CURRENT POSTS and
Selected Best from the Ask the Trainer Archives ***
|May 5, 2013
|July 18, 2011
When does Green have Nothing to do with Ecology?
(What is required for a green horse to be suitable for an amateur)
I am a student at William Woods University, In my saddle seat issues class with Gayle Lampe we were asked to email you a specific training question.
I have read many of your posts in the past, and am very excited to ask you my own question.
My question for you is,
What foundation/ training do you think a horse needs to be ready to be purchased by an amateur or junior rider?
How would you ideally go about preparing a green horse to become a mount for an amateur (accepting that the horse has a suitable temperment)
||Tip of the Day -A horse is not a horse.... when talking Open, Amateur, Juvenile, Ladies or Equitation.
Thank you for your question. It is truly a worthy one and one Ms. Lampe would be proud of, to be sure. With those two sentences, you have summed up the majority of the issues a trainer in a public training stable must deal with on a daily basis. That is, making certain the mount is suitable for the rider (sometimes visa versa) so that at the show, when the trainer's destiny lies entirely in the rider's hands, for "all the world" to see....the outcome is, at least, pleasing.
Although every trainer may have a different answer, I will tell you how I have always approached this issue and tell you I have had a little luck doing it this way.
Number one consideration is one you have already mentioned...suitable temperament. My definition of that phrase suggests a level headed, forgiving horse that is not lazy and not looking for a way out of work. Most novice amateurs find it hard enough to perform the gaits perfectly, set the horse's head, get through the traffic, remember where the "other" snaffle rein is, listen to the trainer on the rail while sitting up straight and smiling with their heels down. Level headed while the rider is a bit nervous, forgiving when "that" snaffle has shanks and finally, pushing a lazy horse forward at the same time makes the rider's plate a little too full. As you can see, the more of these variables we can dismiss, the easier it is for the rider to look good in the class and therefore, make the trainer look smart. Though some of us often forget, we are not called "Rider Blamers" we are Horse Trainers. It is our task to insure the rider has a proper ride, that is what we are paid to do. If you don't mind, I will give you a quote from one of my previous responses on April 22nd of 2008 as an example of what I mean. "I always remember a wonderful client I had who was so disappointed because he thought he did not ride as well as I and could not make his horse do things I could make him do. Of course the explanation is quite simple...six days a week I worked 40 horses every day, five days a week..he sat at a desk . As I assured him, if we switched jobs, in a years' time he would probably be riding better than I with the only problem being he'd have little money to buy horses after I ran his company into bankruptcy. "
Of course, he did not ride as well as a trainer nor did I ever expect him to. He had his job and I had mine. I had to help him ride better and "fix" his horses for whatever level of riding he was at. Horse Training...101!
Getting back to your question concerning the foundation training of an American Saddlebred, the answer is simple. The same as I would expect on ANY ASB show horse. All the basics must be there and be developed for the horse and ultimately the rider to be successful in the show ring, no matter what the division. That being said you should develop a horse that separates and performs all of his gaits freely and willingly with only discreet signals from the rider necessary. (Much like a dressage contestant) The horse, if conformed correctly, should wear his bridle with light contact without pulling, diving or lifting out of it and utilizing the curb for the sole purpose it is meant for in this breed...tucking the nose thus shifting the horse's balance. (wearing his own head) He should be able to back pleasantly, side pass with leg pressure and the rein of opposition and stop and stand. His body should be made supple as to turn in a small circle at any gait. (must be handy) The horse must be capable of walking in a relaxed fashion in the show ring. (riders must have a moment to think and compose) And, last but not least, although the rail may be your rider's "friend", the horse should not have to rely upon it and must be able to perform any gait from well off of it.
I think that about sums up my idea of Amateur mounts and how to approach readying them for a rider. As with all show and performance equines, attitude is everything and the proper attitude can make up for a multitude of imperfections. It cannot, however, make up for a lack of training when it comes to amateur riders.
Once again, thank you for your great question, I hope this is of some help to you, Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|March 30, 2013
|May 16, 2011
This Little Guy Worries Me
(Dealing With an Aggressive Foal)
Hello. My name is Caitlin and I live in Pennsylvania. I have owned horses my whole life but recently found myself in a situation I have never been in before. We were given a month old colt about 3 days ago. His mother passed away from natural causes. The colt is taking milk replacer out of a bucket, eating a little foal grain and eating hay and grass. When I go into his paddock to do anything, most of the time he pins his ears and acts agressive. Hes very easy to handle other than this behavior. Hes easy to catch. Once he is out of his paddock, he doesnt act agressive. (Not yet at least.) Any thoughts as to why he has this behavior, and how to correct it? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
||Tip of the Day- I have always found correcting a horse much easier the younger and the smaller they are.
Thank you so much for your great question. The behavior you describe is, indeed, fascinating and should give you some real insight into the psyche of the horse. Let me assure you your foal is not a one of a kind..... Most horsemen know it to be a fact that orphan, human raised foals, often grow up to display the type of attitude that shouts of their lack of respect for the human race. (certainly brought on by their constant exposure to their well meaning surrogate, human, "mothers", sort of a familiarity breeds contempt syndrome.) These horses are quite likely to be very difficult to handle and it is rare, indeed, that one makes a good show horse. (I , however, had one that became a great horse so, though unlikely, it can happen.)
If we take a moment to think about horses in the wild, their natural state, I think you will more easily understand exactly how circumstance has made your foal so different.
In the "wild", horses are generally herd oriented and nomadic, both ruled and protected by the stallion patriarch of the herd. The mares and juvenile horses depend on the stud while the nursing foals depend on their mothers. For the better part of a colt's first 2 years, he and his mother would be inseparable. Your young man has lost his "protection". No mother, no stallion, no herd. Although you can well satisfy his need for nourishment, you can in no way fill that void and some of what you are experiencing has to do with the vulnerability he certainly would be feeling. Because he is alone, his nomadic instinct has also disappeared and he has replaced that by becoming territorial. (HIS...Paddock) This gives him a sense of security and safety and easily explains why you are being treated like an intruder when you enter his territory. At this stage of the game, is not so much "evil" as it is a manifestation of his nervousness, fear and basic insecurity on being an orphan. Because of his situation, his actions, although not desirable should not be punished as they are completely understandable. If you would like to keep this from escalating, it is imperative you in no way encourage, reward or act afraid of these actions. Stand firm, hold your ground and act as though you are his leader. Horses were never meant to be pets but rather "tools" of the multitude of "trades" they have been bred to do. At best, a horse may become your willing partner but treating one as a pal or a friend will come to no good end. The sooner you can get him weaned from the hand feeding and decrease your contact with him, the better. That is not to say he should not be handled, halter trained, blacksmith ready etc. but keep those sessions to a minimum. He needs to just be a horse at this time.
I hope this has given you some insight and I thank you once again for your question. The job you have chosen with this foal is not an easy one but if you keep what we have talked about always in mind, I am sure you will have no major problems. Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|February 1, 2013
|March 7, 2011
The Equitation Equation!
(Selecting and Training the "EQ" horse.)
Hello Mr. Lavery. I have been a fan of askthetraineronline.com for a long while and really appreciate you taking your time to share your knowledge and experience. I am a student of Miss Lampe’s at William Woods University. Miss Lampe asked us to email you with a question and to hopefully come to class on Tuesday Feb. 28 with a response from you.
I am also taking an Equine Evaluation class and we have discussed temperaments and coming up with your own ways to test for what you are looking for but I also understand that nothing is foolproof especially with horses. So hopefully that explains the temperament test questions.
I have a few questions about the finding and training of the Saddle Seat Equitation prospect.
· I was wondering what should one look for in a Saddle Seat Equitation prospect (for example a slightly quick trot cadence)?
· What would be the ideal temperament and how would you test for it?
· How game do you want an equitation prospect to be and how can you test for it?
· What is the best way to test for patience and how much does an equitation horse need?
· How does one start the teaching of pattern work process?
· What would be a good training outline for the equitation prospect?
· How often should the horse be worked on patterns (riding) compared to lining and jogging while in the learning process?
· In your opinion how do you know the horse is thoroughly equitated, at least enough for a rider to show in a pattern class? (for example- You know your horse is equitated when you can do straight line lead changes up to a wall and the horse does not hesitate till his nose gets to the wall)
· A finished equitation horse needs to be supple and responsive off the aids, is this something that only comes with training or will a good prospect already be somewhat responsive to aids and laterally flexible, mentally and physically?
Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing back from you.
||Tip of the Day - It is often forgotten that when the Five Gaited Championship is lined up for ribbon presentation after a hard fought class, the Equitation horses are just getting ready for the second half of their's ...the workout!
Thank you so very much for your wonderful questions. With a great horsewoman and taskmaster like Ms. Lampe teaching you, I would expect nothing less!! I will try to make my answer worthy of the "Show Me" state.
To begin, I must confess that I have always been perplexed by the lack of respect the Equitation horse receives in comparison with the performance equines of the various disciplines. Where the Five gaited stake horse, the Gran Prix winner or the Cutting champ receives "star" billing, the Equitation horse of the various disciplines is usually way down the credits in a secondary role. An also ran, if you will. Is it not a very important job to be the "vehicle" for most small children's first exposure to the show ring and the wonderful world of horses? Is it not important that we can trust these wonderful Equitation horses to keep these children safe yet competitive? Is it great that with these horses we can develop a rider's skills over the years to a levels of proficiency equal to those of Olympic athletes. Is it not interesting that these horses are always seeming to recycle with new riders and are often showing at the National level well into their twenties? Second class citizens, I think not. In fact, thinking it over, they might be the most important part of any breed or discipline that is interested in expanding its base and growing more popular. Off the soap box!!
As the "Rule" books suggest, the rider, not the horse is to be judged. Whoa!!!! Although a basic truism, it is the overall picture that first attracts the Judge's eye. In Saddle Seat, head carriage, size, conformation, presence, comfort, style and correctness of gaits, even the color, sometimes all come into play in "highlighting" the rider and completing the all important "overall" picture. These are some of the basic things one should be seeking when looking for a prospect.
You mention gait and of course, the "ride able" trot is most desirable. A true two beat gait that would give comfortable impulsion to both a long legged or short legged rider, a trot that would not cause a major issue when riding without stirrups and one that will allow smooth diagonal changes and rapid transitions . A well balanced, square, crisp at any speed trot that is free of interference, with a flight path that is also free of winging, floating and "box" trotting. ( intricate patterns demand a clean moving horse ) There are horses that can go high and still have a comfortable trot as there are horses that are not very athletic that are very uncomfortable. As is often the case with horses, there is no rule here...each horse is a separate case. Remember, there are two other gaits. Like the trot, the canter must also be rider friendly. Anyone who has ridden a stiff legged Arabian certainly knows of an unfriendly canter. Also, always keep in mind, the Eq. horse often spends more time, in a class that features a workout, at the walk than a pleasure horse might. Unlike the pleasure horse walk, however, the Eq horse must not look as if he is at Lincoln's funeral but rather display some authority at the gait.
As I often say..."attitude is everything when training the horse". When it comes to the Equitation horse..it should be more a Commandant than a cute saying. The S/S Eq horse must appear to be a show horse, strongly on the "offensive" while maintaining an inner calmness thus allowing the rider to always be in control with the subtle use of the various aids at his or her disposal. The horse must be capable of coming down from a highly animated trot to a flat walk or even a halt on command. He must be willing to wait and then execute, immediately, the next command of the rider. Additionally, as eluded to in the Tip of the Day, he must be a horse game enough to go on to the second workout or pattern still displaying the fresh and crisp Show Horse attitude. This blend of patience and enthusiasm, and gameness is not easily found in most horses but is a trait not only treasured but absolutely necessary in a top Eq horse. As a test for patience, the late Helen Crabtree would ride a horse she was looking at to the very brink of an open out gate and stop. She would expect the horse to wait patiently and then back readily. Try it...it will separate the "men from the boys".
In all my years of training horses, I have made little distinction between the performance horse and the Eq horse. Basically, they both must have a responsive and supple mouth and body. They must respond to your legs and weight in the saddle both direct and indirect rein of opposition. They must easily execute the gaits as well as the movements included in most patterns such as circles, serpentines, side passes, correct and counter cantering without a rail, etc, etc. I feel these are the very basics and all horses should be able to perform them easily if one wishes to be competitive in the Show Ring. Of course, a bit more emphasis is placed on these basics when developing an Equitation horse so a bit more time is involved on them each day. I have never been a "let's ride every day" trainer and truly believe in varying the training program feeling it keeps the horse's mind fresher and his body more balanced and well rounded. Just because you are not riding does not mean you cannot continue to improve your workout capabilities in long lines and jog cart. These "tricks" can continue to be taught or practiced in one way or another.
WHEN ARE YOU READY?
When the rail is not necessary for any facet of your performance. When an imperceivable movement of your fingers replaces a gesture. When a slight squeeze of your calf has a desired effect. When a shifting of your "cheeks" in the saddle produces a change. When a "cluck" sends your horse rapidly forward and a whoa can stop him like a cutting horse.....You have top Equitation Horse.
I hope this has helped answer some of your questions and I thank you once again for them. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|January 13, 2013
June 20, 2010
My Quarter Horse keeps laying down on the Job!
Dealing with a horse that rolls while being ridden
We have a 14 year old quarter horse that over the last year will roll with the saddle (& rider) on. If has been stalled and you take him to ride he will drop and roll.......even when you are trotting. How can I break him of this?
He is very versatile........Here are some examples......
When trail riding and going through a creek, I used to let him walk around in the water he would paw once and I'd keep his head up....spurs in him and keep him moving along. Then the next time we was crossing (walking) through the creek and he just pretty much went down. There was no stopping him. I tried my spurs.......& even swatted my reins on his butt.....he didn't care.
Our teenage daughter uses him for barrels and was getting him warmed up before she ran. She was in an indoor arena and trotting along.....and then with no warning he just kind of slowed down real quick and drops down but not all the way down on his knees and on his side he goes. She tried her spurs.....whip ...nothing helped........so she just hurries to jump off.
She was riding on an outside (sand) track warming him up to jump and he did the same thing........Twice!
If you pulled him out of the pasture and rode....he seems to be fine. But if you get him out of the stall to ride..........he may or may not do it at all.............you just never know. I have noticed that if you canter him around for awhile when you 1st. get on him he hasn't done it. But you can't always just get on your horse and canter around for 15 minutes or so.
Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated! I am very concerned that someone (or he) will get hurt and at the least........... he is going to destroy my tack.
||Tip of the Day - People often tell me, riding a horse has its ups and downs...but when they lay down while you are riding...they take that statement to a new level!
Thank you so much for your question. It certainly gives me quite a mental picture of the Internet term...ROTFL!!! In this case, I imagine, there is little laughter and rightly so. You are quite correct about this behavior. It is a potentially dangerous, very destructive and certainly an unacceptable behavior. Unfortunately, from the description you have given me, it will be a difficult issue to remedy. To begin, let's put our "detective hats" on.
As with any unacceptable behavior (symptom) we must identify the reason for it (cause) to affect a treatment (correction). Although he has made the symptoms very easily definable, the actual cause may be difficult if not impossible to discover at this time. By that, I mean his rolling etc., which he has gotten away with so many times, may well be habit with the initial reason for this action no longer in his mind. Possible causes of such reactions are usually broken down this way: Could it have to do with his previous training being substandard or lacking? Is he reacting to some discomfort or unsoundness ? Is it a mental issue, as he is willfully doing it because he knows he can?
Previous training or lack of it...It seems we can rule this out as for the last 12 or so years it appears he has been serviceable.
Soundness...From your description, he sounds way to agile to go through all these gyrations and be lame. At 14, a little arthritis might be in the scenario however.
Discomfort....Definitely a spot to start with. Dental issues? Bridle fit? Saddle fit? Cinchy? Shoeing?
Mental issues...At this juncture, this is definitely a part of the symptom.
As you apparently know, the time honored procedure to affect a change in this behavior is to, by jerking the bridle, not allow him to put his head down, make it additionally uncomfortable for him to try to lay down by applying the whip, the spurs or both with increasing vigor. ( It is perhaps here your idea of increasing vigor and his differed ) Because it is imperative that he not be allowed to do this ever again and because using this technique you were unable to keep him from doing it, we must try a different "tack" as allowing him to continue doing this only reinforces this bad behavior. It is always better to not let an undesirable action start than to try to stop it after it is started. In your wonderful description of your problem, you supplied the key to setting your next ride up for success, and I think you already know the answer. You wrote: "If you pulled him out of the pasture and rode....he seems to be fine" and " I have noticed that if you canter him around for awhile when you 1st. get on him he hasn't done it."
My advice, after you have ruled out all of the possible causes I have mentioned above, put him in the pasture the night before you ride. Saddle him and cinch him lightly. Lunge him and tighten the saddle in stages. Get on and canter. Start your ride. This should become the standard way you prepare him to ride each time you ride for the next month or so. I cannot stress enough how important it is that he not be allowed to do this again! Should you feel him getting ready to try, use everything in your power and then some to not let him do this. If you can stop it...you are on your way to victory over this habit. Allow him to lay down again, I doubt you will ever be able to correct this yourself. A little dedicated inconvenience for a few weeks is much better than the inconvenience of him lying on top of you!
Again, thank you so much for your question. I hope I have been of some help to you and I look forward to reading of your progress in the guest book. Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|January 1, 2013
||Best wishes for 2013
|August 15, 2009
Becoming a Horse Trainer
(Advice to a prospective trainer)
Hi, i am 14 years old and i live in Los Angeles California, and i am the proud owner of an American Saddlebred, i take lessons at the Los angeles Equestrian Center. When i grow up i want to be a trainer, i was wondering how you made it in the saddlebred world to be one of the best trainers, do you have any tips to give me ?
||Tip of the Day - It is certain there are many easier and more profitable jobs than being a horse trainer...I doubt there are many that are more rewarding!
Thank you so much for your question. To be honest, I grew up in the horse business making the third generation of American Saddlebred trainers in my family, (My daughter and son are the fourth) Although there are still many professional families represented in the business, most of the newer trainers typically start as you are doing. First with a love of the Saddlebreds. Many had horses and showed as children in Equitation or juvenile classes. All put some time in at a professional training stable as caretakers where they learned there are no 8 hour days, seldom a lunch hour, and days off few and far between, as the horses eat seven days a week. The fun of a horse show loses a little luster when you are putting away your last hot horse at midnight so you can be ready to start working again at 5 the next morning. This is basic training if you will and a great time to see if you can hold up in the "trenches".
Although your monetary reward will not be too great, the things you will learn about a horse, taking care of them and training, will be invaluable to you if you wish to pursue such a career. I held summer and winter weekend, grooming jobs from the time I was 12. At your age, I was already leasing and running my own small training stable during the summer break from school. I was successful on the very local level but could not have competed with the top stables of the day. I enjoyed it very much for 3 summers and could not have done it at all without the experience I received working for some top trainers. After graduating from High School, I went to college, which I would encourage anyone to do as those lessons too will serve you well no matter which business you decide on. After leaving college, I went to work for K.K.Gutridge, a top horse trainer where I learned how very much I did not know about training. Taking a job as assistant trainer is the usual next step for all who aspire to become a trainer. Here one can polish their riding and training skills and observe how a stable is to be run.
That is, in general, how most people become horse trainers. Keep in mind the many things necessary to become an American Saddlebred Trainer.
- Must be an excellent rider.
- Must have a great work ethic.
- Must have a great love and appreciation for a horse.
- Must be familiar with the physiology, and psychology of the horse.
- Must understand the physics of shoeing.
- Must be a great manager.
To become a successful American Saddlebred trainer, all of the above and:
- Must be able to teach riding lessons.
- Must be familiar with the psychology of the client.
- Must be patient and have great phone skills!
- Must be entertaining and know how to make things fun.
- Must be familiar with a Profit and LOSS statement.
To be a wildly successful top Horse trainer.....
Must have top horses and the clients that can purchase them for you!!!!!!
That pretty much sums it up. As the Tip of the Day eluded, one thing about my nearly 50 years as a trainer, I enjoyed going to work every morning and that means a great deal no matter what line of work one decides upon.
I hope this has been of some help in answering you question. Look forward to reading about you in the Guest Book. Good Luck and Good Riding.
"We welcome, in our guest book, reader's comments about this or any other topic"
|December 24, 2012
|November 6, 2010
You Can Lead A Horse To Water!
(Working with Automatic Waterers)
We have a five-year-old Saddlebred mare who refuses to drink from the automatic waterer in her stall - it appears to spook her. She would probably totally dehydrate before using it. Any suggestions? I have tried putting sliced carrots in the water.
||Tip of the Day - Automatic Waterers are a wonderful invention that can do many other things beside just watering the horse... They can: Create ice sculptures, fountains, mud, "horsey" swimming pools, provide hours of playtime for your horse and pretty much guarantee you will keep on a first name basis with the neighborhood plumber.
Thank you so much for your question. The good news is...if your horse drinks no water, the stall will stay much drier. Seriously, this is not an uncommon problem. Keep in mind, all waterers are truly not created equal. In years past, the design and mechanics of waterers was such to almost insure problems in acclimating a horse to the machine. Today, waterers such as the "passive" ones made by Nelson make it much easier to get the horse drinking as if it were the farm pond. Being "Flight" rather than "Predatory" animals, horses respond to what could be construed as threatening stimuli such as unpleasant smells, unusual sounds, strange movements. The older model waterers can display all of the above and genuinely frighten a horse. The "swirl" of the water as it fills the cup, the "whoosh" sound of the water, the movement of the "float" up and down, the "rust" or stagnant smell are all things that can encourage the horse to stay thirsty. I think it is safe to assume that one or more of these conditions is the culprit. Let's think of some ways we can deal with it.
The idea of the carrots in the water is great thought and certainly on the right track, in fact, I often use apple cider vinegar in the water. However, similar to the Tip of the Day, you might try to attract the horse to water but if all is not right...you can't make him drink. Here are some ways to handle the other variables. First, If it is a heated waterer, check that there is no short etc, that might be producing a shock. Then, turn the waterer off. If it has mechanical, moving parts make certain they are oiled and working quietly and effortlessly. Thoroughly clean the bowl and everywhere the water touches or is stored . Rinsing and brushing these surfaces with bleach when you have completed the heavy cleaning is helpful and can should be repeated on a daily or weekly basis. (Waterers with stainless steel bowls make this job a breeze) Done correctly, the issue of smell and the mechanics of operation or strange movements, have been covered.
Turning the water back on, if it is possible, adjust the flow of the water to make the water refilling the cup as quiet as possible. Strange sounds covered.
When you have done all you can to make your waterer equine friendly.....Forget about it and for a few days, hang your horse's water bucket so it is setting on the waterer. Now the horse will be getting his water in almost the exact location as the waterer. Remember, horses are beasts of habit. After 4-5 days, remove the bucket and see how it goes for at least a 24 hour period but no more. If, in that time, the horse has not taken any water, give him some but do not put a bucket in his stall. This will be a good bit of work for you, watering by hand, 2-3 times a day but we do not want him to get used to the bucket in the stall again. Remember, horses are beasts of habit.
Again, turn the water off. For another 4-5 days, let's make the waterer the feed box. Putting his grain there will defiantly attract him there and hopefully make him comfortable with the bowl and the action of putting his nose in it. After this period, re clean as before, turn the water on and give him another 24 hour period to get his water only from the waterer. If he does not drink within that period, there are some other things to try but I doubt they would be worth the effort. But take heart...An unused waterer makes a great holder for a mineral or salt block!
I hope this has given you some food for thought and that you will purchase a salt block holder. Thank you so much for your question and I swish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|December 20, 2012
|January 25, 2009
And they Called the thing Rodeo
(Another bucking pony)
`I bought a pony for my 6 year old daughter, he's 4 years old , he is very well behaved I knew he was not broke to ride but having trained my own a few times with very good success . He does everything I ask with no problem he lunges stands for whatever I put a bridle, saddle on he was completely calm , he's 14 hands an I'm 6'3" so I can lean over him work the rains he turns stops and backs without an issue ,I had him tacked an on a long my niece 14 wanted to try to ride him when her seat hit the saddle he broke into a bucking fit like I have never seen outside a rodeo. I almost lost my feet try to turn him ,I then stopped took the stirrups off lunged him walk trout, stop, and come to me he was completely calm. he didn't seem scared or angry` before, after, or during the bucking he just acted like it was the thing to do . Should I try hobbles, rope one foot to get his attention I don't want someone to get hurt . thank you for this web site.
||Tip of the Day - More often than not... letting the child and the young pony grow together is not the most ideal of situations!
Thank you for your question. Well it certainly sounds as if you have found yourself in quite a situation!! I would guess you do not have a large supply of nieces so you are hoping for some other solution. The steps you have gone through to the point of riding are all well and good. Especially if you enjoy watching him lunge. Obviously, however, some of the needed steps are missing. By the tone of your letter, I have the feeling that you have used the hobbles and roped a foot or two up before. That will get his attention and in fact they are methods that are still used, somewhere, I assume, today. So if you feel comfortable with those methods..light up a Marlboro and get at it. If it were my daughter's pony, I believe I would try something a little different.
Of the probably 100-200 two and three year olds I have ridden for the first time, about six actually bucked. That is not a brag just a fact! "Ride em Cowboy" and "Let em Buck" have never been in my training dictionary. When it is alright if the horse develops an attitude, when it is not necessary for a horse to maintain a personality, have trust in his riders and he is simply being processed to become a "Tool", "Bucking them out" may work alright if the rider's body can stand it. The preliminary ground work (weeks-months) I always used on young horses, set up the situation for the easy first ride. Of the six, I would judge three of them were bucking because I had not spent enough time on the basics. Your wonderful description of the "crime", is a classic example of a horse that was rushed and was not ready to ride. There are no short cuts in horsemanship. A situation such as you describe can do irreparable harm, both physical and mental to a young horse and is not much fun for a niece either.
Here is how I would prepare a young horse for the first ride.
The colt should lead from either side at a walk and trot, should stop when asked, back up when asked and be calm enough to park out and stand still for a minute or two. He should turn equally to the left and right. He should be comfortable with a crupper and a surcingle.
Long lining in a circle and in a straight line, stopping, backing, reversing, standing are all skills a colt should have before his first ride. He should be quite comfortable with his bridle. He should be familiar with the lines and comfortable with them "flapping" about his legs, flanks and sides. Application of the saddle one or two times before the ride is important. Here it is very important that great care be involved with the slow and quiet application of the saddle and most importantly, the tightening of the girth. Invariably, the colt will "hump up" when first moved off with the saddle on thus tightening the girth which can send him into a panic as horses will not tolerate anything that tries to restrict them at this juncture. He should be lead at first stopping on occasion to tighten the girth slightly as he relaxes. After a day or two, of leading, lunging is in order. Slowly introduce him to the stirrups "flapping" which should pose little problem as you have made him comfortable with the lines flapping. When the colt is relaxed and comfortable, have someone lean on the saddle to let him feel some weight while he stands still. Then lead him off at a walk with your helper still leaning. Have your helper change sides and repeat. Make a small circle each way at the walk keeping him relaxed. When he seems comfortable, stop the colt and park him out. As you hold his head, have your rider step up on him ever so slowly, quietly and gently and gather the reins loosely, your job is to steer and control for the first few minutes. His eyes and body language will often tell you what to expect. Wait as long as the colt waits. Lead him off at the walk being ready for the first few steps to be "strong". Should he start to get ahead of you, turn him in a small circle to keep his attention. As he relaxes as you walk, the rider can carefully gather reins and start to work with you in the turning and guiding department. As he becomes more relaxed, you may move farther from his head giving the rider more and more control. Eventually, if both you and the rider agree the colt is comfortable you may turn him loose at the walk. If your rider can walk him around the area you are in both ways, that should be plenty for the first few rides. Have the rider stop him, put your shank back on and make him park out. Have your rider dismount as carefully as he mounted. Many trainers would remount and dismount a time or two at this time. Introduce the trot only when the colt is completely comfortable walking with the rider on his back. This process from first ride to the trot can be accomplished in relatively short time if the colt is properly prepared. Old timers will tell you that the third ride can get a little dicey and I tend to agree. Some colts know the drill well enough to test you, I think.
This, of course, is a little more time consuming but there is no doubt in my mind that if you follow this advice, the next ride will be virtually uneventful and your daughter will end up with a much better and dependable saddle horse. I have enclosed a little homework that might help as well and would encourage any of our readers to add some advice or other options. Thank you again for your question. I look forward to hearing of your progress in the Guest Book. Good Luck and Good riding.
I want an ASB not a PBR!
"We welcome, in our guest book, reader's comments about this or any other topic"
|December 10, 2012
|November 3, 2008
He is Racking and Trotting Perfectly, but I don't Know about His Rear End?
I have a five gaited show pleasure horse and i have heard friends and trainers talking about their gaited horses having injections into their joints on the hind legs, and I was wondering is that something that is done on most gaited horses, do I need to have it done to my gaited horse or what?
||Tip of the Day - As Donna Moore once told me "When they've lost their ass they have lost everything."
Thank you so much for your question. I will now give you the shortest answer in the history of ATTO. If he is racking and trotting perfectly, of course not.
Once again thank you very much, I hope I have been of some help and I hope to read of your progress in the Guest Book. Good luck and Good Riding.
Seriously, that is the answer. I have never seen a generation of horse people more ready to inject, cut and medicate at the drop of the hat. Ninety percent of the time there is no need. It is never a substitute for steady work and great care. Although an internal blister is a bona fide and often very successful treatment your horse should be diagnosed with stifle, whirlbone or hock problems for the procedure to really be called for. As I have said many times concerning horses, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
There is no question that the rear end of an American Saddlebred bears most of the stress as we raise their heads, (point of balance) and shift the weight to the rear end.(the engine) There is no question that this stress is even harder on a five gaited horse and that sometimes injecting is called for. The culprit, however, is not usually the work but rather the conformation of the horse. Again, as I have said here so many, times it is form to function. The horse must have the correct type of conformation for the job you are asking him to do or problems will eventually occur. In the case of our breed, many years of the Genius Bourbon King influence, have greatly improved the beauty of our wonderful horses, (Look at pictures of My My and Wing, two of the greatest) additionally, this influence gave us a horse with an attitude that better suited it for Public Stable processing and Amateur Owner involvement. The breed needed to change with the times. However, there is always some price to pay for change. In our case, the length of leg and a straightening of leg in the rear end is now our cross to bear when it comes to a Five Gaited horse, especially. Simply not the right form for this function. There is that other price to pay too, it has, been a boon for the Veterinarians.
Again, I seriously doubt if your pleasure horse, although he might benefit from it, is in need of an injection of this type. So put your mind to rest, get ready for next spring, and enjoy your horse.
Thank you again for your question, it turned out not to be the shortest answer ever but I hope it was of some help in understanding the issue. I hope to read of your victories in the Guest Book. Good Luck and Good Riding.
We welcome your comments, in the Guest Book, on this or any other topic
|November 30, 2012 One of Lonnie's favorites
|Sept 14, 2008
(The following has been heavily edited by LFL but is an honest representation of the original E-Mail)
I'm writing not because I have a training question but more of a career question. I'm at a point in my life I need to decide whether i need to continue working horses or I need to do something different. I have a barn in the central KY area that I work horses at. I also work for another horse trainer in the area. I'm going broke running my own barn through lack of horses and customers that don't want to pay their bills. My other job has consisted of keeping a recovering friend of bill in business and making sure he had horse to show when he got out of rehab. I love him like a brother but this job hasn't been very beneficial for me. I have consistently turned out horses that he is winning with as well as other trainers. I've done this my entire adult life. I've worked as assistant for several of the country’s top trainers. I love the smell of fresh sawdust the dew on the grass and the times a young horse really turns loose of a bridle and truely understands what your asking of them. It seems I'm having to completley reindroduce myself to this industry.
As to my skills and education i have a bs degree from the university of missouri in animal science. also attended stephens college and got college credit thru the equestrian science department.I've done all my learner judging for my little "r" My life background is in agriculture, particularily horses and cattle.. After a couple of years I went to work for a top trainer in Florida she said I was going to do something that i probably wouldnt like but would be good for me and that was teach riding lessons. She was right but it was good experience. After a couple of years there I had a job lined up with art simmons but wasn't really pschyed about going back to missouri. I stopped in kentucky and went to work Mr Bradshaw . One of the things that he impressed upon me was that if you can start colts get them gaited you'll always have a job it might not be the job you want but you'll have a job. I've always had a job. After Mr Bradshaw passed away, I worked for several top Ky trainers. .In the early 90's I packed up and moved to Virginia to train at leatherwood. I had horse like leatherwood starlight leather encore leatherwood starman I sold smith lilly his 1st good walk trot horse starmonius I had a very nice juvenile gaited horse bueno day who was like 2nd at louisville in the youngest division with an extremely bad rider. Not to sound pretensious but in the time I was there I had more successfull horses than any since. After leatherwood came to an end I went to another sttable and had several very successfull show horse tyhere in a very tough situation. . in 2000 i had an opportunity to go on my own and i went. the initial stock i had really wasn't the quality to show on the ky circuit so i ended up finding out of state buyers for them I think in the winter of 2000 a big Ky trainer called and asked if i'd come give him a hand I was short on horses so I said yes not to mention that it was only 5 minutes away. That kind of brings us up to date. I've helped this trainer off on on for the last 7 years. I've been laid off a time or too because of them being short on horses. Recently he tells me that he can't afford to keep me since he's got another assistant working their now. I swore i would never go back. Over the years I have developed many grand winning horses and have received no credit for them. I used to think that getting credit for these things wasn't a big deal because I was more interested in going to the bank but when your not doing either it really makes you wonder what the whole purpose was Staying in kentucky isn't crucial but is desired. No trainer has ever hindered me but they’ve never really helped me either which is fine its not their job to promote their assistants As of right now i'm fishing for a decent client.
you are more than welcome to use all or part of this email on your web site. i would only ask that names not be used. I would also like to thank you lonnie for taking the time to listen please advise do I need to remain an anoymous behind the scene player like I have been which my other job has forced me to take. Do i venture out on a private job again or do i struggle month to month with silly people with bad horse.
Breathlessly waiting for your answer.
||Tip of the day - Although Frank Perdue may have made a great fortune in a "chicken or feathers" business..... it is extremely difficult for a trainer to make a decent living in one!
Thank you so much for your question and allowing me to post it. As you see most of the "names have been changed or omitted to protect the innocent". Although I am much more at home advising about horse training..I'll take a stab at advising a horse trainer. After 48 years as a professional trainer, nearly 40 running a public stable, I am no stranger to many of the "issues" you mention. As the tip of the day eludes, I, too, had a few clients that felt no need to pay their bill "regularly" so I understand the concept of "chicken or feathers". Unlike most jobs, where you go to work each day, put in your 8 hours, (need an hour for lunch) check on your health insurance policy to see if you have to pay more than $1.00 for your new medication, have the opportunity to bitch about having to work 3 hours on Saturday morning even though it is time and a half for overtime, can enjoy the two week paid vacation, check on your pension and IRA and stock options, may have a company car and an expense account and expect a raise or a bonus every year.... these "civilians" will never have the opportunity to "smell the fresh sawdust the dew on the grass and the times a young horse really turns loose of a bridle and truly understands what your asking of them." So what if they are making a good living!!!!! You went to college, I went to college, we must have spent much more time in philosophy than psychology or business administration as we both ended up smelling manure.
Seriously, your letter hits where I have lived. I know exactly how you feel as I have been there and done that. In this business, you are only as good as the horses you have to train and only as good as your last good horse. That is sad but true. The key to getting these nicer horses is to gain the respect of good clients who are willing to trust you to select the right horse for them and guide them to fun and success in the show ring. The truth is.. without a good client, getting a good horse is pure luck. Note I did not mention that a good client has to be Bill Gates rich! It would be nice, of course, but one willing to trust you as above will do very nicely!
How do you get a good client? I never tried "fishing" for one and somehow was lucky enough to have some of the finest clients and friends one could dream of. You're judged by the "public" by your demeanor and professionalism, how your horses are turned out at the show, how you relate to your clients, how your stable area is kept, how you work your horses and how they look when working, how much success you and your clients have in the ring, how "user" friendly you appear. I have always felt that good horsemanship and hard work will get you a long way in this business. If you are short in the horsemanship department, hard work, managerial skills, and a personality for great client relations will also take you far. Putting all of these together was the recipe for the 10-15 most successful public stables in the history of this business.
As far as your education and experience go, you are certainly equipped to do other things. However, your experiences and the great people you have been fortunate enough to have been associated with ( names have been edited ) not to mention the time you have invested make me think it would be a shame to switch careers now. The timing right now is difficult with winter coming on and the economy in such a state. But you mention some options.
First, let me assure you that you are not anonymous! Even though it is sometimes hard to receive no credit for things you have done, your fellow horse trainers know and they are keeping a kind of score of you. They know exactly where you stand, can appreciate things like loyalty, how hard you work, what your accomplishments are as well as where your weaknesses may lie. Although they may be your competitors, if you have earned their respect, they can also be your lifeline. After all, they have been there and done that too!
We have been through the downside of operating a public stable... but be honest, there are many good things as well. A lot can be said about being your own boss. As far as the "credit" goes, you get every bit of it.... good and bad!
Private jobs are wonderful but few and far between. Finding one where the "fit" is perfect and the relationship is satisfying for both parties as well as long lasting is even harder. I know of only one trainer who has been able to find them consistently over the last 30 years, he is the King of private jobs!
The right assistant trainer position can be very good job. Not to mention the usual good points, I always enjoyed calling someone to tell them "they" were out of hay, or "they" needed to pay the help, or "their" pump was broken.
Let's face it, nothing I say will be of any real help to you. The decision falls on your shoulders. Several things are obvious to me. You love the horse business and want to stay in it and you have hit a very low point in your career. If attitude is everything in a horse it is doubly true in a horse trainer. Right now you need to find a positive one. Things can only get better.
Once again, thanks for your letter. I wish I could have been of more help. I wish you Good Luck.
P. S. I encourage any readers who have some advice for this gentleman to post it in the Guest Book.
|November 19, 2012 The very first Q&A posted to ATTO...
Jan 1, 2008
Lately my mare has started shaking her head when I ride her in her show bridle. She has never done this before and I notice she is not as easy to put her bridle on either. Should I try a different bit? Any suggestions?
||Thank you for your question. I especially like the fact you have identified a problem and you are thinking about soulutions. Often times, people just keep riding.
From what you describe, it would seem to me your problem is not in the bit. It sounds like this behavior has come about rather quickly. The shaking of the head and her being harder to bridle are symptoms of discomfort and more than likely the cause lies with her teeth. I would bet she is also pulling on one side and does not display this behavior as badly when wearing just a snaffle.
Horses, being grazing animals, inflict much wear on the molars or back teeth with the constant side to side chewing of hay, grass and grain. This wear manifests itself with very sharp corners on these teeth. These sharp edges can dig into the cheeks,the tounge, and can sometimes even make it difficult for the horse to close his jaw, thus making the horse very uncomfortable. You can imagine how this discomfort can be magnified by the addition of the double bridle and the tightened cavesson.
It is very simple to check this out and to see if I am right. Standing in front of your horse, with a good bit of gentle petting, slowly reach into her mouth when she is relaxed, and gently pull her tounge out one side of her mouth. Pull it up to the corner of her mouth so she cannot close her mouth and the insert the thumb of your other hand gently along the cheek. Carefully, as these edges can be sharp as razors, feel he ouside edges of the back molars. If they are extremely uneven or sharp, you need go no farther. To be certain, repeat this with the other side. Also, you may visually check the inside of the cheek looking for sores etc. and you may visually check the tounge, as well.
If any of these above symptoms are present you need a horse dentist. He will come to you and with files and other tools he will smooth these edges, making the horse comfortable again. This simple and painless procedure is called "floating" the teeth. I always insisted my horses were done twice a year, spring and fall.
I hope I have been of some help to you and again thank you for your question. I wish you a Happy New Year and good riding.
|November 15, 2012... One of Lonnie's favorites
|Sept 26, 2008
Before I state my problem, I want to commend you on a very necessary project you are doing!
Years ago I had some horses and ponies....now I have a Hackney mare I would like to show at Louisville next year. She is only 27 yr. old but I have her leading good and eating sugar out of my hand!
My two questions to you are....Can I wait to cut her tail until a couple days before the show? I hate to change sets!
The most important question......When should I start hooking her to drive?
Waiting for your reply.
||Tip of the Day - Waiting 27 years to wean a pony...is very hard on it's mother.
Thank you so much for your question. It seems you have made great progress with your pony over the last 27 years. I assume you took to heart my advice about not rushing the training program, . I am truly amazed to hear she still has enough teeth to eat sugar from your hand.
As you know, teaching them to lead correctly is an invaluable part of training and after all those years, I am certain she leads the best. I would not rush into cutting the tail. The way I see it, by the time you get her broke to drive, she'll be in her early 50's and by then maybe they will have outlawed tail cutting and Louisville might be called The PETA International. One good thing, by that time I am certain, Rich, Jimmy, Rodney, Larry and Darrel will be retired leaving only Gib as the one to beat. I would love to see a picture of your wonderful filly. Do you have any Tin Types?
Thanks once again for your question, Good Luck and Good Napping!
Readers....This of course was not serious. This "Question" came from an old friend of mine, very old! Beside being one of the founding members of the United Professional Horseman's Association, Dudley trained some of greatest horses and ponies of the 60's and 70's. The great World's Champions Bellisima and Ambition being only two of many. Additionally, and now it is confession time, I am not a genius who came up with the ASK THE TRAINER concept. It was in fact, Mr Abbott who first suggested it many years ago. So long ago, in fact, it was decided it would not work well on the telegraph. So it had been on the shelf until Mr Gore invented the Internet and now the rest is history. I feel proud to tell you about Dudley and to give you this sample of his humor. He is truly one of a kind and a great friend of the horse industry.
Thanks for everything Dudley.
|August 13, 2012
He is little but Mighty......Mighty BAD!
I have a miniature horse gelding named Clayborn he is a sweetheart but I've noticed that he has some behaviors that I find dangerous such as striking, bolting, biting, circling when you lead him, rearing, halter-pulling. heard-bound, balking bucking and pushing up against you, I have tried a couple methods but none seem to work he is kept with 4 other miniatures that I own the other three belong to a friend two quarter horses and a Shetland pony I am wondering if these aren't caused by the other horses, both spoiled and at times vicious and extremely dangerous at times with the same habits above along with a few more should I keep my minis with them or remove them? By the time a horse is acting dangerous, no matter how big or small he is, I was wondering if mental or emotional issues might contribute to these problems. Any advice you might have would be welcomed and not just with my minis but with the quarter horses again thank you.
||Tip of the Day After being kicked by a horse, it matters little how small or large the hoof was except for how big an ice pack you will need.
Thank you so much for your question. With so regal a sounding name as Claiborne it seems horrible for him to have adopted such uncouth, undignified and unmannerly behaviors. He, indeed, sounds like a one horse wrecking crew! No amount of "cuteness" could possibly make up for the vices you describe.
To be sure, the "herd" environment you mention him to be living in could well be having an effect on your tiny gentleman. As with all herd animals, the laws of nature come into play to some extent. Pecking order, survival of the fittest, dog eat dog etc, can have a way of bolstering the bluster of the smaller of the herd members as sort of a self defense tool. Those so vertically challenged as he, often resort to aggressive actions so as not so easily be taken advantage of by the larger members with their herd mentality. This being said, that is still not a free pass for his current interaction with you and other humans. Also, I would suspect some other factors have entered into creating these problems and instead of nature, I fear it is human nature.
Those adorable minis and ponies so coveted by children and adults alike are more often than not bombarded with love and affection while being starved for a little discipline. Although, nearly all of us understand the concept that a cute puppy will not "housebreak" itself, correcting and teaching some respect to these little equines seems to be more difficult for many to conceptualize. Unfortunately, it is often only after one finds out how sharp the teeth are, how strong the kick is and how hard and high those front legs can punch, that they realize the situation is out of control. If you have not already found those things out, you are very lucky. Today is the day to start turning things around.
First, it will be virtually impossible to correct these issues other than in a oneon-one situation for at least a week or two. If you can get him in a stall, that would be best. Alone with him you have an opportunity to teach him to come when you call him...Yes that is what I said... And more importantly, have his complete attention while you work with him. No matter what size the horse, we can utilize three tools at our disposal to completely control the equine even with their superior strength. Number one is our intelligence, the second a walled enclosure and lastly, our ability to use the leverage of a lead shank to control the horse's head. Those three tools have, in one way or another, been the basis for all horse training since horses were first domesticated. Today, from the Pat Parrielis to the Bob Bafferts, they are still in use.
First task, he must learn to immediately submit to pressure from you on his halter. If you pull on the lead, he must come forward and follow, if you push he must back and he must turn the direction you ask. It is much like leash training a dog. A reward to encourage him to come forward, (A repeated whistle or call of his name followed by a reward or treat each time you ask him to come forward will eventually lead to a horse that will come when called, even when at liberty) firm pressure when asking to back even to the point of discomfort and the same for turning left and right with these also followed by some reward. Make these training sessions short, 5-10 minutes twice a day for a week or two, make him uncomfortable for any transgressions and well rewarded for the good things and you will be shocked at how remarkable your progress will be. When he is performing all perfectly, there is no end to the things you will be able to teach him so he not just a lawn ornament but a productive member of your extended family. At that point you should be able to turn him back out with the occasional refresher course always in mind.
I thank you so much for your wonderful question and do hope I have given you some food for thought. I wish you good luck and good riding.
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|August 6, 2012
I don't know "Wither" this fits or does it make Her Ass look Fat?
Hi, I have two questions I'd like to ask.
Basically I recently got an unregistered saddlebred mare (think she's out of Razzle Dazzle Royale) who was trained as a 4yr old and then had a foal or two she's supposed to be 7 years old now. Because she has had foals she is 'out of shape' for a saddlebred. I have a 21inch Blue Ribbon cutback saddle and I don't know how to tell if it fits or not. I know the size is fine but two people who know nothing about cutbacks said it didn't fit. I was wondering how do I tell and if it doesn't what are my options? I thought most cutbacks were the same fit?
My other question is, what's the best way to go about starting this horse back up riding? The lady I got her from knew nothing about saddlebreds but walked round on her and that was it. She is a very nervous,forward going mare. I have been 'lunging' in tack but that's it. Any tips on where to start? I've seen rescue saddlebreds and others being ridden in a german martingale, do I need to ride her in this?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
||Tip of the Day - Unlike skirts, coats, shoes, slacks and dresses, when it comes to saddles, although it may fit you, "off the rack", it might not fit your horse.
Thank you for your interesting question. What really impresses me is the fact that unlike 99% of the riders today, your first concern is not how nice your saddle looks or how wonderful you look on it but you are more interested in if it fits your horse. That is the type of thought process a horseman uses not one hobbyists usually possess.
Saddle fit? The criteria, size and fit, for those sitting upon the saddle, has less to do with the width of one's posterior than the length of the thigh bone. Correct position dictates the size of the saddle. When displaying the proper position (a straight line bisecting the shoulder, hip and heel) there should be a full palm width from the end of the cantle to the base of the spine with the knees on top of the stirrup leathers and never in front of the skirt with the stirrup iron contacting your foot, when hanging down out of the stirrup, immediately below the ankle bone. Sitting like that, in the "sweet spot" of the saddle, is the most comfortable for you and your horse.
There are, however, many more variables that apply to how the saddle should fit what it is placed upon. First and foremost for the American Saddlebred, Saddle Seat, rider... How the gullet and pommel fit the wither. The ASB, being an historically high withered rather than a mutton withered one such as a Quarter Horse, can easily and painfully suffer "pinched" withers with an ill fitting gullet and cut back. The pommel should fit very generously around the wither area. Secondly, care should be taken to assure the saddle has the proper length and breadth of tree to properly fit the horse's back. Bars of the tree extending the cantle too far back or those too short can cause some difficulty as well as a tree too narrow causing things such as fistulas. Here the shape of the horse's back, short, long, soft, low, will have a great deal to do with the proper fit. A time tested and very simple way to indentify the fit can be accomplished by folding a "bath" towel to saddle pad size placing it on the horse saddle over it. Ride the horse for some time at all gaits. Dismount and take everything off. Areas of possible stress will be damp or wet while all else will be dry. If it appears the wither or kidney area are in distress, rethink your saddle.
Putting a horse back to work should be no problem. It appears you have taken the first step with the lunging in the "bittens". Long lines, jogging in the cart, riding in a snaffle, all should be part of your horse's return. I, myself, can think of no reason to use a German martingale at this time in your training but whatever works for your horse should be fine. Just, take it slow and easy.
I hope this has been of some help to you and thank you so much for your question. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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