Friday, October 24, 2008

Opinions and Noses-Everybody's got one

I was planning on a "Mort" story today, but I'm too cranked up to visit memory lane. I have another subject burning a hole in my brain.

Difference of opinion.

The horse world tends to be wildly opinionated. I have heard raging, screaming arguments about the best way to do everything from feeding them to catching them. Round pens and longe lines. Whispering and just getting her done. Grass Hay or Alfalfa. Grain, no grain, supplements or none. Blankets and no blankets. Western or English.

I'm sure we've all been caught up in the maelstrom of what's the right way to care, protect and ride the horses we love. I have developed my own ways and ideas over the years. I try to be open and listen to new concepts from anybody, no matter their background, no matter how long they've ridden.
I had a student once. She was timid. She consistently bought really bad horses. She had no riding ability whatsoever, natural or trained. She had only owned horses for two years when I met her.
I was telling her about a horse I had that was consistently a nut job in the trailer. (yes, it was Sonita) I had tried everything I could come up with, including lots of input from the Big K.

"Have you tried slowing down?" She asked.

"I drive like a Grandma. That can't be it."

"It doesn't matter, if it's the speed she's used to travelling at, it might still be scaring her. Maybe just slow down 5 miles an hour."

I'll be darned. I slowed down and the ruckus stopped. Which meant I drove up Ute Pass in the emergency lane with all my blinkers flashing, but it worked. It is a tip that I have used ever since. It still works.

I have learned that if I don't form an opinion too soon or snap to a judgement I may regret later, it always benefits my horse, myself and my clients.

My best example of learning by shutting the hell up comes in the form of a Morgan trainer I barn shared with once.
He trained the Morgans with the giant feet and set tails. His horses lived in dark stalls, (to keep their coats dark) spent half their life in training rigs that employed check reins to tie their heads up and back, and were exercised maybe 15 to 20 minutes at a time. His horses only had turnout in blankets, neck sweats and check reins.
He represented everything I hate about the professional horse world. Everything.
I also had to share a barn and arenas with him.

I thought long and hard and decided "Know thy enemy" was a better approach than "Vengeance is mine."
I started talking to him. Told him I knew nothing about his world. Explained mine a little.
We began to visit. We found we could share an arena just fine. I liked to work the middle, he liked the rail, it was all good. My horses learned to function with a foaming snorting train wreck dragging a carriage around. His learned to keep going when I slid my horses down his throat.
We began to relax and have fun with each other. I found I liked the guy. In many ways he was a smart and savvy horseman.

I learned why and how they shoe them the way they do. I learned about soring and ginger. I learned that when they retire these horses they have muscle deformities and weakness in their neck and tail they often never over come.
I never offered criticism, although sometimes I cried on my way home.

I learned that these people actually loved their horses. They truly didn't seem to get what they were doing. They asked me about my training methods. They watched me turn my horses out, leave them off when they were sore and develop the horses I had.
They asked about the mechanics of a spin, the hindquarters that create the best slide. They had me ride a "western" type Morgan that came in and teach him some basic reining maneuvers.
I let him ride one of my cowhorses. He let me ride ride a Country English (?) something or other. It was like going to a foreign country, but what a blast!
I learned a bunch about drive and forward from this guy. Things I still do today. I learned how to grow and preserve a long beautiful tail on my horses. I learned about the benefit of menthol braces. I learned that Morgans are a sweet, generous breed. I wouldn't mind having one some day.

He began turning his horses out twice a week without anything on them but their big happy expressions. If you saw how he would lean on the rail and watch them play you wouldn't have been able to hate him either. He began to see that a horse being "cowboyed" was something he should probably try once in a while. It turns out when I "cowboy" them they're pretty happy and healthy.

Now if I condemn any of these practices, and I do, I come from an educated background. I can rant about the injustice of treating a horse this way because I truly know the reasons and mechanics behind each cruel twist.
The Morgan Guy knows how I feel. He also knows that I like him. I was invited to his wedding. He told me that he has started a rehab program for retiring show horses to slowly decompress them, in hopes they can have a future as a saddle horse. He's making some serious money doing it and helping a lot of the horses he almost destroys during their show career.

So bring it on. Tell me about your dressage and jumping and pleasure horses. Talk about feed and blankets and breeds of horses. I promise I'll listen with respect. I may not agree, but it won't be from ignorance. If you think it is, feel free to call me on it. Any time.
Because I truly respect anybody who is trying to do their best by their horse. I love reading your stories and thoughts.
I'm done spouting for the day. I'll try to get back to Mort this week-end.


  1. That post gives such an excellent example of how to be, well, big-minded. Most of us consider ourselves big-hearted towards horses, but that isn't enough; we have to be big-minded enough not to judge and accuse, so we can do more good in the long term. What a great story about the Morgan owner, and about you.

  2. That last post was mine; my name is moosefied, but I have to post as anonymous because I can't figure out what I'm doing on the computer. :{

  3. Noses? Huh. I always thought it was something else...

    For me, horses will be a never-ending learning experience. I will never "know it all" and I will never be satisfied with my riding abilities. There will always be more to learn.

    Also, I have found someone who I respect and who makes amazing horses. He only trained my then green-broke horse for three months but his imprint is deep in my horse and my horse has never forgotten one thing he learned.

    When I first got back into horses, it was because of my best friend at the time. I ended up leasing and then buying her OTTB mare. She told me two important things that always stuck with me: 1. EVERYONE will always have an opinion of how to do things. You can listen, you can be polite, but you can't take advice from everyone and apply it. Pick and choose what works for you, and 2. This horse is perfect for you as a first horse (AHAHA! but she was right in the end). I lost this friend, she passed away at a very young age, but her advice was wise and I've not forgotten it.

    I said something on Cathy's last VLC blog in the comments about ego.

    Ego is the source for probably every problem in our world. What does it matter what somebody else thinks? If I don't agree with it, so what. It has nothing to do with me. People don't seem to understand the fact that we have no control over ANYTHING in life except our own responses. So I choose to think about my responses. And if somebody responds to me in a way that makes my own little monster ego flare up, I remind myself that their response has nothing to do with me.

    I agree that we all can learn from just about anybody. Even if it's learning what we don't want. In the end, I only want what's best for my horse and for me. So I do keep an open mind, always try not to judge and most of the time just keep my mouth shut. You never know when you might get a nugget of knowledge from the least likely source.

    Just my thread of conciousness, I'll shut up now.

  4. (Formerly known as Lasting Light)
    Hey Mugwump. What you say is so true. Here in South Africa there is a drive for using bitless bridles at the moment and the fights about it are fierce and at times unpleasant. I feel... just show me. Don't tell me how terribly cruel a bit is and how ignorant I am. Show me how good your horse goes bitless and I might try it for myself. In fact I am going to try it anyway as bitless dressage will be allowed here from next year. But I'm doing this in spite of and not because of the proponents of BB!

    Please share how you keep a horse's tail long and thick.

  5. I have been waiting for this opportunity.

    I was fairly certain that you would offer this sooner or later as you have stated multiple times that you like to keep an open mind.

    I am a clicker trainer. I use treats. I use a marker sound. Neither of my mares is pushy, bite-y, or always looking for food. What they are is horses who do listen for the click, which means they are paying attention, very very close attention to what got that click, so they can do that precise thing again. And they don't get their pellets till they are offered, sometimes minutes later. Once a skill or task is learned, the clicker is no longer necessary so I don't use it and the pellets are only used intermittently. My order of teaching is different from most too. For most trainers, they 1.apply the cue (rein,bit or leg aid)
    2. hope for the correct response, though most don't mark it at all

    3. reward (release)

    my order of preference is

    1. GET the correct response
    2. mark it
    3. reward it.

    You could also use a marker (some use a "yesss!), then immediately release as the reward and not use food. The trick is not in using a clicker or using food but rather in carefully planning on how to get the behavior, using excellent timing in MARKING that behavior, then rewarding it. Most good trainers (be they human trainers...teachers, dog trainers, horse trainers, or zoo trainers) have already mastered the timing issues so adding a marker is not a big deal to them.

    My thoughts on feeding by hand are this. I want my horses to learn to take treats nicely, so that is what I teach. They may not search me for treats, they may not mug me, they may not crowd me and if they grab at the treat, the treat disappears and we try again later. Because I don't know who may end up with them, should something happen to me, I try to plan for the worst and hope for the best. As with dog owners, horse owners often feel generous with food and a newbie should not have to worry about a finger being taken off by any of my horses.

    I admire that you began talking to the Morgan trainer, talking is where communication begins.

  6. oops, #4 in the order of training is to apply the cue last. Think of a dog who is racing away across a field at Mach 10...and an owner calling frantically "Fido come! Come here! Come back here now!" What behavior are they naming "come"? It's racing away. I don't want my mares to think the word whoa means keep moving those feet. I want that to mean stop those feet, so I get the stop, mark it, reward it and when I get that consistently....then I name it.

  7. I love reading your blog, I have learned so much, just in the little time since I started reading it.
    I have two mares, opposite ends of the spectrum. I am trying to learn from both, somedays it's too hard and the fear factor takes over.
    I have no ego, I take input whenever I can get it, Ive been to Morgan Training barns and have seen exactly what you describe. It was very sad and lonely place for those cool horses.
    Keep up the cool posts, so I can continue to learn via osmosis !

  8. I am a barefooter. Want controversy? Step into our lack-of-shoes practice.

    Nuff said.

    Have a wonderful weekend Mugs.

  9. I have seen in Saddlebreds and Arabs what you have seen with Morgans. I too learned to shut up and watch. Even if I don't like the way someone rides, I can learn something. That something may be something that works or something that doesn't. Either way, it is best to keep my trap shut. Having been in the Arab world for 15 years I have seen quite a few changes. While in the arena the horses keep getting more any more typey (slower for western, bigger trots for english) I am seeing something altogether different in the training ring. US Nationals is happening near where I live right now and I have been able to spend a few hours on the rail of the longing and training rings. There are fewer bitting rigs, ankle weights, and blinders. I am seeing more horses being longed with only a halter and sometimes a stud chain. I have been impressed with all of the educated hands on the amateur riders. Things are looking up, as far as I can see.

  10. Let's see--
    I love my quarter horses. I had a really nice paint when I was younger, and I'm not opposed to paints as long as they're well built-color is icing on the cake to me. My dad used to ride polo horses when he was in the navy, so I have a deeply buried love for thoroughbreds as well, although that's not common knoweledge, lol! My family has had roping/rodeo horses since forever, so that's what I was raised around. I love a good roping horse, whether it's team roping, calf roping or a steer roping horse. Barrel horses are my thing though, I love a horse that hunts a barrel!
    *My theories--
    I don't put blankets on mine for the most part, if I'm really trying to get one slicked off, ya, then they get a blanket. I clip my barrel horse, I don't clip my 'prospect'. To me, clipping is for an older horse-a bridlepath to me means that a horse should be finished and have some manners. Without a bridle path, a little green perhaps. I'm an equal opportunity bit user--but I'd rather err on the side of caution and use the lightest bit that I can get away with. If I can keep them light and responsive in a snaffle bit, great. If I can't, we'll work on it till they start to get along with something else. We feed ours plain creep feed-it's got just as much protein/vitamins/minerals as the $15 a sack "horse feed" at our local feed store does, and our horses are all as fat and healthy as can be. I give my barrel horse a supplement that boosts his metabolism and helps his lungs to build tissues faster, but other than that all we give is corn oil once in awhile. Our horses are all barefoot, they have good stout feet that do need trimming once in awhile, but all in all they're pretty low maintenance. We use a generic liquid wormer, and it works as well for us as all the paste wormers I've ever tried. If we have something new that's pretty wormy, we'll use a Power Pac to try and get them all cleared out, but for the most part we're not overzealous w/the worming deal. We keep up w/vaccinations, West Nile/Rhino/Rabies, most of the more pertinent ones anyway. Coggins papers are always up to date, you never know when you'll have to show them to get into an arena somewhere.
    As someone who has been around the rodeo world for a long time, it makes me pretty sad to see some of the ways people treat their horses. Barrel horses that have no more brain cells left that are so neurotic they can't walk through a gate flat footed--roping horses that have their heads tied down between their legs so tight they have massive scars across the bridges of their noses from years and years of too-tight-tie downs. I use a tie down on my barrel horse when I run, but that's the only time. My younger horse has never had a tie down on-period. Martingales, yes, but only sparingly when he was 5. I hate seeing 3-4 year olds barely broke enough to ride going around a barrel pattern or backing into a roping box. SO many horses would have longer careers if they had a solid foundation to start with. So many rope horses can't pick up a right lead--and what's worse, their riders don't know the difference. It drives me crazy to see ropers warming their horses up, loping circles to the right when their horse is still loping in the left lead. I could write a book about the things I hate about the way barrel horses are trained, lol, but that's not the point of this post...

  11. Well I had an eye opener this week. I ride (when my health alows) WP, I show halter and lunge line. I used to show GP jumpers and dressage horses. I can learn somthing from anyone. People are stuned when I tell them that Im taking riding lessons. There like "but you train and coach?" Doesnt mean I still cant learn somthing!

    But to get back to the point: Im at Congress, just about crying in the stands because the horses look so bad. Ive invested alot of time and energy into telling people how AQHA WP is changing and how its good for the horses to be more natural.

    But there not natural, Ive never seen anything so fake.

    horses crossing in the front there hips are so canted of the rail, throwing there necks up and down to get there front ends off the ground, not keeping a steady jog....

    And they are good horses! The lunge liners could lope in place they are so soft and easy. But its lost by the time they get into the pen with a rider.

    So I dont know what to do. Im having a conflict of intrest in my head. Is it better to have the horses move better and not place, and lose clients, or follow the trends. Or do I just go back to my HUS/jumper roots?

  12. PS - Ms Mom - we have "barefoot" converts in our area. They have managed to lame every horse they touch. Id love to hear about what works but not from the yahoos from around me!

  13. Hi Moosefield, love the name!
    Joy-noses get out of joint....snark.
    heila-I wash, condition and let them dry. Then I braid the tail in a loose braid (starting below the tail bone)with a long 4 inch wide strip of bed sheet wrapped and braided in with each section of tail.
    Then I double the tail and vet-wrap the whole mess. I leave a little loop on the bottom and tie a bunch of twine in the loop so they can swat flies.I leave it from show to show.
    I have to be honest, I've only shown natural tails for years, but this works really well.
    holly- > The trick is not in using a clicker or using food but rather in carefully planning on how to get the behavior< I probably train closer to the way you are discussing then you realize.I have never worked with a successful trainer that "hoped" for any kind of response for a cue.They pretty much knew what the response was going to be.
    Mrs. Mom- I have had the majority of my horses barefoot for almost two years. Even my cow horses only have sliders in the back. I haven't had anybody give me any fuss.Maybe because I just tried it for myself without any conversation.
    heather-I am so glad to hear it! I have noticed the heads inching up and the speed increasing in the QH WP world too. Good things can happen.

  14. barrellracer, what is creep feed? Sounds interesting with prices going up all the time. Is it like sweet feed?

  15. justaplainsam- I'm so sorry. You know where those very same thoughts took me...

  16. Walter took me to my first show in years. Everyone greeted him and wondered who the tag person was. He showed me the warmup pens, and we went in to watch some classes. Walter spent his carrer using soft techniques to train his horses, and showed people that it worked. He was Austrian Champion of Trail and Pleasure. A student of Dysli, the man who introduced Western riding to Austria.

    He showed me the reining guy jerking on a big bit in a shivering soaking wet small QH's mouth. With every jerk, the guy pounded the horse in the sides with his spurs. A full run down straight into a wall to achieve a sliding stop.

    In the pleasure classes there was a very tall thin ribby mare. Totally underweight with a lackluster coat. She showed up in just about everything. I asked Walter who she is, and is not that horse too thin? He said, it's a student of one of the judges, the horse should be pulled.

    The reining finally started and we watched several riders. A woman was up on a big bay, started her run and right after circling when the lead change came, the horse balked and shot his head in the air dancing sideways, her jerking on the mouth. She got him semi under control, and continued on. Walter leaned in to me and said, normally she should have to leave the arena. He watched with livid eyes.

    Again, the horse balked dancing sideways and causing a scene, and finally she left. Walter shot out after her so fast. Walter never said much, everyone told me you had to pull all the information from him straight out of his nose. I didn't find him that way, but they must be right.

    Well, I went outside to the warmup arena. Walter was in the middle of the arena with the horses reins in his hand. Everyone was watching.

    Later, I asked him what was up? He said, she took the horse out after the run and was trying to force him to run the pattern out there. I knew she would do that. I said, who is she, and he said, she's the judges daughter.

    I said, what did you do? He said, I told her to get off that horse and learn how to ride, now! That horse did his best, and if you don't know how to ride you have no business out there.

    I learned something that day. That sometimes, it's ok to speak your mind.

  17. I think it depends on your background- what works for pleasure/recreational horses may not work for upper level show horses. That's not to say they should be treated like babies and be extremely pampered, but you do have to monitor EVERYTHING and be careful about what your feeding to 6-7 digit horses. And there are problems that are more common in show horses than in pleasure horses- that most owners aren't aware of. ulcers? Your average horse owner probably wouldn't be able to recognize the signs of that.
    And for some reason, no matter what level, most people are extremely close minded. "Grandpop's been doing this for years, I don't see a problem with it". Or people think their horse is healthy, when really they're not. Someone comes along and proves it to them they're usually not willing to listen.
    Me, I don't care if you're feeding the crappiest feed on earth, or the saddle doesn't fit the best, or you don't have the slightest clue on how to ride, as long as you're not abusive or expecting the horse to do GP, if you love the horse, and it seems healthy and you do the best you can.. fine with me.
    I really appreciate this post about open-mindedness. It's a nice reminder. Lessons can come from unusual places.

  18. The wonderful thing is that because you held your temper, you were able to improve the lives of his horses. And you're right, you can love horses and still do plenty that isn't great for them. I've remarked many times on how I learned all the wrong things first. If you've only been around people who believe X, you will continue to believe X.

    In general, there's so much conflict between the various equine disciplines that everybody seems eternally on the defensive. Mugs, you ride a discipline where you have shank bits with curb chains. I grew up in a discipline like that, polo. I cannot tell you the number of times I have encountered someone online who has told me those bits are ABUSIVE and it doesn't matter how you ride, anything that isn't a plain snaffle is just awful. I have seen people just have hysterics over tom thumb snaffles and, honestly, I don't think they're the bits of Satan. I have tried to explain the difference between riding on english-style contact and riding on a western-style soft rein, but it's usually to no avail.

    In general, I think riding as many disciplines as possible is a good thing for any rider. I've always wanted to ride a 5-gaited horse once, and hope to still get that chance someday. And to this day, do you know that I have NEVER been on a TWH? That's the horse world for you - always something more to try and learn.

  19. Like heila says, I am more the "just show me" type person. I'm always asking people to tell me if they think I'm doing something wrong and why and what do they think is better. In the end I make my own decision as to whether or not to try it or whether or not I like it. But I don't tell them they are completely wrong or that I think they disgust me (as I feel when going to some shows) or anything like that.

    Thanks for the advice on the long full tails :) Maybe I'm reading wrong, but you wrap the whole thing in vet wrap? My friend's horse's tail almost fell off when her student who was leasing it wrapped his tail because he was rubbing it. The hair all fell out and isn't growing back. How does that not happen with the way you braid, is it because it's not wrapped all the way to the top?

    and for a funny, my word verification is "askiness" lol

  20. fugly, in light of your comment, I just can't rsist saying this. You know that twisted wire snaffle that you do think is Satan's bit? (OK--you did say something like that once)I have used that bit to good effect on certain horses that needed it. No, it isn't a good choice most of the time, yes, it does have its uses. I am not an inhumane trainer (back when I was a trainer)--but I did have horses that benefited from the occasional use of that bit. So reacting to that bit with huge negativity strikes me as about the same as when folks react to the use of shanked bits as you described them responding.
    I think mugwump's post makes it clear that there is something to be learned from everyone, and I think your comment also makes it clear that if a person has not had a lot of experience in a certain area he/she should not assume that their own opinion is terribly valid. If I start pronouncing on jumping horses and dressage horses I'm just being ridiculous, when virtually all my experience has been with reining, cutting and team roping horses.

  21. ezra- I wrap the lower half. The tail is clean and dry. I haven't had any trouble. The Morgan guy had 10 to 15 foot tails. They were spectacular.

  22. I'm trying your tail thing Mugs. My horse got his eaten off this summer by the babies he was in pasture with. Looks like a feathered farrah tail now. D'oh!

  23. That is so nice to hear that the Morgan guy changed so much. Phew!

    On a bit of a tangent, the old website (It should still be visible on net archives) was one that a lot of people seemed to hate due to his extremely abrasive way of writing, but I have to say I learned more about horses from that one site than I ever have from any other website. After reading his articles over and over I had a lightbulb come on in my head regarding old, good dressage style collection and rein contact and old, vaquero style spade bit collection and contact. I finally saw what the point of spade bits was, and it was really fascinating. There were so many good points on that site that it was just incredible. You just have to ignore the chips on his shoulder. There were things I didn't agree with, but they made me think.

  24. Original1- he didn't change that much. He rehabbed the horses because he made money at it. He started turning them out because he saw the change in their attitudes.....all good, don't get me wrong, but he didn't feel like he did anything wrong. Ever.
    I have a bone to pick with you. Why taunt me with a cool site like when there's no way to read it. I would be all over it. sigh. life is cruel.

  25. Great post, Mugs. I have a similar situation. I have befriended a saddlebred person at the place where I work. I have to admit, I have been shocked at a few of the things that she has taught me about the saddleseat/fire-breathing-dragons sport, but I'm glad that she doesn't mind taking the time to talk horses with me and teach me things about her sport.

  26. Mugwump - yeah, it's too bad he didn't realize the error of his ways. At least the horses had better lives though.

    I'll see what I can do to either dig up the site or find all my printed out copies... It really is good and I would enjoy sharing with people who want to read it.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Aha! I found it. Here you go, I hope you enjoy it despite his sour attitude. I think he has too broad a definition of abuse, but the amount of knowledge he has is really priceless IMO. (All one link)



  29. Joy said...
    Noses? Huh. I always thought it was something else...

    For me, horses will be a never-ending learning experience. I will never "know it all" and I will never be satisfied with my riding abilities. There will always be more to learn.

    Wow, I second that!

    The "Morgan" trainer is the same more or less to the TWH, Saddlebred, or Fox Trotter trainer. I own TW'ers, am friends with people who do lots of things I do not agree with. BUT, I do not try to change them directly. I just choose to do things differently. If by some chance they see the difference great, if they don't; well there is nothing I can do about it.

    It truly is a shame that all horse people can't be as open minded as this.

    When I first got into showing a friend of mine made the statement to me; that if you are ever broken down on the side of the road don't expect a horse trailer to stop if you are not hauling their kind of horses. I have never forgotten this, and no matter what if I see a horse trailer on the side of the road; I don't care what breed they are hauling, I stop. I made up my that very day that I would never be "one of those" horse owners/show people.

  30. How on earth does everyone comment so quick! anyway.
    Your post highlighted a topic that is commonly addressed but never really understood I always hear people harping on about 'you can never know it all', but the fact is that people in the horse world divide themselves into loads of different camps and never really stray outside them.
    I always read on FHOTD of her horrifying some dressage rider when ponying around the arena, and I wonder why, when horseriding is not understood by most of the world, do we feel the need to divide the few of us that there are into all these niches??
    Instead of berating that morgan trainer, you had the sense to wait and persuade him by doing, not telling. Sometimes the horse world is so foreign to me. I am showing an arabian yearling, and wondering why I continually put myself through this torturous experience, with people that I feel different from in every way.
    Maybe the only decent riders are the ones in cyberspace. sigh.

  31. Well, I'm one of those saddle seat people, and while saddle seat and cow horse are nearly on different plains of existence. There are many thing which you write that I have found incredibly useful when it comes to riding my special little spazz machine. You'd be surprised what those fire-breathing saddle seat horses know once you decide to ride like Ben Cartwright. I've learned the value of "fun rides". Learned new things about collection, my horse, who wouldn't walk at all collected when I first got him will walk collected into a loose(loose in saddle seat means light contact) reign. Something my trainer never accomplished with him and part of the reason that Famous flunked out of his program.

    Fortunately I landed in one of the "good" saddle seat barns. Ain't a wiff of ginger on the place. The horses are turned out daily and the clients are encouraged to allow the horses to have breaks, especially after big shows. One week out of the month the horses have "ground week" which is a no work week for most of them, they get to be turned out and dork around. R believes it the reason we see very little soreness and lameness in our program. Our show horses are also bare foot for a large portion of the year. Lesson horses and in board pleasure horses remain bare foot.

    My horse is nevertheless a spoiled barn baby.

    The cowboys around here love to tell me that Arabians are not "real horses" or them Ay-raby saddlebred-ys ain't good for nothin', and if it cain't run barrels or do a respecable slide stop eet don't deserve to live! I've also had people tell my I'm awful for keeping my horse in a stall... This same person who accused my of this kept her horse in a dirt pen, smaller than my horse's stall with two other horses and no shelter. The facility also had no space for turn out. >.> Figure that one out.

    I have nothing against quarter horses or western diciplines, I always thought that my first horse would be a Quarter Horse, I hadn't figured that I'd end up with a fancy NHS, or that I'd be driving. Some people will also tell me I'm not a real horse woman because my event is driving. As far as I'm concerned regardless of what your discipline is, your horse's breed ,or however much you paid for it, after all the muss and fuss a horse is just a horse.

  32. Creep feed is a pelleted feed, made mostly from ground feed stuffs. It's primarily a cattle feed, so you have to be careful when you buy it that you're not buying medicated feed aimed for cattle. Cracked corn, ground wheat mids, sometimes cotton seed hulls are some of the types of things commonly used in creep feed. In some places you can't buy it by the bag, you can only buy it in bulk.

  33. there you go jhatchett.I have been in the position of having to keep my horses in stalls more than once. It can be done and they can be happy, but man, it's a lot of work.I'm glad you pointed out that a loose rein can mean a relaxed rein with light contact. Believe me, when I'm on a green or rank horse my reins are tight enough to get contact quick, I don't "throw them away" unless I'm showing off. :)

  34. Our barn has been undergoing some renvotions which have caused all the horses to be turned out and only brought in in the evening once the builders have left. And man!! When it's time to come in, regaurdless of weither they have been fed out there or not, there is a mob at the gate ready to come in. Happy to go out happy to come back in.

    It was one of the first things that drew my to this barn that
    I'm with now. I had visit other barns looking for lessons when I first started. The first thig I noticed about this barn was that all the horses whould greet you at the stall gate all bright eyeed and perky eared. Even their lesson horses were fat and happy. Something I had not seen at the westeren and dressage barns, it was a safe and clean facility where an enormous amount of care and thought was put into the care and upkeep of those animals. I had been to a facility where the horses had turn out all day and only came in at night. I had seen no abusive behavior in the time I was there, and I visited more than once, and unannounced. JEEZE! I've never handled a tougher, crankier, and harder to catch group of horses.

  35. I have been confronted several times on the spur issue and stalling issue. What I have noticed is that when a non horse person says something to me, they are much more likely to listen to my explantion than the horse person. I find that kind of interesting. They really know nothing of what I am trying to explain, but are open minded, the horse person is usually (not always) set in their ways. I have really tried to learn from that. I think that you can hear better with a closed mouth.

    I have a horse with alot of white on him, his face is pretty much all white, around his eyes, nose etc. He is probably the best horse I will ever own, so I really try hard to protect him. I keep him stalled during the day when most people are around, but when dusk hits, he goes outside and then comes in as early as possible (the BO isn't a fan of getting up before dawn, lol). Of course no one ever really sees him out and you would not believe the crap I get over "never" turning him out. That has also taught me to ask a lot of questions before I make a judgement. And we all know how fast gossip and shit talking moves through a barn... wow.

  36. i'm sorry to post as anonymous but i too am computer challenge :-) I believe that open mind is as necessary as open eye. each animal had different needs: humans, equines, felines, canines, birds, etc.
    Barefooter, from Surry, Maine

  37. First time poster, long time reader. Interesting topic, Mugs. I've always been of the "natural horse" camp, [NOT NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP, THOUGH!], meaning lots of turnout, and riding that helps the horse develope their natural skills. Oh, and not stuffing them to the brim with supplements.

    Now I've moved to San Diego, CA, and am comfronted with a problem - no turnout within an hour of my house. I can't drive yet, so my Mom needs to drive me to the barn, and she won't drive long distance. I found a place around 35 min. away that has a half acre of dirt paddock my horse can share with a buddy. He's used to 10 hrs a day on 10 acres of pasture with his buds, in the stall at night. I feel terrible, but it's the best I can do here. I will only be able to get to the barn 2 or 3 times a week now because it's far away, and only for 2 hrs each time. This is sad for me, but hopefully he will be happy.

    In terms of supplements - now my vet's saying give him glucosamine (he has some confo issues in the legs and feet), selenium, and coat stuff. IT'S EXPENSIVE! [And so is board and any lessons here!]

    I am also a firm believer that if you can't do it in a mild snaffle, you shouldn't be doing it. Bigger bits are for more finesse, not more force.

    Well, here are the beliefs of a dressage rider - now blow me away with yours, I'm ready to listen!

    P.S. Justaplainsam, don't follow the fads. Stay true to your horses, and don't make them like the other WP'ers. I know what you mean - watching the bad ones, mincing along so painfully slow and with no suspension or collection, I want to puke.

  38. Anonamous first time poster- I get a gallon jug of glucosemine from Country Supply (?) by a company called Kaeco. It is a concentrate, lasts almost a year, and costs about 80.00. I can vouch for it because it worked wonders on my old mare for about 15 years. I use ground flax for a coat and weight supplement, works great, 50lb. bag is about 50.00. They only eat a cup to two cups a day, so it lasts quite a while. It also works a lot like psylium so it helps protect against sand colic.I haven't used selenium so I've got nothing there.
    As far as the rest, we think a lot alike, so I can't get after you much. About the NH'ers....they love their horses. They are trying to find a better way. I may not always agree, but I can't knock them for trying to understand what makes a horse tick. There's worse things. Glad to hear from you!

  39. Thanks for the tips. Yeah, I know and respect many NH'ers, not bashing them, just some things I don't agree with there. Just so long as you don't follow blindly, I think it can be great for horse and rider. Just don't buy expensive carrot sticks. ;)

  40. I have turned my horses out nekked for 20 years. My younger Shetland used to pull her halter off and it occurred to us that she could get a hind leg caught in the process, so no more halters.

    Our two appaloosas don't wear blankets because a) they're young and tough and winter-fuzzy b) they haven't been show horses (yet) and C) My dad takes care of them and he does NOT want to fuss with blankets!

    However, my coach blankets hers, and man, there's something nice about pulling off that stinking wet blanket and finding a nice clean horse underneath.

    Also, she turns hers out in leather halters. Kind of handy to just clip on a lead and go.

    I could argue my way to do things but hers is fine. It works for her.

    I like mine barefoot, bareheaded, furry in the winter, shiny in the summer. I'd leave them out all night for ten months of the year if they had a shelter.

    I have accepted that I've gone from one breed with a lot of prejudice against it - and he was a HALF Arab, so even the Arab people could get offended! - to a breed that people either love or hate, but I love Appytude. I've had people tell me that riding western isn't really riding, and that we western riders don't use our legs. Um...? I've learned when to gently and firmly correct people and when to shut up and listen.

    I have no idea if I've influenced anybody positively or negatively.

  41. Love love love the Morgans. Some of those hot show horses get a few months off every winter to just be horses. A lot do get retired to be simple trail horses, lesson horses etc. They are tough and smart and easy to love.

    My girl is a sport Morgan, though one of her grand-dams was a Park Harness champion and I do see that side of the pedigree in my mare sometimes! She's a little 15 hand over-achiever in a dressage barn full of huge horses. Could be a training-level eventer easily, if I was a braver rider. The best compliment I've received was from one of the dressage riders -- "Can I have one of her, just taller?"

    I will admit, I love to give horses treats. But I've taught my girl that she has to back off to get them. She can be pushy; I have learned to push back.

  42. Laura, I have just seen so many bloody mouths and raw corners of mouths caused by the thin twisted wire snaffle that I know I will never allow a horse of mine to be ridden in one...I just think it's too dangerous of a weapon. You may have the best hands in the world but let's say the horse stumbles - you can't help him catch himself in that.

    I used to ride in a lot of things I wouldn't ride in now. I freely admit my old show horse went in a cathedral kimberwick when he was being difficult. Hell, lots of people I knew back then rode in them. In retrospect, I should have fixed the collection problem at the source, and now I know enough to do it, but back then I didn't. I just knew if I put that bit on him, his head went where I wanted it to and stayed there. I grew up in polo and never showed until I was an adult, so I took lessons to learn how to show, and I got taught to seesaw the head down, and to violently pop them in the face if they moved their head "outside the box" and that's how I rode. Oh, and the draw reins were always on until the moment before I went in the ring - that's why they had snap on ones!

    Yeah, I know. Hideous. That's why I'm so opposed to it now. I did it and it was bullshit and I should have questioned it at the time, but I was a sheep following the herd.

  43. "Oh, and the draw reins were always on until the moment before I went in the ring - that's why they had snap on ones!"

    still see that, usually on the show ponies, mainly the ones under 13.2 with adults far too big for them on their backs, before the little 5 year olds get on them and go in the ring.

  44. Well, fugly, I have to say you've got a point. I have never had the experience of bloodying a horse when I didn't mean to, stumble or not. What I can say is that the thin twisted wire, applied very briefly to horses who want to be very numb and resistant, can do some good. I've seen it abused a lot, so I'm not, in essence, disagreeing with you. But here's the rub--I've also seen it help correct (and I've used it myself in this way) the insensitive young horse who leans on the smooth snaffle to an intolerable degree. Said horse can sometimes be taught to respond to that snaffle a little more appropriately through the occasional use of the twisted wire--and it does him longtime good. But I don't want to take away from the point that it is most often abused by people who don't want to go through the real work of training. So, hmmm.., I guess I'm splitting hairs, mostly because I have had some success using the bit as I am describing, in some cases.


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