Thursday, July 3, 2008

Go Ahead, Make My Day

I only have a few minutes today.
I also have a lot on my mind.
I have had it pointed out to me that I remind some folks of different NH trainers that they know.
Loneplainsman isn't the first to bring this up to me.
This bugs me.
A bunch.
So I've been really trying to think why. I was up into the wee hours sorting it out.
Thanks guys. I don't need sleep, really.
I come from a background of not much money.
I supported my horse by babysitting, and then giving lessons and riding for people.
When I needed a piece of extra equipment I made it.
You wouldn't believe what I can build with baling twine.
The first trainer I had the pleasure to ride with was impressed with the running martingale I made with curtain rings and an old set of reins.
It never occurred to him to say, "You have to have the "Sooper Dooper Mothers Milk Hackamore" to succeed. Because I thought of it, it's just triple what it costs at the tack store "
If that had been a requirement I could not have afforded to learn what I did.
Most of the people I have ridden with over the years have been generous with their time and information.
Many of the trainers I go to now don't charge me at all. Trainers share with each other.
I have been able to take a lesson here and there, once in a while, my whole life.
I could never invest the equivalent of my college education to become "certified".
I am a master at picking up information from random conversations, or a few hours with a good horseman.
I listen to everybody.
I weed out the bad, and absorb the good.
I don't have the time, patience, or money to go through levels, channels, phases, or journeys with somebody who I feel is only after my money.
I try to respect my clients. I listen and learn from them. I am working really hard at not thinking I'm always right. I try to be as economical with my clients as I am with myself.
I am generous with my time and input.
The equipment I use is basic.
I have a taste for good bits, hand braided rawhide, and custom saddles.
I don't require my students and clients to share that taste with me.
I will teach them why I like those things.
Maybe that explains a little why I have trouble being compared to a NH clinician.
The concepts aren't theirs.
They've been around forever.
They don't come with mecates, or orange flags, or parachute chord anything.
A good horseman works the horse, not the crowd.
I'll leave working the crowd to P.T. Barnam.

Uma is doing great.
We had a repeat of the first day, except that the arguments were not as fierce.
I started out with my pulling, yanking, harassing monkey routine, instead of waiting for her to initiate the argument.
Uma thinks I'm an idiot, but she was caught, and bridled with a minimum of nonsense.
After I longed her, and explained to her that the bucking thing was still a no no, I got on.
We rode around for about 20 minutes or so.
She's a throw the reins out, and go down the road kind of gal.
When we were done I got off, loosened my cinch, and led her to the tie rail.
I got a friendly sniff at my elbow from Uma.
I didn't pet her, praise her, or give her a treat.
I just tied her up and went on with my day.
When I put her up she was brighter eyed and more relaxed than she's been since I got her.
I think Peg will do fine with this mare, if she's the kind of horse she wants.
Peg did let me know that she can catch her and longe her with no problem at this point in time.
So Uma/B.O.B. was trying her stuff out on me.
The key is that Peg doesn't feel safe riding her.
I get that.
Uma is tolerating Peg. But she still thinks she's in charge.
Peg has the ability to ride this mare.
It will come down to if she wants to. It will be interesting to see how things change through the 30 days I'll be working with them.


  1. I'm trying not to take crap from my mare now in part because of your blog. She doesn't dish it out to the trainer because he won't take it, and I would, and she knew both. So I'm going to try not to. She started backing up when I put the saddle pads and saddle on her, which she never did until recently, because the trainer was always there. How did I go about doing it? Placing it up there. Placed it nicely and softly and slowly. So, I'm trying your method and the tossing and thumping. Treating her like a normal average horse instead of a breakable glass one. On the plus side, she stood still while mounting, which I had been having trouble with. So thank you :)

    One question (with subparts) How do you know you have a great reining prospect? What do you look for in your reining horses? Can you train any horse to be a great reining horse or are there specific things that make them better than other horses? I just wonder because my trainer who admittedly knows nothing about reining said that with the way my mare stops, she might be good at that. We are just trying to figure out something that she may someday be actually good at doing, rather than just kind of plodding around and I would love to compete in something. I used to ride English and did pretty good in my first show, but that was on a lesson horse that knew everything, not my green mare. If you ever get time to post about that, I will be glued to the screen for it :)

  2. IMO, anyone who works with horses & has ever watched one of the NH trainers can honestly say that we have all done one thing or another like they do. As you said the concepts aren't new, they have been around for ages. The diffrence is there are fewer people who have grown up with and around horses and other livestock. They don't have the basic skills you learn having done this. So, they grow up and like anyone who has always wanted something we aquire disposable resourses and we purchase said desire. Now we have to learn how to handle it. Because the majority of the population now doesn't natually learn the skills needed as children, someone has to teach them as adults. As adults we don't take the chances we would take as kids to learn the right and the wrong way of doing something. This is where the NH people come in.

    They are all the same skills, only the wrapping is different. The mode of delivery is more polished; but it is the same message.

    Just because a trainer listens to a horse, reads body language, and doesn't whisper with a 2X4, doesn't make them a NH trainer. This only makes them a trainer with skills, knowledge, compassion, and patience. Someone that can be relied on to teach a horse owner how to be safe, to give and receive respect, and hopefully how to enjoy your horse life.

    Not everyone fits into a pegion hole, no one likes to be stereotyped. So I say, PHHHBBBBBTTTT on the NH branding. I think Mugwump is a horse trainer peroid. You listen to your gut, the horse, and your knowledge; and that in my book is all you need to do.

  3. I second everything you said in this post mugwump--I think a lot of us feel like you do. For my take on it, read my novel, "Hayburner". In this book I have my protagonist break a colt (I've broken upwards of fifty young horses in my life, so have some experience to draw on) and I go into the NH stuff there and how it fits into big picture (hopefully in an entertaining way--mystery novels aren't supposed to be preachy).
    Oh, and as for your comment on the previous post that you'd like to write fiction, I'd be happy to dialogue with you about this. ( ) If you want to read about the way in which I got started as a published author, go to the March archive on equestrianinkblogspot and read my first post, titled "One Woman's Path to Publication."

  4. Just curious... why didn't you give her a pat or anything to reward her at the end? I can think of a couple of possible reasons... not wanting to reward her for acting the way she's supposed to act anyways, making her realize she has no control over you...

    Just curious as to what your reason is.

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  6. For me, a lot of the NH stuff I've read is stuff I've already known, so I don't pay a lot of attention to it (and the only practitioner I'd probably clinic with would be Mark Rashid, just because he's got more common sense than most of them and doesn't market a lot of junk! Plus his use of martial arts visualizations I find useful).

    I think most of the NH stuff comes from the more savvy Western history out there, especially the use of round corrals, the bridle horse training methods, and old cowboys trying to figure out how to get a horse trained without breaking a lot of bones (heck, if you read between the lines, you'll find NH-type wisdom even in Will James, despite the old-timey break 'em out attitudes!). Look, if you traipse around Eastern Oregon, you'll find plenty of round corrals out there that have been there for many years. The concept's far from new.

    Much of the good old stuff comes from careful observation of horse behavior and body language, and looking for a way to get the horse to do stuff without breaking either horse or human. The guy I ride with, whose brother is a Big Name Clinician (though interestingly he now disavows being NH), learned it in the same way his brother did--from their dad, and from breaking out a lot of screwy horses (and yes, my guy is a Big Name just a different type of Big Name from his brother).

    The difference between the good, non-showy types and the Big Name NHs is marketing, plain and simple. And from what I've seen in the videos of some of the Big Name NHs, I wouldn't let many of them near a horse of mine.

  7. I think we have two different concepts of NH. You see marketing and fluff and money - I see good horsemanship and simple, step-by-step training that has the horse in mind before the discipline (reining, dressage, whatever).

    Hence my comparison. You definately have the latter; to hell with the former. That isn't horsemanship anyway.. it's hype.

    ETA: Just wanted to say that this attitude isn't at all limited to NH, hence my "good horsemanship vs. bad horsemanship" comment on the page before. I've seen good trainers, OK trainers and some pretty bad ones - and the good ones all have that sense of responsibility first to the horse, and only second to their sport.

    I just made the NH comparison because it's something I'm more familiar with than, say, working cow horse.

    And because on the NH boards there is always this attitude like NH is the only good thing for horses - an attitude that I (and others) are constantly trying to combat. So my comment was less directed at you than, I don't know, more to my own pleasure to be proven right.

    Didn't mean to offend you though..

  8. Two questions:
    1 - As a daily Fugly reader, I understand well Cathy's take on NH. What I don't understand though is how that relates to John Lyons? I assume he's lumped in there, but if that's true than I disagree with many of her points regarding his motivations. Then I noticed his work being an early influence with you, Mugwump. Am I mistaken to assume JL = NH as I know it?

    2 - When do we get the conclusion to the Sonita story??? I'm so anxious to hear more... and even my family the next state away (non-horsie) have been eagerly awaiting the next installment. :)

  9. I lump John Lyons in with everybody else because of the NUMEROUS reports that his clinics are bullshit.

    I.E. the same horse used for multiple "one day colt breaking" demos.

    It's not like one person is saying those things. Where there's smoke, there's fire. He has some good concepts but I absolutely HATE the smoke and mirrors showmanship of the NH clinic world - green horses that aren't, theatrical asshattery, and worst of all the promise that YOU TOO CAN DO THIS AT HOME!

  10. I recently went to a NH clinic (It was free!!!) and I like the guy. He breaks solid, quiet horses. It was just when he got all 'natural' I got confused...

    So Im at this clinic and he is lifting his line hand to get the horse to lope off, using his body to controle his horse. Mean while Im going hummm isnt that funny that I do that with the lungliners.... In fact I agreed with just about all of his decisions. Except putting in the green begininer with the green horse who almost kicked his head off. I think about 6 people clued in the rest were all "wow hes doing so well". I'm like "umm Rick that guy is going to get ......"

    Anyways they go on and on about how he worked with clinton anderson ect.

    So I'm at my trainers/former boss's the next week and I mention that I saw this guy (and yes it was free John, no i didnt pay!)

    PS- for thouse who dont know my trainer is a QH trainer, halter and wp (wait for the boos and hisses!!) :P

    And John goes "oh yeah Rick used to ride with me all the time when he was younger" "Actually I used to see him a whole bunch till he went to Texes and got hooked up with that Aussie guy."

    funny bout that...... no wonder I agreed with so much of his tactics, we were taught by the same person. Just I admit where my knowledge came from.

    Oh and I totaly agree with driving before riding. I dont know what teaching a horse to jump over a barrel is supposto teach, but a good driving background can only increase a horses value.

    Id like to put a HUS mare into driving classes if AQHA would support it around her. shed' only need some time in the cart to get her ready. I think we ended up driving her for 6 months because she kept growing.

    looking forword to the next as always!

  11. Mugwump, you write stuff I read more than once.
    You mention custom saddles; please expand.

  12. all-canadian- Just because I'm busy, I forget, and it's just business. Ironically, horses like Uma seem to like me the better for my friendly lack of focus.
    Petting makes us feel better. Not making the horse work makes them feel better.
    laura crum- I'll be in touch!
    loneplainsman- You didn't offend me in any way, really, you just got me thinking.
    ellemenope- I openly admit I've done my clinician time. John Lyons got me started on it, Ray Hunt blew my socks off, Richard Shrake made me feel a little icky,Frank Bell made me start looking at it as a big con, I could go on.
    I learned a bunch.
    Then I moved into WP training, and a whole different world.
    Then I found cowhorse.:) I learned a bunch more.
    The clinicians helped me put a new spin on colt starting, I really became a trainer when I moved up to the pro world.
    I'll never disavow my roots, I just don't want to get lumped into one pile.
    I'm hoping to start on Sonita again off!
    VLC- I worry about some of these guys getting people killed. Truly.
    If I could talk about what happened today you would see my point.
    garrynbobbie-A saddle hand made for me by a saddle maker I admire....Cost more than I like to admit, but it's the best, coolest most comfortable seat in the house.

  13. ezra_pandora- Go for it! I don't usually plop the pad over and over, I just get them saddled, all business. I give them plenty of time to learn to behave.
    I am nice about cinching though. I always tighten in three steps, 1. tighten enough to keep the saddle from slipping, then put on their boots 2. tighten one more time before bridling. 3. Tighten the final time before I step up.
    As far as a reining prospect, it depends on what you'd want, how much $$ you can spend etc.
    If you want to learn on your mare I'd do it.
    It's a blast.
    Find a trainer to work with who reins....or get your trainer a book.

  14. Eh, I read that comment, and thought, "I can sorta see where they're (loneplainsman) coming from."

    I associate NH to some extent with putting the horse before the discipline, and western riding, (please to be bearing in mind I'm UK and as far from western as it's possible to get without never having laid eyes on a horse!).

    So I can relate. However, it's the concept of horse needs before discipline needs that I relate to, not the frou-frou rubbish that goes along with it, nor the asinine people who take NH to the point where they're putting the horse ahead of the rider, and as such actually damaging the horse's chances of having a happy healthy life with considerate owners.

    I think it's kinda a sad cry on the state of training in most of the disciplines that I have that association, but I think a lot of that has a lot to do with so many people growing up city-bound and not naturally having a clue about animals these days.

  15. Well, these last three posts have helped me a lot...

    I am training my mare to load onto my "new" trailer. I think she's only been on a very few times (two, maybe three..I am not talking with the bling bling I got her from so I can't find out how many) and two at least on a four horse slat load...mine is a two horse front load.

    Anyway, I know she can be very determined that when she's done with something, there may be a "show of wills" until she gives in...we have gotten much better with cantering. I also know that she's been whipped around, jerked around with a chain on her nose, and had bling bling lose her temper with PrimaDonnaDiva.

    So...trying to determine if she is scared horse (sometimes...if she thinks she is going to get hit in the head) or stubborn horse (sometimes, too!), I am pretty much thinking she is a bit of both.

    She's been doing okay getting on ...we did the front feet first, back feet next, with me encouraging her with gentle wacks with the lunge rope on her side and backend. Got her on several times with a lot of work the last few days...but she got on without too many dramatics...however, knowing her, I should have expected her to test me...

    Wednesday she got on a few times, then decided she was done. She started by kicking out, then trying to rear (I love my rope halter...that stopped when her feet got only 6 inches off the ground and I wacked them)...then backing, then crowding me (she has started putting her head in my lap or along my thighs when she is upset), and even pawed her front foot at me. Well, we backed and wacked and battled until she finally quit. One of mistakes was I got excited (and a bit scared) and got loud with her...well, I am from New Jersey and I have to watch that with her as she does react badly to it because of her previous trainer bling bling (funny how we get the horse we need to learn from). Second smaller mistake was that I tried this at feeding time and she could hear the neighbor horses getting fed...never a good time for her. She's also in heat...

    Yesterday I decided to work with her in the am and get done with it...well, she got on pretty okay 3times. The fourth was major battle...she was kicking out backwards, trying to rear up again. I had read the blog the night before about being quiet and listening to her...and quit when she put her front feet on the trailer. All day I was trying to figure out what went wrong...then I realized she had pooped the third time and she is a horse who will *not* step in her piles (her stall is as neat as can be)...and she was trying to tell me that she would not step in her own crap. She was also upset because again it was feeding time...and I was still being reactive to the night before and just didn't get it.

    Today...I had off, and decided to backtrack a bit to see what I was missing. Every hour or so I worked with her...she got her front feet on and in, and started to move her hind feet and put them on the ramp...I kept quiet even though there were times I felt a little frustrated...I was consistant and persistant with my request, and didn't keep after her too much...if she got on once or twice, I let her eat treats right by the trailer then turned her loose. The last try, we spent 20 minutes, and suddenly she just got on all the way! I had hay inside and I let her munch away for about 10 minutes (until it was gone) and when she started to look around and was relaxed, I backed her out (which is another challenge, but part of the learning process).

    I know we have more work to do, but I feel we really made progress; I need a combination of quietness and firmness with her.

    I really appreciate these and VLC blogs; I when I was young I used to be "just a rider" and now that I have PrimaDonnaDiva, I have to think, and I get a lot from you two (and the other posters, too).
    Thank you!

  16. loneplainsman- You didn't offend me in any way, really, you just got me thinking.

    I'm glad about that... I was afraid you'd ban me a la horsedopia!

    ; )

    Really, though, I appreciate this blog and have learned a LOT from it.

  17. mugwump--I would be really glad to chat with you about writing fiction--I like your writing style a lot. Writing fiction (for me) is a lot more difficult than the blog pieces, but, then, it does pay, which is a plus. I'll be on vacation in July--I posted a short bit to that effect on the equestrianink blogspot, and if you email me and I don't get back to you right way, that's why.

  18. >>VLC- I worry about some of these guys getting people killed. Truly.<<

    Hell, so do I. I saw someone who thought he was some kind of Clinton Anderson discipline showing a boarder how to lead her (rescued, spooky as shit) BELGIAN mare around via A ROPE AROUND HER FRONT ANKLE.

    WTF. Dude. That had emergency room visit written all over it.

    I literally couldn't watch. I decided it was a good time to balance the QuickBooks.