as ride #2. I think being out on three acres with three other horses is doing her a lot of good. She has buddied up with the Crabby Old Bat, which cracks me up as I didn't think the COB liked anyone - but she likes Honey. Honey is a good herd member - she gets along well with everybody. She has her Thoroughbred moments where she and Lucy gallop the length of the pasture. The two AQHA mares look on disdainfully with mouths full of grass, wondering why in the world those dumb Thoroughbreds are running when nothing is chasing them.

Last night we worked specifically on two things: backing up and starting the pivot. Honey has absolutely no back-up, not really surprising. That's not a maneuver they teach on the track. So we worked on halting and backing a step. She is resistant but not in a bad way. She's just figuring it out and every time she took a step back, even a small one, she got petted and allowed to move on. She really has no problem with "whoa." She stops and stands quietly on a dropped rein every time. I'm riding her in a D-ring copper snaffle that is on the fat side and I don't think she'll ever need anything more.

As I've mentioned before, she has a killer rollback loose, so we're going to use that and start teaching her to pivot. I did several directional changes where I just stopped her a little bit away from the wall and turned her toward the wall. She figured it out quickly and pivoted and stepped out of it, getting more petting and major praise. One thing I really like about Honey is that she's not overly reactive to leg. You can put some leg on her and she doesn't go, OMG, leg, must gallop. Some of them do!

Of course, we also just worked on bending, particularly to the right since we have absolutely no bend to the right (again, no surprise). Even loose in the round pen, she travels with her nose canted off to the outside and her inside shoulder dropped. I would like to see her get adjusted at some point - they all come off the track crooked and it doesn't necessarily fix itself with time. I had a horse adjusted years ago that must have been twenty, and his head-neck area was still crooked to the left from the track. She's not showing any pain behaviors when I do flex her to the right, though - it's just obvious that's a totally undeveloped side and this is a new experience.

The Very Large Colt

The night was a long one. I had friends stop by before I even got on Honey, so it was 10 PM by the time I got on the VLC. Honestly, at that point, I didn't want to work hard and he and I mutually agreed we were just going to do an exercise ride. In other words, trot and do figure 8's but not work hard on anything in particular - just cruise around. That's exactly what we did and he was absolutely perfect. I really appreciate how consistently good he is. I also really noticed tonight that my leg is tightening up from riding more. It feels good!

Goal for the next week is going to be to get back to bit-training him in earnest. I need to ground drive him, much though that bores me, and just work on getting him to accept wearing a bit and that it will not kill him. I got lazy the past few rides and went, F it, ride in a halter if it makes you happy. It does, but he's not going to be a trail horse and he just can't ride in a halter forever. (I do think it's kind of cool that I have an immense sized 3 year old colt that rides perfectly in a halter at a walk, trot and canter though!)

The Small Spotted Gelding

All right, now it was 10:30 and both Josie and I observed that the SSG had that look in his eye. You know, the "I just don't want to cooperate, F You" look. Still, I was dead set that I was going to get all of my horses worked. I knew I had something else to do Friday night and I was going to get these three horses worked that I had scheduled myself to work, no matter how late it was.

Mistake #1.

He was pissy about the girth (not normal for him) and just looked like he was going to be uncooperative, so I decided to play it safe and longe.

Pony trotted around just fine. No sign of any drama.

OK fine. Normally I ride him with a shorter set of snap on reins but they weren't in the arena and I was tired and I said, what the Hell, I'll just ride him with the long white ponybeater reins tonight.

Mistake #2

I've observed before that the SSG has a noodle neck and the ability to go in a direction his head is not facing. However, up to this point, I really did not think he would do anything worse than trot sideways around the arena with me. I hadn't quite figured out how to get the body to follow the noodle neck, but in the indoor I tend to think, well, hell, where are they going to go? I will just run their nose into the corner if I need to.

Mistake #3

I got on the SSG. And he...left. At a fast trot. I pulled his nose halfway around to my knee. He was still trotting, in the same direction he wanted to trot, and ignoring me. I tried to put his nose into the corner to stop and he just sidepassed his little self out of the corner at a fast clip and headed off down the wall. I said, ok fine you little shit, we'll just long trot 'til you get tired and then we'll long trot after that until you wish you could stop.

Mistake #4

The long trot disintegrated into the Pepe le Peu canter. You know the one I mean. Stiff legged, head in the air. He dove around the corner with a turn worthy of a barrel racer, stuck his pony nose down and started pitching. I think I stayed on for two of them. It was so dark in that end of the arena that Josie didn't even see what happened.

I landed fairly painlessly on my hip and side. My early training about rolling myself into a ball has never deserted me, and I'm thankful for that. What hurt like a bitch was my left hand. I'd been trying so hard to pull the pony nose back up that I rope-burned the living hell out of my fingers and the area between my thumb and forefinger. I jumped up, announced I was fine, but didn't feel like I could get back on as my left hand appeared to be on fire.

Which, very honestly, bugged the shit out of me. I should have gotten back on. He got worked - Josie soundly longed his little spotted ass - but I wanted to get back on, more for myself than anything else. I do however, despite the amazing lack of common sense shown by this entire incident, have enough sense not to get on a green pony that just bucked my ass off with one functioning hand. So I didn't.

Here's what I hope/think I learned:

1. If it's 10:30 at night and you know you're tired, and the pony is looking at you like F You, Lady, just longe. You are not being paid by the ride here, nor do you have to have him ready for the Olympics.

2. The pony does not like to be turned out in the arena all day and then worked when he has not had dinner yet and dinner is late and he had to listen to the other horses whinnying and being fed.

3. Failing to turn the pony and the VLC out to play together like they normally do before riding is just stupid. I don't care how late it is, if it's that late, then just don't ride. I am very lucky the VLC was kind enough not to buck my ass off too - that would have been three more hands' worth of fall and probably would have actually hurt.

4. Before you ride the green pony with the long, hanging to the knees ponybeater reins, you MIGHT want to LONGE in them first. I think he was spooked by the hanging, flapping white reins and I got exactly what I deserved for never giving him a chance to be desensitized to them before I just hopped on and rode like that.

5. You need to figure out how the hell to consistently stop the noodle-necked, hyperflexible pony. NOW.

6. Perhaps we have established that the pony should not be left for last with the assumption that he will be the easiest one of the bunch?

On the plus side:

1. I'm actually not stiff or sore. I'm fine. I'm shocked. I did load up on Advil before I went to bed but I'm still surprised the only thing that hurts is my hand.

2. I don't think I'm scared. I think I'll be fine about getting back on the pony.

3. I'm going to learn a lot from riding this one and it will save my ass in the future when I encounter his type again.

OK, anybody have any really good recommendations for some over the counter stuff that will make the rope burn on my hand feel better?


A Bay Horse said...

I recommend Aspercreme.

A Bay Horse said...

About Honey's stiffness: I'm glad we aren't alone. My new OTTQH is the same way, very stiff traveling and bending to the right. He really drops his shoulder at the canter both ways too. We've been doing lots of slow bending circles and figure 8s. Could use more tips. I'm really interested to read more about what works for you and Honey!

Chezza said...

Dermaplast for your hand. It is spray on and has LIDOCAINE! YAY the the numbness!

Can you pulley rein this little guy? I very much love the pulley rein b/c they can't just run through it.

ellen said...

Oh rats. Aren't horses good at stripping us of our delusions of invincibility, or even competence?

He IS a three year old -- and ground driving would do a lot for getting him in the bridle without risking your neck. I hobble my stirrups and run the reins through them, and either ground drive or double longe until I"m pretty sure we know from "bend, turn, and whoa". You can do it off a caveson or halter if you're not in a bridle yet with him.

If aloe plants grow around there, the goo inside the leaves is wonderful for burns of all kinds,and I think you can buy aloe vera gel OTC. Another good one is Vitamin A & D ointment, followed by vitamin E gel caps opened up and the vitamin goo rubbed on the burn.

Glad you weren't hurt -- hope the SSG gets over himself. Little snot....

June Evers said...

Hay, I know this is obvious but I wanted to pass along an observation of mine. Sometimes I just forget the easiest things.

I have a horse, similar to the VLC but he's 9 now and only 16 hands. But very, very agreeable to everything except... (music please, duh, duh, dunnnnn....)

I rode him in a full cheek snaffle without the little cheek piece holders. Everything was really fine but since I'm always looking for the next best thing.... Then, one day I got a hold of a Sprenger ($120). It was sold to me as the most comfortable bit for any horse. It would be like a pacifier. Well, he really didn't like it and I did give it a bit for him to get used to. Just didn't get along with it. No outward nastiness from the hrose, just a mild dislike. Switched back to his regular bit full cheek snaffle ($20).

I also tried him in a very wide snaffle bit, supposedly softer, no go!~ Back to the $20 bit. And, the others went on eBay!

This other horse I put a full cheek snaffle ($20) on and there was alot of fussing, even though the other horse goes great in this. After much trying out, turns out this horse wants a Myler low-port comfort snaffle ($110).

Both head tossers until they got the bit most comfortable for them. (Teeth were checked on both above horses.)

Maybe VLC just needs a bit change. You always think soft, wide snaffle to start but some horses hate them and actually prefer a thinner bit? Anyway, just food for thought.

austriancurls said...

Setting head position and getting a horse used to the bit without your hand impairing the process:

Place the bit with bridle on the horse. Tie the outside rein loose on the saddle horn, or onto a position on the saddle lower down if it had D-loops on the saddle, or to the girth D-loop. Make sure the long end of the rein is not hanging and tie it to the saddle horn, etc.

The inside rein, to begin with thread the rein through the small D-loop on the saddle, or the girth loop, keep it fairly loose at first, and pull in just a little bit in steps. When you first do this excercise never have the rein too taught, but still set the rein so that the horse's head is just ever so slightly off center to the inside. Tie the rein there, let the horse get used to this position standing. It should only put very light pressure on the inside ring of the bit, so that the horse himself can learn all by himself to give to the bit without a hand on the rein.

Longe the horse on the circle (I prefer a roundpen because you aren't pulling the horse's head in using a longe-line but I'm assuming you're very experienced with this and don't bend the horse on a line) but if he can free run in a roundpen it is better because his body will then with the rein tied automatically take on the correct curvature. Yes, of course, a young horse will try to look to the outside, but together with getting used to the bit and giving to the bit by himself pulling his head about, he will also slowly get used to setting his head in that position on the circle.

After one direction, stop the horse and let him rest, his neck will have been flexed slightly and he needs to relax that muscle. That is when you can take your hands and do light impulses on the bit left and right, shake light impulses also to see if he will lightly tuck his head in. Then do the same for the other side longing in the other direction 10-15 mins. Work in the trot, you get the best results in the trot.

Then, after this, ride the horse 15mins or so, and see how he responds to very light impulses of the hand.

Continue to repeat the process daily before riding, as the horse gets used to the bit and gives to lighter and lighter pressure you can reduce this part of the training and move on to using the hand from the saddle.

Ground driving is really great as well, however you have to really be careful about the bit and sensitivity. I like to ground drive only using a halter so that the long reins and delayed signals do not mess up the mouth.

Here's a picture of setting up a young horse on the rein in the roundpen.


In this one I've requested him to give to the bit and he has responded and I have released.

The point is there is a lot of ground work in preparation to correct the problems you are encountering with head-set and attitude.

Karen V said...

Rope burn - I 2nd anything with Lidocaine. I like to use a neosporin creme with it. Too bad you're so far away. I'd give you the T-Zone cream I have. That stuff works on EVERYTHING!

Noodleneck - Maybe keep his nose between your hands...take up some of the outside rein. I realize he's green, but perhaps a pop on the shoulder with your toe or even the inside of your stirrup will get his attention and assist his change of direction.

{{{HUGS}}} (LOL - sorry, couldn't resist) I'm gla d you're not seriously hurt.

It's also awesome to hear that Honey is being such a good girl!

fernvalley01 said...

I know the feeling with the roe burn ,Kinda like there are flames shooting off your hand huh?
Can you get Flamazine otc where you are? Otherwise polysporin makes e nice ointment with lidocaine in it . Keeps the skin soft and eases it quite well

austriancurls said...

Sorry, I messed up those links:


In this one I've requested him to give to the bit and he has responded and I have released.

austriancurls said...

You can also connect the driving reins to both the halter and the bit. This stops the reins from pulling too much on the bit. Even if I am ground driving with the halter, the horse is still wearing the bit to get used to it.

austriancurls said...

Another point, if the horse is just fighting the bit the whole time and it is a serious problem. Start this longing routine with him wearing the halter and bit, and attach the rein only to the halter. Longe him like that for a week or so, you are still setting the head and he is mouthing the bit. After that, attach the reins to both the halter and bit, and continue the training, then when he is comfortable with that, you can attach the rein to the bit alone. Build slowly.

fernvalley01 said...

Sorry about the spelling
roe burn?=rope burn

Karen V said...

VCL - I just posted some new pics of Joy.

Josie said...

Additional mistake:

Imp and her son Ditto are Very Smart. Never should they hear a sentence such as "OK, the sooner we get done with this, the sooner you'll be back in your stall with your dinner". In retrospect, that look on his face was "you want SOON?!?!? I'll show ya SOON!!"

bigpainthorse said...

Ow, Cathy, sorry to hear about all that, but glad you are still mentally unscathed, at least. Really WANTING to get right back on after becoming air mail is a good sign (and only horsepeople would say that, LOL ...)

I second Dermaplast for the hand, worked great for me after BPH's last longe-line freak out (her: no-no-no I will not transition down to the trot, I don't care that I'm cross-firing at the canter, I am going to keep going ... me: yes you WILL come down to the trot, I've asked you nicely now I have to yank ... yank ... RIP! What was that? Oh. My fingers ...)

kellysreward said...

I am currently training a PMU fugly and am getting close to saddling/riding for the first time.

I just want to say thanks for even posting the fact when you feel you fu*ked up.

It is refreshing to have someone be so honest about the whole training process THANKS!

Karen V said...

"...becoming air mail" ROFLMAO! LOVE IT!

mugwump said...

Rope burn on much better than busted ass.
I reccomend ibuprofen, gloves, a Margarita, and lots of bitching. That's my approach anyway.

Karen V said...

mugwump - You just described me to a "T".

TinkersDam said...

Maybe start wearing gloves for rope burn prevention? I hate gloves, but I learned this lesson the hard way :-)

Lisa said...

At least your 3 are all in commission...

My filly decided to be a nitwit and wrench her ankle doing acrobatics in the field. Not quite sure when we're going to get back to work. *sigh* It's ok, I'd rather be patient and be safe. I could rush things and be sorry.

amarygma said...

Dante used to do that to me (noodle neck or just break steering), to try to convince me to go back to where we unsaddle, where the treats are, etc.

Actually a NH-person helped out. We did exercises where we'd actually build flexibility, but also taught him to disassociate steering with hands.

We would go forward, and then I'd use a (very) direct rein to get him to kind of spiral and it would get tighter, then I would shift to an indirect rein until he disengaged, and we would kind of spiral out of it with him stepping across himself, and then get to go forward again. This would be accompanied with legs at first "pushing" the outside shoulder into the turn and then the other leg pulling back a little and "pushing" the butt during the indirect rein. We got to where we could do this relatively fluidly.

So when he would be a punk and try to pick the direction, ignoring any pulling whatsoever, I'd say, okay, you want to go that way, we WILL! And then I'd spiral him till he was listening making the turn in that direction MUCH more difficult than listening, and end the spiral so that we were either going to retry the turn in MY direction, or that we were exiting in the direction that I wanted to go (like a traffic cirle).

You start kinda silly with the rein lead-rope looking during the direct and the foot way back and low. But then it's refined.

Redsmom said...

Glad the landing wasn't too bad, Cathy. Hope its the last one for awhile!! My noodle neck old gelding can canter indefinitely with his nose on my opposite boot! Fortunately, he usually stops at the nearest gate. Old FART. I always wear gloves for riding. Improves my grip and saves my old lady hands from getting worse. Crochet backed ones aren't too hot in summer. They are cheap on ebay, Valley Vet, etc.

Lisa said...

Oh, and as for the noodle neck-- boy can I relate! Since I don't have a ring or a rail to rely on, my only solution so far has been to do whatever it takes to stay on and keep my leg on her. Not exactly simple when she's bolting for home and bucking.

I refuse to switch bits. Maybe that's to my own detriment. But she's going in a loose ring and I'd like to keep it that way. Putting her in a full cheek will only make me feel like I'm cheating.

Char said...

Oh brother - You sure had an eventfull evening! lol

I three-hundreth the Dermoplast with Lidocane. That stuff is WONDERFULL for many different applications.

As for the bending thing, I'd be serisously considering the introduction of indirect reins in conjunction with my direct reins.

I know he's still green, but I think at this point he's good enough at evading the direct rein and you're losing ground with him as far as training goes. Time to bust out the next move and show him he's not THAT smart before it's impossible to break him from doing it.

manymisadventures said...

I like Mugwump's suggestion of gloves :)

On Mr. Noodle-neck, have you considered trying a pulley rein instead of a one-rein stop? It may work better because instead of saying, "It's a lot easier for you to turn in a circle and stop than it is for you to run," you're saying, "This is going to hurt like a bitch until you slow up or stop." Yeah, it'll lock up his whole body instead of just disengaging his hindquarters, but until you establish a really solid "HO" (which you might try from the ground - if you can get him to halt immediately by voice from a canter on the longe, you'll probably get it under saddle), using the pulley rein could help.

loneplainsman said...

Is he really noodle necked or is he dropping a shoulder?? My horse did very similiar things but he ended up dropping his outside shoulder and ducking out. If that's what SSG is doing, you might want to carry a dressage whip and spend some time teaching him to move the forehand out of the way. Practice turning with the shoulders (on the hq) instead of just direct reining. That worked really well for my guy.

Also, does SSG do something before he rubbernecks? Like do you have any warning? My guy got really stiff through the frame and started to resist bending several turns before he tried the rubbernecking/shoulder dropping technique. So now if I feel him stiffening up I do a lot of FQ turns/turns on the haunches and a lot of small figure-8s (backing up with a dressage whip/ponybeaters if I have to). That gets his mind engaged again and he forgets to rubberneck.

Just something that works for me!

As far as the pain relief goes... I like Mugwump's suggestion! lol!

One is Enough said...

I test rode one that noodle necked and it was very disconcerting. She could turn that head all the way and still run in the direction she wanted. It didn't help that she was thickskinned and would mostly ignore leg bumping the outside shoulder. I could almost get her going straight in a very squiggly way.

A different 3 year old appy colt started swerving and trying to ignore the rein aides. Lightly tapping with a popper (more noise than anything) on his outside shoulder worked. Once he was going straight and listening again, we quit for the day.

I would encourage you to wear a helmet when riding this horse and maybe even a vest.

Shana said...

I have a noodle neck too! Luckily she doesn't resist long and I've found if I really apply my whole leg and push her where I'm trying to turn her, after about 10-15 feet she'll finally turn. If I give her a very light kick she'll also turn. Of course, she's 16 and an Arab and luckily doesn't fight me about things too hard.

I'm a total newbie so I have no suggestions, but I did want to comment how much I love the way horses decide to listen when you make them do what they wanted to do far past the point they wanted to stop.

Jade occasionally decides to back up rather than go forward. She doesn't like to back up, but she does enjoy messing with me, so she'll start backing up and I just keep making her go, and then soon she wants to stop...and for weeks she won't pull that until its time to test me again :)

verylargecolt said...

Nope, he really is just noodle necked. He doesn't drop his shoulders at all. He's extremely upright and well balanced and wonderful on his feet. That may be the problem, ha ha!

I like the margarita idea...that sounds excellent.

Laura Crum said...

Glad you're OK--it is not fun getting dumped. But margaritas, in my experience, will make anything better. (I'm one of those, too, mugwump.) Biggest insight for me, now that I'm 51 and really, really don't want to be dumped any more is to follow your instincts and don't get trapped into what your mind tells you you ought to do. You already said this in your post, but it was a big learning for me. If I've planned to take a horse for a ride and something niggles at me saying don't do this right now, I just don't. I follow my instincts almost all the time these days and have far less problems with my horses. And I do ride just as much as ever--and enjoy it more. Good luck with the SSG--I enjoy hearing about your adventures. The VLC sounds like an amazingly cooperative young horse.

Laura Crum said...

Oh and I had one of these noodle-necked colts, too, years ago--he ran off with me in a river bed and managed to keep going straight (at the dead run) when I had dallied his nose to the saddle horn with my left rein. (I don't recommend this approach.) I wish I could offer some insights, but I just outlasted this horse. He eventually gave up that behavior and became a nice little reining horse which I sold to a kid who showed him and kept him to the end of his days. I just persisted with him--as the old cowboys say--lots of wet saddle blankets.

Serendipity said...

It's funny that you rode the ottb and the monster colt fine, but the one to give you the toss was the little pony-shit.

But glad you survived with minimal pain.

CutNJump said...

Ground driving ALWAYS precedes riding. It's like learning the alphabet so you can read.

If you skip over the basics, you have nothing later to go back to and you have set yourself up for problems.

Long lines/ground driving is the best time to address the not so supple unbending horse as well as the noodlenecked horse/pony, whose body doesn't always follow the nose. It is also a great time to reinforce 'whoa' means STOP! NOW, and do not move until asked, no matter how quietly mumbled even under my breath.

This is what I meant about brakes and steering being BUILT INTO the car BEFORE it ever makes it off the assembly line. These things are NOT aftermarket or *optional* items. (Not unless you have a death wish. If so, good luck to you and please keep clear of me. It is not my time to go yet.)

This is also why when we get a new horse in, we go over the BASICS. If the horse does not bend or give, we can address and fix this from the ground through suppling exercises. If they are noodlenecked, we can work on their body following their nose.

Also feed them at a somewhat normal time. So what if you take them out in the middle of eating, it will still be waiting when they are done working. This may happen at a show, so best to establish now, that they will not *just diiiiie* if they have to leave their food behind. If they have *something* in their belly they may not be as pissy during your ride.

I have been known to use a hay bag at the hitching rail while grooming, picking feet and tacking up for an early ride. It's just a simple courtesy towards my horse who will soon be packing my ass through the desert. It is waiting when I untack and then dumped for them to finish when they are put away. We haven't had any pissy, early rides doing this. They know they will get to eat and they will get all of their food.

We always use leather reins for that very reason. Braided leather reins will also tear up your hands, just as nylon will slip right through them. Consistency is key when they are just learning. Can't be too consistent and get back on when your hand hurts like hell.

Also try changing up the schedule or order in which they are worked. Sometimes working the feistier ones first gets them 'out of the way' for the 'easier' (to read: lazier/slower) ones for later. You are also fresh and can probably deal with them better. You have the energy to do so now when you may not after riding a couple others...

It also gets them out of a routine of "My buddy gets ridden, then my turn, then the next horse." Instead, I get chosen first today, then maybe third or fifth tomorrow and last the following day then somewhere in the middle the following day.

austriancurls said...

Amen CNJ.

loneplainsman said...

Nope, he really is just noodle necked. He doesn't drop his shoulders at all. He's extremely upright and well balanced and wonderful on his feet. That may be the problem, ha ha!

Wow.. that must be somewhat terrifying!

I third C&J's response -- well said!!

CutNJump said...

Thank you AC & Loneplainsman.

We are just ALL about NOT getting hurt.

Been there enough from fixing everyone elses fuck ups. We no longer 'bounce' like we did and even Humpty Dumpty had his limits... :-(

Fix everything from the ground whenever you can and make sure there are as few suprises as possible when we get on them.

Doesn't mean there aren't a few who still give me the willy's or the heebeejeebee's about getting on them. Hell the biggest one to cause me the latest bout of the willy's is my own dog damned horse! Talk about stupid and being a chicken shit. I can admit to it though and will be the first to do so.

I KNOW all of the basics are done the brakes and steering are excellent(!) and the worst thing she does is trot a few steps and stop(!) expecting me to get off and stuff her face full of treats for being such a princess.

As if!

Part of the problem is I created a good deal of (if not ALL of) that. Now, I have to undo it. It will surely only get worse until I start riding her again (November/December) and fix the mess I created and teach her that when I say go, I mean go and don't stop until I say so.

She will be ridden by JR and others until then and most likely won't pull any of that with any of them and if she does she won't get away with a bit of it. Knowing her, she will store it all away in the far reaches of her mind, neatly. Just for me.

She's just a little bitch that way and funny thing- that's what I love the most about her!

Why are they always the ones?

TheUnicorn said...

I've not really ridden green horses w/the noodle-neck problem, but I've ridden many older lesson horses who would be nose-to-boot and running where they wanted (seems to be prevalent in haflinger ponies and arab-types)! For most of those horses, it was fairly obvious during groundwork (we do a lot of "NH") whether they would be prone to it, but we would try to correct both on the ground and in the saddle.

The haflinger I leased as a fairly novice rider tended to *always* be on his FH, so doing a one rein stop was not usually a good idea; instead, I would let his head straighten a little (the more I bent his nose, the easier it was for him to go out thru his shoulder!;^) and try to hit his outside shoulder w/my heel or a beater bar! I spent many a ride working on getting him off his FH and to bend thru his body (read: lotsa circles!)

I later rode a NSH who was usually *not* on his FH, just wouldn't bend thru his whole body (especially when he he wanted to just race off ;^) and I used pretty much the same treatment: straighten his head a bit (definitely had to get it DOWN, too--he'd usually keep it in the air) and kick him on the outside shoulder 'til he went the way I asked. After years of doing circles and asking for collection a lot of the time, he rarely goes thru his shoulder (for more advanced riders, anyway...'haven't seen anyone else riding him lately, so don't know for sure)

Again, these were mostly-broke horses w/bad habits from incorrect riding, so this may not be useful for now...

Just Kreeping Up said...

The BEST thing I have found for skin injuries is Herbal Solution, for horses (!). I used it when I knocked the skin off my knuckle when hammering a nail into a loose fence board, and didn't have a human first aid kit at the barn. It healed way faster than any similar injury that I have ever had, and it didn't sting for the first few days like open wounds often do. It has aloe vera, comfrey, myrhh, cayenne, and a couple of other herbs in it. Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

I second what cutnjump said about the feeding and the SSG. It bugs the heck out of me when I hear people say "Oh, I can't take my horse out now, they're eating and they turn into real PITAs." Um--they're supposed to be working, and back in the day, that sometimes meant leaving food.

Timing on riding my girl means that sometimes she has to leave her hay, because that's just the way my schedule is, and I'm too old to hang out until midnight because she's eating. Doesn't hurt her one bit, and it's still there when she gets back.

As for the VLC, are you using a single-jointed snaffle or a double-jointed (French link)? Some QHs--my girl is one of them--have an issue with a thick tongue and a low palate. Horses like that much prefer a French link, because the joint isn't bumping them in the palate. Toklat makes a decent cheaper version in a loose ring. I'd default to a French link in just about any QH I ride, to be honest, because I think the problem is more common than not.

apocalypsepony said...

Ummm...definitely margaritas for the acute trauma of rope burn, followed by some aloe vera gel with lidocaine (they make it for sunburns).

Ground driving for the steering issues with SSG.

On the personal training front. I ponied my little gelding on a ride today and was able to stand in the stirrup from both sides of him afterwards. Didn't swing a leg over but he actually managed to compose himself enough to look at me standing over him and not come unhinged. So maybe tomorrow we will attain a leg on each side of him.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Joycemocha - that is a good idea about the french link. I will try that with him, for sure.

As to the stopping, one thing I have only recently learned (because I truly haven't been around these horses prior to recently) is that horses started with a lot of NH groundwork just don't have a HO the way I'm used to. It is all about moving the feet in NH. They yield and bend all over the place, but HO and plant your feet NOW is somehow missed. SSG has had clinics and lots of ground work but he just doesn't have the ingrained HO that the VLC has (because I did a lot of that before I ever got on him). And yes, that is something that I need to go back and install.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

(Interestingly, the BTM has a great "ho," no problem there. She plants 'em, on voice command. I guess whoever broke her out for the track had a healthy sense of self-preservation)

Josie said...

Oh, two other things.

1) Today is the SSG's birthday! He is 3 today.

2) I have long reins. And a surcingle.

Anonymous said...

Best thing for putting brakes on a horse? Teaching them that woah means woah, on the lunge. Woah means now. Not in 5 strides, not in 2 strides. The moment of the word is when they should stop.

It was the first thing my mare learned when I got her. And... later on, I had her out alone in the woods, trotting along... and we come upon a deer, who bolts. Mare sees bolting deer and decides lions must be out to get her. Turns and bolts. I lose both sturrips, and am sure I am going to come off. Yell WOAH. And low and behold, she stops dead. Saved me what would have been a nasty fall.

ellen said...

CnJ said:
Fix everything from the ground whenever you can and make sure there are as few suprises as possible when we get on them.

And I say, Amen, Amen, Amen. As a more-breakable-than-before 50 year old in year 40 or so of starting horses, I have gotten away with WAY more than my share of short cuts and survived WAY more stupid accidents than I ever needed to have, so, indeed, it is ALL about not getting hurt. Been hurt. No fun.

And, as CnJ says -- fixing other people's mistakes is the most dangerous part. Bring me something that has never had a hand laid on it, before you bring me someone's mistakes to fix.

(Training hint: when someone on crutches or wearing a plaster cast on any part of their body asks you to train their horse, approach with EXTREME caution...)

SakiBasenji said...

I wanted to get my mare adjusted. Does anyone know of a good chiropractor in the Frederick, MD area?

apocalypsepony said...

I like installing the "whoa" pretty early. Like when you teach them to lead. But then most of the horses I've worked with are Arabs and "getting the feet moving" has never been a problem. Now with the three year old App. gelding, yeah, getting the feet moving takes some effort, the three year old Arab gelding, not so much. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Always adding energy to the App. always adding calmness to the Arab.

loneplainsman said...

...horses started with a lot of NH groundwork just don't have a HO the way I'm used to. It is all about moving the feet in NH. They yield and bend all over the place, but HO and plant your feet NOW is somehow missed.

I'm definitely finding that out.

My guy has a great woah... from a trot or canter. A virtual slide stop. And no reins required - just a soft exhale of breath and he quits. And once he's stopped he won't move an inch. He's really loving Mugwump's concept of release! But from a walk I am realizing I wasn't strict enough. If I ask for a woah from a walk, he'd mosy along until I really made him. I needed reins and I needed a lot of them.

Today I rode and made a pattern. First exhale, then say "woah", then say "HEY! Woah!", then *make* him stop. Took about five tries but he managed to stop at step two - no reins required!

But you're right, this isn't something that's really big in NH it seems. In fact, I only started really paying attention to it after reading Mugwumps blog and this one. Interesting.. with all the safety talk in NH I'm really surprised it isn't pushed more strongly..

Anonymous said...

The "whoa" issue is just one of the problems I have with a lot of the NH concepts (I'm also not fond of the one-rein stop, I much prefer a pulley rein and the pulley rein's saved my butt a time or two).

One way to reinforce whoa through ground driving or even through simple lead line work is to immediately ask for a back after the word "whoa". One or two steps is all you need, but once they get the conditioning, they'll stop good and hard.

Another thing that my trainer emphasizes is that the word is "whooaaa." A soft, quiet, drawn out word, not a loud snapped sharp "HO!" He feels the latter tends to startle and scare a horse. My mare--who's been started and trained by his methods (gee, what did I expect, I bought her from him!) responds exquisitely well to that soft, drawn-out, "whoa." But she should, with her breeding (Chocolate Chic Olena out of a Doctor Wood mare, can we say line-bred Doc O'Lena and Gay Bar King horse?). She just automatically goes to ground.

Back before I was a horse owner and just a working student with this trainer, I spent a lot of time on the ground leading rehabs and greenies just working on "whoa." Stop, immediate back. Stop, immediate back. Lather, rinse and repeat until the horse reads your body language and stops dead on the word "whoa."

The final piece of it is that "whoa" is a sacred word and can only be used for stop. Not slow down, not stop misbehaving (that's "QUIT!" in his lexicon), but stop. Period. He's drilled that into my brain ever since I bought my horse, and he repeats it to me at least once every lesson.

ellen said...

I'm not a big fan of the one rein stop either, for the simple fact that I flipped a very stiff and clumsy horse that way once -- fortunately I was young and landed on my feet, was up LONG before he was (and the problem was fixed -- he liked to try to yank you out of position and then buck, which he never did again).

I find to get a "whoa" that sticks, visualizing it first, stilling my seat, and exhaling, dropping my weight through my seat into my heels, all help. I've had quite a few "rolling stop" critters, and sometimes (use with caution) having a step or two of reinback reinforces the halt. You don't want to make that automatic or set up another direction in which to resist, but sometimes it's useful to help the horse balance.

It's also important NOT to have the kind of tense "OMGosh he's not going to stop" energy when the horse does stop his feet -- I have to remember to "stop" myself, and to reward the horse. I also find it helps to not consider the halt complete until I get a little bit of a vertical flexion from the horse -- the "period" on the sentence. It helps them balance so they CAN maintain the halt. If they halt sprawled out with their chins poked forward, they are going to take an extra step to balance.

I like a pulley rein for a dead runaway -- had an Ap gelding who was a ferocious bolter, with NHRA drag racing acceleration, and not much brakes, whom I could get stopped in a snaffle pretty quickly that way. But a pulley rein on a very green horse is a questionable tactic unless it's a "him or me" situation as it sets up the wrong kind of relationship with the reins if that makes any sense. The truth of the pulley rein is it is painful, and pain = tension and tension is the enemy with a green horse.

I'd much prefer with something at the SSG's place in training to go back to ground driving, to establish the rein effects from the ground, to get the aids going "through" and connected to the feet, before I got back on, rather than use drastic measures because I blew through some "caution lights" and the situation got totally out of hand.

I'm not sure the pulley rein would have worked in this situation anyway as it seemed the little squirt had bogged his head and gone to buckin' and there's not a whole lot to do with that once it happens. It's a very valuable tool though and has saved my stupid hide more than once.

ellen said...

sorry to ramble, but in the case of the horse that just blows you off when you ask for halt from a walk, sometimes, even though it isn't pretty, I just have to sit their fuzzy little butts down a time or two -- under the "as much as necessary" clause.

I try to give them every chance first, making sure it's not a balance or stiffness issue, but if he's just ignoring, or saying "not today, thanks" then a sit-down or two is in order.

robyn said...

I too went airborne this afternoon on my ride. Pony spooked at a car (not normally what spooks him, but he was hot--mistake #1) and since I was bareback (mistake #2) I came off. Whacked my head GOOD, and I have a tender bump to prove it.
But I was wearing my helmet, or else I'm convinced I'd be spending tonight in the hospital instead of farting around online. This makes me even more of a helmet fan than before, b/c this is the first time I've hit my head coming off. WEAR YOUR HELMETS!
Then of course the idiot pony took off down the road towards home, overran it and went up to the neighbors house, then came tearing back down and ran frantically along the pasture fence until I could catch him up. I got up again, and we walked nicely back to the spooky place, and then walked nicely home before I put him up. I'm sore tho--banged my shoulder and hip pretty bad too. I'm too old for this. No more bareback on the pony for me outside of the arena. >sigh<

verylargecolt said...

It's interesting to compare the SSG and the VLC. The VLC did NOT have a lot of ground work early - but for the month before I rode him, I led his butt around the arena and we learned HO. He learned to halt every time I stopped walking, and to back up if I turned toward him and stepped toward his shoulder. I think I am going to go back and do exactly that with the SSG and "close the hole."

I have done the halt-and-back-up for years. Learned that riding OTTB's that we were training for polo - it is a first step to get them thinking about shifting to their back legs before you start to teach a slide stop. Also works great to correct horses who want to prop when you halt from the canter.

verylargecolt said...

Robyn, sorry to hear that. It seems I have read about bad rides all day today. Must have been some phase of the moon!

manymisadventures said...

You should talk more about polo ponies and training thereof. It seems really interesting and I've really never known anything about it, except they're wicked fast and trot along in strings.

austriancurls said...


I know the feeling (about your own dog gone horse). I have to sort out a big baby problem with my black stallion. He's fine, I can ride him, stop and turn, back and really enjoy him, until the trot. When he freaks because of having something on his back. I'm no sack of potatoes on a horse, he just isn't used to the weight and balance at the trot, he gets excited and then start to run...I have to sit it out and try to calm him and turn him into the outside of the roundpen.

When he's on a line and I have a second person in the center calling the voice commands and we trot, he's much better. It's the transition from having someone on the ground controlling the situation to someone on top controlling it that he hasn't quite made yet.


NH horses and HO: WTF? I don't know if I'm doing NH or what, but the horses trained here stop on a dime with the word HO (and seat stop). Actually, they have to stop on the voice command, on the seat cue, and on the hand, all three, just one, or two combined. NH if you mean Natural Horsemanship doesn't f that up, poor ground training and not taking your time from the saddle to teach them HO does.

ellen said...

VLC, what you did with the VLC IS "groundwork" in the best sense of the word. It accomplished -- from the ground -- the understandings that you wanted the VLC to have -- respect your leadership, yield to pressure, proper response to your aids (in this case the lead rope and your body language), and WHOA. It also created a common ground of communication and trust between the two of you.

My thought on "groundwork" is that its value is in the understandings it can help the horse acquire. Once those understandings are in place, it's time to move on -- repeating the same groundwork for its own sake is pretty useless and is frequently shorthand for "i'm afraid to ride"

That said I do a lot of ground work with my youngsters because I want them to have some very specific understandings very well established before we move on -- but it's focused, purposeful, and finite, not an end in itself.

With the older horses, longeing and double longeing has a specific purpose related to what I'm trying to accomplish with that particular horse, usually in the gymnastic sense (suppling, strengthening.relaxation, balance).

The point is to see change in the horse's behavior/carriage/response to the aids -- and that's really all teaching/training is, enacting change (and the exciting part for my money).

Mary said...

All my OTTBs had a problem going to the right, picking up the right lead, backing and STANDING FOR MOUNTING! The moving mounts was the most annoying thing and even after umpteen years with Tango, he STILL has a problem stepping off when being mounted.

I have questions, too!!!! I haven't had to "train" a horse in many years. And by train, I mean start 'em and put the miles and stuff on 'em. So I have next to no tack left (when I learned about my health issues and how it would forever change what I could do with horses, in my depression I hit the angry stage and gave almost everything away) so when I got to Nike (SSP) and I realized, ummm, I don't have the tools anymore! I don't plan on training anything but what I have here and since there is 1 teenager and 1 over 20 year old, SSP will be it and I dont' want to spend a fortune getting all my crap back.

So, here's my questions:

When ground driving, what does everyone use? I used to have a sursingle (sp-I'm on my first cup of coffee) and long-lines. I'm hoping I can avoid spending $200 again on one. Mine was sooo nice. It was a wee bit wider then the average. Leather with sheepf fleece lining on the pressure pounts. Fully adjustable from a pony to a draft. Stainless steel fittings and D rings. It had wedge attachments to use on high withered horses for comfort. It was custom made for me and it was beeeeeeeeeeeautiful! I'm an idiot. I know. I sold it for $20.

Where the frickin' hell can you find a sweet iron, copper inlay full cheek snaffle in a 4 1/2"????? Hell, I'd settle for just a copper one, but all I can find are 4" and under and 5" and up.

Nike hasn't been ridden lately. I noticed she is missing MANY parts of her ground work training, so she's been doing that, while saddled. Alex is riding Tango on the lunge line to work on his seat and balance as well as his hands.

Oh, one more question since it seems like everyone has a PMU right now. I live about 2 hours from the canadian border in Minnesota. I want a PMU BABY! The problem is, and I can't seem to figure out why this is the case, all the rescues I've found in my area want 2+ grand for a rescue that has health/weight issues, attitude problems, little to no training and so on. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to pay that much, it's not going to be a basket case!

This place is a prime example. They ship horses all over the country for foster care, then that drives up the price to adopt so they can recover and so on. They had a black shire that I fell in love with. He was 18 hands, 4 years old and started training. But he'd bolt as soon as something was behing him. They had him listed for $2,500. I would of gotten him in a heartbeat but something about paying that much for a horse THAT big that was still VERY dangerous just seemed stupid. $1000? Sure, I could do that, maybe.

Hmmm, I'm starting to see a trend with my messages. LONG!

ellen said...

sorry me again, but I was thinking about your pony this morning and had a few thoughts to share.

I find a lot of resistance in young horses and horses w/ponytude (something my Morgans are quite susceptible to) is located in their shoulders. And that's where the "block" is with the noodle neck stuff -- your rein aids go "through" only as far as the base of his neck where he blocks them.

So as for tailoring the groundwork for him, before I started even with ground driving or messing with the reins at all, I'd work on lightening up the shoulders -- turns on the haunches AWAY from you from both sides (I like to lead and handle, including mounting, equally from both sides). Asking him to bend his neck toward you (not COLLAPSE his neck, but flex at the poll) while stepping THROUGH his shoulders in the opposite direction is a good exercise for that. In my experience the haunches are much easier to get control of, but the shoulders are where horses tend to hang on to power/control, and it's more of a mental and physical release for the horse to give the shoulders -- but it does wonders for "throughness" of the aids, particularly the rein aids.

Just a thought.

which_chick said...

On the VLC and bridle training: I second the "use a different bit" thing. If you've tried the single-joint snaffle a couple of times (more than half an hour each) and he's STILL not getting any better, maybe there's something wrong. He seems a levelheaded boy most of the time, not the sort to be pissy without cause. A different style or shape of bit might be more comfortable for him.

A one-rein stop for the noodle necked pony is tougher than for normal horses because the pony bends like a pool noodle.

To improve the functionality of the one-rein thing, I drill it for BOTH the bend-the-head-around AND for the "get the (nose-on-your-knee-side) back foot crossing the horse's centerline in front of the other back foot" part. To do this, if you've pulled the head around to your left knee, you'll also put a fair amount of left leg on, as much and far back as you would for a "move your hindquarters over" reaction, which is what you want, here. Generally the forward movement shuts down when you get the horse to step over.

I practice this before the hour of need -- bend the neck (slow and steady, not a yank), stepover (leg), stepover (leg), stepover (leg). It works best for me if the leg cue is a bumping or pulsing thing instead of a *wham* and the leg goes on and stays on. I repeat stepovers with the leg cue until horse feels ready to halt. At that point, I release leg BUT NOT NECK, wait for horse to coast to a stop with neck bent. Stand. Pet (with neck bent). Release horse to be straight (straighten if needed), pet, stand. Wait a bit. (This is to be a "resting" thing, a calm thing, a no-work thing that means we all settle down and regroup. Take a deep breath. Reorganize your thoughts or whatever.)

Watch for the evasion of catty, nimble pony types -- they tend to side-to-side the hind feet AS IF they are stepping over, but they do not actually step over. This is not good enough. Drill the stepover until you have a good, pretty stepover every time you ask for one, both sides. Might help to do it from the ground first -- I find that the stepover thing transfers pretty easily from ground work to saddle work.

ellen said...

Mary I got a serviceable surcingle from Dover saddlery in the $40 range, and I have double longe lines the Amish made for me out of nylon for $20 -- 40 footers and 60 footers.

I also got a great set of driving lines free from the standardbred trainer at the county fairgrounds.

As for PMU babies -- I have a beauty I am trying to rehome -- she is registerable appaloosa, but is classy dark bay and VERY TB looking, a yearling, utd on shots, worming, hoof care, handled since birth, halter broke, sweet, etc. etc. that I am asking the Fugly Favorite price of $500 for but would let go of for a LOT less to the perfect home... She'll make someone a wonderful eventer or hunter -- the girl loves to run and jump. (Cathy if this is against protocol pop me with the pony whackers and I'll delete the post)

mugwump said...

OK guys,
Help me here. What's a pulley rein?
Never heard of it.

Anonymous said...

Mugwump--the best description I've encountered for the pulley rein (or pulley hand, as she calls it) comes from Margaret Cabell Self, The Complete Book of Horses and Ponies. She describes it thus:

"The rider shortens up on both reins. He then grasps the horse's neck with his left hand, still holding onto the left rein. Throwing his own weight slightly back and down in the saddle, he lifts the right hand high and out to the side. In this way, he turns the horse's head to the right and also changes its angle so that the muzzle is pulled sideways and upward."

Caveat--you have to pulse the right rein or you'll bring the horse down doing this. Self identifies this as a technique only to be used in a runaway--which is when I've used it (long story, but I had a rental horse bolt once with me and I used it to turn her once we got to a nice sandy hill to slow her down--the other options were to take on a palmetto swamp full of snakes and gators, or kite out across a golf course). I've also used it in other runaways. Never used it with a horse in a curb, though--just in a snaffle. Very rare that I use it because most of the time I'm able to stop the bolt within the first or second jump.

Mary said...

I found the one you're talking about on Dover, too. Oh, and CountrySupply (my favorite horsie site for buying crud). I have my yachting rope lines still. LOVE those. I have yet to get a burn from 'em. I'm wondering if I run them through my irons if that'll save me buying something I probably won't ever use after Nike.

OOoo...You have a PMU huh? Although, I'm rather anti-appy. I've worked with too many of 'em to not have formed a bad opinion about the breed as a whole. Plus, if you aren't within driving range it's really not possible. I have a real bad taste in my mouth when it comes to transporters. I also want to see and play with whatever horse I'm going to bring home because it'll be a forever thing.

ellen said...

Mary that's how I double longe the ones who are already under saddle -- shorten my stirrups and hobble them with one of those elastic side reins with the zillion rings on it, and run the lines through them. Works like a charm.

Filly is in Southern Illinois -- kind of a long way from Minnesota. She's got more TB in her than Ap, but I've had enough Appaloosas to know about "Appytude". So far she doesn't have it -- she's sweet sweet. She is a big talker -- she started nickering before she was even out of the wrapper, and has kept up a running commentary on her world ever since. Glad she doesn't thave a cell phone...

ellen said...

... and if you wanted her I could bring her halfway.

Mary said...


Hmmmm, catch me on Yahoo at silky_leather, would ya? My best friend is getting ready to head this way from Mt Vernon area...

I_Don't_Get_it said...

I don't know your opinion of John Lyons, but have you ever tried "steering with the tail" on the noodle necks? My 17+ hander would launch me into orbit if he ever bucked like that. If I ever feel the slightest bit of the shoulder floating out, we use the hip to go in the desired direction. It's akin to how we'd steer a boat and is quite effective. I've never had this method fail with ANY of the dozens of horses I ride. It sure beats the hang on and hope for the best method I used before.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Ellen, you just made me think of another point...

Josie has done all the ground work with the SSG. Except for one session, I've never done a damn thing with him. I always assume it carries over, but perhaps it doesn't so much.

Whereas I've done everything with the VLC and we do have a really good relationship that way.


Maybe I really need to personally do this stuff with the SSG, and not do what I would like to do, which is go, hey Josie, ground drive your naughty pony...

Horsegal984 said...

Totally off topic, will actually read the blog in a min lol, but FIRST SHOW FOR PITA(Jax) TODAY AND HE WAS AWESOME UNDER SADDLE!!!!!!
Gound manners apparently escaped him today, but we completed all three walk trot classes, without much fanfair, and come home with a 5th and a 6th place!!!!!!! I'm soooooo proud of the little bugger!!! Now we just have to work on standing quietly while the other classes go on, which is what he had such an issue with!!!!

ellen said...

Mary I am trying to install that program but not having much luck. Email would be easier -- I can send you pictures of the filly (Blue Moon), her dam and granddam, and links to pictures and pedigrees of her maternal grandparents (both ApHC hall of famers) and her sire.

Mt. Vernon is only an hour away from here.

ellen said...

Sorry Mary my computer about threw a rod trying to install the yahoo messenger program -- here's my email

Jackie said...

Geez..I'm so glad I'm waiting for a "ridable" second horse...Ellen, your appy sounds like something I'd love and I'm in MI....

PintoHorseLover said...

hmm aloe vera, but maybe you should get gloves for possible future exeriences? :)

ellen said...

Jackie, shoot me an email and I'll be happy to send you pictures -- but if you want "rideable" she's a yearling -- rideable EVENTUALLY is not quite the same thing!

She is a darlin' for sure.

verylargecolt said...

Horsegal - CONGRATS! Nothing like having a good first show!

robyn said...

Josie has done all the ground work with the SSG. Except for one session, I've never done a damn thing with him. I always assume it carries over, but perhaps it doesn't so much.

This is a good point, b/c haven't you said that the SSG is very attached to his momma Josie? I've seen this w/ my TWH--when someone else rides him, he tests a bit, but mostly his attitude is "well, YOU'RE not my mama, so I don't HAVE to do what YOU say!"

I asked my trainer about the noodle-neck thing this am when I had a lesson. She said that this often happens w/ horses that have been overworked w/ bending their heads around (like w/ NH), and suggested that you use more indirect rein to keep him straightened up. A bit oversimplified, but I guess that's the gist of what others here have suggested too.

amarygma said...

A friend of mine arrived at the barn before me, so i told her to catch my horse with hers for when I got there. She said he was all prancey and then when I arrived he nearly bowled her over to see me once he heard my voice.

Funny cuz when I show up to get him from pasture he looks at me then goes back to eating and pretending I'm not there half the time.

equus said...

maybe it was something in the water: i, too, went flying through the air and landed flat on my back last tuesday evening. thank god i had my helmet on cause i really wacked my head. first fall in over 27 years, and let me tell you, it hurts as much as you think it will!! i used to go off my first horse regularly (whether i needed to or not, ha ha!), but then i have been lucky since 1981 with not hitting the ground.

little crap-weasel also didn't want to be girthed up (he never minds the saddling, girthing process) and then he was just "not there" mentally for the riding. after i went off, i made myself get back on and ride for another 10 minutes, until he literally freaked out when he couldn't see what was walking next to the gate at the opposite end of the arena (it was my dog). very scary. i have never ridden a horse that mentally zoned out. so i just dismounted at that point. thank god hubby was there to grab zoned out horse so that i could dismount without yet another fall.

57 is too old to be riding crap-weasels!!

FD said...

Huh. Reading your and Mugwumps blogs is an education - we do things so very differently. Reminds me of what an old teacher of mine used to say - with horses, if it doesn't work, you can always try something else. Simple, but apposite.

I'm not really familiar with this one rein stop business, so ymmv as to how helpful this is, but noodle neckedness is usually what I'd call the horse not being through, and can have many causes.
I see from the photo the SSG (it could be a bad angle, feel free to correct) has a short, slightly tight set neck and as such is a classic candidate for setting at his shoulders.
As others have said, sometimes with a horse like this groundwork is the key, esp. driving.
What I'd do with this from the saddle, is work on driving him into a resisting hand from my leg / back to halt and turn, to create the connection.
If you don't have the weight in your hand to do that, then you need to do the groundwork first. If you already have a good contact and weight in your hand most of the time, then it's probably more that you need to get him moving through and free up his shoulders so that he can't set his neck onto them as easily.

However, I ride english, and I'm not sure you're training him in the same style?

Jackie said...

I am so glad I read this before I rode last week...I had decided to canter bareback finally, but when I got PrimaDonnaDiva (and it was a stormy day between storms) I could tell right away she was not all "there"...we walked, trotted, and when I asked for a canter, she jackhammer-trotted, tail-swished, tried to graze (I was riding in a rope halter in case I lost balance - do not want to pull on her mouth, she had enough of that during her year plus being a lesson horse)...was over all just ignoring me. I debated on getting my dressage whip (she barely needs a touch anymore with that) but by that time I was *tired* from staying on that fast I just chalked it up to another practice session for me in balancing...

Rode her today in the saddle and she was great...even canter-counterd when I asked (we have not worked on flying changes, though she has done them naturally by herself). Maybe tomorrow we'll go bareback and canter...

MsFoxy said...

What the hell is in the water? I went out and saddled Foxy up to lunge today. She was a little weird walking out to the pasture, I put my hand up to push her away or bump her back or something...not even sure what. And she spooked backwards like I was ready to beat her. Weirdo. We kept walking on and started to lunge, she was very balky and head shaky.

I hate hate hate to lunge with a bridle and reins attached. I worry about her getting tangled in the reins if she gets pissy. I ended up getting too too nervous and taking off the bridle to lunge with just the saddle. She was still balky, didn't even want to move into a trot. She was jogging slowly and ignoring my I swung the end of the lead rope at her (which I do all the time while lunging if I dont have a whip). She EXPLODED. Spun to face me, pulled back hard, reared a bit and then hit the ground bucking. Full on rodeo bronc bucking. Quite a few, over and over and over. Not the cold backed back humping, or "full of it" bucks or crow hops while lunging. Full on, bucking like a horse who was saddled for the first time. It was seriously all I could do to hold onto her. She wasn't really going anywhere, mostly just bucking in place. Turning and going in different directions but not trying to really get anywhere. Other than AWAY from work.

By the time she stopped, I was totally freaked out. So unfortunately, I just stood there trying to regroup (to say this was unexpected would be the understatement of the year) although I did realize while that it was the wrong response. I really needed to push her through it and not let her rest as a reward. I did end up asking her to go out and trot more...she did it unhappily a few circles, we switched directions and were going and she did it AGAIN. Stopped and spun to face me, pulled backwards hard with a half rear and then landed bucking. She was just sour as can be. It was not as bad that time. When she stopped bucking I asked her to back a bit and then to continue lunging. She trotted a bit both directions after that but was limping pretty badly within a very very short period of time and we had to call it a day. What the hell is in the water?

That was the worst behavior I have EVER had out of her. Ever. It was actually possibly worse than the first time we saddled her and she bucked all over the damn place. Now I am thinking back to the night she threw me and wondering if she really did spook and bolt and buck me off.....or if she bolted and bucked me off because she was just pissy. Iy yi yi.

robyn said...

Dang..equus..msfoxy...maybe they're all mentally connected, saying "let's f*** with our riders this week, whaddaya say, guys?" (80

My lil' Icepony is so steady, even for a green-broke horse. He's been on the trail many times now, very little bothers him. Cars along the road sure haven't bothered him before, and I wasn't tense; in fact, just the opposite. He was gaiting so well and so animated, that I was just enjoying it. Then--wham! Spins around like some Ay-rab, I hit the ground, and get the dreaded view of the hind end of my horse high-tailing it down the road.
To his defense, my trainer pointed out that he might have gotten beaned on the arse by a rock kicked up by the passing car...

amarygma said...

Mine was crazy too! Is there like tectonic plate movement or something we don't know about?

I blogged about it, if anyone can offer advice, I'm willing to listen.

austriancurls said...


I learned something valuable from my trainer, he said basically translated, not every day is the same, some days the horse is off, and some days you are off. If it isn't working, it is better to get one little circle around the roundpen without a or challenge. And, call it a day. Especially if you're taken aback. Instead of forcing the mare through it, rather say...ok, today's a crap day. Find one positive note to end it.

Sagebrusheq said...


From what you relate- and you have provided a good amount of pertinent detail- your experience seems so far outside the norm of your mare's usual behavior that I would suspect something physical, a bur under her blanket, a bee sting in the girth area, or something like that, to account for her unwonted reaction. I think it is particularly telling that she kept turning to you for assistance. You may never know what it was but it doesn't sound like a mood swing to me.


ellen said...

Msfoxy sage is right -- when something is obviously that far out of character for a horse it almost always indicates discomfort. Refusing to go forward on the longe when she usually doesn't was the first clue, along with the unaccustomed tension when you were leading her.

This sounds odd but, if your mare is on the "fluffy" side, you might want to investigate how clean her teats are -- my rotund lesson mare occasionally gets crud balled up in there (and try to FIND them, she's a fat maiden mare) and it makes her terrifically uncomfortable and cranky, especially in hot weather.

You said your horse had some lameness issues that were resolving -- limping off after the longeing would not be unusual? Perhaps she was having a flareup of whatever her injury is and in HER mind, working, especially longeing which is a lot of stress on legs, was not the best thing for her owee. Horses are pretty smart that way.

A lot of times it's necessary to keep our own agendas as trainers flexible, and listen to what is going on with the horse -- as I've been told by several good teachers, you "work the horse you have" on any given day.

MsFoxy said...

Foxy's acrobatics are what contributed to the limping, I believe. She does have some lameness issues we are hopefully resolving, involving her front legs (mostly left front). However, she can be lunged (lightly) in the pasture quite well and we stop before any limping starts up out there. Very light walking and trotting, just a few laps in each direction at each speed. Basically a few minutes tops and that is it! It is a mini-lunging session.

She just seemed sour yesterday. There was no limping prior to the craziness. She snorted while being saddled which was weird. And then spooking away from me while walking was weird. The hard pulling back against the lungline is not a brand new thing, that is her favorite way of trying to avoid work. The extreme rodeo bronc bucking was very new, she has not bucked under saddle (other than the "incident") since she was saddled the first time.

The whole incident was very very out of character for her. However, honestly, her attitude was crappy while we tried to work. She was cranky and had her ears back and was just acting very much not in the mood for it. If she had been spooking and blowing and acting freaked out before, during or after the bucking...then I would think it was a pain or fear issue. But she was just disgruntled looking.

However, after the episodes, she did want to walk in towards me. Which is normal for her. And which kind of threw me as she was a rearing, bucking mess one minute and the next she was wanting to walk towards me with a normal look on her face.

I don't know, it was just the weirdest thing ever. In all honesty, I was not trying to ask for much. Just walk and trot under saddle! Not even any cantering. She did trot after the episodes okay, up until she was limping and had to stop.

Her somewhat off and on sour attitude has gradually been getting worse the longer they've had her best buddy QH Abby around. The other day when I went to catch her and she walked the opposite direction, out into the pond and rolled, then got out on the opposite side of the ditch, completely ignoring me? Perfect example of her recent attitude. Not all the time, but sometimes. Her ground manners otherwise are okay, stands tied, grooms fine, bathes okay, halters fine, etc etc.

I don't know if there is an actual issue there or just her realizing that a year of lazy retirement is coming to an end and she is complaining about the work.

I will go out today after work to check her over again just in case. But I feel like it is a barn sour issue more than anything. She was fine in her stall, okay other than the saddling/snorting....and fine once back in the barn and also fine back in her stall. Just out of the barn was where we had the problems. On a sidenote, all the other horses were in the barn while we worked. Everybody had already been fed, all Foxy's food was gone so she was not "pulled away from her dinner" or anything like that.

I do appreciate all the input on her issues. If all else fails, she'll be a pasture potato for the next (sigh) 20 years, but I really would like to get her going under saddle (again) if safely possible.

Redsmom said...

TheUnicorn, I wish you were near me to help with my old schoolie. Now that I've got him adjusted by the chiro, its time to start making him behave --

Sunday, I took Dude to the sand arena. I had my 10 year old daughter watching me and she says I'm banging him with my leg and that's why he's bucking. She would yell at me from the judge's booth (You're kicking him!" until I stopped. Later she demonstrated my banging versus a lovely following leg on her own horse. She's got talent. I'm so happy for her, and so sad I'm such a spazz. Its back to much trotting of figure 8's and hacking out for me and Dude. Sigh. I probably need to longe him, too, but he cut in on me the last time I tried it and scared the bejeebus out of me.

At least Dude's not insane, he just won't tolerate shitty riding. Which is what Katherine told me about him a long time ago. LOL.

ariemay said...

VLC - I have to say I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't get back on after getting a toss. It went against everything I was ever told and taught. BUT, at 41 I think a bit more. At the time I thought it was the saddle - a new-to-me test-drive semi-quarter bars saddle. He bucked when I stood up in 2-point to go up a hill. I figured it was his shoulders getting pinched. So my logic was, "why give him more pain? what will that teach?"

I still felt chicken shit though!

If you find out what helps rope burn, maybe it would work on my ego.

CutNJump said...

joycemocha said...
>>Another thing that my trainer emphasizes is that the word is "whooaaa." A soft, quiet, drawn out word, not a loud snapped sharp "HO!" He feels the latter tends to startle and scare a horse. My mare--who's been started and trained by his methods (gee, what did I expect, I bought her from him!) responds exquisitely well to that soft, drawn-out, "whoa."<<

YES! YES! YES! Whoa is spoken softly and calmly and almost ina sing song manner. STOPPING should be a GOOD relaxing thing for them.

They will listen and take the first sing of a calm quiet whooooa, to stop and do nothing. Which some of them would prefer doing in the pasture without the tack.

Think about it this way- would you rather have a boss shouting everything at you or calmly and quietly Asking you for things?

Ho as in prostitutes or hoe as in garden tools do not belong in horse training.

Also there is still only so much you can rely on when doing ground work and mounting up for the first few rides.

Everything you taught them up to the first few rides, generally goes out the window the moment you get on anyways. You can only hope to keep everything quiet and move on at the horses pace. If it starts to go a direction you don't want, keep things (yourself mainly) calm and relaxed and show them I am not freaking out and you have no reason to either.

Also if they are getting noodle necked, a lot of times it is from constant pulling on the reins to one side or the other. Take hold and release, if they do not respond tug, tug, tug, or bump, bump, bump. A constant pull will only give them the idea there is no release ever. Take hold and release, hold and release- there is nothing for them to hang on, pull against or fight with.

It's like using your leg- too much and they start to ignore it, too little and they race off at the slightest bit.

CutNJump said...

ellen said...
>>I find to get a "whoa" that sticks, visualizing it first, stilling my seat, and exhaling, dropping my weight through my seat into my heels, all help. I've had quite a few "rolling stop" critters, and sometimes (use with caution) having a step or two of reinback reinforces the halt. You don't want to make that automatic or set up another direction in which to resist, but sometimes it's useful to help the horse balance.<<

This is what I had to do with my TB mare whose stop is still iffy at times. To the point of closing my eyes a stride or two to "see it, feel it, do it" without pulling on the reins.

Put a hell of a 'jam on the brakes and bury your ass' stop on her so I have to be careful...

This on a mare who had bridle issues when I got her. Take a hold of the reins = up came the head and she sped up while bracing for the pull.

amarygma said...

I usually do a soft drawn out Aaand Hoooo, with the seat/rein aids on the Hooooo.

I can't think of a good reason for him not to know I have a plan.

Linda Eskin said...

Ouch. I feel your pain. I learned the hard way that gloves are a good idea. I got launched by a zippy little Hannovarian lesson mare, and forgot to let go of the braided reins on the way down. In spite of landing with the small of my back across the dressage arena "rail" (whatever that's called), I wasn't hurt, except my hand, which ended up having the biggest blister I've ever seen, and a few good tears and scrapes.

I didn't have a chance to not get back on. My instructor went and got the lunge line... I eventually did learn to sit that mare's rather, uh "animated" canter.

Given that I make my living using a computer 8+ hours a day, that little injury reminded me how risky riding can be. Even though it wasn't a bad injury, it came close to putting me out on disability, right in the middle of a huge rush project.

It was shortly after that I dropped the idea of getting a zippy little mare for eventing, and found my big plodding goofball of a dressage prospect / trail horse. Funny the stupid things that can change our course.

borderbratz said...

On NH and whoa... It's not the method, it's the user of the method that's faulty. If the trainer/handler requires precision in all things, they will get precision. Too many imprecise folks training horses is the problem...

My NH trained horses whoa at any gait, often as you think "whoa" and before you say it. As an old chicken, anything less is unacceptable for me. This means that I have to think twice before a repremand for stopping. I have to think "did I think Whoa for even half a second?"

I've had people tell me not to dily dally getting on and off my horses, because they get impatient. Well, my hot horse has learned to stand at the block for a half hour at a time while I get on and off, or sit there on his back for a minute before getting off again. He has learned not to take even a half a step without a cue.

I learned this with dogs a long time ago- require precision and you will get it, take what is offered and they will cheat you until bad habits set in. IMO horses are much smarter than dogs.

My noodle neck TB was fixed by introducing outside rein and shoulder control.

I agree that the crochet backed riding gloves are comfy and aloe & comfrey gel is very soothing and promotes rapid healing.

Glad you fell well! Hope your confidence doesn't take any hits from this. I started wearing a helmet after the last bolting incident I had. You should consider it. I mean, what would your horses do if you could no longer use your witty brain to write?