Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things I used to know about riding...

And still know, but seem to have lost the ability to implement particularly in the split-second when I need to do it!

1. OTTB's don't stand still. Just get your toe in the stirrup, grab a good handful of mane and haul your ass up there as they trot off. It'll be fine!

2. Of course the pony is going to be better if you ride 6 days a week as opposed to 3, dumbass. Why are you acting surprised by this? This is how ponies have been since the dawn of time. Did you forget?

3. They can't buck if they're going forward so all you have to do is boot them in the ribs and they won't be able to buck hard enough to launch you if they can buck at all. If you hunch over and freeze the moment they start bucking, yeah, you're gonna eat dirt.

4. Oh, and LEAN BACK if they buck. You knew this when you were 16. It was second nature. How is it that now you hunch over? Do you think that will work better? How's that going so far?

5. In your entire riding career, you have been spooked out from under all of twice. So why do you get nervous when they are spooky? You have taken cutting lessons, and did fine. They don't spook any harder than they dodge following a cow. It is the exact same motion.

6. Taking the easy way out doesn't get the horse trained. Bailing while you know you can still safely land on your feet when a horse is brewing up an explosion may be the easy way out but it doesn't solve the problem at all. (Who else has developed the "emergency dismount" response? I particularly have it when trying to trail ride. If they start jogging or being stupid or acting like they want to go home, I am on my feet beside them in half a second. Then I regret it and think, you moron, how is that going to fix it? Ride it out. But then I can't get back on because they're jogging and being stupid and I'm not coordinated enough to get on jogging, stupid horses anymore...*sigh* This is why I mostly stay in the arena, where I feel safe. And I know it's mental because I feel safe in a pasture made of one strand of hot tape, too. You KNOW that would not actually stop a horse, but it stops my fears. Go figure.)

OK, I know I'm not the only one. What have you forgotten that you used to know (or just forgotten how to make yourself do?)


mugwump said...

Great, so you put up a new post right as I finished my brilliantly semi-bitchy remark on your last one. Sigh.
What have I forgotten that I used to know?
Bucking, kind of fun!
Spooking, lot's of fun!
Don't want to go, make them!
Don't want to wait, get on anyway!
Thee's a start.

Ellie said...

The last few horses I have had were know-it-alls and happiest when they could make the decision as to the distance to leave off from. My last horse, an old OTTB and hunter for a very long time, would get down right pissed if I screwed up and got him to a long distance in the line and would buck and launch me after the oxer. My new warmblood is not as confident as Wesley, and I have to make the decision at the fences and sit a lot deeper in my tack and work a lot harder to maintain impulsion, and I have to make the choice as to where we are going to leave at the fence. I used to have a pretty good eye, but I got used to letting Wesley make his own choices, so now I have to train up my eye again.

Ellie and Werther Blog

fyyahchild said...

I somehow forgot that tearing around a cross country course at top speed is supposed to be fun. I've developed a fear of galloping downhill. WTF is that?

And sadly, yes, I think I too have forgotten how to find the distance to a fence. I think it's an eyesight thing for me. I'm going to the doc for a new contact prescription to see if it helps. I hate, hate, hate it when we're short and I'll push him over long every stinking time. Good thing I'm still terrified of anything higher than 2'. My jumping career is going well. LOL

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Guys, I NEVER had the ability to see distance which is why my upper limit was 2'6 on the brave days! At least you had it once and can probably get it back!

TheHorseGirl said...


TheHorseGirl said...

oops, now fifth and sixth comments :)

Ellie said...

The only thing that ever worked for me in improving my eye is practicing either with a ground pole or a small jump on the quarter line and counting backwards out loud. Start the exercise guessing when you are two strides out, "2, 1, land, 1, 2,..." and gradually increasing the number of strides out you start counting.

paintarab said...

Since finally owning my own horse, and mostly only riding her for the last two years I have become nervous about riding other horses. Which is nuts because A)my horse is a little nutty/spooky/prancey at times so my seat has become even better than it use to be B) my horse LOVES to run flat out (but is only allowed if I give permission) so run away horses shouldn't be scary now that I know how to ride at top speed and B) I learned how to ride while competing in IHSA, so getting on unknown horses NEVER bothered me then!!

Michelle said...

I used to ride spins and spooks and goofy Ay-rab antics without even thinking twice about it. Now the old grey mare gets a little fussy and I'm like OK time to quit, before I eat dirt. This is the horse my 8 YEAR OLD rides BAREBACK! This horse is not going to unseat me from the big western saddle. Yeah it's funny how the mind works.
BTW, hows the POA going? I once owned a positively evil POA mare. She'd charge and kick and bite on the ground. Great with kids though, mare would put her head over the fence and let little kids pull her ears and not move a muscle. I on the other hand have a dent in my thigh from being kicked trying to catch her. That horse and I had a few "special" moments regarding her behavior. And she did learn better manners.

Deer Run Stables said...

Things I used to know:

1) Then: It's easier to vault on bareback when the horse is moving at a pretty good clip-- at *least* a trot.

Now: It's easier to "vault" (Ha!) on bareback if the horse is standing quietly next to a fence.

2) Then: It's totally understandable that my high-spirited mare would feel like throwing in a couple of bucks after a gallop on a windy day.

Now: It's totally understandable that my dead-head gelding would throw in a couple of head shakes to protest being moved from a slow lope to a faster one. Come to think of it, I don't really want to work that hard, either. How about a nice trail ride, instead?

Regarding number six, I feel duty-bound to point out that the horse won't get trained if you're laid up with a broken wrist, ankle, or pelvis, either.

However, it might pay to have some strategies for defusing the situation from the ground. If the horse gets fractious, and you get off, and then walk back to the barn with a fractious horse, then-- yeah, not much training progress made, there. True enough.

If the horse gets fractious, and you get off and implement some ideas for getting the horse calm and listening, then training progress has been made. Also, at that point, you have the option of getting back on the now calm horse.

Ideally, you'd do something on the ground which could later be translated to the saddle. Horses are pattern animals; if they can learn a pattern that always calms them down eventually, they will learn to calm down *faster*, the more you do it. Eventually, you get to a place where the drama isn't so big that you have to get off to do it.

Alternately, there's the good ol' one rein stop. However, it only works in a crisis if you've done it a thousand times in the arena, from all gaits (patterns, again). Most people don't do the "thousand times" part, and then are surprised when their horse falls on them when they try a one-rein stop during a runaway.

Or, of course, you can just ride the deadheads on the trail, and stick to the arena for the lively ones. Probably better for the old blood pressure-- yours *and* the horses. :-)

Mads said...

You know, I was thinking about this this morning. I'm not a 're-rider' but I've been riding since I was ... six years old ... and at 17 I'm wondering when I stopped being fearless.
I used to always want to go higher, faster, longer. Then sort of changed. A friend and I took our horses (well, both my horses she's in between horses at the moment) out of the arena last week and down to the cross country course.
Neither of us- she on my pony who is a superstar and an excellent jumper and me on my mare who is, well, a bit green but trustworthy and a great jumper- wanted to jump high at all. My mare was spooking because we were out in the open and all I wanted was to get back into the arena. When did I start being such a chicken rider? I'll do anything in the arena- fine. No horse is too scary. But get me out of the arena and I'm terrified.

I used to be a brave rider. Maybe a little stupid. Sure, they were calculated risks- but I did well. Then I got injured, took a three month break from riding and BAM chicken. Will I ever want to be competitive again? I have no idea.

Char said...

I forget that I've haven't fallen off anything since I fell off my PONY when I was 9 YEARS OLD.

That my gelding has never even come close to unseating me, and is probably more afraid of what I'll do to him if I have to pick myself up off the ground than he actually wants to get me off...EVER.

I forgot that it was fun to "let" that POA pony run off with me so that we could go

I guess I've all-around forgotten what it's like to NOT be afraid of falling off. I don't know why I've developed such a phobia about it, but it's there.

Guess I'm in the right place!!!!

Fleeting said...

I am currently freaking out because I have to get on my OTTB this weekend after he has had a month off (abscesses). The WORST he has ever done under saddle is get "uppity" in that lovely OTTB way, and throw in a few pathetic bucks at the canter. He will occasionally scoot forward - for one or two strides. That's IT. He has never done anything that has even come close to getting me off. He is passive so I know he would not rear on me (the only issue i am genuinely afraid of.) And yet I am sitting here, wondering how many hours I should lunge him before I get on. Because he has been galloping in the pasture. Logically, I know this is because he is a young OTTB who is being fed a crapload of grain and is not being ridden.

Illogically, I think it means he is plotting my immenent doom!

Of course, it doesn't help that he tried to kill my farrier yesterday night, but that's a completely different story...

austriancurls said...

Hey...this is why I rarely check here, it drives me just nuts. I know I have said it before, but someone with zilch confidence trying to train is either pathetic or sadistic or just plain satire.

I like mugwump's answer. But, fugs, you come back everytime with whiney excuses ("yes, I guess I should get up and ride her"). Oh brother.... Take mugwump's advice, and like Nike says...stop psychologically messing yourself up and JUST DO IT and stop complaining about it. The more you do complain or focus on it the more you undermine your confidence. This blog is actually the WORST thing for your confidence.

Bucking is kind of fun, although if they get a good bucking spree going, I admit I am not bronc rider and will fly (if it's a long session). That's my fault as I'm just not that good on a bronc..heh. For this reason I do longe a bit before riding especially if it is a windy day or change in weather, and so on.

Alright, and the old cranky mare got me when I was trying to get the buck out of her...longing and join up, the old cranky thing can fake really well, get on board (helmet and saftey jacket), and asked her to move forward (rolled the calves), no motion, again, no motion, again hard: bigger than 45 degree angle buck in a standstill...I did a great flying saulto and landing in a roll head tucked and on my back. No air...she won, need trainer.

It's the only horse that won so far, but the old bag has done her dues as a ranch and dude horse in Montana and is since arthritic now, so retired. So, ok.... But, I don't go whining or loosing confidence because of it and practice unsafe training with horses I don't feel confortable with?

Like I said, this blog drives me nuts, for some reason though I just wish you would listen to mugwump or whoever else and either sort out the psychological aspect (ie. build the confidence, stop fretting and whining and get on with it) or quit trying to train horses.

No offense, just I don't see why the logic isn't clear

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

I'm not quite sure why the blog bugs you so much, AC. If I called it The World's Greatest Trainer's Blog, well hell yes, you'd have a point. The whole point of the blog has always been riding and training despite having the typical age-related confidence and balance issues many riders develop. That's the point! If you don't have those issues, I'm not sure why you'd be interested in reading. If you believe people who feel fear in certain situations shouldn't train horses, then you and I have a difference of opinion.

I think a great many people in the horse industry feel a lot of fear and are afraid to admit to it because of reactions like yours. I don't think that's healthy or constructive for them, or their horses. This blog was meant to allow people to discuss this stuff without fear of reactions like yours. While I don't intend to start deleting or editing comments, I wish you'd consider the fact that your attitude toward people with fear issues may inhibit others from posting and getting encouragement from help, and if you just must vent at me, take it to private e-mail.

austriancurls said...

Well, of course I don't want to inhibit people from posting, and I don't mean to put on a total wall-attitude. My point is I've been reading this off and on for a while, and instead of seeing improvement in your confidence I see a situation that doesn't progress but gets worse. It would be so much better to come and see, hey she actually did something that improved her confidence, she took a confidence trainer, or other method that is working for her. I guess it bothers me because I see excuses made instead of taking advice and so on. I guess I would love to see more positive progression.

I'm not the world's best rider, and I'm certainly not a trainer on any level comparable to most of your readers, and I'm not out to diss people because they have fear (I actually have students I help to get rid of fears due to accidents in the past). I just don't think a wallow-pool where everyone shares their fears and still rides and progression gets pushed aside in order to keep status quo is what your after?

I guess that's what bugs me, not a place where people with fears can get help and share, I think that's all great and fine.

Does this make more sense?

austriancurls said...

Sorry, that should say "not what you are after?

My point isn't to vent on you, I enjoy your attitude on the FUGLY site.

Char said...


I see where you’re coming from in regards to your confusion with the purpose of this blog. However, most of us either cannot afford, do not have access to, or do not have time to consult a therapist, as well as not having a GOOD trainer anywhere in our general vicinity.

Most of us have a decent amount of experience working with horses, training, riding, etc. We don't necessarily lack the skills and knowledge, just the guts, at times, to do what we know needs done.

As anyone in therapy will tell you, talking about your problems, helps. Once you verbalize (or write/type) your problems, fears and uncertainties, often times you can see just how ridiculous, unfounded and unnecessary your fears REALLY are.

That's how it works for me, anyway. :)

Besides, most of us are just fiddling with our own horses, or doing rescue projects.

Laura Crum said...

Your emergency dismount thing cracks me up. I would find that a great deal scarier than staying on their back. I can sit an endless amount of spooking, jigging, crowhopping behavior and be fine, but I am too old, stout, and stiff to do any kind of graceful emergency dismount. Being short (only 5 foot 2) doesn't help--but I belkieve you're short, too. However, you're younger. And yes, the trail is scarier than the arena--its also more interesting.

Heila said...

I started riding at the age of 30 and after 6 years I'm still battling the instinct to curl up and hug my horse's neck when he acts up. Mind of matter, come on matter!

Laura Crum said...

Oh, and Cathy, just for the record, I enjoy your attitude and honesty on this blog far more than your attitude on the fugly site. And I bet there are plenty of others who feel that way, too. I may not agree with all of your training practices, but your honesty about your fear issues is very helpful for the rest of us middle-aged gals who used to be much better riders than we are today. If AC doesn't have these issues, lucky her, (how old are you, AC?), but time will tell. And as you said once here already, maybe some of this isn't fear, we just get smarter as we get older, and recognize the risk for what it is.

austriancurls said...

laura crum:

I'm 47 years old. I started riding at the age of 5 and did so intensively (including jumping) until the age of about 17 until allergies got so bad, I was landing in the hospital and just couldn't get near them anymore.

I had a 20 year break, and got back in the saddle in 2003 after finding a breed that works for people with allergies. It was just plain fate, because my half-sister who I had not seen for 40 years visited us for Christmas, a few days later she was watching the Rose Bowl Parade and this breed was presented as being for allergy sufferers and she popped me an email.

I've been obsessed again ever since, three months after hearing about them, I imported the first three, and in that year nine. We don't have them here, or didn't. I hadn't ridden since a teenager but it's like bicycle riding, I find, needs some practice and had no fear, I should have maybe because I flew that first year four times riding new horses I didn't know.

I got lucky and found a trainer I could trust and we spent a great deal of time working on my skills, getting me caught up with how training has changed over the last 20 years and so. It was one of the best times of my life.

Presently, I have the same problem as most people, trying to find a good trainer out in the boonies.

Also, with regards to a "shrink" that is not what I meant at all. Horse riding is a sport. All sports people regardless of what sport they are working on, have a trainer or coach and all if they are even semi-professional utilize "positive thinking" or some such coaching to advance their attitude and help form a more positive approach to their problems in sport. This is what I meant, not going to a psycologist or something, rather going to the local sport facility and sorting out positive mental training.

Lexie said...

I just want to say that a horse can buck going fast. I was out doing "gallop practice" with a friend, and the horse is a chicken, but he knows the field, so we'd pick up the canter, start extending, and he'd throw in a series of huge bucks. Maybe when the bucking is out of fun they can do it at speed? Only thing that worked was growling at him and trying to keep his head up.
I know I lost a bit of never when I hit a fence post at 17, and dislocated my C7. A few years off riding while at university set me back too. But I had a jumping lesson last night doing a line of 4 bounces without stirrups, and I servived. You will too.

austriancurls said...

This is me the first week of october at a show, grey hair and all.

show ride

Laura Crum said...

Well, AC, that's an interesting story. Perhaps the difference between us is that I spent my twenties and thirties training and competing on reined cowhorses, cutting horses and team roping horses. I had my share of wrecks, though was never seriously injured. I took a break in my forties to have a child, and most of my riding life since then has been about riding with my kid and teaching him to ride. Unlike Cathy, and you perhaps, I don't try to break horses or compete any more--I'm aware that my skills aren't up to it and the desire isn't there. I still enjoy riding my broke horses in the arena and on the trail, and with the exception of being a bit overprotective about my kid (which I think is right and natural) I don't have many fear issues when I ride. But I do understand the feeling, and as Mugwump once said to me, its just that if you've been riding your whole life, you've seen so many wrecks that you start to get a little spooked. Its sort of cumalitive. You feel your own luck just might run out. Maybe your break from horses gave you a reprieve from this, I don't know. Maybe you haven't seen as many wrecks as some of the rest of us. Particularly wrecks that resulted in serious injuries, like mugwump's friend Sharien. Anyway, I know you respect mugwump's opinion, so check in with her--I think you'll find she understands the fear issue, too.

mugwump said...

OK- I haven't read all the comments yet, but AC has me fired up. DON'T use me as an example of what anybody else should do. I don't.
I talk about my fear all the time. I fight my fear all the time. I come to this blog because I find fellow riders who are going through the same trials as me. Cathy has come up with excellent, (non-critical) input on my blog often. I always read it and appreciate it. So does everybody else who contributes to this blog, many others and mine. We SHARE BECAUSE IT HELPS.
I have disagreed with things I read here and other places and even written about it. That’s called grown-up conversation AC. I try to never criticize anybody personally because they don’t train like me. Because I understand and accept the fact that not everybody shares the same approach. I understand there are different concepts of horsemanship and that we can all learn from each other. I have learned tons from both of these blogs.
I for one am a big fat whiner and damn proud of it. Anybody else?

austriancurls said...

Well, mugwumps situation is very different and I understand her. I'm not riding other people's horses, I'm not training outside horses or going to people's places to work with solving their problems, or taking on problems horses. That said, I have purchased a couple that had issues to work on, and I work on those. But, like I said, I'm no mugwump. And, I imagine her situation like race car driving, at some point you've been at it so long the odds are something will happen. She's riding and doing things I will never do at a level I'll never be at. And, I don't do what Cathy does, at the same time I wouldn't do what Cathy does if I had a confidence problem because I'd be worried I would teach the horse wrongly through fear.

The blog, started out as a confidence builder, and it is what I would like to see though, I thought it was Cathy's goal? There are people out there like me (OK, I'm working three adult stallions, and 6 mares), and if they are scared, and even Cathy, it would do a lot of good to work on getting rid of the fear.

Mugwump, she's been training so long and confidently, when she felt the confidence shake, she stopped. This is (in my opinion) a top level person.

My concern is, people who have confidence problems who keep attempting to go at it again, and have situations come up where they get scared and back off, or do something out of fear, rather than dealing with the fear?

For some reason Star Wars keeps coming to mind.

Fear leads to the dark side...fear not, do or do not.

I know this doesn't help, but maybe it encourages someone to see that confidence building, in a sport situation is important and the key.

It's what the ski team here is constantly fighting after major crashes and injuries, they've been doing this or ages here, and know how to rebuild athletes, the same goes true for riding, and that's what's missing here and what I feel would help dramatically.

In any case, I've finally been able to clarify my view and the problem I've had reading here (sorry that I blow up, but sometimes Fugs is so smug, and then I see her behaving like some of the people she diss's, ok it happens :)

I hope it helps in the end.

austriancurls said...

Sorry, my post went out prior to yours mugwump. Please note, I didn't use you as an example, I only said I liked your response. laura cum brought up the example.

mugwump said...

AC- have you ever thought of sharing the ways a ski team helps build it's confidence? Or what your trainer taught you to do in tough, scary situations? I mean specifically, not vague references that are thrown around to bolster an excuse to attack somebody.

Laura Crum said...

Thanks mugwump--hope I didn't drag you in against your wishes. But I knew you'd get it. Cathy being honest about her fear issues here is really a big help to lots of us. And if a rider/trainer as experienced and talented as mugwump admits to having fear issues, too, then I think we can all agree that this is not "pathetic" and no reason to assume said person "should not train horses". Enough said.

austriancurls said...


If I were trained in sport psycology and rebuilding broken confidence I'd be happy to do that. But, it isn't a self-help thing. You need the coach/trainer to do it. I can ask the one I know if he could send link and stuff for background reading but it would all be in German. I don't think that helps a lot. But, maybe he has links to American sites that give more information in english and in various areas.

If anything, why doesn't this group start working on organizing confidence training help for riders? It would be the logical outcome. You guys are there, take it into your own hands, do a google in your area for confidence support in sport, maybe groups can come together and work as a self-help in conjunction with confidence trainers.

I'll ask about American sources for help.

Nagonmom said...

I would like to blazingly disagree with Austrian curls. As a 53 year old rerider, this blog has been instrumental in getting me back on a horse and getting my horse to a professional trainer. Fear is the elephant in the saddle with many of us, and it can't be vanquished by ignoring it. Laughing at it helps a great deal!! As does realizing there are others dealing with the same issue. I would argue that this blog has documented much progress on Fugly's part as well, remember when her colt's height was an issue? Now she has moved on to other issues. And some of these are lighthearted commentary on how we have changed with experience(cough into hand and say AGE). I enjoy this blog very much, and if you don't see growth here you are not looking for it!

Nagonmom said...

Oh, and back on topic, I assume the fetal position when things are getting out of control, even though my brain is screaming "Sit up you idiot! Keeping your butt in the saddle is the object here!" I never used to do that!!

Jamie said...

I find this blog very encouraging, and Cathy IS confident enough in her abilities to recognize and admit when she needs to take a step back and work on some fear or anxiety she's having. It's a foolish person that won't admit to it and plug on through anyway. I'm grateful that she's willing to share, and see many success stories in her writings here. I enjoy reading stories from other people experiencing the same feelings that I go through, as well as sharing strategies to overcome them. The sense of humor and community here is confidence building in and of itself. AC said that she isn't working with project horses or youngsters, so that's a little bit different perspective. Get on a fresh OTTB or a 3 year old that's never been backed before, and you might see the reason for this blog ;) If you don't have a bit of fear then...kudos and you must be superhuman. Thanks Cathy & fellow posters!!!

Joy said...

The comments on this one are even more, ehem, interesting than the original post.

As I grow older, I've realized that I cannot judge anyone for their emotions. You can't control your emotions, you have to feel them and then, if the emotions are negative, try and find a way to move through them.

I know I had a huge lesson in fear in the last two years. I was terrified my horse would fall or I would fall and we would both break (again). But I kept going, and at first, we both took baby steps. And I shook a lot, and I made my horse fearful. But I had friends to help me and I worked through it.

Cathy does what works for her. I see in her posts that she's facing her fears, limiting the possiblities for them to actually come to fruition, and then moving through them. I don't really know of any other way to deal with situations like this.

Sometimes when you feel that little "sting" in your chest, it's a good idea to stop and check - is it ego? There is no place for ego around horses. To be able to admit to your fears is to let your ego go to sleep for awhile.

Who is anyone to judge another person? Isn't that just ego rearing its ugly head?

Honestly, if the content of this or any other blog irritated or bothered me, I just wouldn't click on the link. It's simple.

austriancurls said...

Hmm...Cathy judges people all the time and has no qualms about saying anything about it, digging deep into their lives and in a vigilanty way push her view of the world. I do not see why when she dishes out so much, that she then becomes a special person immune to critique on what she does with her blog?

My concern is for the horses. And, many times what she says bugs her as Fugly she actually does as VLC. The logic then doesn't quite fit. And, to be shocked about sarcastic attack on her person because of her presentation here, when that is exactly how she operates herself when she sees the same, is a little bit illogical?

Karen V said...

Ok...I'll chime in here.

(1) Regarding Cathy's personality her and on FHoTD: two pieces of the same puzzle. On VLC, she is as she treats her horses - soft and caring, slow, easy, kind and patient. On FHoTD, she is honest, in-your-face, visceral, impatient, get the point. In person, she shows another, totally different side that may include a splash of both VLC and FHoTD. That is WHO SHE IS! I think a lot of avid readers create in their own minds a certain view of who Cathy is and when she posts something that doesn't fall in line with that "Created Cathy", they get confused.

I haven't known her all that long and to be honest, don't know her as well as I would like (though we DID share some jaw dropping secrets), I accept her for who she is and I'm proud to call her "Friend".

As for the whole "AC" post and such... I'll use myself as an example. I come across to a lot of people as tough or hard, but I'm really just a big wimp! I talk a mean talk, but when it comes right down to, I try to keep the peace.

I have a lot of knowledge on horses, mainly by watching others or listening to others. When a colt decides to slip in a buck, I KNOW to lean back and pick up one rein. Tranferring that "knowledge" into practical application is not so easy. I KNEW what to do, and the stubby 14 yr old still launched my butt, putting my riding and racing on hold for 8 weeks while my separated pelvis healed.

I can write advise all day long - because (a) I've done it, or (b) I've heard/seen someone else do. But that doesn't always mean that I can demonstrate in person.

By the way (and on topic, sort of) I have read a LOT about cleaning a gelding's sheath and checking for a bean. I still haven't attempted it. (1) I've got this whole hang-up with embarrassment, and (2) excuse me, but EWWW! No really! EWWW!

Serendipity said...

Pretty much everything on your list, Fugs, except:


2. "Stop fidgeting with your hands!"

3. Fast- I mean forward- is good.

4. My eyeballs also seem to have become weighted over the last eight years, and now automatically fall on the back of the redhead's fat skull.

PintoHorseLover said...

im doing a project for school on therapeutic horseback riding. and i'm having trouble finding out information on how it really works. Things like how does it help someone heal better? Physically and emotionally. I understand emotionalyl prety well, it's the physical i'm having trouble with.
How do you get someone physically challenged to ride a horse and get better?
Hopefully, someone will be able to help me with this. I was planning on doing my project on Narha(North American Riding for the Handicapped Assossciation) so if anyone has any information on therapeuutic riding in general, or on Narha, please e-mail me at:

LuvMyTBs said...

If you think you know everything be prepared for your horse to prove you wrong at the most inopportune time.

Never be in a hurry to load a horse.

Ride because you love it.

Good seat,patience and quiet hands will get you farther than any quick fix training device or nasty bit.

Char said...

Ok, AC. Your view on horses being used as a sport are true, but insinuating that the ONLY people that should own and train horses, are the serious sportsman is utter BULLSHIT.

There are FAR more people that have horses as a hobby and as pets than there are "sportsmen".

Last I checked, it's not illegal to change your own oil, and it sure as hell isn't anybody else's business how I train MY horse. I may ask for opinions on various things, but I can use a TULIP to train my horse if I want to and if I fail miserably trying, that's my decision to make as well.

Screw you, and your elitist mentality.

Thanks for pissin' in my weekend Wheaties. I'm going to go IMPROPERLY train my horse in between bits of PARALYZING fear now. :P

austriancurls said...

Yes, but Fugs herself bitches about training mistakes made by people who have either insecurities or are ignorant. She says herself, that horses trained improperly are in danger of ending up in slaughter. When you have insecurities and are doing emergency jumps off the horse, and so on, the horse learns these things too, rather than via a person who is confident. Especially when retraining insecure or young horses. This is unfair to the horse.

Sure, loads of people have horses as hobbies, but training them so that they themselves are secure mounts should require a secure experienced rider. That is the problem I have, when insecure riders are _training_ young or insecure horses.

It is what fugs herself says all the time.

austriancurls said...

And actually, I think it is egoistic to do so. If I have a confidence problem, or if I cannot train something, then I don't do it because I don't want to mess the horse up, instead I get help. I either build my confidence in that area, if I can, or ask a trainer to do the next step with me, or him/herself until I'm so far along that I can do it myself. I don't do self-help in that sense, I don't want to screw up my horse. And, if I have a problem myself, then that is the first thing I work on. If I'm the problem, then I have to sort that out before the horse, otherwise I don't do the horse justice.

I don't want to poop on anyone's parade, and if this self-help group is really helping, than great.

kippen said...

I actually have a slightly different problem. When I have to think of what is needed to ride my OTTB, I just feel emotionally exhausted and too tired to do it. My doctor says that I am suffering from extreme stress, and I can assure you that it really wrecks your ability to ride a horse.

barngal said...

I will never be one to say I have no fear about riding and that I know everything. I have ability but I can always learn more.

I have had horses throughout my life and now in my 50s I'm back riding. My choice to get back into riding was finding a big unbroken 2yr. old. He started out a deadhead but with more weight and conditioning, he is more like the thoroughbreds I'm used to.

I have ridden lots of horses and seen the antics of many more and know what can happen. To not have some fear/apprehension when I witness this with my horse would be a lie. I know what my horse can do and what he is likely to do each time I ride and sometimes my stomach ties in knots before I ride. It would help me many times to have the backing of people like on this blog to talk to when I feel like this. I have no horsey friends anymore and to share here is an option.

I think also people need to know at what level someone has fear. Some, it may just be mounting a jigging horse while others worry about a bolt. I do know that AC made the comment " 45 degree angle buck in a standstill...I did a great flying saulto and landing in a roll head tucked and on my back. No air...she won, need trainer." If AC had this to look forward to with many of her rides, would her thoughts change on how good she is or would fear win?

I think the blog is helpful. All horses/people/situations are different and there is no one way to handle them. Sometimes just talking or listening is all it takes to work through a problem.

Char said...

AC: The trainers that are made fun of are the ones that have 200lb guys roundpenning 2year olds for a hour and then jumping on them, or breaking wp or reiners at 18mos, those that use the "tie the heads to the rafters with thier front legs on blocks then kick the blocks out fron under them" methods, or the occational jack-ass who thinks it'll be GREAT FUN to teach them to rear.

She also calls people out for not training AT ALL.

I don't recall one instance where soeone was called out that was using sane and well thought out training methods.

WTF, you know what? I don't wanna get into defending Fugs, she's a big girl and can defend herself.

I, too, have started doing the "dissmount of imminent peril", rather than stay on. You know how I get around that whole, "if you get off they'll get worse" theory? Once my feet hit the ground they WISH I had stayed on. I don't get abusive, but ya know what? I ask them do to things, and they better do them snappy, because I'm not nice if they don't do what I asked in about .5 seconds from when I ask.

I'm fair, I only ask them to do what I KNOW they understand (Walk, whoa, back, etc.) and they get the point real quick that they better pat attention to me, because that's really the reason I got off in the first place. They were dissregarding me and my cues to the point where I no longer felt safe being on them. Therefore I fix the attention span issue (never had it take longer than 5 min.) and then I get back on.

I just happened to buy my horse with alot of training already on him, but ya know what? my horses are pets, and a hobby these days. I really wouldn't care if all they knew was walk, back, right, left, because that's really all you need to toodle down a trail, and I'm never going to sell either one of them.

My point is, if you can teach your horse something by being fair, clear and repetitive, then why the hell do you have a problem with that? I see absolutely no reason not to. If I were attempting to teach Airs Above The Ground, then yeah, I would be getting someone etter than me.

Teaching the mare to relax and reach forward to begin teaching her roundness and collection with loose sliding side reins and the lunge for 20 min at a time? I think not.

I'm pretty sure that we all know our limits, but for chrissake, just because we want to admit to fear, or hesitation, or would like other perspectives on a training step that has us stumped, doesn't mean we're not fit to weild a bridle!

Buckskinchick1983 said...

I love this blog. I found myself having fear issues. I had bought an 18 month old gelding. I am 43 not 21 anymore. Someone I knew fell from her horse and died from a brain injury. Her new horse accidently kicked her in the head. (She was wearing a helmet) That tends to give ya a little fear. I still choose to ride, and fight my fear. I am gaining confidence through my lessons. Sometimes we get where we need some support. I get that from reading your blog. Just to know that there is another women my age having some of the same feelings. So keep it up Fugs!

Jackie said...

I forgot that a short necked half fugly arab gelding is NOT physically able to hit you in the face with his head when he tosses his head... so no need to lean back as far as you can and confuse him.

Falling off a pony STILL hurts. No matter how close to the ground you are! :) I forgot that until the other day.

icepony said...

I had a nice reminder last weekend of what my MIND forgot, but my BODY hasn't, lol! We had a horse-eating shovel appear in the corner of the arena (after 20 trips past it, it suddenly grew teeth), and my SOG neatly demonstrated that his Ay-rab half is quite capable of teleporting his TB half 20 feet to the inside of the arena. Haven't ridden a true Ay-rab teleport in many, many years and was surprised to find myself not only still on board, but also in a very effective riding position! (Sort of figured that if I hadn't fallen off, I'd probably be curled up in the fetal position, but nope!) Happy to say that bit by bit, the confidence is returning. Thanks Fugs! Keep doin' what you're doing!

rockymouse said...

I gently disagree with the notion that getting off when things get squirrely is a bad idea. Perhaps sometimes it is, but just yesterday, when the mare managed to dump me in the dirt during a very bad spook on the trail, I worked her from the ground for half an hour. I had her back and move those hindquarters and circle round me, change directions in the circle and pretty much cause her to pay attention to me and not the Very Scary Horses that originally gave her the sillies. (Why on earth would a horse go nuts over a trio of old wooly fellow horses dozing at the fenceline? Why?)
We slowly crept closer to them as I kept her busy, her eye grew softer, the head came down and after quite a while, she stood within a few feet of the trio and cocked her leg in relaxation. I retightened the cinch and I mounted up again.
I really don't think the mare learned that she'd gotten away with something by me not getting back up immediately. Instead, I think she learned that the Very Scary Horses weren't really that scary after all.
I've learned so much from this blog, the Fugly blog and Mugwump's blog. It's genuinely a highlight of my day when I check in on them. I've absolutely got moments of fear - especially during the slow-motion fall I took yesterday, the first fall I've had in 20 years.
I love the support, the intelligence, the humor and the interchange of ideas here. It doesn't suit everyone, AC. And that's okay.

Deer Run Stables said...

Seconded, Rockymouse.

This morning I did a 10 mile charity benefit trail ride in a state park with a small river at the bottom, where the trail brings you to a very geologically interesting crossing point which is basically a natural limestone dam that's very smooth and slick, but mostly dry except for a narrow (18 inch, maybe?) but deep notch in the middle where the water was running through.

Normally unflappable Tucker moseyed out until all four feet were on the slick rock, then froze like a statue, gave a huge snort, and skittered backwards until he was back on the dirt trail. Further attempts to encourage him across were met with escalating refusals ("Mom-- that is NOT safe! You have GOT to be kidding me!!").

Because I *totally* want to have a knock-down drag out fight with my horse from the saddle while skittering on hard, slick footing (not!), I hopped off, took 10 minutes to deal with the issue from the ground, and hopped back on on the other side.

The trail eventually doubled back, which was handy from a training perspective, because it meant we got to go across the rock again, from the other direction.

Tucker: *stops* "SNOOO-OORT!"

Me: *do nothing*

Tucker: "SNOort! Snort." *paws rock*

Me: *do nothing*

Tucker: *walks across*

So, please, AC and other people who are appalled by the idea of stepping off of an upset horse... please do explain to me about the obvious damage I've done to my horse's training. Explain to me how it would have been better to have a fight in the saddle in an unsafe place.

I'm dying to hear it.

paintarab said...

I am in complete agreement that sometimes it is better to get off. I helped train one horse who became so terrified of riding away for the barn the first time we did it that I thought he would explode. Once I had a half second break to get off he calmed down enough to look around himself. I think he A) was too worried about what I was asking him to do while also trying to look for monsters (sensory overload) and B) once I was off he figured I could protect him. I didn't walk him straight back to the barn, we hung out on the trail for 10min or so, then walked back and I rode him in the arena. By the third time I tried riding him away from the barn he had figured out that he wouldn't die and now loves it.

In another occasion my horse decided to get into a complete Arab hissy fit/argument with me about the speed in which we should go home. When she is focused she is good about watching where she is going and not falling. But in these occasions when she loses her mind somewhere behind us down the trail she becomes very unsafe. It becomes difficult to fight with her while also making sure she isn't about to stop on or off of something she shouldn't be. I bailed (that alone pissed her off) and then made her walk behind me all the way back home. She has never picked that huge of a fight with me on the way home since.

Back in the saddle said...

You are hilarious! I love your writing style. Funny coincidence, I just posted a little something on my blog on how I would try to overcome my own fear. Pretty basic but still, I believe basics can sometimes work miracles. Some of the comments I have read here were pretty enlightening too (First fall in 20 years!?! And here I was thinking 5 to 10 falls a year were mandatory!) Thanks! You made my day!

SOSHorses said...

Fuggs!!!! How is Lucy? Keeping me in suspense is never a good thing.

longrides said...

AC needs to check here less often in my not too humble opinion.
On the subject of the emotion of fear.
As a young child I had NONE. I rode anything, sometimes the ranker they were the more I wanted to ride him/her. Mind, I had never had lessons at that time.
Today, 40+ yrs. later. I believe it is always better to get off and live to train/ride another day.
At the young age of 42 I decided to become a firefighter. Have you ever run INTO a burning building?? Where does fear fit into that picture?
I spent 8 yrs. responding to calls, even a few medical calls for "horse related" injuries. Put a few people on helo's and even took a ride on one myself complements of a horse. I still ride and train. I still feel fear.
I see it as proof I am still alive.
Thanks Cathy for staying alive to write a post.

equus said...

i have been riding for 50 years now, and i am battling a fear issue brought on by a green broke half arab that i upgraded a year ago. and when i say fear issue, i mean throat-closing, tight-chest,racing-heartbeat, nauseating fear. have never felt this before and don't quite know what to do with it. i think this happens to everyone if you ride long enough and continue to challenge yourself. some people get over it and ride confidently again, some quit riding but stay in horses, and some quit horses altogether. i have no fear of riding other horses and continue to do so. however, i need help with overcoming my fear of climbing back on dusty. my fall was the first in 27 years, and let me tell you, it hurts every bit as much as you think it will! received a concussion and whiplash. took over 10 weeks to not get dizzy lungeing after the fall. i think that is the scariest part, my mortality hit me in the face.

i appreciate fugs' sense of humor and honesty with her issues. we all deal the best we can at that given moment. i love the quote at the top of the vlc blog where robyn says that the only thing she has to prove is that she is not stupid. that's all i'm striving for.

Shadow Rider said...

I used to be able to hop up on an antsy horse too. 17 h, won't stand, ill-tempered, as long as I had a foot in the stirrup, reins and some mane I was good. Now I adjust the mounting block for 10 min. just to get the exact distance ands height while my horse falls asleep standing there.
I also used to gallop every trail ride, and jump everything in sight. (including many things we weren't supposed too, of course) My friend and I would deliberately get to an organized trail ride late, so we could gallop and catch up. We used to blast through the hunt trails jumping everything. Now, not so much, LOL! Now I measure height, check footing, and consider the mood of my horse before I gently canter and jump a log.
My first horse was a confirmed runnaway, who could do a 90 degree turn at a full gallop, would rear at the drop of a hat, and if I fell off, would bolt for home. I rode her anywhere and every where. Now I find her 22 year old daughter challenging, LOL!
I also used to ride in leather saddles in tight jeans or nylon sweatpants, and tennis shoes.
I showed for years in a cutback saddle, even jumped in it once when I didn't have time between classes to switch tack. Now I only ride in my suede seat Wintec!! My butt VELCRO's to that saddle. Even so I now ride with breeches, half chaps and boots.

prairiegirl said...

Every single one of those is true, ha ha ha. Although replace OTTB with snarky QH mare in my case. :)

You're hilarious, totally entertaining and you never fail to hit the nail right on the head. Keep up the awesome writing. And maybe start on a book. :)

Toycia said...

Sort of of topic, but in response to an earlier comment, the biggest tool used by ski teams is the same used for pretty much every sport, visualization.
There's no big secret way to magically make the fear go away, especially after an accident, but visualizing the ride/run/swim/whatever going well in fine detail before you do it has been proven to actually give you better results when you get on. This works at every level, and I am not agreeing with AC's earlier comments that if you have fear you shouldn't be training your own horse, but it does seem to be true that you can make a bad ride or a good ride to SOME extent by expecting one. Visualization techniques are all over the web and for those that its not too out there for, I suggest giving it a try. Like I said, it is used at the top levels of almost every sport so there has to be something to it, and I can use all the help I can get!

vanessahope said...

These are awesome!!!