Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Seat bones and Trailering

I have had questions about seat bones and weight. How do I use them, when, where and why. I'm going to explain the best I can. I am aware there are different styles than mine. I have developed the way I use my seat from what works best for me within the confines of my sport.
I'd love to hear from everybody on the differences on how they ride. If you're going to share, please explain the purpose and how it works instead of just pointing out the differences. That way we all learn more.

I'll start with seat bones 101. If you're way past this bear with me, OK?

I will sit on my horse. My weight is balanced evenly in the middle of my horse. I try to ride with my ear, shoulder, hip and ankle aligned all of the time, unless I'm specifically moving something for a cue. You would be amazed if you could see what incredibly crappy posture it's possible to have and still maintain those points in a line. Think "cutters slump".

I'll take my feet out of the stirrups. I'll relax my legs. I'll raise my arms to the side to shoulder height. Now I'll turn my torso and twist to the left. I'll make sure my arms stay level, my head turns with my torso and I keep my chin up. I feel my left seat bone sink into my saddle.
Now I swing to the right and feel my right seat bone sink into the saddle.
Now that I've found them I'll walk around the arena and practice putting weight into my seat bones. First left, then right.
I always estimate about five pounds of pressure into my saddle. Think of adding a bag of Yukon Golds to each cheek.
I keep my shoulders level while I'm getting used to this feel.
When I get it right I'll be able to sink into my left seat bone and my horse will step to the left in an effort to rebalance me. Sink to the right and the horse will move to the right.
Once I'm solid in this concept I will play with my seat bones at the walk, trot and canter. I have found that my outside seat bone balances my horse and the inside creates a turn.
This is where it gets tricky.
All cowhorse maneuvers are based on drive coming from the haunches. The horse is crouched and rocked either back or balanced over her hocks through every stop, turn and spin. Most of what we do is at a fast clip with continually building speed, driving with every step.
If I create my turns by dropping my weight into my inside seat bone, the horse will be following my cue, or playing catch up. I will be in a position to fall to the inside and have to counter that with my rein drawn to my outside hipbone and my outside leg pushed into the back ribs of my horse. At 35 miles an hour on a cow that's a lot to think about and too many opportunities to fall out of position.
So instead I drive my horse with my outside seat bone and leg into my hands. My inside leg will catch her if she falls to the inside, but the only position I have to maintain is my outside hipbone into the corner of my saddle. I'm extremely solid and safe in that position.
I stay essentially in the middle of the horse and am driving her into my maneuvers, instead of her following the cue. Do you see the difference?
So in a lead change my weight stays to the outside of my circle. My outside leg drives the horse into the circle. When I change I simply shift my seat bones and my leg. I am able to stay centered and balanced without a lot of work or thought. (Important for those of us who "cowboy" their horses)
When I'm going down the fence after a cow my horse is on her fence (or off) side lead. My weight is on the outside corner and my shoulders are back over my hips. My cow side leg directs how close she is to the cow, my seat bones ask for speed.When my horse turns into the fence she'll slide and turn, I'll push with my calf through the turn, shift my weight as we straighten and be in position for the run the other way.
So that is why I use my weight the way I do. I hope it made some kind of sense.

Now on to trailer loading. I am pretty direct on how I load.
You guys might think I'm nuts, but I haven't hurt one yet. I've gotten them all loaded. And they all stay pretty good travelers when I'm done.
I never get mad.
I get it done.
Every time I load a horse I take it somewhere. Even if it's around the block. I want my horse to understand that I load them, we go somewhere, we're done.
If I load and reload 100 times it's only going to piss us both off.
So I load. We go somewhere. I unload. We're done.
This works with straight loads or slant loads.
I'll do this every day with a problem horse but only once a day.
I get out my 50 foot soft cotton rope and snap it to a very sturdy rope halter.
I run the rope through the front of the trailer and out the window.
I bring the end of the rope to the back of the trailer, so I have kind of a pulley.
If I have a helper it works best, but if I don't I can make it work.
The key here is the horse only gets a release for looking in the trailer.
He doesn't have to get in at first, but he has to look in.
I'll put pressure(by pulling) on the rope until he looks. As soon as he looks I release the pressure from the rope.
If he starts dragging me backwards I'll let him pull me, but I'll return the pressure until he's looking in the trailer. Sometimes I need all fifty feet of rope, but not usually.
I don't release for rearing, banging, hiding around the other side of the trailer, nothing except looking inside.
The key here is that while the horse is flailing around I am whacking him in the pasterns with a longe whip. Not killing them, not drawing blood, but consistently popping those pasterns until he moves his feet while looking in the trailer.
He doesn't have to get in, he just has to move his feet, look in the trailer and think about getting in.
This only works if you keep your pressure and release working.
Remember, if he's flying back, let him, just keep the pressure on the rope, keep flicking those pasterns and don't quit until he stops going back. Then stop everything. That will get the point across.
The longe whip keeps you out of kick range. The cotton rope keeps you out of the trailer. Remember that.
Once he's got the thought in his mind he'll get in there pretty quick.
I will give a release for one step.
I will let him smell the floor of the trailer as long as he wants.
I will let him paw with one foot and his head in the trailer as long as he wants.
I will let him step in and out as many times as he wants.
I will only apply pressure when he quits thinking about getting in the trailer. Then I'll pull and pop until he's thinking forward again.
Once he's in I let him stand there. I don't tie him or close the doors until he is quietly and happily standing in the trailer.
If I have to reload a time or two that's OK. Only if he gets out again on his own mind you. Once he's in and quiet we will go for a drive. Come home. Get out. Be done.
It works. I swear.

53 comments:

Jill said...

When I was pretty young I was offered the advice that your seatbones are the key contact points with the saddle, and that they, along with your hips are key in allowing you to really feel the horse's movement, right hip sways forward with right shoulder, left with left (or should it be with each hind, i'm not sure), at any gait you sit to.

I never thought about it too much; it just became natural, so for you to explain it like this is very interesting and clarifying. I've never reined, but preparing and carrying out turns on the flat and when jumping are much more subtle because of seatbone use.

Char said...

RE: Seatbones.

Yeah, pretty much what you said. I try to be really "light" with the seatbones, as it seems that all of the horses with my gelding's bloodlines are very sensitive in the back, and too much seatbone activity will cause problems. He's very responsive, and if you over-use them, you'll find yourself in the next county pretty quick. :)

RE: Trailer loading.

I've never tried that approach, but I envisioned what you were saying and it makes sense. I taught our to self-load, and makes things oh-so much easier, especially if I'm ever loading/unloading by myself.

Anonymous said...

My Mare will squeal and strike if I put a new horse in the trailer after her. It seems to be getting worse and I am sure it is not good for my trailer as well as it being a problem if I were to put her in a stock trailer with another horse. How would you adress this problem?

SlippinSweetLena said...

I am new to this blog and really like how you word things. I am really bad at that! LOL
You have opened my eyes to the seat bones. I do the same thing, but I don't make it a point to be conscious of where my seat is. I had a gelding that I sold about a year ago that I wanted to be a cutter, but he was better at the reined cow horse. I wasn't...I am scared to death to do down the fence with a cow, and I really don't like haveing to do all that driving them forward. But that disapline really opened my eyes to how I rode. I had shown cutting for the past 15 years and after my lessons on my cow horse, I was wiped out from all the driving and pulling "UP", not back like I would on my cutter to keep even with the cow. But reading about the seat bones, I got to thinking that I do the same as you discribe...I just thought it was a natural thing that everyone did. I also grew up riding bareback on a horse the would run off with me...That was before I really "Learned" to ride. I would hold him back and next thing I knew his chin was up against his chest and he was gone....all the way to the barn. after the 4th time my mom sent him to a trainer and I started taking lessons where I got bit by the cutting bug.

mugwump said...

Anon- I will have to think on that one. How is she when you tie her next to other horses? That will give me something to start with.
slippinsweetlena-I'm glad to hear from you. I'm getting more caught up in cutting as time goes by. It's like chess on a horse. I'm thinking I'm going to cut for at least the next year...

fernvalley01 said...

Brilliant explanation!!
I have never been able to describe the technique so clearly. May I copy & use your explanation around here? (certainly crediting it to you)

barrelracer20x said...

I use my seat bones more than anything, lol, mainly b/c I have no butt, so I feel like I'm on them all the time anyway. I also have this thing about mirroring the angle of my horse's shoulder with my own--crazy, I know. When I'm loping a circle, I always try to keep my horses shoulders up, I hate it when they drop! I like to think that if I can maintain that angle when we're loping a circle, or a straight line down the fence that I can keep their shoulders where I want them when we're going full out around a barrel in a competition run. It makes me feel like my muscle memory reacts better to my horses' when they turn in a competition run, a little less thought, more reaction I suppose. IF (big IF here) I can control their shoulders I feel like I have their hips, too. Being able to pick up an inside shoulder and keep ribs/hips flexed when we're flying to that first barrel, all the better! :]

Holly said...

I will only apply pressure when he quits thinking about getting in the trailer.



how do you know what he thinks and when he quits thinking?

Sydney said...

Personally I love stock trailers. The horses have more room to move around, more air and they aren't going into a black hole (they usually have slats) the downside is every time someone moves they know you have the stock trailer and want to use you in moving @_@

I hate watching some people load their horses into trailers it drives me nuts. I work a lot when I first get a horse or my own horses so they load themselves and are happy to be in a trailer.
The thing that I find is a waste of time is people using food thinking it will coax their horse into the trailer. It rarely works with a horse that is truely afraid of the trailer.
It's like giving a million dollars to a human to jump off a cliff. Your friends all jumped and they were fine but theres jagged rocks and 200 feet to the bottom. Even though your friends were fine you still see the danger.

slippinsweetlena said...

I showed a mare in cutting for about 15 years. The last few years were off and on when my mare was too heavy in foal to cut. But I have marked 75 and 76 on her once we got our heads together. She was a freckles playboy daughter and a big stopper. When she died last year I was devistated, but I had an 8 year old and a 3 year old geldings that wanted nothing to do with cutting...that was my second blow, finally I ran into a lady that had a gelding that was trained to cut and she wanted me to try him out. I bought a plane ticket and went to try the horse out. WOW what a horse! He is AWESOME! I have never had a horse stop like he does! He needs some touching up, but I can deal with that. He has this thing about going fast all the time. So I have started working with him and don't lope him very often. I trot around the arena and when he starts to get wound up, I pick him up and make him go into a small circle. And thats where the cow horse lessons have come in handy, because before those lessons, I would have just made him go in circles and not think twice about the shoulder dropping. Now I know that feeling so I pick up the inside rein and hold him up with my inside leg. He is starting to figure it out really quick. Once I feel him relax some, I slowly lower my hands and let him out of the circle. After about 5 times of the small circles, I can trot all the way around without him speeding up. I have also taken him sorta back to the basics and work him on a person that walks back and forth to SLOW everything down and make him THINK before he acts when working a cow...and its working! I can't WAIT to go show!

Heidi the Hick said...

I can back up the statement that you can't bribe a horse into a trailer with food. If he follows his nose into the trailer because there was a bucket of grain in front, he was likely to go in anyways and the food is just a reward.

What do you think of the John Lyons- type method of trailer loading? One foot in at a time, Whoa between each step, and able to stop and back out at any time during the process?

I had to learn that way because one lovely summer, after jumping into any trailer I put in front of him, my red gelding decided NOT TO ANYMORE. I fought with him all summer over it and now I'm just ashamed. Fighting a horse in is not right either. But, the one-hoof-at-a-time approach totally worked for us.

I like that method, and the theory behind it, BUT it is a lot of fiddlin around. I don't trailer much anymore, so I can't say for sure if that training sticks.

I've seen people use the old rope trick but wrong, wrong wrong. I don't care how strong you are... you cannot winch him in! I really like the idea of releasing the pressure when he's looking into the trailer. Make the right thing easy, wrong thing hard, that kind of thing. My coach-friend uses this technique and it does work! Do you find that the horse gets it after this, or do you need to refresh his memory occasionally?

mugwump said...

fernvalley-use whatever you need
barrelracer 20x-I'm super aware of shoulders, the haunches drive and the shoulders direct, which is why the little bit of ground work I do is based on shoulder control. If I gain control of the shoulders I feel I have the whole horse.
holly-watch his eyes, ears and shoulders. If he looks away he's evading. If he points his ears elsewhere he's evading(I don't count pinned)If his shoulders are anywhere except square to the trailer he's evading.
heidi-I think John Lyons is fine. I just don't have that much patience. I'm OK if the horse chooses one foot at a time. I think it's irritating and tiring to me and the horse if I back him out every time he sticks a foot in.
Do you see the difference?
There's never any winching. I'm old. It's just pressure and the drive of the longe whip at the pasterns.
I should amend that I just talk the babies in.

mugwump said...

Heidi- Once I get a horse to go in they just load. I've never trained a horse that came in with loading issues that had to come back. It doesn't mean they aren't out there, I just haven't crossed them.

JKB said...

Mugwump, I'm a lurker but wanted to peek up and tell you I love your blog. Love it.

I'll be coming and searching witha fine-tooth comb for cutting horse info for my next book.

You are indispensable.

stillearning said...

Thank you for the clear explanation of weight aids. Your "setup" of getting balanced over your seatbones first makes all the difference. I have had lessons on the lunge to work on exactly that sequence of getting in balance; and while the dressage directive is to "weight the inside seatbone and move the horse into the outside aids" you then make all turns from the outside aids, which involves using your weight as you described. I'm guilty of overthinking this too much, a frequent fault of mine. As an amateur owner I mainly ride one horse at a time and get too caught up in that horse's issues. My current youngster has balance issues because he's still growing and changing shape, especially in his butt-high stages. I need to check my own balance (using your description will help) before and during each ride to help him keep his.
I cannot wait to experiment with your weight distribution on lead changes. It's hard for instructors to teach amateurs who are the only riders of their horse; the "learning together" process is long and full of misunderstandings on all parts. Even a correct instruction can become overdone if you focus too hard on it. I need to quiet my left-brain analysis and let my right-brain feel kick in. I can feel the lead change as you describe it. Simple and clear. Thanks again!

Char said...

Heidi:
My gelding did the SAME THING to me last year re: "Nope, not loading anymore."

I was experementing with a more "natural" type of horse-man-ship at the time...ahem.

Anyways, I "played"
with him for a month to try to get him on the stinkin' trailer before I finally said, "You know what? I've owned this horse for 10 years, and he has ALWAYS self loaded. This is utter BullSh*t."

I got out the driving whip, he took one look at it, and walked right up onto the trailer.

Fricken' horse.

That was the end of my "experimentation". I think it was his way of telling me, "This sh*t is so stupid. If you don't go back to the regular way of doing things, I'm gonna make your life miserable."

Yeah. I went back to the "normal" way of doing things and he's much happier, respectful and trusting.

:)

Justaplainsam said...

We use a broom instead of a lunge whip. Although it can get us in kicking range (as we use it on there rump) it serves as a visual reminder more than anything. (it also hits the nylon blankets and makes a 'scary' noise) Ive had horses not want to load at a show (that we used a broom on) you walk up with a broom even to lean on it and they get on.

You dont get as quick a reaction as with a whip but it works. And they never seem to asoatate with it bumping them untill they start thinking about not getting on a trailer.

Ive also lifed horses onto trailers that wont load past there front feet. Not a great experence for either of us but it did the job done.

Im going to use the "go somewhere" trick on a friends horse. will let you know how it goes...

Oh... and Ive decided to see how the next summer goes, I have to get a real job anyways. The Masters 2yo class was good. We'll wait and see.

Heidi the Hick said...

Char- I hope you can laugh about it now!

I figure my horse knew that the trailer I had that summer wasn't good enough. It had some issues that I STUPIDLY decided wouldn't be a problem. As it turned out, we had no mishaps, but wasn't I lucky???? He was trying to tell me something and I got all macho and tough and forced him in. I will never do that again. If I suspect the trailer's not safe, I will never ask a horse to go in.

Anyways... as for the Lyons method, I think it's a good way to teach a horse who's new to it, or retrain an older horse but it does seem like a lot of hassle! I think bottom line is that we have to do the work on this BEFORE we have to go somewhere. It's training, not bribery.

Sydney said...

"If he follows his nose into the trailer because there was a bucket of grain in front, he was likely to go in anyways and the food is just a reward."

When I said that I meant it rarely works with a horse that is truely afraid of the trailer. Not one thats cautious of the trailer.

For example: A lady at the place I work, her mare has been in TWO terrible trailer accidents. The first time she skinned all the hair off between her eyes and paralyzed her bottom lip because of the driver driving stupid with a load of horses and flipping the trailer on its side.
The second time she backed out of the trailer and slipped on wet grass and fell under the trailer. She was pretty badly cut up.
Anyway owner of this mare puts hay and everything else in this trailer and tries to get her back on. Popsicles chance in hell that mare is getting on that trailer for food. Shes terrified of it. The owner worked for 6 months 3 times a week and only got her front feet in before she would rocket out.
She asked me to work with her and using a similar method to what mugs described she was in the trailer and quiet in 15 minutes, no carrots and hay involved. I just made it real easy to be in the trailer and standing quiet and real hard to be out of it. Shes been good ever since.

Jill said...

justaplainsam - brooms are great for that. and without the danger of tangling if the horse freaks out.

Laura Crum said...

That's the method I've used to load horses ever since I was a teenager, mugwump, and I agree, it works every time. Sometimes it just takes longer than others.

Here's one for you. When I used to haul in an old two horse straight load trailer, the bigger problem was horses that didn't want to get out (this isn't a big deal with the slant load trailers I've used more recently). Have you ever run into this? I had one green horse that didn't get out for 24 hours. I can tell you how I eventually got him out of there, but I'm curious to hear if you have a better solution.

TexasMissy said...

Thanks, Mugs....I knew you would have a no-nonsense approach that would get the job done. I'll try it and let you know how it works for me.

ezra_pandora said...

Laura, I can't wait to hear how your horse came out after being in for 24 hours. That was my mares problem. Thankfully she didn't stay in for 24 hours. lol She'd jump right in, literally, but backing her out, she wanted no part of that. She would back until there wasn't a step and she'd leap forward almost smashing her face into the wall. She's good now, but it would take FOREVER if you couldn't just turn her around. I forced her, slow and steady, to learn to step out and we don't have any problems now, but her first few times it too forever. lol

autumnblaze said...

I've never made a point to *really* think of where my seat bones are. Though I know I use the inside for turns and balance on the outside. Gator responds very well to those shifts in weight and I don't everhave to touch his mouth for turns just look and shift slightly sometimes even without a light leg cue. I find my leg follows my hip, which follows my seat bones and on a sensitive horse it's plenty. I work on that when I ride bareback - more subtly of course since I'm digging butt bone into his back.

I like the loading technique. You use a lot more rope than people on the east coast - I'm gaining a lot of respect for rope reading your posts. I've done the step up and out x1000, feed them in the trailer blah blah it works too. However, in a pinch when I don't know the horse I like your no nonsense technique.

P.S. I just responded to your note on Buddy from my friends website on VLC. I'll post it here so you don't have to go look.

autumnblaze said...

Mugs - He's the sweetest horse in the WORRRLD I'd buy him in a second if I had the money - she'd make me a deal too! I'd like to do endurance if I coudl afford the truck, trailer and necessary horse. :) My non-horse hubby even loves him.

He's a horse that the wrong trainer would ruin. VERY sensitive. AND HUGE for an Arab. So he needs at least an extra year to grow and find his balance on his own. I think they make keep him - he's the only chance her 6'5" hubby has at riding a pure bred Arab! :)

She has a lot of nice horses and raises them right. I'm good with babies - so she keeps me around also riding the old show horse :) I lucked out since I have no money to pour into a horse now.

Holly said...

Mugs, in your last post on training methods, you said you don't mind discussion. I'm taking you up on that.

You wrote:holly-watch his eyes, ears and shoulders. If he looks away he's evading. If he points his ears elsewhere he's evading(I don't count pinned)If his shoulders are anywhere except square to the trailer he's evading.

When I train, I try really really hard to avoid the descriptors that carry emotional baggage, like "evading". I try to look at the physical behavior that I can see. The ears pointing somewhere or looking at something else or the shoulders not square to the trailer.

he might not be evading, it could be something in the distance caught his eye so he looked (I've done that myself), it could be a noise caught his ear or he shifted due to footing (a rock under a foot might be uncomfortable). Maybe not, but I can't possibly know what the horse is thinking so I just don't go there.

evade has an emotional tone to it making it seem like the horse is making this personal.

Holly said...

PS. So when you said that we probably train closer to each other than I think, yes we do...sometimes. Sometimes not too.

drifter said...

I too have a mare that hates to back out of a trailer, ramp or not she gets to the end of the trailer, puts one or two foot back and jumps back in. The easiest way I have found to get her out is to use two ropes, run one out each side of the trailer just behind the front of the horse. We pull her back with each rope simultaneously and re-position the rope as we go. When she is on the ground there is not enough rope for her to jump back in. (This could be done with one person and tie-ing off one rope) She hasn't been cured of her UNloading issues, but it keeps her from jumping on me as she backs out.

Jamie said...

Holly ~
"evade" simply means to avoid. I know that I can evade doing the dishes, but I don't have any emotional reasaons for doing so. I might just be interested in doing something else at the time. I think what Mugs is saying is that if your horse is evading your request to make an effort to get in the trailer... you need to consistently remind him of your request. Make the doing right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult by applying pressure if he stops trying. My 3 year old will often get distracted and turn to look at something else, which also means he's quit trying to do what I'm asking at that moment. No biggie, he just needs a reminder. As soon as he makes an effort towards our goal (facing the trailer, taking a step towards or in it, pawing, sniffing, snorting, whatever) then all pressure goes away. He learns the most comfortable place for him is the trailer.
I will definitely agree about not drilling this from first-hand experience. My first loading session with my boy went great, using the pressure-release method. BUT I had him repeat in and out about 5 or 6 times before he got pissed and refused to go in altogether. Then we had a tug-o-war about that until I got him back in, calm, and back out. The next day he refused to let me catch him... and that's never happened before. He let me know just what he thought of my trailer training! LOL So PLEASE don't drill your horses! They're smarter than that!! :)

mugwump said...

laura- I am like you. I wait. I'll wait as long as they want.
This relates to the horse that would jump back in -ezra- I think. I got into a terrific battle with one of those once. I later found out he had a serious bone spur in his spine, it hurt him to step down. I felt like a schmuck. Now I just wait.
jamie-thanks. I have nothing more to add.

Laura Crum said...

For those who want to know how I got the colt out of the two horse trailer after 24 hours, well, just remember, I was all of eighteen. The breeder I worked for was a tough old cowboy, and he said he didn't care how long the horse stood in there--he'd come out when he wanted food and water. After twenty-four hours I was worried the horse would colic before he got out. He was a very weird colt, prone to violent behavior, and there was no way it was a good idea to get in front of him in the tiny "stall" of the two horse trailer (which did not have an escape door). Backing him from the other stall hadn't worked. I had no one to help me. I finally drove the trailer into the arena, where the ground was soft, tied a big heavy cotton rope in a loop aroud the base of the colt's neck and tied the other end around a telephone pole. I opened the back door of the trailer. And then I very slowly droves the trailer out from under the horse. It worked. The colt was fine. He eventually learned to haul (he was always a completely worthless jerk of a horse, but that was his breeding, not my trailer unloading method). I don't recommend this approach--maybe mugwump can come up with something better.

mugwump said...

Like I said Laura, I wait. I love what you did though, it just cracked me up.

Sydney said...

LOL that is funny Laura.

I love trailer loading stories. I have a million of them. Each problem horse is different and they make for very good conversation.

Once this lady that boarded her horse at my place had a problem with two horse trailers. I remember we finally got her into a trailer and when we got to the riding meeting we were going to she WOULD NOT get out. We had everyone trying everything. She would put one foot out, feel, touch the ground with her toe and step back in. Funny enough the one that got her out was a 10 year old kid. Amazing what that kid did with a package of firecrackers that all the manpower there couldn't.

Char said...

RE: The Horse That Won't Unload -

My horse has always been very skeptical about coming off of a step down. When I first got him, he would back in the front, and walk in place in the back until the front legs were almost BETWEEN his back legs, and then teeter and practically fall out of the trailer.

Not good.

Instead of just saying, "Back, back, back..." I started giving him a warning when he was at the end, "Back, back, back, STEP, step..." and so on.

He's not nearly as nervous about coming off the trailer anymore now that he knows I'm - "Watching His Back". LOL!

Jamie said...

Love the explaination of using your seat bones too!! Very well said! I've heard other explainations that make my head spin...

Heila said...

If my horse won't load we lightly pull a lunge rope round his bum and he walks in. He is much happier trucking on his own than with another horse for some reason.

Do you put a haynet in the trailer for short journeys?

Do you tie them up in the trailer?

Emily M. said...

A while ago you asked for training questions. I have a new question for you to ponder that just may be too big to answer. I was wondering if you could outline the types of things that you think a horse should know and how it should be acting before you do the first ride? I am actually probably going to end up sending my horse to a trainer for this, but I keep working towards the first ride just in case I don't chicken out. Then when you do the first ride, what's the game plan you go in with? I don't have a round pen or an enclosed arena so keeping that in mind with a possible answer would probably help me a lot since a lot.

Anonymous said...

Mugs my mare squeals and strikes with a new horse in a pasture, if I am not paying attention and let her sniff noses with a new horse on a ride. Basicaly she will squeal and strike at an new horse in any setting. I can avoid the problem in most settings but I want to address the problem. KWIM?

Anonymous said...

OH PS a new horse for squeals and strikes is one that has been in a different pasture for two or more days.

mugwump said...

char-the people I worked for until I quit did the same thing...back, back,back, step...it worked really well.
emily m.-you're right, that is huge. So much of it is feel. Can you take your horse to a trainer that will let you work with your horse? Teach you the steps? I have a colt that is going to be needed to be started next fall. I'm going to board him at a barn for 30 days that has the stuff that makes me feel safe. Mainly a small indoor. My daughter and I will start him there. I do a better job if I feel secure.
heila- I don't feed on short trips. And I do tie in the trailer. My horses spend a lot of their life tied. Which leads me to anon"s crabby mare. I would work on my crabby horse outside of the trailer. I would break her to hobbles. I would tie her next to horses that won't hurt her but will nuzzle her. She would be hobbled. I would do the drills that I talked about in some other post(gotta get that archive!)to teach her to be still when other horses approach while I ride. I would require her to behave with other horses. THEN I would load her last in the trailer. I would make sure the other horses are tied so they can't worry or touch her.I would wait until they were settled. I would whack her if she squealed. Just once, but I'd do it.
Essentially I would teach her what I expect outside the trailer and then I would load her keeping her anxieties in mind, but still expecting her to behave. See what I mean?

Emily M. said...

Unfortunately there aren't any trainers in the area. That would be Pine Bluff, AR if any of you trainers out there are looking for an untapped market!!!

I could board him for a month or two at a place with a round pen and arena, but there is no training help there. The trainer I am thinking of sending him to is about 3 hours north so there won't be as many lessons as I would like. Just a western pleasure riding guy even though my horse will eventually be an eventer, I'd like him to be safe in open spaces so I thought, why not start with that trainer. He's also my farrier so I know that he'll treat him fair (he's pretty darn patient). As I've been reading your posts, I want to find a trainer like you, but it's so hard to tell what a trainer will actually do when you're not around. Since there aren't any trainers close by, it makes it a tough decision to send them out for training.

Laura Crum said...

Holly, reading your comments, I have to say that if you've been around horses long enough you can read them quite easily on issues like this. Yes, I can tell if something else caught the horse's attention or if he stepped on a stone as opposed to when he is looking away cause he's evading going in the trailer. To say that one can't possibly know what the horse is thinking in this situation is not true, at least in my book. It does take a good many years spent working with horses to be able to do it accurately and also to be clear about those moments when you can't tell what a given horse is thinking, if you see what I mean.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Your trailer loading method sounds very effective. I like that you noted it's not good to load and unload them a bunch of times - that's a bit of NHmanship that makes me CRAZY. I also like that you noted there's no need to change the program if the horse is throwing a hissy fit. I think horses are much like toddlers and giving in to a hissy fit is never the answer.

I've always used the good-old-fashioned butt rope method. Butt rope goes above the hocks, around the butt, under the tail. Ideally you have one person on each side of it and one in the trailer holding the lead (but I've always had stock trailers - I like your method WAY better for a 2 horse, loading freaky horses in a 2 horse is always scary because you have no room to get out of their way if you're in there). Person in the trailer doesn't ever pull hard on the rope - they may tug a bit but for the most part, the pressure comes from behind. I like to have my helpers "saw" the rope back and forth to create very annoying friction. I do not think I have met a horse yet that does not move away from that friction and toward the trailer. The only release from the annoyance of the butt rope is found inside the trailer.

>>Personally I love stock trailers. The horses have more room to move around, more air and they aren't going into a black hole (they usually have slats) the downside is every time someone moves they know you have the stock trailer and want to use you in moving @_@<<

I agree completely. I am a fan of avoiding a lot of trailer loading drama in the first place. I despise 2 horse straight loads and would never own one.

Laura, that story is too funny! OK, here is my BEST trailer loading story:

Friend of mine was trying to return Crazy Mare who hadn't worked out AT ALL to dealer. Crazy Mare, seeing a good deal when she found it, refused to load and leave friend's farm.

I finally came up with the idea of backing the stock trailer up to the barn aisle and trying to drive her down it into the trailer. Nope, crazy mare wasn't going in. She was all too happy to run over the top of us, though!

So finally I told my friend's husband to go get the tractor. He raised the (whatever you call that thing on the front that picks up dirt and stuff, I'm blanking out) and he drove slowly down the barn aisle toward Crazy Mare. Crazy Mare could not quite believe her eyes, but she realized quickly this was a battle she was not going to win, and she got in the trailer. Again, I wouldn't recommend it but it worked and nobody got hurt, not even Crazy Mare!

Sydney said...

lmfao! Thats hilarious. When in doubt scare the hell out of the horse with the metal demon tractor lol!
You mean the bucket of the tractor? Or big ass shit scooper?

I don't know why more people don't use stock trailers. Hell we make partitions if we have to haul more than two horses (we have one metal partition.)we use this board and chains attached to them. Easy to remove and we have yet to have a problem with it.

J. Hatchett said...

At least you take the time to teach your horses to load properly. Alot of these big saddle seat barns don't even bother, they just drug the horses, they do the same for the ferrier. One of R's clients bought one of these horses, spent a -huge- pile. He was from a very big, very sucssesful farm, been showing all his life and was a superstar in the ring. You would think that after 13 years of being toted to show after show this horse would load a trailer...not so much. Naturally the clients thought they had to watch. These were the type that were flabbergasted by any "violent" action when it came to their horse. It took an eternity of begging to get that horse loaded. The next time that horse needed to be trailered we loaded very eairly in the morning. It took alot of time to get him in, it wasn't pretty but he's loaded like a dream since.

As far as seat bones go I don't have much to add. I can put my seat bones into my buggy seat but it isn't going to make the horse go left and right. As far as riding I'll have to try a couple of these things next ride. I've known my horse was seat sensetive but I'm still expirementing in useing my seat. In terms of "whole rider-ness" I'm good with the hands but the seat thing is coming really slow. That's what I get for learning to drive before I could ride. XP

Anonymous said...

I have been mulling over your latest entry and I think I would like some clarification. My question is more about legs than seat.

I ride using outside leg pressure to PUSH a horse into a turn. I ride with little to no contact, so the horse is moving away from pressure for cues from the leg or rein on the neck. From how I understand your post, you are asking a horse to move into ABSENCE of PRESSURE with your leg cues. Does this mean you ride with constant contact with the legs?

mugwump said...

emilym- I would seriously reccomend sending your horse out for at least the first thirty days. I can't give you the help you need on the internet. Giving you advice when you don't have an arena is just plain dangerous. Sending your young one out will get your horse started and keep you safe, which is the goal, don't you think?
anon-I love that you picked that up. I miss things in my explanations sometimes. Yes, I ride with light contact (legs) all the time. I searched high and low for a saddle that would allow me to do that. (Jerry Shaw cutter)
I do mean light by the way. In my mind I'm balancing my horse between me and 1/4 inch of air.
The down side of how I ride is I will lose contact with my seat bones through lead changes if I don't remember Seat bones first, then leg,then hands.Good call.

Holly said...

Thanks to both Laura and Jamie who took up my comment. I did not answer earlier because I was waiting to hear from Mugs. Since she has moved on I will address these two posts and be done.

Jamie said: "evade" simply means to avoid.

You are correct that is what the word means, I hope that is .all. it means to you and to most people. It has not been my personal experience that others do not attach other labels to the behavior, in addition to the meaning of the word.

Laura wrote: Holly, reading your comments, I have to say that if you've been around horses long enough you can read them quite easily on issues like this. Yes, I can tell if something else caught the horse's attention or if he stepped on a stone as opposed to when he is looking away cause he's evading going in the trailer. To say that one can't possibly know what the horse is thinking in this situation is not true, at least in my book.

I've had horses for over 30 years. It's just been in the last ten or so that I have quit assuming that I know what they are thinking. I deal with behavior alone now. Often when you have a horse you are familiar with, you can anticipate what behavior will happen next based on previous experience where that horse has used those precursors, but to assume the same behaviors mean the same thing across the species may very well be incorrect. The same behavior with another horse might not mean that same thing at all. So I no longer assume I know what they are thinking.

fuglyhorseoftheday said...

Sydney - the bucket, that's what it's called! LOL!

And it was a stock trailer. This is how crazy that damn mare was, she didn't want to get in a big old 7 foot tall stock trailer.

anniebanannie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anniebanannie said...

I load a similar way. Although I use the tap, tap, tap, tap... on the butt method. All the while I'm saying, "Get up." If they make a move towards the trailer, the tapping stops.

I was loading a clients horse once and she refused to allow me to tap her horse with the crop, because I was putatively terrorizing her horse. The mare never did get in the trailer.

Later, I loaded the mare when the owner wasn't around. The next day, the mare loaded up quietly. The owner asked me if I'd worked with the mare. When I replied in the affirmative, she said she was impressed but would never use the technique because it was abusive.

mugwump said...

anniebannannie-those are the people who end up getting hurt. When I still had clients, if I ran into one of those I had a standard reply. "You brought me your horse because of what I know. I'm doing what I feel is best. You have to either let me operate the way I'm best or take your horse home. Now. This minute." Then I would walk away. It was a safety issue as far as I was concerned.

Funder said...

Hey mugwump, I just wanted to let you know that my formerly good loader got balky with me yesterday. I came home and reread this post, went out this morning, and had her loaded in under two minutes. No stress, no fight. Thank you very much!

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