Saturday, September 20, 2008

Q and A's:Collection and other stuff

As always....I'm sharing information I learned from the trainers I worked with, the good hands I've known, the books I read, and the horses I've had the opportunity to ride.

I'll answer a couple at a time, OK?. I'll try to figure out how to archive these things too....

CBrewster said...
When your first ask your horse to collect and carry themselves correctly how do you do it
?


One of the first things I try to remember is that my young horse has to learn to pack me around before I ever think of asking for any level of collection. Little Silliyum has to be able to walk trot and lope comfortably with me on his back. I want him to be able to be there before I even say whoa, much less involve my hands and legs in any way. I cannot stress enough how important I think this is.

Imagine a four year old child toddling off to pre-school. He's given a backpack to wear that's carrying a couple of cinder blocks. Now he has to run around in circles with it slipping and sliding and banging around on him. Instead of giving him time to learn how to carry it, he's expected to learn to carry it while dancing the Hustle.

How long do you think it will be before the little kid shags loose of the backpack?

If I'm having confidence issues, (and believe me I do) I will address those first. Which means both my horse and I will walk trot and lope comfortably before I begin collection, even if I'm worried about the lope. If this is your personal horse and there's no time restrictions, what's the hurry?

So, on to collection.
Collection can only begin when Silliyum has plenty of consistent forward I can ask for with a squeeze, even balance between my legs, and a soft give through the poll when I asks for his face.


Step I. I'll start with serpentines, done at an energetic trot. I post through my straightaways (correct diagonal please), and sit deep through my turns, encouraging the outside hind leg to extend forward and towards the inside front leg using pressure from my outside leg. My inside leg stays quiet at the cinch, touching just enough to give support. I only turn with one rein at a time, and I don't pull back at all.

I use my turns to slow Silliyum down. If he gets fired up I'll guide him in a gentle circle until he relaxes and we start again.
I try to shape my horse into as perfect a "C" as I can through the turns while maintaining an even, balanced seat, his release comes during the straightaway.
This exercise encourages Silliyum to drive with his hind legs through the turns.

Collection begins with the hindquarters driving towards your hand. I'll know he's right when he smoothly goes through each turn at an even cadence and I see his head break at the poll without any pull from me.

StepII. I will walk Silliyum along the rail on a loose rein. I will bump him into a faster walk with my calves and an active forward seat. As he lengthens his stride and speeds up, but before he breaks into a trot, I'll gather my reins until I can just feel Silliyums face. I will essentially be driving him into my hands, not pulling him back to his hindquarters. His back should rise up underneath me, his head will drop into the pressure on the bit, he will slow, but his stride length will stay the same. That's an ideal.
If he goes too fast, I slow down my legs, if he's too slow, I'll increase the pressure. If he tosses his head or won't go, I soften my hands, if he tries to run through them, I take a firm hold until he stops, and then back him a step or two before starting over. Play with this, with the goal being soft contact.
I'm only going to ask for a few strides before I release the pressure and let him walk along on a loose rein again.
As Silliyum becomes comfortable at the walk I'll progress to the trot and then the lope. I'll collect him for a few strides, and release for at least twice as many steps before I ask again.
I mix this up with serpentines and lots of walk trot lope on a loose rein.
It takes a long time to develop a true collection. It takes strength and coordination on Silliyums part, and timing and feel on mine. I never ever hurry.
My horses have usually been competing for two years before they look completely in hand. By the time they are six they are rock solid. It's worth the wait.
Let me know how it works!

Enjay said... Ever run into a horse who had been trained to do something dangerous and you couldn't retrain them out of it? I had a mare who was taught by her breeder to shake hands for a treat. It was allowed to progress to vigorous pawing at the floor, stall door and people when the treats weren't flowing freely. She'd even paw when she was eating from her bucket. She didn't have a mean bone in her body, she'd just been trained to do something stupid and they had encouraged it to the point where it was dangerous. She'd caught her breeder just right and ripped up a bunch or ligaments and tendons in her knee doing that. When I bought her she was five years old and it was a deeply ingrained habit.

So now do you guys get why I don't feed treats? Pet, hug , kiss, whatever......but skip the damn cookies!
Yes, I have run into behaviors I couldn't change..... here's what I would have tried with this mare. What can happen is I change the behavior for me, but not for anybody else.This mare has had her pawing reinforced either positively, or negatively her entire life. My instinct would be to take the focus away from the behavior. I have discussed my personal space rules with stallions before. I would try a variation of these rules with a horse like this one. It would be about where she stood in relation to me, not the pawing.
She would not be able to approach me to get close enough to touch me ever. I would approach her to catch her, groom, tack, whatever at her shoulder. I would not engage in any kind of play behavior with her. While I was handling her I would wack her with a crop for pawing, (as you did) on the forearm muscle of the offending leg, but only until she backed away from me one or two steps, and only if it effected me personally. That includes annoying me by the way.
The biggest point I want to stress, is she would be taught to stand as I approached her, from the side.
I would leave her tied for very long periods of time. I'd ignore her pawing, or whatever else she was doing until she was standing quiet, in a relaxed manner. If she started pawing as I approached, I would leave and we'd try again later. Check out my story on Captain, you'll see what I mean. I'm serious when it comes to dangerous behaviors.
When I feed horses I expect them to stand quietly, facing me until I have dropped their hay in the feeder and walked away. Horses that paw or whinny or buck or pin their ears....ANYTHING other than stand there and look at me with a pleasant look on their face, don't get fed.
I don't make a big deal of this. I don't yell, or wave a stick, (unless I'm in a loose paddock situation) I just walk away. I'll let them watch everybody else eat for an hour or so, and then I'll offer them some dinner again. If they keep it up, we'll can try again the next time I feed. This may sound mean, but I've never killed one doing this. As a matter of fact I don't think I've ever had one misbehave to the point of skipping two meals. And when it's time to feed my horses stand quietly waiting for dinner.
This is a sad situation. This mare was extremely lucky to land with you. This is the kind of crap that happens when people treat their horses like Chihuahuas. As you can see, this stuff gets me cranked. If she had ended up with anybody else but you she could have killed somebody. Lucky, lucky, mare.


43 comments:

surprisewind said...

You have an amazing way of making your instructions easy to understand, and everything is so perfectly practical.

Thank you.

I'd buy anything you published.

Kit Ehrman said...

Hi Mugwump,

I just found your blog this evening and recognized your name. I think you are a friend of my fictional character Steve Cline on MySpace.

Kit Ehrman
author of the Steve Cline Mystery Series
http://www.kitehrman.com

loneplainsman said...

Great stuff, mugs - love the bit on collection, too. Don't know if I'll *ever* get it on my own but at least I have something new to try now... =)


Here's a question:

I've mentioned my horse's pony fixation. He's perfectly fine with full sized horses but ponys just drive him loopy. They totally freak him out. When on a tool around the property we rode past a field that had a few ponies tethered at the back of it. He stood there, staring, very tense. My first thought was to approach-retreat, so I pulled him away from the ponies then started walking back towards them. it didn't work very well and, fearing a wreck, I just got off. I let him stare at them for a long time with me safely on the ground until finally he sighed and was able to walk on. I led him past them and found a place where I could get back on. So my question is: should I have just stayed on and let him look as long as he needed to, should I have "made him go past them" or should I have done something else? In other words, would there be a way where I can stay on without fearing I'm going to get killed by him if he decides to spook?

Does that make sense?

mugwump said...

Surprise-Thanks!

Kit- I've never been on my space...except once I registered under my name so I wouldn't be totally ignorant of what my daughter was up to. But I never did anything past that day....

loneplainsman-if I'm safe I'll stay on, if I think I'll come off I get down. I've never been ashamed of stepping off to stay safe. If you get tossed you'll scare the bejeesus out of your horse and then you'll have a real problem.

mugwump said...

PS to Lone-I think you did fine. I let them look, and then go by.

loneplainsman said...

Alright - cool. I'm not ashamed of getting down either but I didn't want to be getting down needlessly either.

Also wanted to say that I love the names you give your fictional horses...
"Little Silliyum" had me in stitches! Have you actually run into horses with names like these? If so - poor them!

ORSunshine said...

I have met my fair share of "Little Silliyum" and that really should be their names when they're young.

Mugs, I wish you lived closer. Or that I lived closer. I'm learning so much from you. I appreciate that!

So, my question is not so technical. Charlie went back to his previous owner. He was pissy, grumpy and bitey. Now, I'm starting the horse hunt all over again. I've been emailing back and forth on a qh that sounds like a dream, almost. He is not a "people" horse. The owner says he doesn't trust people, yet doesn't explain how he does anything wrong. WP trained, a dream on the trail, ties all day, easy to mess with in his stall, longes like a dream, etc. He just isn't interested in seeking out interaction with people. She bought him at the auction last year and found out he doesn't make a good roping horse. Hence why she's selling him. She says he went through 4 owners in 2007 though and seems to have had a rough life somewhere in there. He's also a ways away from me. Do you think it's worth my time to go look at him? Is a horse that "doesn't trust" worth going to look at ever? Does "doesn't trust" really mean "hasn't bonded" in this case?

Jackie said...

orsunshine...

I am not an expert, but my experience with my mare was this:

She was sold to me the same way...doesn't really like people, etc. The previous owner (bling bling WP next door) even told me not to come by two times a day just to hang with her, that she'd start resenting it (????).

Once I got her home, she now follows me around like a dog, will even leave her food to be with me. If anyone is in the pasture doing something, she is right there supervising. Seems she just needed the right person to trust (she was also hit/chained a lot for any misbehaviors, real or imagined, by bling bling). Oh, this took over a year and half once I owned her.

I don't know if that would happen with you, but you never know.

mugwump said...

The later it is at night when I write, the wackier the names I come up with. What can I say.

Orosunshine-The horse you're thinking about could be depressed. There's lots of ways that can happen, not neccesarily involving abuse, OR the horse truly isn't into people.(Just ask Laura Crum) With the amount of horses out there I would make darn sure I saw her hands on.

ORSunshine said...

Thanks Mugs! I think I'm going to go see this boy this weekend if I get the chance. He's Zippo Pine Bar bred.

Now, so I don't make the same mistakes as I did with the last one (and so other readers don't make my mistakes as well), what should I (we) look out for? I mean, how do we tell if a horse has been drugged? What signs do we look for? Or that they've had the pants worked off of them, cooled off and then presented to us? Or that potentially, there's a big, underlying behavior problem? (I should have known when they insisted on using a stud chain on a mellow seeming horse). What are those little tell-tale signs that say "all is not as it seems"?

mugwump said...

Orosunshine-show up early and unannounced. Have a vet check done.
Look at the behavior of other horses on the place.Go by your gut.
To be honest, I usually buy horses through people I know and trust.It's too easy to have a problem handed to you.

Laura Crum said...

So, mugwump, are you talking about my Sunny horse as being "not into people". If that's what you mean, I can add that Sunny fits my needs very well, and I'm quite happy with him, he just doesn't like to be petted and fooled with. He's a ranch raised horse, and a lot of them are like this. "Just let me do my job, don't try and treat me like your pet poodle"--that's their attitude. I get along with horses like this just fine, but I will point out that it can be frustrating, if you really want a horse that you can pet and smooch on. If you'll be happy with them reliably doing their job, it works well.
As for the treats thing, I never feed treats either, but I knuckled under this year when my son's horse turned twenty and my little boy wanted to have a birthday party for him, complete with horse cookies for all the horses. OK, its silly, but my kid's only eight years old. So we had said party. And darn if all four saddle horses didn't look for us to give them treats for the next month. Taught me a lesson.
And I'm curious about your feeding routine. I never pay the least bit of attention to what they do when I feed them, unless I have to walk in the pen with them, then they have to stay back off the top of me. It has never once occured to me to care what they did, otherwise (as long as they look healthy), and at no barn at which I ever worked was this practiced. Where did you learn this? Do you think it important?

Heidi the Hick said...

Feedin' time routine: my horses are cared for by my dad, who's a retired farmer. He likes horses, but he's not all snuggly with them like I am.

My old Half arab half QH gelding had a tendency to be pushy. He'd reach over the railing and grab a mouthful of hay on the way past. This was not cool for my dad. He'd stand there, just out of muzzle reach, and glare at Champ until the ears came forward, and all four hooves were on the ground. Then the hay was given.

This all happened one winter when I couldn't get out to the farm for a month. I was so pleased to hear that this nasty habit got quietly nipped in the bud.

When I boarded that horse, I had to put a sign on his stall saying "DO NOT HAND FEED HIM TREATS!"

As for collection, I have a quick question.

What kind of bit are you riding with at this point?

I'd assume a snaffle of some kind.

ORSunshine said...

Thanks Mugs. I've lived in Oregon for about 18 months. I don't know many horse people and most of them I don't trust. Besides a vet check (which I do), I feel like I'm flying blind here. I don't need puppy love from a horse. I have a puppy for that. I like my space. But total disinterest in me is something I might have to think on for a while.

Laura Crum said...

ORSunshine, Just for fun, cause I have no idea if your potential horse is anything like my little palomino trail horse, I would add that Sunny is actually quite interested in me, he watches everything I do--much more than my other, friendlier horses. He just doesn't like the petting stuff.

I've bought a lot of horses over the years, some from horse traders. Mugwump can correct me here, but I'll give a few suggestions on buying under these circumstances--ie not from someone you know and trust. Is there anyone whose opinion you trust who can go with you when you check out this horse? That can help. Otherwise, make owner/trainer of horse saddle and ride the horse in front of you--don't bother to get on if you don't like what you see. If you do get on, pay big attention to how you feel on the horse--if it doesn't feel comfortable and right, don't buy em. No matter if you can't put your finger on what you don't like. One thing that has saved me a lot of trouble--if you do like the horse, find a patch of hard ground (like pavement or hard-packed gravel--not an arena) and longe the horse in a circle both ways. This will 1) show you if you can longe him and 2) tell you if he's sound. If he limps, don't buy him, no matter what they say (like he bruised himself yesterday or the shoer made him sore..etc). It will save a whole lot of trouble overall.

badges blues N jazz said...

I have questions! I have LOTS and LOTS..lol. I will start with two: #1. Is there a way to "fix" a tail swisher? I have ruled out any source of pain (teeth, saddle, back etc) its just her.
#2. How do you teach a turnaround?I've seen 2 different ways so far.

mugwump said...

Laura-I wasn't dissing Sunny, I swear! I got to my feeding routine from working with stalled horses for so long. I went from one barn where feeding time was absolute chaos to the next, where they all stood patiently waiting like little soldiers.
You guessed it, the Big K.
His point was pawing, kicking, ear pinning, besides being flat rude, are also hard on his barn, and led to the horse thinking they could have an opinion. So that's how he handled it.
He also stood by the theory that if they stood quiet and calm that's how they felt, and if they raised hell at feeding time it would add to their anxiety.
I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't mind a friendly nicker, or even a holler if it's 8 p.m. and they haven't eaten yet, but that's it.
I like to try to make their stall a haven, where everything stays as peaceful as I can make it.
Heidi-O ring snaffle
badges-I have written about turn arounds-"spin til you barf" in the archives
I have not cured a chronic tail wringer yet, but being clear and minimal with my cues helps...

ORSunshine said...

Thanks Laura! I appreciate your input on your Sunny.

I'm hoping to go meet this Zippo grandson (I'm guessing here, horse I'm looking at is 7, so I think grandson) this weekend hopefully.

My husband will be along with his pro quality camera to take pictures. I've found it's great to be able to review and catch things that maybe I didn't see the first time around. I've caught things that have kept me from buying other horses in the past that way.

I've learned that if something "feels" off to me with an animal, there's always a reason. Call the vet, get it checked out and viola! There's something there. I have a trainer friend up in WA who always relied on me to tell her when a horse or her dog was "off". Sometimes I can pinpoint it, sometimes not.

I've also learned that if I'm nervous or uncomfortable with any horse, not to get on. I don't want to communicate that to a horse and cause the problem. Nor do I want to doubt my intuition.

I'm getting better at being able to identify the traits I do want beyond the basics. I also think now it's fall and not 100 degrees, I'm more likely to see a horse's true nature versus the "it's so hot I'll be lazy" side like I did with Charlie. I want quiet, friendly, curious and calm. Having spent a lot of time with rescue dogs, I know I can deal with shy, as in personality.

And my two cents on feeding...

I've fed for boarding barns and I've fed at show barns. I appreciate a horse that has good feeding manners. A horse that waits politely for me to toss their hay or pour their grain. Some movement, some happy sounds are all good as long as they're respectful of my space. Head shaking, teeth baring, ugly faces and/or trying to run me over isn't appreciated or acceptable. Most boarders don't realize how their horse behaves at feeding time. Most hands who feed (such as myself), can't just skip their feeding to teach the horse better manners. I've had to carry a crop during feeding time (not used, just visible) effectively, but it's inconvenient. I really wish more boarders paid attention to the feeding time behaviors of their horse for everyone's safety. Personally, I like some sort of eye contact that says "yes, I know you are there" and a horse that can stay calm. Some people train horses to not give any eye contact at feeding time. I don't like that because I don't know what they're thinking and it usually means they've been trained to put their butt toward me at feeding. With the exception of the ecto-plasma slinging Saddlebred Stallion, I've found mainly good manners at feeding times at the show barns I've worked in.

Laura Crum said...

mugwump, I didn't mean to imply you were dissing Sunny--I just wanted to be sure I got your reference correctly. Sorry if I put it wrong in the comment. I know you know I like Sunny despite his little cross grained ways. I appreciate a horse who can do his job reliably.

The feeding thing is fascinating. Despite all the people I worked for, I have actually never heard of this idea. I have never had a horse whose behavior at feeding time was bothersome to me here--but I feed my horses from outside their big corrals--I don't go inside the corrals to feed them. None of them would dare make ugly faces at me, but if they run around and buck or play "bite face" with each other while I feed, I don't care. I'll put an idea out there: in counterpoint to the Big K's theory, maybe horses are more relaxed and happier (and thus better behaved) if they aren't made to live in such a disciplined fashion. For heaven's sake, the Big K kept them in boxstalls (I won't do this, to begin with), he only rode them in the arena, they never got turned out or trail rode, and, on top of this, they were required to stand like good little soldiers at feeding time? Give me a break. What kind of a life is that? When did they get to be a horse? I'm suprised they weren't all as psychotic as Captain.Anyway, I'm just putting this out there for the sake of discussion, I'm not criticizing what you've said, and I know that you agree with some of this. And you know I think you are a wonderful trainer, horsewoman and writer--just so nobody misunderstands.

ORSunshine said...

For clarification, ugly-face happens during pasture feeding too. It's almost as if some horses believe they don't have to respect anyone that feeds them.

Or, as with what happened to me, some idiot turns their nasty mare out into a pasture of peaceful geldings, mine included, and she cornered my Very Tall Arab so he tried to go over the gate to get away from her Crazy Psychotic Bitchness!

From that I learned that unless it's a private paddock, I only want my horse being fed in his stall, for safety's sake in a boarding situation.

Laura Crum said...

ORSunshine, you're absolutely right that overly agressive horses can be downright dangerous to other horses and feeding humans in a pasture situation. I should clarify what I said--I keep my saddle horses in big corrals (about 100 by 100) and each horse is in his own corral. So they can't hurt each other when they play around. I'm quite picky about what horses get to be turned out in my 60 acre pasture and no mares or overly dominant geldings need apply. I, too, have witnessed things such as what happened to your Arab, and its just not worth it to me turn an overly agressive horse out with my easy-going geldings. Mares are banned not because they're all nasty, by the way, but because the geldings fall in love with them and then the geldings fight amongst themselves.

ORSunshine said...

The more I read Mugs, the more ah-ha moments I have. I miss the VTA almost every time I read this blog. That fence jumping incident was the start of a slippery downhill slope of crappy idiots at that boarding facility. In the end, I rehomed the VTA, felt bad about him, and felt bad about myself. The VTA's current owner has him posted for sale, though I'm not really sure she wants to sell him. He's a gorgeous pasture ornament going to waste.

The more I read, the more I trust in myself again, the more I want to buy back the VTA.

Laura, how do we convince Mugs to write a book? You're an author, my hubby is an aspiring author with a contract, my mother-in-law is a retired romance author. We can get lots of info to Mugs and point her in the right direction, but how do we get her to do it?

Laura Crum said...

ORSunshine, I think mugwump is working on it. Stay tuned--I'll bet she'll let us know when it happens. Right mugwump?

Heidi the Hick said...

More questions about bits:

I'm using the eggbutt snaffle on both my 7 year old Appys. I have an O ring but I quit using it years ago. It slid around and pinched the corners of my gelding's mouth and I didn't like that.

Do you use bit guards to prevent pinching? Or do you just deal with it?

(I like the eggbutt but it looks too english to me.)

My mare was first bitted at 2 and ridden at 3. Now at 7, she still mouths the bit for the first half hour it's in her mouth. It takes that long for her to relax and close her mouth around it. I think it might be too thick? I got the thick one thinking a thin bit would be too harsh.

This behaviour diminishes after a few days of regular riding, which makes me think I just need to ride her more. Any thoughts?

(This blog is awesome.)

ORSunshine said...

Yeah, why the O-ring instead of an eggbutt?

mugwump said...

True confessions---I use an O-ring because I like the feel. Not only that, but I have two that I'll use, one a Greg Darnell, and the other, I don't know, but it has a lovely, balanced feel. I've never had troubles with either one, and they're the only two I'll use.
I'm freaky about my reins too. I have certain pairs that I'll use, nothing else.
Laura-They absolutely never ever got to be a horse. I have to thank him though, it made me evaluate what I was doing. I feel like I'm way more trainer and horseman now then I was then. It probably means I won't be winning the Worlds though. And I can't rag on Sunny too much. He and my husband are twin sons from different mothers.
(I do make my horses be pleasant when I feed though)
Heidi- A horse can be hurt by any bit in the wrong hands. Go by what feels right.....and we all need to ride more!
Orosunshine-I'm not kidding, show up early!!!!

ORSunshine said...

I will Mugs, I will! I am anal retentive about being late. I hate it! It stresses me out!

Laura Crum said...

ORSunshine, I'm sticking my neck out here and mugwump can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think she means show up like an hour early--just in time to see them finish up working the horse to death--and right before they hose him off so he can dry and look fine at your planned arrival time. Just a guess. And, by the way, ignore this comment if it doesn't feel right to you--I'm just playing around. I hope you find the right horse--good luck.

ORSunshine said...

Oh Laura! That's what I think happened with Charlie. Both times I saw him, he had been trailered to an arena. His previous owner really didn't seem to want us to see his living conditions. I'm sure they worked him at home, hosed him off, trailered him for a short drive and then worked his butt off some more! Our first hint that something was wrong is when he wouldn't stand for a bath. Hrmm... We saw him take a hose bath! Not standing for us, and the water was warm, not hot or cold, was the clue to bigger problems.

mugwump said...

That's exactly what I'm saying. Just show up early. At least an hour. Laura,you are absolutely cracking me up tonight. This is what blogging should be.

Heidi the Hick said...

Mugwump, I absolutely agree:

"A horse can be hurt by any bit in the wrong hands. "

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on bits. I think "feel" is hard to find, different for everybody, and really hard to describe, but it would be an interesting topic for discussion.

mugwump said...

Somebody asked me a looooong time ago to do a blog on how I bit my horses. I've been working on it off and on. I'll push a little to get done.It should dovetail nicely with a talk about feel.

SOSHorses said...

Muggs you need to set up an email address for us to send questions to.

Ok I stumbled across this and you might be interested it writing something for them. I don't know much more about it than you do at this very second, but it may be worth looking into.

Horseman Magazine

all-canadian said...

Thank you so much for posting that bit about collection... I'll read it a couple more times, and then give it a try. I wish I could take riding lessons with you... you explain things wonderfully.

Last week I went out to watch my friend's lesson, and there was a reining trainer working with a (gorgeous) stallion. The stallion's owners had taught the horse to lay down, as a cute trick. Except now the horse lays down with a rider on its back fairly frequently. The man made it as unpleasant as possible for the horse, which makes sense... but he whipped it across the face a couple of times, which I don't agree with. It seemed more about his anger than about calculated discipline. Either way - it's like teaching a horse to rear. It can create all sorts of problems later on or with other riders.

FD said...

Oh, I've a question. Generally speaking, have you found any ways of making behavioral problem fixes 'stick' with people other than yourself?

Daft question possibly, but one of my biggest bugbears when I ran a livery yard was that I could fix up the horses that came in and sort out the niggly little problems, but unless I specifically and individually worked with my staff and their owners, the problems would reappear with them, if not with me. And of course, seeing as they were mostly paying for basic livery, not to have their horses rehabbed, I couldn't afford the time to do that with all of them, as I needed it to work on my 'official' (read: paying) rehab projects.

Sydney said...

Ok question from me I was thinking of this one wile cleaning stalls (best time to think)

I am working with a really spoiled (and fugly, she would make a top on fugs board for sure but they are paying me so) pony. Shes 5 and never had anything done. When shes tied she stands pretty good most of the time except she turns sideways and kicks the wall every so often out of frustration. I leave her tied wile I do stalls and then work her. What would you do to curb this kicking habit that is dangerous to her little legs and to the stall walls construction?

Sydney said...

I forgot to mention I can't turn her out before I work her at this point or I would be trudging across the big ass field to catch her which would take a big chunk of my training time and throw it down the toilet.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Sydney - Sounds to me like you're doing fine. Tying her and making her just deal with it is exactly what I'd do. She will stop kicking eventually when she realizes it doesn't get her untied and you ignore the behavior.

Bits - After trying various things on the VLC (O ring snaffle, D ring copper mouth snaffle, Happy Mouth french link loose ring snaffle) I finally found the magic bit. Full cheek rubber snaffle. He still mouths it but he doesn't hate it, and it doesn't pull through his mouth if he has a rubbernecking moment.

Feeding - Yeah, most feeding time behaviors that I've seen are a result of way too much confinement. I have a friend who has a semi-psychotic Arab mare she rescued from a sale who's an ear pinner, and she has taught her that "ears forward" means you'd better put them back where they belong or you do not get your grain. They CAN learn!

Tail Wringer - I fixed one. I took my legs completely off her for probably three months. No spurs. Rode her with a whip and used that and voice only for cues. But yeah, that is a terrible habit to fix and it was only fixable on that mare because she was naturally forward and I didn't need my legs that much. I was able to slowly reintroduce leg contact but I rode her for a long time with nothing - legs away from her sides like a saddleseat rider.

badges blues N jazz said...

MUGWUMP... I tried something after reading your blog and am LOVING it. here is what I wrote on my blog:
I read something in the Mugwump Chronicles the other day about not worrying about collection until they are completely balanced and comfortable at the w/t/c. I tried something new yesterday. I threw away my hands. It was scary. I gave her her head and something amazing happened. She stretched her neck out and was actually travelling with her head and neck level with her topline if not a little lower.

THANK YOU MUGWUMP
I remembered your post about "throwing your hands away" and that as well as your post on Collection prompted me to try it. I've always been too scared to try that with her and prefer to have a "death grip" so I can pull her head up if she decides to try and bog her head and buck. I decided to trust her last night. I am soo pleased. Keep up your posts please!

manymisadventures said...

Boy, you guys went round and round with comments today!

ORsunshine, I'm sorry to hear that Charlie didn't work out. I never saw him much -- they took him to a practice or two but I was always focusing on my own horse! Good luck with this new boy you're going to go look at, he sounds marvelous.

Regarding the standoffish part...some horses are kinda like that, but a lot of it changes with time. Bailey was definitely a 'do not pet me, do not come cuddle with me, I don't really care' type of horse for a long time. After the first year or so, he finally started to really warm up. Towards the end of the time I owned him, he could have days where he was perfectly content to let me love on him. He wouldn't mind if I'd just come sit in his stall to watch him eat, and every once in awhile he'd come over to say hi before going back to his food. It just took him awhile to finally relent and bond to me.

Mugwump, I'll join in with the questions as soon as I think of a suitable one :) I tell you, being out of the saddle has SERIOUSLY screwed with my thinking-about-horses. For whatever reason, I just can't dredge up those thought processes.

The walking boot came off today and I'm riding tonight though, so maybe I will find a question for you!

ORSunshine said...

Many- the short of it is that Charlie wasn't happy. I don't believe he'll be happy anywhere but with Linda.

mugwump said...

Many-I hear you! My mind has been fuzzy since I started my new job. I haven't sat behind a desk since college. Yowza.

Esquared said...

QUESTION:

Mugs, you had mentioned in an earlier article that you were training with a hackamore with one of your horses. I'd really like to work with the hackamore between the snaffle and bridle stages but I'm not really clear on how. So do you have any resources etc. that could help me learn or is it just something you start using and develop skill with/aren't taught per say. Because as much as I'd like to do that first (I feel it's a good tool and important) I'd rather skip it if I'm going to be using it incorrectly.

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