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July - December 2011's POSTS
|December 19, 2011
Hi Mr Lavery- a couple of years ago, your insight really helped me with my ASB pleasure horse. Hoping you might have some suggestions for a Friesian mare that I'm working. I started working her just about a year ago. She's about 13 years old, but in my opinion, she was only BARELY green broke when i took her on as my project. she'd been in the showring a few times, done some breed demo/drill stuff, but her basic training had consided of lead, longe saddle, and then ride. Run into the canter, only had one lead, had only ever worn a snaffle, and had never really been in consistent work since she was broke. She would tolerate (sort of) a short shanked pelham, but wouldn't really flex to it or anything. We had a ROUGH start, consisiting of the mare going one day out of the blue from "green, but I'll give it a try", to "GET OFF NOW, I HATE YOU!". I got dumped once, fractured (minorly, thankfully) a wrist, keeping myself from being launched another time. Mare got VERY good at quitting to the middle of the arena, hopping up and down, and generally had my number. Her dam has a reputation for throwing foals with kind of tough temperaments, and this mare showed this in spades.
It's not something I'd ever run into with a horse before- Growing up I was always kind of a pretty good rider. Not amazing or anything, but pretty capable and could ride out a fair amount of naughty behavior. Well, five or so years and big back surgery later, I'm just not the rider I used to be. The ground is a LOT harder than it used to be.... ;-) I almost quit with this mare SO many times, but it was a matter of self respect that I worked this out, so we worked and worked through the winter, took a hiatus from saddle seat to take some dressage lessons that didn't do us any favors, went back to saddle seat and by early this spring, I felt it was time to start working the mare towards wearing a full bridle.
I spent a LOT of time just bitting and longeing, and then long lining in a snaffle so she learned she could frame up and still go forward. My next step was to long line in a short shanked curb, wrapped to the nines. I had a HARD time getting this mare into a normal full bridle. For starters, this was a horse who only ever went in a big fat snaffle. She hated a single jointed bit, but all the double jointed bradoons tend to be twisted. I ended up finally just giving up on finding a smooth three piece bradoon and wrapped the heck out of the mouthpiece with sealtex, and she accepts that pretty well. I have been playing with the idea of getting a chain mouthpiece and wrapping the whole mouthpiece, but I hate to fork over more money for a bit that I don't know will work. We went with a low port, average shanked curb bit, and wrapped that mouthpiece too
We are showing Friesian Country Pleasure this season (and also hunter and costume classes) The problem we are now having is that in a work bridle (smooth french link snaffle and either a training martingale or a german martingale) , this mare doesn't have the best "saddle seat horse" trot in the world, doesn't pop her knees above level or anything, but when she has impulsion, the mare has a round, balanced, powerful trot and it does make rather a pretty picture. We just can't get a good trot in the full bridle- she always holds back behind the bridle instead of trotting up through it. Teeth were floated this spring- no really serious problems there.
I put the short shanked curb on her again, and she doesn't go forward any better, and REALLY doesn't wear the bridle then- just turns upside down.
If you go to http://www.buckeyebaroque.com and click on picture 36, there's a conformation shot of the mare from our show a couple of weekends ago, and a video of a class from a show the weekend before (you'll want to turn off the sound... my barn mates- dressage and western riders-were doing their best imitation of the saddle seat show world cheering section...... can you believe that I claim them? ;-)
You can see second way of the ring that she just STARTS to scratch the surface of her "nice" trot, but she has a whole other gear.... You can also see some remnants of her tendency to quit to the middle second direction at the canter... Ugh. But it was pretty good for her first "solo" class. she's a lot more honest when she's got some traffic in the ring with her.
Any suggestions on how to get her settled into her full bridle so she can find her trot? Any insights you have would be appreciated.
|Tip of the Day - When you are having "bit" trouble, you tend to have a good deal of trouble with those 3 M's,,,, Motion, Manners.. Maneuverability, as well.
Thank you so much for your great questions and for including the picture and the entertaining video. ( I enjoyed it with the sound up) She is a lovely mare. I, too, noticed that the older one gets the harder the ground becomes. One thing to remember, falling off of a 17 hand Friesian is exactly the same as falling off a Shetland pony...only the trip is a little longer!
You are to be commended for your perseverance and the time consuming steps you have taken to resolve your mare's issues. If you are certain there are no dental issues such as blind or broken wolf teeth, the usual cause for what you describe, we can look in other directions.
Conformation is one of the things that sets an athletic horse apart from a non-athletic one. Form to function. For a horse to really use his front legs, it must first possess a well laid back shoulder. The angulation of your mare's shoulder is very straight up and down. Not conducive to high motion.
Impulsion and drive must be present for high motion to appear. The amount of push that comes from behind is directly related to the height of motion the front legs may attain. Your mare does not appear to be pushing from behind but rather pulling herself along in front. The straightness of her hind legs and lack of development in her haunches make it difficult for her to push.
Of course, you have identified what is perhaps the biggest stumbling block to high animation....she is not wearing her bridle comfortably. A truly gifted horse needs only a very light touch of the bridle to elevate and then collect so the center of balance is in such a position as to allow the front legs to climb and even on a rather loose rein. A horse that lacks the "tools" to use his legs usually must be pushed to the bridle so the riders hands can strongly help with the lifting of those legs. Not an ideal scenario, but often a necessary evil.
Were she mine, here is what I would do.
Proper angles of her front feet can be helpful in insuring she is getting the most use of her shoulders. Working her in a dog collar or even an elastic chest developer of the correct length, can also help by keeping her shoulders supple.
Putting aside the romantic stories of Lancelot and the round table, one must never forget your lovely mare actually comes from Draft stock. A light draft horse to be sure but a draft horse. Draft horses must pull to do there job and a horse that drives learns to use their rear ends to push and therefore pull the load. I would hitch this mare in a "New York" minute. Driving will not only help develop her rear end but you will be amazed how much it will improve her mouth not mention a really fit horse usually does not "quit" the second way.
Winding down to the bridling issue, I must say, here you have me confused. You state in a snaffle she doesn't have a good S/S trot but sometimes you like it better than with a curb? You mention she doesn't push "through" the bridle? I would never want one through the bridle only stepping TO it. Keeping in mind that the standard width 51/2 inch bit is way to narrow for a Friesian and a "tight" bit can also cause the problems you describe, I would make sure that whatever bits (Bridoon or curb) I chose were the correct width. My first thought would be a bit such as pictured below. Only smooth. From World Champion:
But after looking at the USEF"S Friesian rules for Country Pleasure, I see there are really many options. I quote:
That's about all I can think of. As mentioned above, with the dedication you have already displayed, and the steps you have already taken and a lot of Seal-tex, I feel confident that by adapting some of these suggestions, you will have you mare firing to the very best of her ability in the spring.
Thanks again for your great question. Good Luck and Good Riding.
|December 12, 2011
My question is what would you suggest for shoeing a horse with laminites, or maybe road founder? I came across a very pretty, and very sweet Saddlebred mare that was gated once in her life. The past owner used her as a brood mare. She has not had shoes on in at least 4 years. I have hoped on her and she did not miss abeat! It was as if she was thankful that someone thought something enough of her to ride her again. She slow gated with ease, trotted fine, and cantered both leads with no problem what so ever like she she has been worked for the last 4 years (she was only a brood mare). She never once threw or bobbed her head like she was in any pain. But, she stands up with her back end under herself with her front legs forward, not as being parked out, due to the back end. Hope this helps, and hope you maybe able to suggest something that may help this mare!!
Thanks so much for your time!!
P.S. I also have her on the platinum performance joint supplement, and Iron Horse hoof and sole
|Tip of the Day - Being a little lame is much like being a little pregnant!
Thank you so much for your question. In this case, actually seeing what you describe would make things much easier. To be sure, standing as you say is a classic symptom of laminitits ( as is dragging the front feet while backing up) but to then travel soundly is certainly a puzzlement. Being equally lame in both front feet could explain the lack of head "bobbing" but then I doubt she could perform as well as you mention. These questions make it difficult for me to suggest anything. How can you deal with, treat, train, medicate or shoe a horse you really have no clue what is wrong with them? Knowing exactly what you are dealing with makes designing a course of action or treatment immensely more effective. One thing that would answer these questions and that would be my first suggestion to you, have a set of X-rays taken. This is the only way to truly establish whether or not she is truly foundered.
Laminitis (founder) has to do with increased circulation of blood through the hoof laminae and the destruction of tissue that suspends the pedal bone, allowing the bone to turn, point down toward the sole of the hoof. Looking like a miniature triangle, the coffin bone's flat side lies parallel to the ground and is the lowest skeletal support for the leg and body. When the point turns down, the weight of the "framework" above drives the point painfully into the sole of the hoof causing much discomfort. Bringing the hind legs up under the body is how a horse attempts to relieve that discomfort by shifting the weight off of the front feet. There is no cure for founder but there are ways that may prevent more serious conditions and may allow the horse to be serviceably sound.
The theories of treating and shoeing the foundered horse are nearly as many as there are vets and farriers. I once had a veterinarian, a nationally known and recognized expert in the field of founder, instruct me to have the farrier raise the horse's heels ten degrees. This was the day after my old time vet had suggested we might lower her feet five degrees. ( in the end, my old time vet was right ) Keep in mind we haven't even talked about shoes yet, "medieval" heart bars, egg bars, reversed toe, pressure packing etc. etc.
If it were me, I would have her x-rayed and if she is indeed foundered, using those x-rays as a guide, I would have my vet and farrier work together as partners and figure the correct way to make her comfortable.
I hope this has been of some help to you and I thank you again for your great question. Wishing you Good Luck and Good Riding.....
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December 5, 2011
Hello There, I am Nick, i need to board my horse away from home for three months as i will be traveling for vacation with my family, he has being on boarding before now for a month and he did great there ... I have the coggin and health certificate, i will need a full stall boarding for the three months ..
Let me know what this will cost me.December 5, 2011
|Tip of the Day - If a stable's charge for boarding is more than $100 less than the other stables in the area, make sure there is manure!
Thank you so much for your great question. The horse community could learn a lot from those who run Dog Boarding facilities. It seems very cut and dried and easy to understand. To board a big dog at our local facility, it is $30.00 per day. (or $900 per month) For that, they will put him in a 4'x8' pen, give him about three quarts of water, about 1 lb of food, hose down his pen and walk him for 4-5 minutes each day. That is pretty much it. Smaller dogs are a little cheaper.
Unfortunately, it is a little more confusing when we deal with boarding horses. To help explain this to you, I am going to do something a bit unusual for me, I am not going to answer your question but rather, I am going to tell you a story.
There once was a little girl who wanted a pony very badly. Her father was not too thrilled with this and cited the costs involved with his reasons for refusing to get her a pony. Aside from the purchase price, he was most concerned with the monthly, board bills. Not deterred, the child decided to do some research and spent about a week checking the boarding facilities in her area. At the right time, she gave her report to her father. It was something like this.
"Daddy, I found bunches of places to keep a pony and at all different prices."
Her Dad replied, "Ok honey, since you have gone to all this trouble, tell me about it but do not get your hopes up, I am not made of money." "Alright Daddy," She began, "Happy Trails boarding stable gives you a 12'x12' box stall, free choice feed and water, daily turn out in an acre paddock, grooming before and after turn out, they will get the pony ready for me when I come to ride on their trails, outdoor or indoor ring and they have an automatic manure removal system so the stalls are always clean with no manure in them."
"Wow, that sounds great but how much is that?"
She replied, "Only $700 per month."
Her father was visibly shaken as he responded, "That is completely out of the question!"
"But there is more Daddy," she offered. "Just down the street at Twin Pines, they give you a 12'x12' stall, free choice feed and water, daily turn out, they groom once a day, they will get my pony ready when I come to ride, they have trails and an outdoor ring and the stalls are cleaned twice day so there is no manure in them."
"How much?", he said.
"Only $500 per month!"
"That is way too much."
"Okay Daddy, but at Riverside Stables, it is really a good deal, only $350 per month. They give you a 12'x12' stall, free choice water and they feed twice a day, they turn them out every other day, we will have to get the pony ready when I want to ride, they only have an out door ring but it is nice, and they clean the stalls once a day so there is no manure in them."
Dad says, "Well, that's a little better but still too much."
This goes on with several other stables, each a little cheaper and each with fewer amenities, none of which is cheap enough for the father. Finally she comes to the last barn on the list. "Well, Dad, Lazy Dog Ranch is the last one on my list and the cheapest. They will give us a stall, all the water the pony wants, but there is no place for turn out, I can ride on the driveway and we get all of this for only $75.00 a month."
Dad smiles and says, "Now you're talking! That is the kind of price I can live with! Water, ride on the driveway, I think you should know how to get your pony ready. But, what about the manure?"
"Daddy," she said, " I asked the owner the same question and he said, For $75.00 a month, there ain't no manure!"
So there you have it, depending on how many extras you want your horse to have, how fancy a place you want to be at, what part of the country you are in, I would think you could spend anywhere from $150 - $650 per month to board a horse. As the Tip of the Day and this little story elude, be suspicious of a price much cheaper than the others in the area as you know the old adage... "You get what you pay for."
Thank you again for your question. I hope this has been some help to you. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding!
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|November 28, 2011
"Ain't no Hill for a High Stepper!"
I have a 4 yr. old Am. Saddlebred Stallion that was in training for over a year, and she did not do much with him. I wanted to he his legs to trot up higher. What devices can you suggest I use to get this great leg action and great high stepping trot? I wanted to get him shown and promoted and not sure which trainer to use anymore. I live in Maryland.
|Tip of the Day - Although motion can be a very desirable thing for a ASB...it is not everything!
Thank you so much for your question. Searching for that often elusive motion of the American Saddlebred Horse is a mission trainers over the world are engaged in on a daily basis. There are more gadgets, gimmicks and "sure fire" inventions to that end than could possibly be listed here. In nearly 50 years of training horses I think I have used them all but probably have not. Trying to turn a "helpless" equine into a Skywatch is a procedure that has broken a lot hearts and ruined a lot of horses. The truth is, attaining that high motion can only happen when you start with a horse that has some natural athletic ability, no matter how many "tools" you use. Before we talk about some of these tools, let's figure out what natural ability really is and how to identify if your horse has it.
When God sends them to us as babies, he includes many options. Good options for an ASB, Long neck that comes straight up out of the wither, shoulder that is very sloping, a back that is not too long, legs that are not crooked, hind legs that are not too straight up and down. When walking, a well defined long rolling stride is important on both ends. When trotting, with his head up, the long stride in front turns more towards elevation and the hocks lift and then "plant" the hind feet. A horse with these, "options" is something you can work with.
Oppositely, a forward headed, straight shouldered, long backed, crooked legged horse, with long straight legs behind who displays extension rather than flexion, is simply not a candidate for high motion... no matter what you may try! It is form to function that makes the difference.
After taking all of these things into account, there is another variable than can make a difference, good or bad, in spite of what I have just said. That variable is attitude. A bad attitude such as lack of desire to perform can deprive that otherwise perfect candidate of being all he can be. Also, on very rare occasions, a great attitude has been able to allow an otherwise unworthy candidate to rise above his handicaps and become a highly competitive show star. A rare occurrence to be sure but those that have are memorable with one or two joining the ranks of the all time greats.
Assuming your Stallion falls in the category of good candidate and his "maleness" is not effecting his attitude (often a problem with stallions), there are some more variables that need to be discussed. Perhaps, the two most important, Training and Conditioning. Without the development of a mouth that responds properly to the bits and a conditioning program conducive to these athletic endeavors, motion will still be an elusive option. There is no way stress how very important a proper daily training regime is if one wishes a high motioned horse. The horse's response to the bindle allows us to put his head where it balances a horse in such a way as to allow him to use his legs to the utmost. The conditioning of the body and the muscles necessary for the horse to display the motion is much like any athlete. Fitness is simply imperative.
Next, sensible shoeing of the horse for support, balance, and to correct slight flaws, is as important as most anything. Working in unison with training and conditioning, proper shoeing will go a long way to enhance motion. Don't get me wrong, without all that has been mentioned above, shoeing, no matter how heavy or long, will not produce the desirable, fluid motion you are seeking. In fact, shoeing to extremes will more than likely cripple your horse.
Now that we know what an athletic horse is and understand how best to "allow" an athletic horse to use his legs, we can talk about some of the "tools". For the DIY'er, a pair of leather "dog collars" for behind and some rubber "Bell" boots for the front will really do about as much to keep your horse using his legs as anything. Chains can cause injury, rubber bands must be the proper length and shackles should never be used by someone who is not familiar with them.
Having said about all I can in answer to your question, I would like to point out that there is no class I am aware of where the only criteria is how high the horse goes. It is the overall performance. This means the horse must display that show horse attitude, wear his head, be conformed correctly, perform the required gaits when asked, have a good coat of hair and be turned out properly, display the manners for the class in which he is entered and have correct and fluid motion. In the scheme of things, the height of that motion is not the most important thing and without the above mentioned attributes, the high motioned horse will probably be beaten by one that does possess them but has less motion. Therefore, I would strive to attain all of the above, through regular work and conditioning, proper shoeing etc. and if there is motion available, I am certain it will come.
I hope this has been of some help to you and thank you again for your great question. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding...
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|November 21, 2011
Hello Mr. Lavery,
So, I have been having trouble with my morgan gelding--though I guess you rarely get e-mails when people's horses are going great... Here is a little background information on him:
He was started late (5-6) and was originally started under saddle after a LOT of bitting and long lining. I started him myself and sent him to a trainer for finishing for two months. He had been under saddle for 3 years and was still not using his hind end well, the trainer suggested getting him to drive so we could jog and build him up. He turned into an entirely different horse in harness. He uses his body differently and he looks forward to working. He was at the trainer's for 3 months last summer driving. His only issue came when she drove him in the large hay field across the road from the barn. He would typically start out okay and then get stopped up, lay off the breastplate and often start backing. He would do the same thing if you introduced another rider in the cart. By the end of the summer he was going well as long as he only had one person in the driver's seat.
I took him home and started working him myself on the dirt drive and fields around the property. He was fantastic 99% of the time. Last October the trainer came up to watch and he was terrible. He backed off the traces, stopped up and started backing and turning. She suggested a stone boat, so I had one built and we worked through the remainder of the fall and winter using the stone boat. He was fantastic and really learned how to pull.
I sent him back this spring for a tune-up. I did a solid month of bitting and long-lining before he went up there. This time, she drove him on the road every day. She said he was an entirely different horse this year. I drove him a few times on quieter roads and had to agree. He was forward, happily took two people in the cart and seemed to love his job. When he gets to hills now, instead of backing off he drops his hind end and powers up the hills. We went to a show two weeks ago and saw more of the same. He won every class and was happy driving both in the ring and around the grounds. Things were going great...until today... He is scheduled to come home at the end of next week and I do not have the horse-friendly roads around the place where I board. He will be worked on the long dirt driveway and the fields. We drove today in the field across the street and after warming up well and jogging for about 10 minutes he started cantering/kicking, slammed on the brakes and stopped up. I am POSITIVE this is mostly driver (my) error. When he started cantering I tightened the lines and told him to, "quit" in a growling voice. This was the first time this year he has stopped up. He did eventually get going again and I jogged and walked him for another 15 minutes. I did a lot of bending, serpentines and circles and he seemed to come back to me and was going well again. The trainer hopped in after to see how he felt and he stopped up with her too within a minute of her driving. However, I feel like I am responsible since he wasn't stopping up until I drove him. She believes he is just a horse that needs a constant change of scenery. I agree completely with her, but I don't have that option when I bring him home. The roads are simply too curvy and have too much traffic. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Should I wait it out and see if he keeps doing it or plan on keeping him there for another month? I should also mention that he never stops up or focuses on the barn when he's long-lining or bitting--even if we are within view of the barn. This is not the case when he is driving in that field--one ear is always focused on the barn.
I should mention too that I am really working on my own driving skills. I got into a pretty bad driving accident when I was in college and have been working on my own confidence since then. I'm sure my nervousness is also causing problems...
Just some other information: His teeth were done this spring, his feet were done about a week ago (he has a handmade shoe with a medium pad and fill on the front and a handmade shoe with a small trailer on his hind), and he's sound.
I would appreciate anything and everything you could tell me!
|Tip of the Day - Every "Old Time" trainer knows it to be a proven fact... You drive your riding horses and ride your driving horses.
Thank you so much for you question. As I can discern from your great picture, you have a very nice horse and unlike many others, it is a pleasure to see you know how a horse should be properly hitched. Both could be variables with the behavior you describe.
Ordinarily, dental issues, soundness and shoeing would be the first places I would look for possible problems but you have beaten me to the punch. Looking in my crystal ball as I pretend to be the psychic "The Great Lon-Dini" I feel sure the fields are very soft ground and he only stops and backs up when he is facing away from the barn. If this was the case it would be quite easy to stop looking further. You did mention, however, how well the horse pulled the Stone Sled ( the very best tool for conditioning a horse ) so we can look else where than his dislike of hard work.
As far as driver error, I feel the only mistake you may have made is forgetting the main problem, he wants to stop and back up. In your situation, walking trotting, cantering and even galloping are more desirable than stopping. Think forward!
Suggestions? Do not be possessed with the thought this horse will stop and back up! Keep in mind he has done it in the past but don't "borrow the jack" before something happens. Try to set yourself up for success and avoid the situation.
Never stop the horse when he is going away from the barn. Should you feel a problem about to stop the forward momentum, turn towards the barn until you can turn back around. The serpentines, circles etc that you describe are also excellent ways of diverting his attention from quitting. Do not work him too hard or too long giving him an excuse to act badly. Always unhitch far from the barn and lead him back home.
There is, of course, some validity to the benefits of a change of scenery. You will be able to Jog. long line, ride and stone boat on the driveway, arena, fields, offering countless different and varied combinations to that end.
Horses are beasts of habit and by following the suggestions I have given you for a few months and not allowing this issue to occur again, it is very probable you can change the bad habits into good ones.
Thanks again for the great question, Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|November 14, 2011
My horse has been working really well. He is light in the full bridle and trots and canters nicely. The only problem is he moves his upper lip constantly which makes his head unsteady? I tie his tongue and have done this for years because without it, he has even more unwanted movement in his mouth. I have tried a tight cavesson which has helped a little. Is there anything else I can try?
|Tip of the Day - Unfortunately, when trying to communicate with your horse, reading his lips is not an option!
Thank you so much for your question. Fortunately, it sounds as if your horse performs the most sought after behaviors correctly and it is merely a small but annoying issue you wish to deal with. The behavior you describe is actually quite common and although a nose band should have little effect, it seems to occur more often with disciplines that use no cavesson such as Western, Racing, Polo etc. Surprisingly, it can be breed prevalent as with Standardbred horses although the type of training they receive may be the have a good deal to do with it. It is a nervous habit and obviously an outlet for his nervous energy. It is difficult to say what causes it but I feel sure early bridling with unresolved dental issues could well be partly to blame. A good place to start in your quest to resolve this issue would be to make certain his teeth do not require any attention. The best way to approach the correction of any training issue is to remove any possible catalyst. I cannot stress enough the importance of up to date dental work where bits and bridling are involved. More than likely, this will not miraculously solve your problem but frankly, it is simply not possible to have a horse wear a bridle correctly and comfortably without it.
Some movement in a horse's mouth is completely necessary if the horse is to correctly "use" the bridle. My product, Bit Sweet, is used to insure that proper movement. I have never been a fan of restricting that movement with a tight cavesson but if it helps you in this case....
I have often seen a horse display this as a reaction to a tongue tie. If it must ne tied...experiment with different ways of tying it: to the bit, longer, looser string, use cloth, rubber band...
One thing you might try, tie a large rubber bit in his halter and have him wear it 24/7. Drink with it, eat with it etc in hopes he learns to wear it so comfortably his lip movement subsides.
Thank you so much for your question. I truly wish I could be of more help but I am afraid that is about all I can come up with concerning this behavior. Again, I am glad he does most everything else well. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|November 7, 2011
I have been looking through your site to try and find a solution for my 5 year old saddlebred mare. I bought my mare myself with my bonus I received after joining the army (of course then I got deployed to Afghanistan and have not been able to enjoy her this past year! The things we do for horses....) so needless to say I am a bit partial to her. She is a NICE mare I bought her out of a field after having been broke for 60 days as a 2 year old then turned out until she was 4, and was pleasantly surprised with her, I believe she could excel in the pleasure divisions, the only problem is, she is a quitter! She teeters somewhere on the line of "going to stop at any minute and not budge" to "going to stop spin and BOLT the other way" she has no fear, she is doing this quite simply to get out of work. The more I get her in trouble, the more hell she seems to raise. I put her in training and when I rode her on leave, she appeared much better but I could still feel her taking hesitant steps behind here and there. At this point I may have just convinced myself she is getting ready to quit when merely she just has an off stride here and there (she has no lameness issues).
I will be returning home from Afghanistan in a month and taking her from California to my barn I rode at as a kid in Massachusetts for a few months while I settle back in to civilian life. I do not want her to try this ridiculous routine at a new place and get away with it, thousands of miles away from my friend who fixed her for me. She will quit and spin in both lines and under saddle. What is the best way to stop this before it begins? Is this something best accomplished from the ground or on her back? The arena footing in at my barn in Massachusetts is soft, so I don't mind having to do it on her back but I would prefer not having to fight her as I am quite sick of war of any sort at this point. I just want a nice pleasureable ride!
I should also add, with her freak of a neck, I lose the bridle sometimes. When she wants to quit she will tuck back to the point I can't seem to find any contact with her mouth short of feeling like I need to lean over and grab the bit to spin her around. Or I will have the opposite problem where she will tuck back yet refuse to go forward.... This one is a bit of a mystery to me....
I have attached two pictures of her from Arizona last year with my trainer's wife. She probably would have won this class.... until she quit..... but I believe you can see what I am talking about with her tucking back in the second picture (I bought these both, just don't have the scanning abilities here so I grabbed them off the photographers website!)
Thank you for any help
|Tip of the Day - The only thing that makes getting from point A to point B more difficult than a horse that Stops (balks, props, freezes) is one that also spins around and goes the other way.
Thank you so much for your great question but before we begin, thanks even more for all you and your's have been doing for us over "there". I salute you all. Also, thanks for including the wonderful Casey McBride photo to help me understand her issues. (I've had the privilege of knowing him and his family for many years and he is yet one more great photographer to come from Schatzburg "Clan". Great Irishmen, one and all...Especially Jack.) She certainly looks as if she can put herself together and look the part. But as the Tip of the Day says, it is important they can get around the arena, as well.
Your assessment of your mare's issues seems quite on target. Fighting is most definitely to no one's advantage. If you are certain there are no soundness issues and, perhaps more importantly, her dental work is up to date, I have a few ideas.
Best way to correct this? I would usually say, gain her confidence. However, you tell me how well your friend has gotten along with her and that when you ride you only have the feeling she might pull a "retreat". In this case, you might be the one needing to gain the confidence. Your posture in the saddle, position of your head and hands, any sign of nervousness, will work against you. As the blind can read with their fingers, a horse's back can speak volumes as to what the rider is thinking and therefore telegraphing. To go forward.....you will, of course, need to trust one another and you must give the mare direction from your legs and seat, security in the bridle, from your hands and the feeling you are confident in what you are asking for and where you are going.
Some other things that might help you...... ride in a smooth snaffle for a while, something she can take a little hold of. No horse should ever pull you but in this case, completely "out" of the bridle will not get the job done either. Push her to the bridle and reward her when she is going forward.
A jog cart or "stone" sled can be of great benefit in dealing with a horse that tries to spin around. Used carefully, they are both vital tools for both horse and rider in this situation.
This is not the time for you to ask her to be a show horse but just a willing riding horse. Trail riding, walking, and other quiet work is in order at this juncture. Remember she is young and "green". Take your time and ask only for a little each time you ask. Be happy with each small success and build on them for the ultimate victory. This will not happen overnight but you will see progress if you are dedicated. A small "Backslide"should not bother you but a major relapse might be a signal to seek some professional help for a time.
I thank you once again for your question and your service to our country. I hope this has been of some help to you and look forward to hearing of your progress. Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|October 31, 2011
There's a 16 year old girl at my barn that works as a groom everyday for her rides. She's a very talented rider, but is limited to showing lesson horses. She has been a catch rider for me a couple times and one other client, she did very well. I know she would love to catch ride for anyone. How does someone get a catch ride? What do you think about flyers or business cards?
Tip of the Day - What do you call a poor "catch rider?"... A "Dumb Jockey".
Thank you so much for your question. Because the rider in question is under 18 years old, there are no rules that might present conflicts that would apply to her working as a groom or showing horses that belong to other people or even accepting money . No matter what, a Junior Exhibitor is considered an amateur. Upon reaching the age of 18, however, the waters can become very cloudy. That being said, as far as getting riding assignments, by far, the very best promotion of her services, is her success,(catch riding) in the show ring. To advertise such services has always been considered in very poor taste, although completely "legal". A more accepted way would be to express her willingness to ride to other trainers in the area who would then pass this information on to their clients. If she takes instruction well and rides successfully, she will be well sought after in short time. Word of mouth is always the best form of promotion in this and most other businesses, for that matter. Trainers are always looking for, GOOD, Jr. Exhibitor riders to show less experienced horse in that division.
I hope this has given you some food for thought and will be of some help to you and your young friend. I thank you once again for your question and wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|October 10, 2011
Hello Lonnie! I am an AOT. I have a 4 year old mare by Gypsy Santana, out of a Royal Return mare. I've trained her myself since she was a 2yo. She is broke to jog, line and ride. My only issue is cantering! The mare throws her head up or tries to rear every time I ask for a canter. I have noticed she'll get antsy and try to leap into it sometimes. She does not throw her head around if I start her from a trot, but she does when I cue her from a stop.
At first I thought it may have been a shoeing issue, so I put light shoes on her behind, and rolled her toe over. That seemed to help a lot at first; she slowed down and became more comfortable.
I have asked a couple other people for suggestions and got these replies:
1. Use a tie down
2. Canter repeatedly until she finally gets it
I have also wondered if she could be sore in her stifles? She is not lame, nor is there any puffiness or swelling.
I have read your comments and suggestions on your website askthetraineronline.com, and have found them to be incredibly helpful. I welcome any advice or suggestions you throw my way!
Thank you for your time.
|Tip of the Day - A horse that canters readily, loose in the field, can sometimes be a little more difficult to canter in a show ring, with a bridle and a rider.
Thank you so much for your question. I guess I may assume that you are tired of "running" her into the canter. As Martha Stewart says, "That's a Good thing." Even though, as the title and the Tip of the Day suggest, the canter is one of the earliest gaits a colt might perform, there is often a great deal of difficulty involved with getting a horse to perform it on command. The possible causes for such contrary behavior are varied and many and some detective work might be in order. I would ask myself:
Depending on the answers to these questions, you may be able to establish whether this is a soundness issue, a training issue, or a mental issue and therefore have an idea of how to correct it. Once you have established the cause, there are several ways to address it.
To be sure, using a "tie down" or standing martingale would not be an option I would embrace no matter what the cause. This piece of equipment can be a prescription for disaster for both you and your mare. A smooth snaffle with a generous running martingale would be more in order. From the beginning, remember that a horse with bad teeth will often display the head tossing you describe. Get her teeth checked and floated before anything else if they have not recently been done
If she appears uncomfortable cantering, loose in the field, chances are a soundness issue on the forehand, i.e. feet, legs or shoulders..
If your filly is worse on one lead than the other, unsoundness in the "bearing" hind leg is often the culprit.
If things change, dramatically, depending on where you work or where you ask her to canter, consider a mental issue but don't forget differences in footing.
If she feels uncomfortable while riding at the walk and trot as well, back issues could come into play.
If you have not taken the time to teach her to canter correctly, we are all wasting our time. As this issue has been addressed here too many times to count, here is some homework that might be of help in the proper way to ask for the canter and other detective work you might try..
I thank you again for your great question and hope I have been able to give some food for thought. Not actually seeing the behavior, this is about all I can offer, except I applaud your desire to remedy the situation. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding,
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|September 26, 2011
Hi Lonnie -
I am wondering if you would be able to help me with some general pointers with my 5yr old gelding show pleasure horse. We're having some "issues," and I am interested in taping some training and riding sessions and getting your opinion. I just bought him a little over a year ago . We've had him in training at a big barn in MN, since we've bought him. He cute, and put together pretty well, but he can be a bit of a pain sometimes. He's not dangerous, but can be a challenge. He made the junior classes a little exciting :) I've been a long time admirer of you, and like everyone in this industry highly respect your opinion. Please let me know if you would be interested in helping us and what the rates would be.
|Tip of the Day - The only thing worse than having a horrible ride and a terrible tie in the show ring... reliving the experience through video... again and again and again!
Thanks so much for your inquiry. Actually, I do a great many video consultations, welcome them and find them quite effective as it offers the opportunity to observe the behavior at issue. It cannot compare to actually being on a farm call but because of the logistics and costs involved in travel, it is a viable option. Beside behavioral issues, gait analysis, shoeing and biting questions can be effectively addressed through this medium as well as matters of equitation. I do charge for this particular service but the cost is but a fraction of what a farm call might be. I prefer receiving the "videos" through Email but will deal with actual DVD's if necessary and would most probably need to speak with you by phone or Email prior to viewing in order to be completely aware of your actual concerns and the circumstances surrounding them. Interestingly, quite a few people have sent me "pre-purchase" videos for my assessment as to a horse's value, merits and suitability for the prospective rider.
Make no mistake, when it comes to show horses, a picture is not worth a thousand words as pictures or videos are seldom able to capture that essence and attitude, that when experienced live, define a true show star but, as mentioned above, they can be most helpful in dealing with other issues.
Thanks again for your question. I look forward to hearing from you. Good Luck and Good Riding,
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|September 19, 2011
Lonnie-I have a 7 year old TWH who WITHOUT notice, will abrutly stop to eat grass. There is no prior warning, therefore it comes unexpectedHe is is good horse, best buddy type, but has this behavior problem. Vet says I need to use spurs on him. Others say I need to use a crop on hime and smack him when he does that. I'm not for doing that.
It's very hard to get his head out of the grass , by pulling on one rein or another, if it works, usually he will take several steps and stops again, again without prior notice.
What can I do?
Thank you for your time,
|Tip of the Day - Riding the trail goes much smoother when your horse is not eating the trail.
Thank you so much for your question. To be sure, a horse that likes to "picnic" his way through a trail ride can be very aggravating. Your reluctance to resort to "corporal" punishment is indeed exemplary and also my usual stance on dealing with bad behavioral issues. Unfortunately, in this case, I feel you have been getting the proper advice. What more than likely started quite innocently, has now become a bad vice for a trail horse. As horses are beasts of habit, allowing him to continuely get away with this has only reinforced the behavior. Not only is it an agrivating one but it is one that could potentially be quite dangerous. Think a moment, a horse pulling an unprepared rider out of the saddle. A horse reacting violently to stepping on the reins, perhaps rearing or falling over on the rider. A horse stepping on and breaking the reins leaving the rider powerless to control the horse. Think about the many other possible scenarios putting both the horse and rider in danger. You cannot allow this to continue.
A moving horse cannot put his nose to the ground to eat, a horse must stop and cock a leg to place his nose on the ground. Spurring the animal forward at the proper moment will discourage this. It is not necessary to violently spur drawing blood etc as Luz did to the Black in the movie Giant, simply making the animal uncomfortable will do the trick. So it is true with a crop or even the bite of the reins. He must not be allowed to stop at will and if you succeed there, you will not have to worry about getting his head up.
Should you permit him to stop and get his head down, pulling it back up is nearly impossible. Harsh hands and strong "jerks" are, sadly, your only options. Although riding the horse with a check rein would keep him from dropping his head of course but not only does a checked head present even more dangerous problems on the trail, it additionally does not speak to training the habit away.
The only true cure for this behavior is to break the habit and those are some ways to do it. The good news is, if you deal out the proper correction at the proper moment, I feel you should see a hugh difference in just a few rides.
Thank you again for your great question I hope I have given you some food for thought. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|August 29, 2011
I figured I may as well shoot a question off to you and see if you had any pearls of wisdom to share in regards to the matter. Let me preface this by saying I'm not a total dunderhead but I am at wit's end with this goofy mare. As a trainer, it is my professional opinion that she is not going to make a show horse and I have relayed that info to the owner. However, they are somewhat attached to this mare -- or at least the money they have invested in her -- and would at least like her to be usable as a riding horse. Here's the background:
I have a five-year-old mare that was not handled whatsoever until a couple of months shy of her junior year. At that time, she came in out of the pasture barely leading and went into a very good training barn. When I acquired her, she was green but definitely broke. She's a smart mare and progressed easily. She was wearing the full bridle well, cantering nicely, moving off legs, turning on the forehand and ready to go to a show. While I was away at another show, my help at home somehow let her get hurt and we ended up missing about six weeks of training with her. She didn't make it to a show at all last year because of the injury to her shoulder.
Over the winter, several amateurs and teenagers rode this mare with ease. She was easy. She never offered to do anything naughty and was a kind, sweet mare. I decided that, since she was solid with everything else, I would break her to jog. Holy mother of God, what a disaster that was! I have not seen a horse go that ballastic outside of the rodeo arena in years. I was shocked by her violent reaction but even more shocked at the mess I now have four months later. Since that day, EVERYTHING has been an issue. She has thrown me once and a "dumbjockey" I employed five times. Her flight reaction has kicked in and all she wants to do is take off, unloading whatever is hindering her in any way possible.
I have never had a horse revert so quickly to being basically unbroken, especially one that was so easy beforehand. She was going off on her tack, kicking at us when we touched her hindquarters, bouncing off the stall walls at every noise, trying to buck when I mounted and unmounted, trying to bolt every time I moved, etc., etc. After trying to move on like nothing happened didn't work, I've essentially started all over with her. I got her accepting her tack well again and long lining well. I started getting on her and having my groundman lead her like a colt. She was like being a tight rubberband just waiting to snap. At that time, I hired a "dumbjockey" so that I could be the groundman and keep myself from being the one to get broken. The first few rides were horrible and she threw him five times. Each time, she got scared and bolted, throwing in some bucks here and there. I'm still working her before riding her and treating her like a colt. Every ride is like the first one now.
I do have her on an anti-stress supplement. We have ruled out any physical issues and have also started trying some accupressure therapy to relase the excess heart energy. I have been trying to be exceptionally calm with her and spend extra time just hanging out in her stall when I have a chance. I'm kind of stumped as to why this formely docile mare is suddenly such a basketcase. Thoughts?
Off the record... I have an Amish family willing to take this mare and ride the @#$% out of her for a while. I am trying to get the owners to agree to it. I'm just stymied by this heifers reaction to the jog cart. I didn't expect her to do anything. Boy, when those shafts touched her flanks she went airs above the ground. The day she threw me was about two weeks after that. She'd been a squirrely Shirley the whole ride. When we were finishing up, I asked her to park and she refused. I tapped her with the crop to get her attention and she friggin' exploded. She, again, surprised me. I don't think it was JUST the jogging incident but it was certainly the catalyst. Her reaction to anything that makes her uncomfortable is to hit the flight button. I'm ready to put that piece of lead behind her right ear.
And on another topic, last year I contacted you about using a "tip of the day" based on bad customers. I had one that left me in a huff because they didn't like my advice. You told me then that they would probably be good customers after another trainer or two. You were right. They got raked over the coals and are now suddenly quite receptive. :)
|Tip of the Day - Proven time and time again, horses seem to be able to learn an unacceptable behavior much more rapidly than they may acquire a good one.
Thank you so much for your question, I think. It sounds to me like she might have been a candidate for the famous Guenther Gabel Williams, were he still alive. Her behavior certainly appears to be of Ringling Bros. caliber. It also seems you have become somewhat disenchanted with being thrown to the ground. Can't blame you there. Speaking of disenchanted, it is always discouraging when clients, who should truly appreciate the professional advice they are paying you for, feel they know better. None the less, it is their horse. As for a second opinion, I, too, do not see the words SHOW HORSE any where on her resume, at least at this juncture. "Lawn Ornament" might even be a little shaky.
The dramatic change in personality, that you describe, would have anyone scratching their head, to be sure. Although I usually will have had a horse, at sometime in my life, as the ones described to me on this site, I cannot remember ever having one displaying a change of such major proportions. From what you say, it does stand to reason that the unsuccessful "hitching" was, at least, the trigger for the change as ruling out unsoundness removes the most probable cause from the equation. I would still wonder if she did not sustain some "undetected" physical injury during that fiasco that is still giving her an "excuse" to rebel.
Obviously, the horse has lost trust and confidence resulting in her reverting to the primitive flight defense. You seem to realize this and spending time in the stall with her is the type of action necessary to start getting it back.
I think the way you are approaching a solution, starting back at square one, is about your only alternative. There are a few things that might make the process a bit easier for all concerned, that have served me well in the past.
Forget the stall, high protein feed etc....Turn her out in the pasture, hay and water only.
Continue to lunge or long line prior to work.
Assistance from your vet in the form of ....RESERPINE.... would be my first choice. Modern medicine can be miraclous at this time.
Nothing would be of more benefit, in working through this issue, than a Stone Sled.
Needless to say...extreme calmness and patience are the key words here. Whatever good you are able to restore depends on it. This no time to be in a hurry. The most difficult challenge you face is regaining her trust and confidence, while at the same time, instilling respect as you correct her. Not easy.
I wish I had some more concrete, sure fire suggestions but, alas, that is about all I can think of. Your task is not going to be an easy one...but it is not an impossible one either.
Addressing the other subject, it has always been my theory that like most horses, some clients need to be with three trainers before they become good clients. Glad to see my theory has stood up under yet another test.
Thank you so much for your question, I wish you much success in dealing with this but feel sure you will make progress. How much? I cannot say. Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|August 24, 2011
Hello. My name is Kourtenay I've been having a few problems with my horse and I'm looking for some advise to help us get through our issues. Last spring I was given a Percheron Quarter Horse gelding named Starski. He's 13 years old and green-broke Western for trail riding. I tried to Driving him on the ground with a surcingle and driving reins. The first time he was alright doing it, but the next few times I tried he got progressively worse. Now he rears up and spins away from me as soon as I step back to try driving. He tears the reins out of my hands every time, but once he knows I'm not holding him he stops and faces me, standing quietly like an old pro. I've also attempted longeing (I get the exact same results as driving), as well a Join-Up. With join Up he'll merely go to the gate when I try chasing him, I've tried using a longe whip, either cracking it to get him to move out to tapping him with it, but even if he move out he goes to the other gate or runs wildly without respect for me and waits at the gate again when I turn away. I'm afraid that I've ruined him, and I'm almost ready to give up on him. I've never had any trouble with saddle, bridle, grooming, catching, or picking him feet. He's never struck at anyone, or tried to bite. I appreciate you reading this, and I'm looking forward to hearing any suggestions you may have.
|Tip of the Day - A horse that will not take direction...is really just a very big and expensive pet.
Kourtenay, thank you so much for your great question and wonderful description of Starsky's issues. It brought back old but not very fond memories of a horse or two I have trained in the past. Staring you in the face when long lining is the task at hand can be a humbling, frustrating and very demoralizing experience. As his breeding suggests, he must be very husky and strong. His actions suggest he has plenty of starch in him. I would assume, when he wants to take the reins away or run, there is little you can do. If he is not willing to volunteer for Monty's "Join Up" program, you certainly cannot "draft" him. It sounds, in fact, by the way he has you running from gate to gate to move him, that you are getting more exercise than he. Please, take heart at one thing, I do not think you have ruined him in that short of time, he is far to good at what he is doing to have just started doing it.
If, as you say, he rides perfectly I am not so sure I would continue fighting the driving "wars" unless you have absolutely made up your mind he is going to drive. If that is the case, it is not going to be an easy task and it is not one you will be able to do alone.
I would start with the lunging. To successfully lunge a horse you must be able to control his head, his speed and make his body follow. As he is so strong, a line with a chain run over his nose should give you enough leverage to turn him and stop him. As with "Join Up" the position of the whip or "flag" is just as important here to keep him going forward with his body in line. If he is going forward but wants to come in or turn to you, the flag should be in the hand closest to his shoulder and head, (trotting counter clockwise, the left hand and visa versa)
If he does not want to go forward, the flag should be in the hand closest to his haunches. Additionally, here is where you need the helper. First the helper should stand in front of and hold the horse until you are situated and ready to begin. Then the helper, carrying a lash whip or flag, should act as an extension of your flag either acting as a "header", keeping the horse away from you or as a "tailer", keeping him pushed forward. Once the three of you are working in harmony and Starsky is no longer "testing" you, only then should you move to the long lines.
I am not sure how your surcingle is constructed but hopefully there are "turrets" or rings low enough to run your lines through so that they strike the horse in the area between the gaskin and the hock. Having them at this level allows you to control the rear end and keep it from spinning away from you so that he can't turn around and give you that stare. Again, your helper is very important. He should stand in front of the horse holding him while you move behind him and get adjusted so that you are perfectly in line with the horse, your lines are low on his body and your arms are in a comfortable position. The first few times, with your helper leading him with a lead shank and you WALKING behind, get the feel of the lines. Note that as you turn his head towards the left, the pressure of the line pushes his hind quarters to the right and then the opposite to right. You are now controlling the horse's entire body and keeping it in line as you are sort of executing a semi-serpentine. After several days your header, after you are situated, may turn the horse loose so you may first walk and then trot on your own. When all is being executed as you ask, then you may start the lining in the circle. Keep your reins low for the first few times, remember the position of your flag and again have your helper be your header or tailer as when lunging. You will know in the first two weeks of this program whether you are making progress or if Starsky is just one too many sandwiches short of a picnic.... I cannot stress enough that your safety should be your utmost concern. This is a big, stout and will full horse. Don't take any chances..Never...Wrap a rein or line around your hand. Never... be close enough to be kicked. Always.... have a helper or someone with you when you are working him.
I Thank you again for your great question and hope this has given you some food for thought, I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|August 22, 2011
Hello! I saw a post in reference to Ask the Trainer on Trot.org. I have trained and shown asb's for many years as an AOT. However, I have a mare currently that is just downright Stumping me. I am at a complete and total loss. . The term "double gaited has been said about this mare"..She is 13, been trained and shown in 3G park, 5G show pleasure and Pleasure Driving before being sent out to the field as a broodmare...Until I got her 2 years ago. She was bred and trained out of Dale Sloats Farm here in Virginia. Ive known mr.sloat for many years and have worked with him as his assistant off and on. As payment for my time, I was given this mare. She started out very well considering she was not worked or ridden for that matter in over 6years. I put her in some local open shows and we won every darn class we entered. We did open gaited classes, where they call for Pleasure gait I would either trot or rack. There was a a nice mix of walkers, saddlebreds and even a couple paso's in those division. I also showed in open english classes where we could work w,t,c and we still came in the top two out of large classes. So... I can say the mare knows what I asked her for at each gait. Last year however towards the end of the season, more and more during our workouts, she would Not trot off on cue. She would either jigwalk or rack. I was usually able to get her back to the trot within a stride or two by tipping her to the outside some and squeezing her forward and of course using her " Cue" that she was taught. This cue was to either touch or poke her just above her wither on the right side. It seemed the more I asked her to trot off this cue...the more pissed off the mare gets. She would rear even when given plenty of rein, jolt and rack, canter then rack...just...rack rack rack. No trot. It has gotten worse and worse since. Ive had my farrier shoe her Not to rack...she racks through it. She racks through stretchies; Dale even suggested what I call sling chains, I do not particularly like these...however I did try them twice on his advice of she will not be able to rack with those. To be clear, it looks like a kicking chain, only put up front on both. The links are not heavy but they are long enough to sling around and pop her. I wrapped her legs and tried them. I shouldn't say I don't care for these..... I flat out despised them. She racked through those as well. ..so they were given back never to be tried again. She will trot off just fine with same collection I ride her with on the lines, I have lined her consistently in her double bridle. Ive put my daughter on her on the lunge (she is a very decent young rider:), with hopes that maybe if I could see what was happening from the ground and having a rider on her back on the line..she might trot off as she does without a rider on the lunge. This helped some...but it seemed she would only trot once out 30 tries. The mare is sound, been checked and no hind end issues, stifle or back issues. It all seems to be a mental evasion instead. Ive never ever been in this spot before. I am very frustrated and I am now starting to second guess my abilities. The ONLY thing I have found to work that will get her to trot, is to jigwalk her up to a ground pole, I give her that same cue and once she goes over the pole she is trotting. Once we have the trot, she lifts well above level and square as can be wearing her ears. I just cant get her in it without the pole. And I have to add one final thing.... My ride last evening using this same method...she started to rack through this too. :( I did go back to Dale with hopes he may have another suggestion, his words to me were: If she is racking through everything else...then you have lost your trot for good.
I am Not ready to give up just yet though....
Thank you very much for your time and I hope you may have some suggestion (s).
|Tip of the Day - Definition: DOUBLE GAITED; A horse that only wants to do... ONE gait. ?????
Thank you so much for your wonderful question. A double gaited horse can be a maddening proposition. Among the good points, they are indeed easy to rack, they usually can really "wave" their front legs and they never fall out of their rack to the trot when you least expect it. When one reverts to a completely non-trotting horse, as yours apparently has, it does make a body shake their head. I applaud your efforts to diagnose the cause. That, of course is where one should always start. From your description of her transformation, however, I strongly feel soundness is an issue. I understand you have had her checked out but for a horse to change that drastically and in such a relatively short length of time, other possibilities are, indeed, limited. Most of what you describe sounds like a classic case of front foot soreness. Navicular disease, laminitis, askewed angles, bruises, corns etc. etc. can all cause a horse to stop trotting. As you know, the concussion to the foot at the trot is many times harder than at the rack. That is where I would start my detective work. For instance, is she more likely to strike a trot in soft or deep footing? If she is given " Bute" for a day or two, does her desire to trot improve? When turned loose in a field, does she rack when "entertained? When asked to canter, does she amble instead? When lining in a small circle does she move differently in each direction? If you answered yes to two or more of these questions.....get the X-ray machine out.
Second place to look, I know, I sound like a broken record, how are her teeth? Why? To trot, a double gaited horse must be able to get some security from the bridle and teeth in need of floating can prevent this. They should be floated at least once a year with twice an even better option.
It sounds like you have attempted to use up nearly all the "tricks" in the book to find your missing trot. The finger to the wither is the universal cue to the trot for every five gaited horse I have ever ridden. It is used by most all trainers the day one puts a colt back to trotting after being only racked for several weeks. Nearly all the things you mention are considered the correct treatment for the situation. (I would never use "drag" chains on a moving horse) A few things you have not used, "Blind" blinkers, deep, deep footing and you do not mention what I consider the greatest trot building tool of all, the jog cart.
As universal as the "cue" to trot is, the way to shoe the horse to trot is universal as well. Longer and heavier in front, shorter and lighter behind. (in your case, perhaps barefoot behind)
Keep in mind, unless your mare is truly sound, nothing is going help. Not being able to see your mare in person and going by your great description, I truly feel this is about all I can suggest to you. I hope I have given you some food for thought.
Kind of an interesting aside, Dale Sloat and I were once neighbors in the horse training business in Ohio. Sometime later, Dale brought out a wonderful five gaited filly that I went crazy over and attempted, with no success, to buy. She had that look of eagles and Dale was doing a wonderful job with her although she was very tough. She went on to become the World's Grand Champion with Merrill Murray. Nearly ten years after I had first tried to buy her, I was able to secure her for one of my clients as a broodmare. In the interim I got my daughter to show her in Jr Exhibitor Five Gaited and they won another 3 or four WC titles. Thanks to the top horseman that started her so well, Dale Sloat, the name Our Golden Duchess is up there on the wall in Freedom Hall.
Thanks again. Good Luck and Good Riding!
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|August 15, 2011
Dear Mr. Lavery~
I have a 4 year old saddlebred that I aquired the end of Jan. He was shown once as a 3 year old and didn't have much done to him after that. He is 17.1,tall, lean and lanky. I have been working him in our round pen on lunging and line driving. I have not ridden him much as of yet. I am a AOTR and have been doing this all of my 41 years. So, on the lunge, he would act silly, buck, rear and I allowed it a few times to get it out of his system then he would work. Today,I took him in the round pen (he has not been out for 2 days)........people were mowing the grass....using weed trimmers....cats were playing.....dogs were barking....you get the picture. I have no indoor so this is it! Started off good, thern after minutes he bolted...FAST. I dropped my outside line and pulled him around in a circle. Okay.....I will give him the benefit of the doubt. You are 4....you haven't been out in 2 days, there are new scary eating saddlebred monsters out to get you. Then it happened a 3rd time and a 4th time.....after the 5th bolting after I got him under control I grabbed my whip and gave him 3 good smacks and growled....that is ENOUGH! He stopped and looked startled. I put him back on the rail and he seemed to calm down. I don't want this to keep happening and not under saddle. Would a blinker hood help?
|Tip of the Day: The only thing a bull ring and a merry- go- round have in common is the horses go in a circle.
Thanks so much for your great question. It is for certain that this is something you do not want to become a habit. A "run off" is not only quite frightening, it is down right dangerous. I have ridden and driven my share in my life (about 3 times) and would not recommend it. In particular, long lining where the footing has an opportunity to get all up in your face, shirt, pants, underwear as you are being dragged across the arena. I was never smart enough to let go!
As bad as this behavior is, after reading your description, I am not ready to totally blame the horse. They, as you know, are "flight" animals. This is their first defense mechanism when threatened or frightened. To be sure, considering the variables in the situation you described, this horse did have an excuse to bolt. As with every step in the training process, it is extremely important to attempt to set yourself up for success each time you work the horse. Waiting until all the distractions had quieted down might have changed the entire scenario. After two days of rest, lunging before lining might have been a prudent option. At says on the first page of my web site, "many thoughtful hours" are needed to train these wonderful beasts and clear thinking is equally as important as hard work.
In the future, plan your sessions and try to set yourself up to succeed. Aside from what has already been mentioned, the blinkers might be of some help, as would a little more bit in his mouth. Wearing a stall bridle for 20-30 minutes or lunging in one certainly could not hurt. He must be taught that this is not a good thing so immediately correct him if it happens again. Until such time as you feel he is in perfect control, I would just keep cleaning my saddle. When the time does finally come to ride, make certain you have someone helping you.
I hope this may have been of some help to you. I am sure you will persevere. Thanks again for your question. Good Luck and Good Riding,
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|August 8, 2011
I have an Arabian/QH cross that is 14. She tosses her head all the time even when there is no rider on her and she is just out in the field. She also does this constantly when she is being ridden even if being ridden by a very good/experienced rider. Getting her to walk while trail riding is a constant battle - she just wants to go, go, and go fast. I think this is partly because this is how her previous owner rode her. I purchased her headstall/bit from her previous owner to make the transition better. It's a loose ring snaffle. My friends daughter who is an advanced 4H student struggled getting her under control as well and she suggested getting a different bit for more control. This horse invades my space really bad, but not always. Sometimes she stands like a peach for me, and then other times she is dangerous and could swing her head around fast and knock a person over. She will also try to bolt and push her way through the fence when I am bringing out another horse. She is very impatient when tied at the hitching post: paws at the ground, moves from side to side, and is just a pain. If I stand right close and correct her she stops and will stand patient, but as soon as I go into the tack room to get something she is problematic. My ferrier suggested to me that if she is giving me problems heading out to trail ride, just bring her back and work her and then head back out and keep doing it until she learns that trail riding will be relaxing and back home is a place of work and when doing this the other day- she moved so quick to turn back home and went up a steep incline and lost her footing. My balance was thrown off and I came off the horse, and had to go to the ER and have a bad concusion, thus can't ride for at least a month the doctor said. No I didn't have a helmet on, but will be wearing one from now on for sure! I am not an experienced person, but not a beginer either - just an average horse owner. Any advice, tips, training material relating to these issues would be so appreciated. Her previous owner said her grandkids could crawl all around this horse, but I don't see how that could be true. I have only had her for about a month - is this how some horses are during a transition. Her last owner had her for 11 years and she rescued her as she was an abused horse who had been shot at alot with bebe guns. She is like Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hide. One minute a kind sweet little horse and the next minute an out of control hot headed pain. Even if you could direct me to some reading material or something I would be so thankful. Thank you for your time.
|Tip of the Day - Not every horse and rider represent a team.
Thank you so much for your questions. I believe your mare is in the running for the horse with the most issues we have seen here. So sorry about your accident but during your "down" time please don't test the previous owner's veracity and try to crawl around this horse. I have dealt with most of the things you have mentioned but never so many with one horse. One thing is for certain, she is going to give you a great deal more experience than she already has.
I hardly know where to begin but because of your excellent description, I think we can establish a few things. Most of what you mention is symptomatic of an extremely nervous horse. Through constant repetition, most of these behaviors have now become habits that are very difficult to deal with. She has had 14 years to get "good" at these annoying behaviors. When dealing with problem horses, we usually try to establish the reason for the problems. We look for physical issues with the horse. Her soundness, dental care, conformation flaws, shoeing problems etc.? The constant head tossing could be the result of poor dental care. A horse's teeth should be "floated" at least once a year to keep the horse's mouth comfortable when with or without a bit.
We look at the Training of the horse. Competent, incompetent, or lack of? From your description, it is apparent the most basic skills necessary for a riding horse to learn, have never been taught to her with the "Yahoo" let's run approach her only education. This, of course, is nearly always a prescription for disaster as you are learning.
We must also look for mental issues with the horse. Has something gone awry in her mind? Is she willfully doing this because she can or is it just habit. Is she revolting? What has made her veer from the norm? The term "rescue" can be very telling of a previous life that was perhaps stressful enough,abusive enough, brutal enough, hard enough, etc to manifest itself into this mare's current overly nervous behavior. I think this is a good bet as well.
As you can see, she is guilty on all counts and even if we can explain all by her previous misuse, that is no reason to allow her to continue in this manner. Your task, this road to correction, is a monumental one as the issues are on so many fronts. To start, have her teeth checked.
To make any progress, you must somehow gain her confidence. Doubly difficult as she is also in need of some serious correction. Confidence is gained with a soft, reassuring touch, a quiet relaxed voice and a slow moving manor displayed to the horse over hours and hours. Correction can come without a loud voice or screams, without wild jerky motions without brutal whip handling etc. A firm voice and minimal corporal punishment applied at the exact right time, is critical. If you are familiar with the story of the "Little girl with the curl", treat her accordingly. When she is good, treat her very good, when she is bad.....
Going back to teach or re teach the basics would be a very important step. If you haven't had enough of riding, your farrier's suggestion is one that shows some thought as should everything you do with this horse for the next several months. One un thought out mistake will set you right back to square one with this type of horse. Thoughtful patience is the key here. With all the behaviors, find things you do that make a positive difference with each behavior and then continue to repeat, repeat, repeat.
Not being able to see your interaction together and not sure what an average horse owner's experience is, I would have to think that thirty days of mannering by a professional horse trainer would really put you on a fast track to success. If you desire, I would happily try to recommend one in your area.
Although your task is difficult, it is not impossible. Although it will take a very long time, you will see results. Think each step through then calmly carry it out. You can change most of these issues, unless, as the Tip of the Day eludes, you two are just wrong for each other, which can happen sometimes.
I hope I have been of some help and once again thanks for you question. Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|August 1, 2011
Hello there my name is Jessica, I just had a quick question regarding my filly, she will be two years old this June. Today fir the first time I put both a bridle and light weight saddle on her, I have been doing a lot of ground work, and know I have along way to go before i ride her, but I do not want to rush things. Is it too early to be playing with her and getting her use to tack? I also sat my little 80 pound sister on her bareback(while my father was next to her ready to grab my little sister off for any reason)for about a min once to see how she would handle it, she stood there like an angel. I know I cannot start riding her until she is mature an he knees set. But that quick test with my sister would not of hurt her for any reason would she?
Thanks for the time
|Tip of the Day - When training horses, the fastest way to get it done correctly is to go very slowly!
Thank you for your question. It is great to hear from someone who is conscious of the physiology of a young horse and the problems it might present in asking too much too early. I have little fear you are rushing her. Quite fortunately, your sister does not weigh 300 pounds.
Although the closing of the knees, among other things, is very important, the physical and mental maturity of the filly also figures in. No two young horses are alike and that especially holds true with two year olds whose rates of development can vary greatly. Size does not always dictate the type of training one is ready for. A 16 hand two year old (much like a 6 foot eighth grader playing basketball) is probably no where close to physically mature enough for serious training, while a smaller more compact colt may well be more mature, stronger and ready for saddle work. It just depends on the individual.
They will tell you when they are ready.
No matter how big and stout and physically ready they seem, it is truly important to heed the wisdom of the above Tip of the Day if you wish to correctly develop the young. Never rush, overwork or ask for too much too soon. Take your time and reap the benefits. A quote I often use, "It don't take long to wait a minute."
Thanks again for your great question I hope this is of some help to you. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|July 25, 2011
I live in Jersey and have owned my horse for two years. When I first got him he was under weight and bad condition. He was living in a small pen standing in mud.
but now he has put weight on and is looking and feeling good. Just the past few times when tacking him up he has pulled back. I tie him and he stand fine for hours.
The last few times I put the saddle on him he gets a little nervous and when I went to bridal him he pulled back. He never did this before. We checked his mouth and it seems fine, and he does fine when riding him. Could this be a behavioral problem of maybe something hurts him. He has been such a well behaved horse, Iam not sure what to do.
|Tip of the Day - When you have been exceptionally good to your horse and things are not going well, You must never forget that some horses simply cannot stand prosperity!
Thank you so much for your question, As referred to in the Tip of the Day, it is sometimes remarkable the change in the behavior of a horse as his "lot in life" changes and his condition improves from the great treatment he receives. This might be a partial explanation of the issues you are describing. A poorly cared for horse often seems resigned to his treatment and docilely goes through the motions of life, whereas a fit and healthy horse often seems quite proud of himself and on "on the muscle" making for a more dominate and less manageable personality.
Although it would be extremely helpful to witness the behavior you so well describe, I think can make a few suggestions that might be beneficial to you.
If I understand you correctly, you saddle him while he is on the crossties and then bridle him there as well. (tied as you bridle) If this is correct, here is what I would do:
If he pulls back when you "throw" the saddle on him....try placing it a bit more slowly, and softly on his back. If he pulls back when you "cinch" him...do not tighten the cinch but leave it fairly loose until you leave the crosstie area and walk a bit. "Cinchy" or girth bound horses often react the way you describe when the "belt" is tightened too much or too quickly.
Pulling back while bridling should never be an issue as the horse should always be removed from the crossties before it is bridled. Extreme care should be used when bridling. Sensitive ears, rushed actions and force all can promote a horse to be difficult to bridle. Here is a link that might be of some interest. http://askthetraineronline.com/08NovDec.html#bridling.
I hope this has given you some food for thought. Thank you again for your great question. Good Luck and Good Riding,
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|July 18, 2011
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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|July 11, 2011
I have heard fellow barrel racers talk about keeping their horses muscled up by exercising with a quad (four-wheeler). Is it as simple as it sounds? Do you tie your horse or just hold on to it? I'm certain the first time will prove to be interesting, to say the least. Have you heard of this method and do you have a training techniques for doing it?
|Tip of the Day - The day Man built the first stall to keep a horse in is the day Man became responsible for insuring that horses get daily exercise.
Thank you so very much for your question. Glad to see someone involved in a "contest" discipline who understands the importance of a horse's overall fitness. What you describe has been around for centuries only not with an ATV but rather a person on horseback leading another horse. The process is called "Ponying". Still used to day with many breeds such as Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, American Saddlebreds and Morgans, it is a wonderful and non evasive way to keep an older horse fit, fresh and a great help with the conditioning and training of much younger ones. Still usually done on horseback, I have seen it done by Jog cart, Golf Cart, Pick up, Quad and even a Mercedes Benz 500 SL. Oh well, it was a VERY successful stable. Now that I have embraced this training technique (I used the jog cart), let offer some warnings.
Your first trip should not be taken lightly as "Lets tie him to the tractor and see how fast we can go!" Several days of preparation are usually necessary before your horse's first foray into the mechanical age. The horse must be able to lead perfectly and neither "rush" the leader or back up. This takes a leader and a follower (ie. "trailer" of human origin) When the horse can follow the leader willingly, introduce the horse to the vehicle by letting him see, smell and even come in contact with it. When the horse is comfortable with the "quiet" vehicle, let him carefully meet the one that rattles and has a loud motor. Only when he is comfortable with the "running" quad should you progress. Start by leading him from the ground while walking next to the slowly moving quad. He will tell you when it is time for you to get on the back of the vehicle and when the driver may slowly speed up. NEVER TIE THE HORSE TO THE VEHICLE!!! A horse that might get loose is better than one with a broken neck. All in all, great use of common sense will get you through this. Eventually he may even tell you it is time for you to drive and lead. The important thing to remember is the horse must never "rush" the quad nor should he be allowed to stop until you ask him to.
You will be surprised how quickly most horses will accept this training "tool". Just go very slowly and utilize all the help I have mentioned. Thanks again for your question, I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.
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|July 4, 2011
I have just bought a 6 year old quarter horse that has been trained 5 weeks on barrells. I bought him for pleasure but he has no stop in him when you start riding. Don't want to get hurt can you give me any tips.
|Tip of the Day - Taking a "Contest" horse for a trail ride can become a real Contest. Like "frog hunting" with a shotgun.
Thank you so much for your question. The issues you describe come as litle surprise when one deals with a Barrel Racer. (Any Contest horse) In the creation of such an Equine athlete, the majority of the "trainers" (group A) ignore the very basics of training in exchange for the all out go forward aspects of the "Gymkhana" events. As in racing, they truly feel the "need for speed." Although speed is indeed important, those successful "contest" trainers (group "B') are good horsemen as well and understand how important control, as in responsive steering, stopping and the correct performance of the gaits other than the gallop are. It sounds as if your horse came from someone in group "A".
As I am sure you know, horses, by nature, are "flight" animals meaning their instinct is to run blindly away from anything frightening or threatening. This genetic trait makes it extremely easy to very quickly encourage, scare or even brutalize a horse into running. Some of the techniques I have seen used in this process, by some so called "trainers", would stagger your imagination. This is what you are now paying the price for and dealing with. In fact, once so traumatized, some horses can never be rehabilitated.
In order to try to affect a positive change, there is no way around it, you must start over from the beginning. Because he has been trained with brute force and scare tactics, you must build his confidence in you, starting with simply working around him in the stall. Followed by lunging or maybe long lining, slowly with a soothing voice. Always calm always gaining his trust. Weeks, maybe months may be necessary to over come his previous ordeal. Riding should begin when the horse is responsive to the verbal commands, "Walk, Jog, Lope and Whoa". Then, riding should progress from only walking bending and twisting to a slow jog and only when all is perfect the lope. You should see some progress within the first week but to undo what has been done to this horse may take many months. Quiet, patience is the key.
Thank you so much for your question. Good Luck and Good Riding..
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Links To Questions & Responses
|Dec 19, 2011||She is Very Tall but I Am Not Very High on Her Trot||Training a Friesian Show Horse|
|Dec 12, 2011||Which shoes are right?||Shoeing the Foundered horse|
|Dec 5, 2011||Is There No Priceline for Boarding?||Cost of boarding a horse|
|Nov 28, 2011||"Ain't no Hill for a High Stepper!"||Developing Motion|
|Nov 21, 2011||The "Field" Trials have been Very Trying!||Stopping when hitched|
|Nov 14, 2011||Talk About Lip Service||A horse with a constantly moving lip|
|Nov 7, 2011||I Am NOT Used to Retreat!||Dealing with a Horse that tries to Quit|
|Oct 31, 2011||Do you use your Thumb to get a Catch Ride?||Securing catch rides|
|Oct 10, 2011||Canter???? Most Colts Canter Before they Trot!||Dealing with Cantering Issues|
|Sept 26, 2011||Saturday Night at the Movies||Lessons by Video|
|Sept 19, 2011||He Wants to Stop and "EAT" the Roses!||Correcting vices on the trail|
|Aug 29, 2011||Talk about Jekell and Hyde?||Radical change in attitude|
|Aug 24, 2011||"Husky" and "Starch"||Plenty of size but not many manners|
|Aug 22, 2011||I Seem to Have Lost my Trot and Cannot Find it Anywhere||Suggestions on the "Double" Gaited Horse|
|Aug 15, 2011||Bolting in the Bull Pen||Running off in long lines|
|Aug 8, 2011||I Can't Tell if She is Saying Yes or No||A head tossing perpetual motion horse|
|Aug 1, 2011||Can She Carry the Weight?||Riding the Two Year Old Horse|
|July 25, 2011||You Would Think He Would Be More Appreciative!||Dealing with a horse that is hard to "tack" up|
|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|
|July 11, 2011||Can a Mustang Be a Pony?||Using a vehicle to "Pony" a horse|
|July 4, 2011||If He Would Go Slower...I'd Have More Pleasure||Slowing down the "Contest" horse|