Monday, March 30, 2015

Short N Sweet

If you are a diehard arab person you may want to look away.

I don't want anyone swooning.

I pulled Stella's mane.

Yes I did.

It was a little scraggly and sun bleached and I decided to go ahead and pull it.  I figure if I can always let it grow out and it will grow out black again or I can just keep it short.

I have it in training braids here as when I got her it was growing on the left, which makes me grumble.

Now for another secret.  I didn't pull it.  I shortened it with a clipper blade.  Now all the mane pulling people just swooned too.

Oh crap, now I have to remember how to do button braids.  Swoooonnnnnn

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Natural Horsemanship in many forms

I'm a big believer in natural horsemanship style training.  Provided it's done right.  I think that every trainer has a stick with a rope on the end, a stick with a bag on the end, and a round pen.  The difference, to me, is the intent.

Some NH style trainers train via dominance and submission.  The horse learns that he must do what the human says because the human is meaner, stronger, smarter and faster.  They get well behaved horses.

Some NH style trainers train via respect and trust.  The horse learns that the person has a lot of knowledge without a lot of aggression and the person will never put him in danger.  The horse respects that person's authority without being afraid.  They get well behaved horses.

For me, it will always be the second type of trainer.  Horses are thinking living things and a horse that trusts me  and does things because of that is a partner and a horse that fears me is a horse that is a machine.

Here are two different types of NH trainers, both dealing with dangerous and aggressive horses.

The first is Warwick Schiller.

The second is Clinton Anderson.

Do you notice a difference between the training styles even though they all involve an aggressive horse, a round pen, and a stick with a string?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Starting the modern day sport horse


I loved watching this video, it shows soft, quiet training of young green horses.  Despooking on the ground seems to be limited to western or natural horsemanship style trainers and I think that's a mistake.  I think a good foundation on the ground directly influences better behavior under saddle.  Here young horses learn how to deal with things on the ground that they might eventually deal with at shows.  It makes them quiet, brave, and trusting of their riders.

I like how they hack out, work in the arena, work at liberty, and I LOVE the mounting block training.  I am flabbergasted at the number of riders who accept poor mounting block manners, launching themselves onto cavorting horses from 20 feet away.

The actual riding is super as well.

Check the video out, let me know what you think!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Western Dressage

Today I attended a western dressage clinic sponsored by the Indiana Half Arab Club

You can find more information about western dressage at the USEF website.

I enjoyed this clinic. The clinician was very supportive and positive, and had a good foundation in both dressage and western riding.  She was welcoming, open, and enthusiastic.

I didn't see anything that wasn't familiar to me.  The 20m circles still needed to be circle shaped, geometry was just as important.  X was still located at X and square halts were important.  Some of the tests were slightly more difficult, even at the WT level because the riders were challenged by multiple changes of direction and some difficult turns, a holdover from the western style pattern classes.  What I liked was the casual nature.  Some people find dressage to be snobby and intimidating.  They see riders in expensive saddles, gleaming white breeches, riding horses with big gaits and think they couldn't possibly be competitive.  Western dressage has a heavy emphasis on neat but casual.  Working stock horse tack is just as allowed as western pleasure bling.  There is less of an emphasis on gaits so riders might feel more comfortable on their smaller moving horse.

Several of the riders had never had professional instruction, a few were very new to riding and were mounted on suitable horses and looking for a fun and low stress sport to enter the world of horse showing.  You even had a seasoned show rider who was looking to expand her knowledge base and explore new things with her show horse.  The riders learned not just how to make a dressage regulation circle, but why it was important.  They learned how their position affected the horse's way of going, and how to encourage their horses to have regular gaits.  They got to ride parts of the tests, and then got to go over each part while being coached.
It wasn't just dressage, but good riding.  How do you improve your riding as a beginner rider?  How do you help a young horse?  How do you train an older green horse?

I'd hate to see someone losing out on the quality instruction that I get in my dressage lessons because they think they don't have the experience or the horse to do dressage, so I think if going out there and showing in your western saddle makes you happy, have at it!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Soft Trotting Bit

Yesterday I was in a tack store (duhhh) and I found this bit, called a soft trotting bit.  It is made of soft foam and probably has a rope or something in the middle.  Looked awkward to fit in the horse's mouth, and like it would have ZERO stop to it.

Has anyone seen anything like this in use?  I assume it's used for harness racing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Horsey Book Review

I've been asked to review a copy of this book by the author.  Is it a big surprise that the book is horse related?  They must know me!  The book is about a young adult who has recently been diagnosed with Autism and how her journey with horses helps her cope.  Sounds like a good read!  I'll update everyone with my review after I'm done reading it.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Home Grown Obstacles

Boy, who else is looking forward to warm weather?  ME ME ME!!!

I have not managed to ride Stella since our mini clinic at Eds barn but I have been doing lots of groundwork with her.  I realized at Eds that I could have gotten baby Al through any of the obstacles, he's really good with his groundwork and respectful of me.

So why havn't I done any of that with Stella? Unnn uhhhh.  She's not awful on the ground, she lunges, she leads, but she's a bit of an every horse for herself kind of horse in some situations.

So all this week I've set up different obstacles in the arena at home for Stella to work between, around, and over.  Our groundwork started before we even entered the arena, because we couldn't enter the arena!  Stella had a meltdown at the door when she realized her nice empty arena was full of STUFF!!!!  ACK!!!  Then she tried to exit the arena over the top of me.  This did not end well for her.

She balked, she snorted, she pranced, she flattened me.  She got an immediate and strong lesson in "do not run the person over!"

This is one of our "go over this" obstacles.  Small enough to walk over, I had multiple versions of this each day we worked.  Good preparation for jumping strange things, by Friday she snorted once and then went over and she even notched down and started walking over this.  She was also brave enough to eat all my flowers.  Grumble.

Here is a "get on this" obstacle.  She's actually really good at this type of obstacle for some reason.  She has no problem walking on, eating, pawing, or killing this or the tarp.

Here is a "go between this" or a "squeeze" obstacle.  This was much more of a problem in each of its versions.  I had to send her between this and the wall, not lead her through it.  By Friday she was slow trotting through it, couldn't quite manage to get her to walk through it.  This is really good practice for doorways, trailer loading, going between an announcer's booth and the rail, etc.

I did an experiment and got baby Al out fresh out of his stall in his nylon halter and sent him through this, no warm up, went straight for it, no problemo.  He sniffed it once, then walked right through, showing his experience with groundwork, his obedience, and his trust.

She made a lot of progress by the end of the week, although she was still giving me some lip, and was still unsure of the safety of what I was asking her to do, she was much more respectful of my request to do it anyway.  As she does more things I hope that she will not only respect my authority, but trust that I'm not going to make her do anything dangerous.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stuff for sale!

I'm posting a link to a public Facebook album of my stuff for sale!  Mostly because I'm too lazy to copy all the pictures here.

I need to get rid of some stuff, to make room for more stuff!  Feel free to make an offer or ask questions, here or on FB.

Stuff for sale!

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Hey, it's like freezing cold outside and there's a ton of snow on the ground!  Time for another Lynne and Sabrina adventure!!!!

That's pretty much how it goes.  Some day in the distant future Lynne and I will do something where I am not at risk of losing some of my toes.

We ended up getting a hotel.  Did you know that Tempurpedic mattresses freeze solid?  Yep.  Nice comfy bed AND waffles in the morning were pretty sweet.

I decided to take Stella out to Ed Chambers for the weekend to gain some experience hauling places, staying in strange stalls, and doing strange stuff.  She was all alone in a strange world, so it was a good thing she became fast friends with her trailer buddy on the ride up.  This led to all sorts of frantic behavior when her buddy went away and all sorts of whacking and yelling on my part.  She was much less interested in her brand new bestie after I wore her butt out so that was good.  I can't stand a herd bound horse.

The arena and part of the barn is heated, it was toasty warm Saturday and nearly as warm on Sunday.  He heats using this wood fired furnace thingy.  It was probably 50 Saturday night and at least in the upper 30s or 40s on Sunday.

Stella faced her first obstacle before she even got to her stall.  This giant plastic curtain is in place to keep the heat in/eat little black mares.  SNORT!!!

She got to practice patience tied to the rail.

Here's a picture of three obstacles all together.  I worked her on the ground with all three of these before I got on.  The bridge gave her no problems at all, she's been trail ridden at a place with bridges so I think that is probably why.  The noodle pass through was a little scarier but she was quickly going through it with no issues, no rushing.  The ball was a huge surprise to me.  She went right up to it and touched it with her nose, and when I kicked it with my foot she followed it around.  Some of the other horses were really good with this, and they'd get it going pretty fast, trotting behind it and shoving it with their noses.  This didn't bother Stella at all.

Another obstacle not pictured was a wedge chute.  Stella had to pass between a barrel and the rail, with a tarp draped over the rail.  No problems.  She was even fine when I was asked to lean over the rail, grab the tarp, and move it around.  She just sniffed it with her nose and tried to eat it.

There were PVC rails on the ground that she had to pass through, and over.  Thanks to our work with ground poles this was easy peasy!  Not even a blink.

This obstacle was her undoing.  I had a difficult time getting her to go through it even in hand and resorted to getting a lead through.  Then I had to get out of the way because she'd come launching through with no regard to my location.  We did this in both directions on the ground. After I got on I had to get a lead through as well.  Then she'd pass through it going to the right, but not to the left so I had to get off and work again on the ground to the left.

The next day she still had problems, which I thought was a little extreme.  I expected her to retain at least a little bit of her training from the day before instead of starting over from scratch.   I had to teach her on the ground again, then teach her under saddle.  Then when someone made the opening smaller I had to get off again to lead her through it then get back on to ride her through it.

Part of this issue is that she doesn't know how to be "sent" places.  I've work a lot with baby Al on his groundwork and he knows that his tail had better be moving where my finger is pointing or else.  He has respect for me on the ground, as well as confidence in my leadership.  I've never asked him to do anything he can't do, and he knows that he always has to do anything I ask, which is something that Stella needs to learn.
On a side note, she doesn't know how to self load onto the trailer, which is something we will work on this spring when being outside isn't a painful experience.  The ability to send her places without my having to lead her is important to her ground manners, as well as teaching her to respect my personal space.

We also learned how to back up, but then she started using backing up as an evasion, especially with the curtain.  Including some bucking and kicking when I applied pressure.

Ed says that she needs to GROW UP.  She needs more respect on the ground, and more respect under saddle.  She needs more exposure.  She needs to be challenged with different experiences every day and she needs to be expected to do those things obediently.  She needs to GO TO WORK.  Ed said that she needs to be allowed to ask to try to do things.  To give her the opportunity to say to me "Hey!  I think I can do that, let's go see!"  But I also need to be firm with what behaviors are or are not allowed.

She was only bad a few times (such as tossing her head and neck to avoid stopping or avoid contact), but she very definitely had a firm idea of the things she was and was not supposed to be doing.  Once you got her to do it she was fine, calm, and obedient, but she lacked the respect under saddle to do a few other things consistently well.


 Hello all,  Life has been busy and I have not felt I've had anything worth blogging about.  Or that my blog is particularly interestin...