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 Post subject: loading
Post Posted: Jun 11, 2010 7:32 am 
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Wow Tanya did we actually find something we don't agree on?
You are right about the right way!
I'm a fairly big strong guy, but could never match the strength of a horse, its not forcing, this method will allow a little kid to do it.
Its totally natural, horses have to move from pressure, and give to pressure. I'm sure you've seen these horses that won't tie, I agree when tied something has to give, halter, rope or whatever, thats why they have to give to pressure.
Horses live for pressure and release, its our best communication with them, we don't know "horse" and they don't know "human"
Its also not a "cowboy" way, that would be butt ropes, whips, whatever and thats forcing, the last thing you want is a upset horse from the second they get in the trailer.
Horses must give to poll pressure, thats how halters and bridles work.
The poll is a majic spot, A dressage horse on a free walk is expected to keep their head close to the ground to open the poll and let the endorphines flow, and to show the judge the rider has'nt been "holding" the horse.
There's just many times in a horses life they must give to pressure, and move from it.
If a horse rolls for instance in a pasture and gets his legs, or head and neck wrapped up in a fence, the horse that gives to pressure will lay there until you can get him out, the horse that only knows to move from pressure will thrash until he hurts or kills himself. A horse that gives to pressure will stand tied at a trailer all day, a horse that won't give will throw a tie fit and again get hurt. I could come up with dozens of instances that they must give to pressure.
Its all theory, and you're right about whatever way works for the individual is the right way!
I don't agree with any of the rough methods,
I do agree with you that they must learn to load quietly, calmy, and willingly, however that may be taught!
Thanks so much for your response, healthy debate is always good and helps us as trainers to stay on top of things!


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Post Posted: Jun 11, 2010 10:02 am 
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Dan,

I'm not sure it's disagreement as much as a different methodology. I use whatever works best with the psychology of the horse I'm working with and the methods do change accordingly. For example, sometimes, with some horses who have been halter broke using a butt rope, it is easiest and safest to simply loop a rope over their hindquarters and ask them to load that way. No muss no fuss. I don't have a single method that works 100% of the time to train a horse to do anything. I do have methods that work easier and more thoroughly than others though and in this case, the way I described is my best guess at what may work best.

Aside note: I don't believe Katherine's mare is afraid of the trailer as much as she is afraid of the trailer when people are present and adding pressure to her. I think that once she feels safe being walked from the side as I described, and can face the trailer on her own terms with little to no pressure, she will load quite easily and calmly. The work must begin away from the trailer and then moved closer. The communication must be spot-on before attempting an obastacle of any kind. I doubt you'd disagree so I am not seeing this as a debate as much as a discussion of some options and that is a good thing.

I don't think it's all theory. I think it's trial and error for me (over the years of finding the best solutions to add to my toolbox) and figuring out how each particular horse is wired--kind of like teaching dogs or even children, we all learn differently and finding the key that opens the individual's learning is what I strive to do.

The method you describe simply hasn't ever worked for me as well as the way I teach a horse to load. This is because what you describe Does work ---right up until it doesn't. As soon as the horse says, "Um, I don't think I'll go forward now," and he pulls back, I lose him. I do not have the strength to hold him in that moment and once he learns that, it's a fight. I also don't like when they say no and tell me so by throwing their head or rearing. That is why I teach to use NO pressure on the head while loading although I teach the horse to give to pressure. The horses need to be able to lower their heads and neck for balance as they step up and if I need to drag them in, they can't. And I have never been able to achieve loading by pulling anyway. I know that what you are describing works for some, heck, maybe even most, but it is not what works for me is all. Like I said earlier, each person must choose how they want to teach and train and like religion, all methods are right and all methods are wrong. :)

I have failed at loading some horses--about 0.5 to 1% of he horses I've ever worked with don't load--what I mean is, I may not have gotten them in at all or I got them in but it wasn't pretty. In an emergency, sometimes making it pretty just isn't an option.

I don't disagree that horses must learn to give to pressure at the poll and I teach them the head down cue while on the ground and when ridden. My horses all know to give to that pressure and to not freak when ropes are around their neck, poll, legs, etc.

I want willing participation with my horses and I work on that well before approaching any new task as I'm sure you do. So how different are we? I guess it comes down to methods. For example, some trainers think using a little Ace or a bit of intimidation or a touch of force is okay. For me, those things have never been and never will be a part of my toolbox.

The dowside of doing it the way I do is I can't ever procduce a 30-day Wonder and some folks want/need that. I don't profess to know the answer to every problem. I can't and won't 100% guarantee Katherine here that I'll train her horse to load the first day--though usually that is exactly how it goes-- yet I can guarantee that the horse will be better, understand more, be more willing and engaged as well as calm and quiet.

I don't know you and haven't seen you work so I can't say we disagree. I think any good trainer wants to help the horse they are working with and open the communication between the horse and the handler. It sounds to me you do that.


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Post Posted: Oct 27, 2010 3:35 pm 
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DavisRanch,

I just want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your suggestions and your thoughts on the psychology of the horse mind...I am a seasoned rider and your advice has provided much help to me and my mare. THANKS for posting!


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 Post subject: Colt Starting
Post Posted: Jan 12, 2011 9:50 am 
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What's your experience/theories/beliefs on how early is too early to start them, put them to light duty work and then serious work?

Do you let them sit for year 3? If so, why?

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Post Posted: Jan 12, 2011 4:47 pm 
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Good question Bawpita. Cant wait to read the responses. :-)

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 Post subject: filly/colt starting
Post Posted: Jan 12, 2011 5:18 pm 
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My filly turns three this spring, and I'm at a crossroads with my health. Trying to piece it all together....

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Post Posted: Jan 14, 2011 12:31 pm 
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I wrote a short piece on this last year; here it is:
http://285bound.com/Forums/viewtopic.php?f=65&t=2047

This is a great question!

In short, I do not start horses before age 3 and my own filly is just coming 4 and will be started this summer.

Taking the entire horse into consideration--their mental and physical aptitude as well as my own resolve to not harm has caused me to wait until the horse is more ready to undergo the basics--usually at age 3 or 4.

As for harder work, I wait until they are at least 5 and prefer to wait until they are 6 or 7 to begin jumping. I am ultra-conservative though and not in the mainstream mindset regarding this topic. Most trainers start horses as yearlings now to ready them for the show ring and they are competing by age 2 and even more actively by age 3. Most of these horses are 'done' by age 5 or 6 suffering ailments ranging from joint problems to bone problems as well as soft tissue issues. I suspect that not only how these horses are started as being the problem but also how they are housed and fed; small paddocks or stalls and high energy, high protein feed.

In the show world where money is the motivating stimulus to choosing how we manage our animals, it is common practice to be injecting joints of two year olds and even more common in horses 3 years old and over. In my own training practice, I have yet to inject a horse's joints of any age. My own theory for the past 37 years is that if I take care of them as babies and bring them along slowly, I'll have horses with sound minds and sound bodies well into their 20's.

As with anything 'horse', this is an individual decision and I highly recommend determining what is most important--the present or the future and what your goals are for your horse. There is no Right Answer, it is up to each horse owner to determine what they see as the best option for them.


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Post Posted: Jan 14, 2011 5:56 pm 
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:applause: I knew thats what you'd say :-)

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Post Posted: Jan 15, 2011 8:44 am 
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:)
I should add that I do begin ground training much earlier--halter breaking at 3 to 4 weeks of age, working with their feet from day one, bathing, clipping, walking over obstacles and around the neighborhood, ponying them on trails, trailering, etc. As long two-year-olds, I begin introducing the saddle, bridle and reiterating to move away from pressure.

I may put a small rider up so that the young horse understands that this is a fun, new game to be enjoyed. Work times are 15-20 minutes at most and may do this a couple times a day.

I begin teaching them how to give to the bridle ( I like to start most in a half-breed--a cross between a side-pull and a regular snaffle). By the time they are ready to be ridden as 3 or 4 year-olds, they already pretty much have power steering and brakes and I like that!

The last three horses I started, I incorporated using Clicker Training and that has been a blast. The horses love the immediate reward and clarification and I love the positive reinforcement. I find myself laughing through training sessions and I find the horses are having fun too. I taught my colt to stand at the mounting block to be mounted in about 7 minutes total...fastest I've ever been able to teach that lesson!


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Post Posted: Feb 16, 2011 1:34 pm 
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I find it interesting that you point out the very large difference in training for shows. I have been involved in showing for many years in the open circuit and just recently made the jump into breed shows. My entire career it was understood that a horse 5 and under, aka junior horses, were ridden in snaffles, two handed in western, not jumped, and allowed to 'be babies'. Imagine my shock when watching all of the other junior horses being shown in kimberwicks in English, jumped in hunter over fences and shown 1 handed in shanked western bits! Trainers and owners are now pushing their young horses to be performing at the level of a seasoned, finished show horse by the ripe old age of three. I have two three year olds and a four year old. Not one of them was ridden heavily until they turned three. I am still bothered by the lack of emotion for the horses. To the trainers making money and the owners shelling it out the horses are a vehicle to get them wins and nothing more. I was told that to win big you have to make a choice, pet or world champion. I still feel that a horse can be both!

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Post Posted: Feb 17, 2011 12:00 pm 
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Agreed, wildoats, agreed! I know so many 3 yr olds that are routinely injected, drugged and pushed too hard too fast that it makes me ill. I only can be the change I desire and so I do.
Kudos to you for putting the horse first!


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Post Posted: Jun 2, 2011 3:47 pm 
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my new horse is 7 yr she has had ground work done and was shown as a yearling in futurity "halter",then she became a pasture ornament. She seems to know how to move from pressure, she follows me like a puppy. I have not worked with her in a round pen yet. Should I start round penning her and putting the saddle on while doing this also when should I give her the bridle? I have heard that working them in the saddle and bridle teaches them that this is work time not play time and helps them to tell the difference.

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