Redsmom told about trying to get her horse to sidepass and somebody else talked about horses flying backwards out of trailers.
Those are the two subjects for today.
I'm going to start with the trailering.
My good friend Kathy had a mare, Brandy, who blew backwards out of the trailer. At one point she flew out so fast she flipped end-over-end, summersaulted through a hot wire fence, got the still snapping hot-wire wrapped around her body and legs, freaked, tore herself to shreds, ran off into the pen, which happened to be full of several brood mares with very new babies.
The mares attacked her and kicked her to bits before we got to her.
THIS DID NOT CURE BRANDY.
She was worse. So pain and punishment was clearly not the answer.
Brandy had string-halt. It made it difficult for her to step down while backing out. So we found why she originally panicked. By the time Kathy asked for my help it was a terrible vice. If you know me at all, you know I didn't really care why she did it. She was capable of stepping out, so she was going to.
This is what we did. It worked so well I have used it on every other speedo backer since. I have not been let down.
We began with a fifty foot cotton rope. As a matter of fact, this was the horse who helped me learn to love my fifty foot cotton rope.
I would tie the 50 foot rope on her halter and run it through the front window while she was still tied to the trailer by her other lead rope.
Then we would untie her from the trailer before letting her out. The 50 foot rope would still be attached to the halter, but not tied to anything.
I always untie a horse in the trailer before unloading. I've seen a horse caught under the trailer with it's head still tied. The horse died. So I will always untie before I unload. Every horse, every time.
We didn't open the door until she was standing up, off the butt bar and quiet.
This took hours and hours by the way. Kathy and I cleared the week-end, it was a damn good thing.
Kathy stood holding the 50 foot rope at the front of the trailer and I would begin to open the trailer.
If, I mean when, Brandy slammed into the butt bar, we closed the trailer up and waited for her to be quiet.
Probably 20 or 30 times here, so don't get impatient.
Finally she stood quiet in the trailer and we dropped the butt bar.
Kathy was at the front holding the rope. I was at the back with a longe whip.
When Brandy flew back, and fly she did, we let her rip. Kathy held the rope, but didn't pull, just let it run through her heavily gloved hands.
I just got out of the way.
The second she stood up I began to whip her pasterns (no blood, but I made my point) and Kathy started to tow her back in.
No kind words, or mean ones for that matter, we just towed and whacked her back into the trailer.
Then we started over.
Same drill, over and over.
Eventually, like five or six hours later, Brandy stood at the open trailer and waited.
So did we.
She cautiously took one step back.
She stumbled on her bad leg and scurried the rest of the way.
We said, good girl, dried her off and put her to bed.
We hauled and unloaded this way probably ten times before she got better. I never repeated the exercise if she was quiet. She was loaded when we went somewhere and unloaded when we got there. I'm a big believer in a process making sense to a horse. If we loaded her over and over it would only frustrate her and us.
Brandy got over it.
This method has never let me down. I have noticed that 95% of the horses who do this have a stiffness or pain somewhere.
I am never discussing this again.
Now on to redsmom and Queenie, and their battle of the sidepass.
I had a few thoughts when it came to Queenie. I have a very clear picture in my mind. I see Redsmom pushing and shoving on Queenie as she leeaannnns into Redsmom, all four dainty little feet firmly planted into the ground.
My guess is Redsmom feels vaguely homicidal at the end of these sessions.
One of the most important things I ever learned as a young trainer was this.
If you push your horse she will push back.
If you pull your horse she will pull back.
If you drag on your horse the horse will drag back.
I know I said one thing, but these are all connected.
Steady pressure = steady pressure back.
Guess what? Our horses are bigger than we are. They win.
If a horse can't set herself against the pressure she will move away. Period.
You guys have heard me say, bump, bump, bump.
Pull and release, pull and release.
Things like that, right?
So here's a ground exercise for everybody with a dull, pluggy, slow or contrary animal.
Stand with your horse in a halter.
Stand facing the side of your horse as if you are going to mount.
Tip your horse's nose slightly towards you, put the flat of your other hand where your heel would go if you're asking for a turn on the forehand, (about 12 inches behind the cinch) and puuuuuussssshhh.
If you get movement, it will be slow and muddy feeling. If you keep pushing the horse will eventually stop and lean on you. Or if you have a stinker like Queenie she will start out by leaning on you.
Now try this. Instead of pushing her, poke her with your thumb.
Start with a soft poke, then a medium poke, then poke hard enough to make your thumb sore.
One, two, three.
If you don't get any response at first just keep repeating the set of three pokes. 1, soft, 2, medium, 3, OW!
You can substitute the handle of a crop if you want, but no whacking! Just poke! With energy!
Just repeat and repeat.
It won't take long before your horse steps away when you get to poke # 2 or #3.
Stop when it only takes #1, the softest touch.
Don't let the head leave you, keep about 2 feet of leadrope in your hand while resting said hand on the bridge of your horse's nose. This will stabilize the front end.
Before long your horse should be turning on the forehand quite nicely.
Do this both ways.
I'm happy when I can raise my hand and my horse moves away from the invisible pressure I have created. I'm happy when I create movement with movement, not contact.
Decide where you're happy, practice, eat two apples (no, one isn't for Queenie, I don't give treats!) and call me in the morning.
We'll actually sidepass when you can move your horse with some lightness. Trust me, you'll be much happier.