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Post Posted: Feb 1, 2008 7:51 am 
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I appreciate everyones responses regarding the water crossing training/issues.

I think although each of you are taking different approaches to the issue that I can pull ideas from all 3 responses and have alot of "tools" in my pocket for this training issue.

I consider her fairly experienced as a trail horse. We have been riding trails for 4 yrs now....pretty much every weekend in the summer so she has quite a few miles under her belt. We are not big risk takers though so no scary cliffs or boulder fields....:)

Just love this new corral area....:)

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Post Posted: Sep 2, 2008 1:41 pm 
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I've got a little 5 year old quarter horse filly, who was overtrained to back, now when I try to ride her she backs all the way up into the fence, and gets upset. I'm the only one who's the right size to ride her too, my dad weighs too much, my mom is too scared to get on her, and my brother is too little. I want to have her ready for Fair this year, but I can't get her out of her backing stage. She listens fairly well, she doesn't stop right away however, but she will halt if I pull her to the side, she's using a training bit right now. i'm nervous to upset her, after I got bucked off my 16-17 hand Missouri Foxtrotter a few months ago, I've been a bit wary to get on a horse that I'm not completely used to, I have gotten on both the one that bucked me off, and the one that I'm training, but still I'm nervous as to making her upset, and having her buck, or rear.

Help?


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Post Posted: Sep 2, 2008 2:18 pm 
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It sounds like she needs more training and is confused about your cues. Especially if she gets upset. When you say training bit, do you mean a snaffle? Has she had her teeth done? Sometimes if there is discomfort in the mouth a horse will try to back away from it and or bring their head up. If you are giving mixed cues and your hands are not soft it will also cause confusion.

You say you are wary. Often when we are nervous or afraid of the 'what if' we tend to close up on our horse. Get tight hands and legs which gives a mixed message. I would work on only one thing at a time. Don't worry about her slow stop right now. You can get to that after you both understand eachother with your backing problem.

If she does start to back, give her enough rein to feel she can move forward comfortably and squeeze her on forward until she stops backing. Give her a pet and let her know she has done a good job. Take the smallest try from her. Then ask her to move off forward. Don't look at the ground, look way out forward and think forward. If she attempts to back again keep squeezing until she stops, give praise and repeat until she gets it out of her mind that she needs to back when you are on.

Very similar for stopping. Ask for a halt and praise her for a very short small halt by getting off her mouth and off her sides with your leg. Even if she attempts to move on again without your asking. Build on this by asking for a little more time at the halt each time. If she starts to get upset, go back to asking for a little less.

It will take consistency and you will need to be aware of her body language. Keep your hands soft and your body relaxed. If you are confused about the right cues let us know and someone will be able to help you.


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Post Posted: Sep 2, 2008 2:24 pm 
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Thank you, yes she's using a snaffle bit, but I think the problem is coming from when my dad first started ground working her, the only thing he would have her do is back, and she's super good at it, my 4-H instructor, and dad have both told me I'm giving the right cues, I just need to work her more. I did quite a bit of ground work over the summer, but only rode her twice, and only for a little while.

But thank you, I'll try your advice!


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Post Posted: Sep 2, 2008 8:10 pm 
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Bunnie,

There are a couple things that need to be addressed before you get back on this horse. Your feelings and your horse's feelings.

Your job with any horse is to help her feel safe. But how can you do that if you don't feel safe yourself?

Giving the right cues only works if the horse and the rider each understnad those cues. I don't believe your horse and you are speaking the same language, and heck, that can be fixed! I fyou continue to kick or squeeze her when she is backing, her answer will very likely be to rear--if even only a couple of inches at first. We don't want her to learn that.

The cue for backing up and stopping are the same and that is why you are having trouble with both of those things. The cue for stopping and going forward are simply inverse ways of doing the same thing.

In English, what this means is that your horse does not know how to go forward, how to stop or how to back up on your command. Sure, she can do all of these things on her own, but she is not currently able to distinguish what you want when, or why. I call these "Potholes" and they most definitely need to be 'filled' before you do much else. If you continue on her back, you will likely end up feeling more frightened when she doesn't do as you say and she will end up being more confused and both of you end up frustrated.

The thing you are having trouble with is not what is really wrong, and the answer to how to fix the problem lies way back, not in moving ahead. Start her over by beginning with what she can do well and practice that until you both feel comfortable and happy. Every time you ask for a specific thing--say, move her front end away from you--she should respond correctly 100% of the time. This tells you she understands the request. Only then, is it fair for you to move on to the next task. A lot of repitition and plenty of praise for a good job and you'll have her going in no time.

From the ground, you can teach her to walk forward, turn, stop and back up. Until she has "power steering and power brakes" I would advise against you riding her for both your sakes. A frustrated rider sends a message to the horse that confuses her more and although she is currenlty only backing up, if pushed, she may decide to protest louder--by bucking or more likely, rearing. A horse that backs as you describe will usually escalate to lifting her front end off the ground and that is quite dangerous for both of you.

Having her ready for fair (I thought that was over?) is a lofty idea at this point and one you may need to rethink. Safety is most important and when you show her next year with all your potholes filled will better your chances for placing or winning.

To answer your question on how to train this horse would take too long on this forum but if you would like, I will happily do a demo for your 4-H club with your horse, just ask. I will need about two hours for this and of course, there is no charge.

Let me know if you'd like me to do that---it would be beneficial to your group if they are interested. We should do this soon though, ok?

Tanya Buck
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Post Posted: Sep 2, 2008 10:45 pm 
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Sounds like your doing a good job. If you have only been on her twice you can't expect miracles. She has been conditioned by your Dad to go back and she is young and green so will want to do what she has been asked. If you keep calm and don't worry about what can happen, but think about what you would like to happen and don't push or go to fast you should be able to avoid a rear or blowup. Start with just a hestitation in the backing, that's the very beginning of the horse even considering what you are asking. That's just enough to start the communication between you and build it up from there.

Backing and stopping are close to the same, but you really relax your butt, stop your hip motion and let your legs go long for a halt and you sort of sit back a bit by tilting your hips and apply slight pressure with your leg and hands for a back. When you are wanting forward movement you open up for the horse by asking with your hips and squeezing like a big hug with your legs even if the horse is wanting to go back. You will be going against the movement of the horse at first, but it will help her find what you are asking her. Also there are mild variations of cues in different disciplines, but the classical seat is the base that seems to work best when done well. Your horse hasn't been shown that yet so you will need to train her by asking consistently and giving her softness and praise each time she trys. It isn't going to happen overnight so I'm not sure if she will be ready for you as soon as you want her too. Try not to have an agenda and rush her.


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Post Posted: Sep 3, 2008 6:45 am 
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There are different ways to everything with horses and no one way is the only "Right Way".

You must find a way to communicate your desires and she must understand what you are asking.

My basic premise is that all horses already know all that I will ever want them to to--w/t/c, back, side pass, half pass, flying lead change, etc. All I have to do is figure out how to ask for what I want so they understand.

I've started over 1,000 young horses under saddle and reschooled as many who had been incorrectly started. And each one needed the basic communication lines opened so that the cues made sense to them and they knew what was being asked of them. It really doesn't matter how you do anything, as long as you both are on the same page and happily working together.

I teach stop, back and move your feet to go forward with specific cues, because I'm really only teaching the cue--the horse already knows these actions. Stopping and backing are the same for each horse I work with--whether started by me or not.

From the ground, Backing is taught after the 'Walk Forward' cue is in place by stopping first, then continuing to move the feet backwards instead of forwards. Stopping is catching that instant where the horse changes from forward motion to backward. Backing simply can't be done without stopping first. I do not lean back to back or to stop (unless riding a reining horse where I want my feet to go flying forward), rather, I lower my energy, stop my lower back and he will also stop his.

Ingrid, what works for you is absolutely correct and I'm not arguing that point. The most important thing is keeping Bunnie safe with a very green horse and until the cues are taught, if she uses her body in the way you are describing, I am worried that the horse will react as a horse does--moving away from pressure. A big hug with your legs on a baby will oftentimes either send the horse lurching forward or if they are already shifting their weight back as this mare is doing, the horse is likely to rear. A rearing horse is most dangerous in my opinion because when they dlose their balance and go over backwards, the wreck is many times fatal to one or both. It is this event that I'm warning against and why I'm writing this now. Not to argue or say my way is better, but to offer help, free to Bunnie so that she may ride her horse safely. I hope that is coming across. :)

Bunnie, I strongly advise professional training help to keep you safe and help bridge the communication gap between you and your mare. Find a trainer who you trust and who has started young horses under saddle. My offer for the free session still stands. It may be enough to get you guys jumpstarted.


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Post Posted: Jan 11, 2009 3:16 pm 
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Seeking Advise about Thoroughbreds:

My husband and I have been taking Dressage lessons for about 7 months now and have been looking to buy a young warmblood to use for pleasure and trail riding. We have been looking at a 10 year old registered Thoroughbred that is for sale down in Pueblo. He has a very sweet disposition and we really like him and want to move to the next step, a vet check, but we noticed he has large bony knees, which we understand is common for Thoroughbreds...his left knee however is larger than his right...he hasn't been exersized regularly for 2 years and is housed in a small space (200x100 corral.) He is currently being ridden on occasion in this small area by a 12 year old, and has had limited trail rides and such. We noticed that when being lunged he tends to slightly drag his right hoof forward through the sand but after he warms up this trait dissapears. We were wondering if this may be a common occurance among horses because he seems to be generally healthy with good conformation. Problem is that due to distance our vet can't get out there to look at him and we don't want to throw our money away if this is a serious issue that we may want to avoid completely....

Oh, and, does anyone know if registration in the National Jockey Assc and a Tatoo, means that he has been raced in the past? His current owner of 2 years say's he was never raced but the tatoo has me concerned.
Been there, done that, and I'm too old to go there again... :)

Thank you so much!


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Post Posted: Jan 11, 2009 5:02 pm 
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A tattoo means he's been on the track. You can take his reg number and tattoo number and look his race record up.

Any time you see assymmetry, there is a problem. The old adage, "No legs, no horse" would apply for me with this horse, but I am extremely picky regarding conformation. I won't buy a horse with a club foot, arthritic knees or other joint issues, side bone, ring bone, calf knees, bench knees, bowed legs, navicular, toed in or out--to name a few--and I highly advise my clients against purchasing a problem.

There are simply too many good horses out there and hey, it costs the same to feed a sound horse as it does a lame one.
Just my opinion, but I'd keep looking.
Good luck and keep us posted.

PS I have horses in similar condition as him right now for free. Give a holler if you're interested. They are not or will not stay sound depending upon their issues, but they aren't any worse than what you describe with this guy! :)


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Post Posted: Jan 11, 2009 6:11 pm 
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Hey Tanya, thank you for your professional opinion, it was what we needed to make our decision, and we really appreciate it! We will keep looking.


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Tanya. Indie is doing so well now. She's come a long way. I have one issue that drives me nuts. She wont stand still! she used to walk off as soon as I put a foot in the sturrup. I've almot stopped that. She'll move to step forward occasionally but she is getting better. If I am on her and stop - either to chat to someone, let someone pass on the trail, etc, she just wont stand without moving around. Any suggestions? Thanks.

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Post Posted: Jun 8, 2009 1:35 pm 
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Billy, I just saw this, sorry!
First, are you sure her saddle fits her properly? Many times, if the saddle is at all off-base on the fit, the horse will not want to stand. Moving keeps the thing shifting and sometimes the discomfort is relieved by that small task.

If the tack truly does fit, then the question becomes, "Why" does she want to move and how can you convince her that's not such a hot idea?

If, for example, you are out on the trail and you pause to talk to someone. Does she constantly crane her ears, eyes and head toward home? Is she impatient to get back to her home or her buddies? Is this a barn-sour issue or is it something else.

It may not matter even, the why of it all. What matters is how can you convey to her your wish to stand? There a couple of things that I absolutely no matter what, can not do with any horse. One of those things is to Make Her Stand. Because of this, I choose to go in the backdoor by figuring out a way that I can make her brain want to stand. The brain then tells the feet.

Two or three really easy ways of doing this are:
1) Reward for the stop. First tire her out a little. Make her feet move a lot--trotting is good and while you're at it, work on turns and leg yields and softening her topline and getting her on the bit and collection. Trot for as long as it takes for her to ask to stop. Then, don't let her. Trot a little longer. Then, YOU ask her to stop. Back her immediately 2-3 steps to shift her weight and attention onto her hind-quarters. Then stop. Wait. Let her breathe. And BEFORE she tries to step forward, ask her to go directly into a trot.
After a few times of repeating this, she will be looking for the 'stop' instead of the 'go. It works about 99% of the time if done right, thought the reps may be upwards of 30-40 times.

2)Reward for the stop. When she stops, give her something to do. Something positive. This can be a treat if you give treats. When she stops she looks for the treat. Tell her she is good for standing, let her chew and wait a bit longer. Then walk forward again and give her another reward--a scratch on the neck is good.

3) Reward for the stop, and make that best choice by praising her and sitting very relaxed. Remember that if you raise your energy (stand in the stirrups, pinch your butt muscles, tense your shoulders, haul on her mouth) she will also raise her energy and go rather than stop. If you are doing everything correctly and still having the issue, then ask her to keep moving, but don't make it in a direction she would choose. IOW, ask her to side pass 3 steps, then back, then turn on the forehand, then back. Then, OFFER the stop as a reward. If she doesn't take the offer, keep her moving. Eventually, she will ask fo rhte stop and it is then that you have changed the mind and consequently, the feet.

Oh, did I mention that you should reward for the stop? :) Make it the thing she most wants because stopping FEELS good. If these don't work, holler and we'll go into more detail on other ways to help her understand that stopping is good.

Keep me posted, ok? And have fun! Happy Trails to both of you!


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