Saturday, June 7, 2008

Photos and a Rant....

So I've had some requests for photos. All I've got is these, they're from a day show turned practice show last week-end. This is Daisy, the "Please God, just get me my Regumate"mare.
She started pretty good.
OK, so then things got rotten and I had to two-hand her to straighten things out. Thus, practice run...

Zoey is loping calm and cool, her first time with the boss in the show pen.

This is Merry. This is her first time in the show pen too.
The little spaz bucked a bit, but we knew that was coming. She was pretty good all in all.
Peg needs to get the saddle bronc shot next time.

Bam! Clean lead change!
Of course I have to end with my yellow horse, because she's the coolest.

Just have time for a short rant today.
I had a very cute three year old mustang named Shoni in for sixty days. She came in with the ability to one rein stop, and travel at a dead run.
That was all. No kidding.
She left with a nice walk, trot, and a slow steady lope.
She knew her leads, and would stop off your seat.
Her ground manners were all there. She quit trying to bite every time you tightened her cinch.
I never fed her a carrot.
She turned left and right. On the forehand, and on her haunches. Not quite a spin, but it was in there.
When you said whoa, she stopped. I didn't have to yank, or pull her around.
I truly think she was relieved to learn about cadence.
I offered her owner as many lessons as she could take during this time. The owner was timid, and knew she couldn't deal with the old Shoni. I liked them both, and wanted the situation to work, so I offered more lessons than I would normally.
She came once.
She walked around the arena and trotted maybe three steps.
She picked the filly up on my day off, so I couldn't give her any insight on what was done.

Two days later she took her on a twenty mile trail ride in the mountains.
Shoni was perfect.
The owner was so excited, she had to call and tell me all about it.
I almost snorted my burrito out my nose.

Sophie is one of the boss's foundation bred fillies. She is a pretty dark bay, with enough gold highlights to almost make a buckskin. She is correct and clean legged.
I broke her out and have had her in my line up for the past two years. She is four years old.
She had been hauled lightly, maybe five times. She had loped in a warm up pen at most twice.
She had never been shown.
Sophie can stop a little. She can change leads, and circle up pretty nice. Her spins are adequate. She is lively and easy to handle on a cow.
Sophie did not have enough stop or stamina for working cowhorse competition, so she was put up for sale.
A family with a solid horse background bought her for their twelve year old daughter. I got a chance to ride with her once. She is an extremely good rider, but she doesn't know a thing about how to ride one of our cowhorse trained horses.

The parents made plans to bring the new duo back for lessons.

I warned them that Sophie had rarely been off the place, out of her pasture, or away from her sisters.
I suggested they give her a while to acclimate to her new home before they started lessons.
They picked up Sophie on Friday night.
They took her to a 4H show on Saturday morning, and entered reining and horsemanship. Then they entered the jackpot reining at the end of the day.
Sophie won all her classes.
They were so excited they called to let me know.
I pretended I lost service, hung up, counted to a hundred and then called them back.
First of all, I am really proud of those fillies. It was a confirmation of my training approach. I reward them with rest and release after every try. They develop into hard working, gutsy animals.
In the situations they were thrust into I know they kept trying, waiting for some kind of release.
They held themselves together and did their best. It's all I ever ask.
Second, what the hell is the matter with these people?

This is a three year old and four year old respectively.
Would you enter your toddler in a 10 k run?
Would you enter your home schooled fifth grader in an out of state tap dancing competition?
Why did they spend all this money for training, or a quality animal, and then close their ears and do everything in their power to immediately blow these poor horses minds or legs....
I wonder how long before Sophie is running through the bit, and Shoni bolts up the trail.
OK, that's my rant.
If you want photos of the bambinos, we have to talk Peg into coming and taking some pictures. I usually work alone. Peg comes over to play sometimes though.


LivedToTell said...

Photos are great, mugwump! These horses look fabulous. Nice athletes all around.

As to your rant, I'm guessing the only thing going through those folks minds is an empty wind.

Hard for you being a trainer and having a care about the horses, but these folks are pretty much standard-issue now. I believe they really don't see the difference between buying training and remodeling the kitchen. If something breaks, buy another one.

cdncowgirl said...

"She quit trying to bite every time you tightened her cinch.
I never fed her a carrot."


You musthave read Fugly's post with the Parelli Q&A

Anonymous said...

How did you stop the biting with girth tightening? I have an otherwise perfect mare that pins her ears, attempts to bite, will bite rail in front of her if she can't get you -- this starts from the minute you start grooming to the initial tightening of the girth. We have to keep her tied to groom, blanket or saddle. We always tighten gradually and she is total ok with the final girth tightening, or any readjustment of the girth can be easily done without any reaction whatsoever from her. She has be checked by a vet, chiropracter, and even a horse psychic! No known reason for her reaction.
This happens with me, with my gentle female trainer but apparently only once (he claims)with my no-nonsense male cowboy trainer -- he says he gave her a swift one in the gut and she hasn't done it since.
Any advice?

mugwump said...

bonita- I don't tolerate biting, or kicking at me ever.
I don't tolerate nastiness when I saddle either.
I make sure they're not sore, which you've already done.
Many mares are touchy about their girth, withers, etc. It's where studs bite them before, during and after breeding.
So think about what that says to them about us....
I like to know the reason, but there is never an excuse for bad behavior.
If a mare gets reactive, I slap them hard with the flat of my hand, right in front of the back cinch.
If they get worse I'll get a crop.
I always expect them to step away from me if I have to hit them.
If they don't I'll step in and make them.
I always saddle the same way with all my horses.
I saddle, and then tighten once, just enough to keep the saddle on.
I put on their boots and tighten again.
I bridle, and then tighten once more before I get on.
If they are really aggressive I'll work them untied, on a line or in a pen, and teach them to stay with me and get saddled by choice. (Rather than sent out and worked or longed)
I don't care if a mare is cranky and pins her ears or bites the rail, as long as she keeps her face turned away from me, and her feet quiet.
I want them to be respectful, but they can have an opinion.
They can't swat me with their tail either.
I will get as firm as it takes with aggression towards me. They weigh over 1000 lbs. I'm not as svelte as I used to be, but they're still able to squash me like a bug.
Working them loose and sending them out ala Ray Hunt works really well if you can't make yourself clean their clock.
Although I watched Ray clobber his gray mare pretty good with his flag at a clinic. Talk about a multi use tool! His horses were expected to listen at all times, and he had no problem doing what was needed to make it happen.

mugwump said...

cdncowgoirl-I always read fugly:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice Mugs! This mare is also dominant with other horses and aloof to humans. Kind of the "popular but mean girl in highschool" personality and she really doesn't think anyone else is worthy of being in her presence. However she is otherwise great on the ground and good undersaddle. I think your comments are spot on and I will definitely go for the more assertive approach and let her know what's allowed.
BTW -- love your "yellow horse" -- what is her breeding? She is gorgeous and obviously hugely talented as well!

Anonymous said...

About the rant:

Mugs: Several of us including myself have trainers work with our horses from time to time. I would appreciate hearing what trainers really want from us as clients -- the generic list of how to be a good client. I want to be doing the right thing but sometimes it's hard to know what that is.

mugwump said...

Oh Bonita, you have opened Pandora's box. Next post is dedicated to what we expect from clients....So self indulgent I'm all aquiver!!!
I'll put up her breeding as another post...

MygirlChex said...

I have never sent a horse out to be trained because I was afraid of what I would get back. After reading your blog Mug, I wouldn't be afraid of sending one your way :)

Justaplainsam said...

love love love that fist mare..... I hope you get her brain and her hormones figured out!

Yeah I gave up on my clients :) I do now get phone calls b$^& about how much lessons cost with the trainers I refered everyone to, but now I dont need to deal with the super competiveness, the kids after there parents are done yelling at them, or the parents!

Whywudyabreedit said...

I have found that lame analogies tend to work pretty well to illustrate basic handling/training concepts. (in some cases anyway, when people give a $h!t)

When I think about your horses, I guess it is like an employee who has a boss that teaches them lots of useful skills, supports them along the way, and rewards them in a way that gives them confidence i themselves, in the work, and develops in them a desire to try.

When they go to work for a new boss, in some cases, like with a trail horse, they may find that the new boss is really quite easy to please given the skills they have learned from you.

However, if they go to a new boss with just as high of expectations, but not enough reward for the try and for work well done, well their attitude at work is going to change to reflect their relationship with their new boss.

I have asked people to consider many times if they would keep working at their job if they didn't get paid, or if they thought that volunteers would keep cranking out work for charitable organizations if they didn't get some satisfaction from it, or were not shown appropriate appreciation for their efforts. It doesn't happen, you will not maintain an enthusiastic hard working employee without some solid benefit to the employee, be it equine, human or otherwise.

When you rant about these people, I feel some of your pain, and some of the horses hardship. Just know that in most cases those horses are better off with the foundation that you have given them than they would be without it.

The attitudes that are bred of current society frustrate me to no end. There seems to be a trend that people believe they do not have to earn what they can afford to pay for. This attitude comes at the expense of others in many cases, by my estimation anyway.

The stories that you tell are a perfect example of this.

I suppose I should step down off of my soap box before I lose my balance or it collapses or something.

Keep up the good work mugs =)

Anonymous said...

Well I have to confess that as I was reading your rant and got to the point where each owner called you and told fabulous stories of what their horses had acheived days after being sent home from training with you my initial reaction was: "OMG great trainer, nice success story, confident and happy clients, well trained horses" What's the problem??

This blog has been enlightening to me because as a long time horse lover and owner who only occassionally dabbles into "training" (I am a casual rider and my horse was old and trained when I got it many years ago)I am realizing I am missing a big part of the picture.

Many of us who are not trainers feel about trainers as we might about doctors or car mechanics --they are the experts you go to when you need to get something fixed. We notice something not working as well as it should, duct tape it a few times, it keeps getting worse -- realize we are in way over our heads and take it in to get fixed by an expert. Then wait till its fixed and take it home. Not necessarily understanding that we should have asked for the "maintenance sheet" or understood that there were things we were doing that actually contributed to the problem in the first place (and may bring the problem back). This not due to thinking about horses as "things" but in having huge confidence in the expertise and magic of a trainer.

Until recently (in spite of years of owning and riding the same horse) I didn't quite get that a horse might react differently in different places and with different people and that a horse is also being "trained" each ride by our riding or handling mistakes. Thus problems creep in and unwanted behavior returns.

I am not excusing your clients if they were perhaps really just lazy or indifferent or callous but I had to say I was actually envious of the person whose horse with only weeks of training is able to go out on a long trail ride or win at shows -- I would probably want at least 1 year training put on my new horse (just to be safe!) and then probably have the trainer come along the whole way holding my hand! I guess this is why I stick to my same old, comfortable predictable one horse!

mugwump said...

confession-what you're missing here is that no three year old should be expected to go on a 20 mile trail ride.Ever. Think about a hysterical toddler having to walk 5 miles, with no preparation.
He might go the first time, out of confusion and fear of getting left behind, but what do you think will happen the next time?
He'll lose his mind.
Also remember, I offered lessons with the training, and explained why they needed them.
The filly who went and showed had two years of pretty technical training on her,but they didn't know how to ride her yet. Once again, she performed out of confusion and reflex, she's been taught that good behavior will bail her out.
Neither of these horses were given a reward of any kind. Just more trail to cover, and getting pulled around an arena a few more times. They are young, and they are both going to rebel. They always do. Oh well.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for those insights. I am amazed at how much I have to learn truly -- you know the saying you don't know what you don't know?

Can you tell me what you mean by rewards in this case that the owners should have provided? What should they have done in this case? And why would the horses rebel? How can you make it so they are happy and don't rebel?

I know most readers are probably shaking their heads wondering how I can be so dumb but I do want to learn.

manymisadventures said...

At first when I read that the two horses behaved wonderfully after they were taken home, I was happy, even though I figured I'd be pretty pissed if someone went directly against my instructions.

Then of course I realized their respective ages.

That would be very frustrating to me. =/ Especially because my own mare is so sensitive and she gets pretty anxious when she's not sure what she's supposed to be doing -- the thought of her in a situation like that kinda tweaks me out.

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