Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What I Can't Do.

We talk about fear. We talk about safety. Lately, as a lot of you know, it has weighed heavily in my posts.
Some questions come to me and leave me stumped. Not necessarily because I don't know the answer, (I'll admit that one) but because the way I would approach it may not be safe for someone else.
When I answer questions from you guys they often come with a lot of baggage. Mainly, I don't know you. I don't know your horse. I don't know how safe or unsafe the places you ride and train are.
When we describe ourselves there can be a lot of leeway going both ways. It can go from somebody angrily saying, "I have owned horses for 30 years, don't question my experience!", to another saying "I'm an intermediate rider who's trying to improve."
Unless I see someone ride there is no way for me to tell if that 30 years experience means somebody who has kept two half-starved horses in the neighbors field since they were kids and only get on them during hunting season, or if the tentative "intermediate" rider is actually someone who grew up riding on their family ranch and is now working on third level dressage with a horse they are training themselves.
How we perceive ourselves is often completely different than reality. My favorite phrase is, "The older I get, the better I was!" and yes, I'm talking about myself.
That being said, I'm glad to answer everybody as best I can, even those of you who try to trap me with questions or comments they think will prove my ignorance. Trust me, I'll 'fess up if I don't know an answer. I always try to answer a question with an explanation of how I would do it. This never means that I think it's the only answer. Just my answer.
I have had people ask me to recommend trainers in their state. This presents a huge problem for me. I have left my sport because I hate the way our show horses are treated. I don't hate all trainers but I can honestly say I don't know of a single one I would leave my horse with.
I am a firm believer in a rider learning to train and ride their horse. I drove over 2 hours one way for several years to ride with the Big K. In the 6 years I rode with and for him, he may have gotten on my horses 5 times. I insisted every step be explained to me. That simply was how I wanted it done and he respected and appreciated that.
I want my horses handled a certain way. I need to know how they are housed, watered and fed. I want control over those points whether I'm taking care of them or not. Most trainers don't put up with that nonsense.
If you want to put a horse in training I have no issue with it. Really. But you need to know the trainer inside and out. Beyond how the horses look in the stall, or how they ride in the ring. You need references from people in the sport you show in. You need to spend time learning about the ups and downs of what you're interested in. So I have a hard time recommending anybody. I have to put that weight on your shoulders, sorry.
I can tell you the trainers I still respect and feel comfortable sending people to.

Colorado: Jack McCumber, cutting. Jack is semi-retired but you can beg for help, if he has cows he'll relent.
Oklahoma: Jamie and Marilyn Peters at Bar JP Quarterhorses, Reined Cowhorse. They mainly show derby on up. They don't like trashing the three year olds for futurities, so I'm a fan. Plus they're just great people.
Oklahoma: Don Murphy, Reined Cowhorse, reining, cutting. He's everything, what can I say?
California: Russell Dilday, Reined Cowhorse. OK, I really don't know much about him and have only met him briefly. But he is really hot. And his horse, Topsails Rien Maker is still sound, after winning just about everything.
Texas: Martin Black, Reined Cowhorse. I'm a little hesitant here, because I have just started reading up on this guy. But it seems he understands the ins and outs of cowhorse and his interest is in developing a true bridle horse and an all around rider to go with it. So far, I'm impressed.

That's it.

There are some training questions that encompass too much ground for me to feel safe getting into.
Colt starting is one of them. I know when I feel it's right to get on a youngster. It has to do with feel and confidence, both ways. I can't give you that feel. It's something you have to develop with your horse. If I could see you I could help you. I couldn't live with myself if somebody got hurt as a result of my advice.
If you guys have a specific question about a young horse your working with, I'll be happy to try to help. I'm not comfortable sharing what steps I go through to get on the first time. Sometimes I get on after three days, sometimes it's six weeks. It depends on the horse, me and my environment.
The NHers offer a lot of colt starting clinics. That's where I would head if I needed help and didn't want to put my horse in training.
There are a few NHer's I feel comfortable recommending.

Ray Hunt: Please forgive me for calling you a NH'er. He is the best. Absolutely. If you get a chance to see him, go. He will make you think.

John or Josh Lyons: I have to recommend these guys with a big BUT. I would not feel comfortable working with one of their "certified" trainers unless I knew how many horses they had trained and could talk to some of their clients. I do like John's tapes and books.

Clinton Anderson: He just makes sense.

That's about it.
I hope you'll still feel free to ask away. I hope everybody does everything they can to stay safe.
I hope you understand my limits and are OK with them. Also feel free to continue bringing up new and different techniques, methods, ideas or trainers. That's what this is all about. Later, gators.


  1. Great post - I was especially comforted by the Clinton Anderson comment. He DOES make sense.

    I was blessed to get some of his CD's when I got my colts after being away from horses for 30 years! They were less than 4 months old and unhandled - (I KNOW, what was I thinking?)

    Anyway, he inspired me to be the 'boss mare' around here and take no BS from anybody. After that, the 'feel' that you described came into play.

    I have started them slowly and carefully without any fuss whatsoever. I've had a lot of folks propose I send them to a trainer and honestly, I wish I had better skills to teach them the finer points. But for now I am satisfied with them.

  2. I think it's smart that you put limits on the extent of advice you give. I'm sure most people will understand this, we should appreciate that you care enough about strangers to protect us from ourselves :) (aside: do people really try to trap you into dipslaying ignorance?? Jeeze.)

  3. Hey - just started reading your blog. I really enjoy it! Thanks for putting it out there. I like your post today - really hard to know all the ga-zillion factors over e-mail!

    Also - I wanted to input on your question about what you should write if you were to write a book. I love the stories 'bout you and your horses. I love reading bout the relationships and milestones and discoveries made. I think we can ALL relate to those things. Wonderful stories!

    I am in N. Colo - I have a TB mare. Never thought I'd have a TB. Then brought home her 1/2 brother a couple years ago and have TWO! What the heck happened??

    Having lots of fun - I ride Dressage. Feel really truly fortunate that I fell into good, competent trainer's hands from an early age. I am older and getting older every day so can really identify with the whole fear factor and the more I learn, the more I realize I have to learn. Amazing.

    Anyway - sorry to ramble. Just wanted to say hello and thanks for writing!

  4. anon- Oh yes indeed they do.I'm usually pretty good at spotting them. I just answer politely once and then ignore them.

  5. Hello shanster! I love getting the CO. readers, welcome.

  6. Hi! thanks for responding to my blog, too. (I left this message there, also). great post. I have just started reading your blog, and I truly enjoy it! I relate to what you are writing about and your style! I would say that you are more than an intermediate rider, from what I have read and from your years of training and competition.

    I raise QH's, mostly Deck of Stars and Good Asset bloodlines. I do have a Chick Colonel Chick mare that I bred to a reining stud this year. I haven't had babies for about 3 years, with the market like it is. But I teach riding lessons to a lot of kids, and my husband wanted me to breed the lesson mares to my stud. Go figure!!! :-))) I have had 3 kids in the show world, and the youngest is in college. I was slowly getting burned out on coaching, training, running kids, dealing with teenage kids, etc, etc!!! Last year, I had time for a few trail rides, and realized that I needed to get back to riding like I did as a kid! I rode the PA Appalachian mountains all the time! Last fall, I started Competitive Trail Riding, and will ride in my 5th ride this weekend. I ahve found the niche that I truly enjoy, trail riding mixed with competition! It is very much a 1-on-1 sport with your horse, like speed events or reining. I am judged on how well we do obstacles, how well conditioned we are, how well I "maintain" correct centered riding position!!! lol I "thought" I was a great rider...this sport humbled you! Yes, try this sport. With your background, you know how to condition horses and it gives us the break from the arena that we need! Brenda

  7. Did the Jack MacCumber (sp?) you are talking about once work for Greg Ward? Was he in California for awhile. If so, I rode with him briefly, too, while I was working for another cutting horse trainer. I think the guy I'm talking about has a son who trains horses in Winnemuca, Nevada. Its not important--I'm just curious.

    I agree with you about wanting to know every little thing about how my horses are cared for and having a hard time leaving them with any trainer. But now that I'm old and lazy, I did leave our four-year-old colt with a trainer I trust-- Gary Weidermeyer in Merced, California. He's an all around cowboy sort of a trainer and has been doing it for a living since I was young. He does a great job starting colts and is very responsible when it comes to care. I am quite happy with what he got done with Smoky. So there's another one.

  8. I did enjoy this post and really respect your stance on giving advice, etc. But, I have to say that my experience with Clinton Anderson is contrary to why you would recommend him. I have seen a few short videos of him on youtube and you are right, he DOES make sense. I liked him. That is as far as I have gone with him. I have worked with enough trainers over the last 15 years to know when I do and don't need one. I am wary of people who have never worked with a trainer in person and elect to use a trainer via DVD. This brings me to a woman who boards next to us and bought a yearling after about 6 months of lessons. She has completely bought into Clinton Anderson and owns every single halter, lead rope, and training wand he sells. She waves her arms around her horse to get him to move and praises him when he so much as flicks an ear towards her, even if he doesn't move. Her horse is pushy, nippy, paws, and is generally a pain to handle. I believe this comes directly from her adherence to Clinton Anderson's hugs and kisses training DVDs.

    I think that for an experienced person who has worked with multiple trainers in the past, using DVDs or books is a good resource in lieu of a live trainer. In this case, you will not learn new things about horses or riding for these DVDs but you will learn new ways of doing things and new ways of asking for things you already train. I do not think that a Natural Horse trainer on DVD is effective for training people who are self proclaimed novices who will be experiencing new things by watching the DVDs.
    I think what I am trying to say is that a DVD in lieu of a real trainer is only effective if said person has had plenty of experience with a real trainer prior to resorting to a DVD.

  9. heather- I would always recomend working with a live trainer. I was one for years. If I didn't we would all starve. I get emails from many, many people who have no access to a trainer. They just don't. I'm not going into the reasons why, but a lot of us have to muddle along as best we can.
    The biggest thing about the NH videos is they are designed to keep people safe. (At least the ones I am able to reccomend)
    This lady at your barn may be arm waving and kissing and praising until you want to puke (as would I) but she is safe. Who cares if she buys all that stuff? I don't. It's keeping her busy, and giving her ways to learn about her horse and still not get killed.
    As time goes on if she is truly interested in her horse she will expand beyond the videos. If she doesn't she'll still be alive to sell her horse.
    Laura Crum- I don't know. I do know he trained in California. I know he was one of the judges at the first NRCHA snaffle bit futurity. I know he's cool. That's all I got.

  10. heather-P.S. Clinton Anderson did not tell that idiot to buy a yearling. Trust me, his tapes are not what's making this colt behave this way, and she would create a mess no matter who was helping her.

  11. Mugwump: LOVE your blog! I had to go back and start from the beginning and read everything. You motivated me to get back out there and work harder - none of mine are as tough as Sonita was!

    Heather said:
    "I believe this comes directly from her adherence to Clinton Anderson's hugs and kisses training DVDs."

    I generally agree with what you are saying in your post, but did have to take issue with this. I have been a watcher of Clinton Anderson since he was a scrawny kid who you could barely understand through his thick Aussie accent. If there is anything I know about his methods, they are NOT the "hugs and kisses" methods. He is so very much more business like than others and a big believer in getting the job done, no matter what it takes. He is the only NH'er that is really worth their salt, IMVHO. (I did like John Lyons years ago too, but what happened to him?) But, I'm not saying anything about the woman at your barn, who probably couldn't properly apply any methods because she is too frightened to dominate the horse, an all-too-common problem with neophytes. FWIW. :)

  12. half dozen farm- What happened to John Lyons? He got rich. Oh well.

  13. I think its the same Jack MacCumber. If he trained in California, it has to be. He wouldn't remember me, but he spent a week or so working his horses at the Lazy VP Ranch in Catheys Valley, California (where I worked as an assistant to the trainer) and he told me some great stories about his own apprenticeship with Greg Ward. I knew Greg (Greg actually reviewed my first book, Cutter, for the horse mags, and said it was the first novel he'd read in twenty years...oh, and said he really liked it, but why couldn't I just write about the real stuff and forget about the mystery? Hmmm), so could appreciate the stories about what it was like to work for him. Jack was just getting into cutting then....this would be over twenty years ago. Do you hang out with him these days?

  14. Another great post. And you know what I like best? The fact that you didn't mention who you DIDN'T like. I get so annoyed at trainers that bad mouth other trainers. It turns me off and makes me wonder what their motives are.

    I have been going back and reading all the stories piece by piece. They are great. And I just finished my 2nd Laura Crum book, bought the 3rd one and can't wait to get a chance to read it. Thanks for suggesting her books. I love them. :)

    I do have a question for you if you have some time to ponder... do you want questions posted to the blog or emailed directly to you?

    I like to watch Clinton Anderson. Don't agree with him all the time, but for the most part, I think that I have learned a great deal from him. Don't see him as a hugs and kisses trainer. But that is completely my opinion and everyone sees things differently. That is what keeps life interesting.

  15. Maybe you can tell me if I’m on the right path, or if I need to back off and wait.

    I have a new filly that is Appendix registered, BIG, and PUSHY! We’ve already started on the pushy part and she’s smart enough to have figured it out. I’ve only had her a month.

    Millie the Fillie will be 2 yrs old next Spring. So far, I’ve left her alone to settle in. However, I’m going to start tying her in the arena when I’m riding one of my other horses. Her former “mom” didn’t tie her much. I have no clue whether she longes or not. Is it really necessary? My arena is more of a HUGE round pen, and Millie isn’t hard to catch.

    Once she is tying, consistently and quietly, I though I’d pony her from my 13 yr old.

    Then, I’d like to introduce the saddle, first tied, then ponying. Eventually I’ll add a bridle with a snaffle under her halter.

    She will be hauled to barrel races starting next spring for exposure to the chaos, etc.

    She won’t be sent out for training with a rider until the spring she turns 4.

    I know I didn’t go into a lot of detail, but do you see any holes in my thought process? Anything I’m forgetting?

  16. Personally, Mugs, your reluctance to give information on certain subjects due to the fact that you cannot observe the situation just gave you about a million extra bonus points from me, for all that's worth.

    Keep on keepin' on, and please, remember us little people when you get big and famous with your own set of books and DVD's.


    I went with my mom yesteday to meet a lady that is going to start giving her beginner riding lessons. WOO-HOO!!!!

    I rode Mom's mare for her yesterday after she was being a b*tch with mom on her, and she was a star. By the time I got off of her she was walking, stoping, turning, backing, and standing still until I told her to do like, 10-15 min. (This was also the last straw that got Mom SERIOUS about riding lessons!) So, yes, it was all about the rider. The mare is willing, but very, very sensitive and fairly green...NOT a complete greenhorn's type of horse. We came to the decision that I will keep riding the mare and getting her reliable, Mom will take lessons with someone who has the patience to teach her, and she and the mare will probably meet in the middle this spring, at which time she will most likely continue lessons on her mare.

    Thank God for small victories!

    (Sorry so long)

  17. heather said..."Clinton Anderson's hugs and kisses training DVDs." I don't know what kind of experience you have with Clinton Anderson, but he is definitly NOT a "hugs and kisses" type horse trainer.Quite the opposite actually.Maybe you are getting him confused with Pat Parrelli?

  18. laura crum- I see Jack at the cuttings in Rocky Ford. He also supplies the cattle for the NRCHA shows. So I see him once in a while. He has helped me a little.The few times I've been able to work with him I've picked up TONS of information. He taught me how to start a baby on cattle that was slow, quiet and fun for the baby. It made me a fan. Believe me it would be a lot if I could have gotten to him. He is about 4 hours from me.
    karen v- I like your plan. The tying is vital. I teach my horses to longe because if they go on to a new owner they might need the skill. I like working them on the ground with a longe line more than a round pen. Also, if I'm at a show it makes it easy for me to do a soundness check.

  19. kel- just post your questions. I'll answer them and we also get great input from the readers.

  20. I went to a ray hunt clinic a few years back. It was amazing.

    John loyns is also good but like you his certified trainers are more bad than good. I've seen some of them that belong in a loony back yard breeder bin with all the carrot sticks.

    I LOVE Clinton. Everything is so strait and to the point and it's a lot like reading your posts ^_^. I've been to a clinic of his this summer and it was amazing. I also have a book of his.

    I don't remember if I asked this but, perhaps could we get a post on teaching a horse to neck rein. That is the one thing I have seen a billion articles on but they are never clear and NEVER work. I think you could do it mugs.

  21. Not only is it a good idea to specify your comfort limits, but it's good for anybody taking the advice to do the same.

    It's not that advice is either good or bad; we all have to listen, consider, and decide what will work for us.

    When horses are involved we have to be even more careful about what advice to use. It's not just what works for me - it's about what works for me and him together.

    Great post, again!

  22. Mugs - are you familiar with Larry Trocha at all? Could you share anything you know personally about his training? (He has always seemed like one of the good ones to me)

  23. original- I like Larry Trocha. When I first started training reining horses I got a bunch of his tapes. I've only talked to him once, but he was straight forward and had a lot of good information. His stuff really spoke to me because he is also a Monte Foreman grad, so I understood his methods.
    When I got into cutting I got some more of his tapes. I didn't list him because I don't know him as a trainer. I also don't know enough about cutting to know if he's good or not. He seems to place well in the shows.

  24. I have not been exposed to many clinicians and very few trainers. I have seen John Lyons and he was good, and it was like watching paint dry. Not that that is a bad thing. He does break things down into very many little steps. He made sense that day.

    I also saw Clinton Anderson. It was interesting to me that his suggestions were the same as the ones my own trainer has drilled into my head, the main one being, ride your horse.

    CA talked about the fact that these animals were designed to move miles a day. Most horse owners (especially in So. Cal) have their horses in stalls. They are surprised when their horses are spiffy when they come to the barn once a week to get the poor things out. Makes total sense.

    I have a lot to learn, so I'm always looking for information. Mugs, the books you listed some time back are on a list of "to gets" for me.

    Not much to add I guess. Just throwing my very limited exposure out there.

  25. I'm crazy about my horse's care too. Even though my facility provides full care, I'm there 7 days a week. It helps that I'm a mucker/groom, I can personally insure that Fame is being cared for appropriatly and R knows I'll bug him if I have questions about the horse's care. He's real good at adressing those concerns or making me do it as a member of the managment team.

    If I had the option to keep horse on my own property I would but for thoses of us who have to board, you should have a facility that is willing to work and communicate with you.

  26. Todays blog is entitled "What I Can't Do" but I wanted to thank you for "What you DON'T do" - curse a lot!

    Seriously, I appreciate it.

    It's my favorite blog and you've got me checking for new entries everyday. (And if you are writing a book - I'll buy it!)

  27. What you can't do? H'mm.

    One of the first things I noted about your blog Mugs, was the tagline at the top, "I strive to be fair," and as far as I can see, you do. I like your willingness to open a dialogue and the thoughtfulness behind it. It makes me think about what I do. As far as I'm concerned, you're as advertised. ;)

    As for people wanting advice on specific situations...
    I've found over the years that people (especially those not raised with horses) often get, clingy, regarding advice and trainers, and won't do this or that unless it's part of the method, or the trainer tells them so.

    I like that your advice actively encourages people to try things, to do something different, to pay attention to what's happening rather that what 'ought' to be happening, and that the stories you tell illustrate a life spent looking for other ways to do stuff.

    And the point that impresses me most about the advice you give is that you don't tend to say "This is what you should do," you say, "This is what I do." I like that.

  28. Mugs ~ I've been so conflicted about sending my 3.5 year old to a trainer in the Spring, but finally decided to do it. I've backed him many times and he's been great, other than a wiggy moment or two, but I really feel like it would benefit him so much to have a professional "show him the ropes" in a more clear and confident way than I think I can. I love the trainer that I've chosen. He is honest, straight-forward, I agree 100% with his training methods, he INSISTS on owner participation and frequent visits, and all of his horses are amazing. So why do I pratically start bawling whenever I think about sending him "off" for 30-60 days? Part of me feels like I'm abadoning my horse and that he trusts ME, so I should be the one to take him through these critical stages. But I also know that it would be a great experience for him, and that he can learn a lot more in less time from the pro. Maybe it's just the New Mom's Syndrome that Cathy was talking about on the VLC?? :)

  29. jamie- Not the NMS as far as I see. It's realistic expectations for your horse. It is also hard to send them off.
    If you are unhappy you can bring him home. Nobody can force you to leave your horse. I had a horse leave two weeks early because I didn't feed carrots on Christmas day. I didn't get mad, it was their choice. I didn't refund them any dough either.
    The best part of going to a trainer like you are is that you're going to learn so much!
    Ask why he does things, how he does things and if you get a chance watch him ride other horses.
    The best way to get good enough to train your own is to ride with the person who already is.
    When you see your horse settle in you'll feel better.
    Be excited and glad you found a trainer you trust.Have fun.

  30. I was plum tickled to see that 2 of your reccomendations come from my part of the country! LOL I have to say, (Somewhat sheepishly) that it was watching Clinton Anderson that gave me the guts to work with my 5 yr old and my weanling filly after I had my son. I hadn't rode in almost 2yrs by the time I bought my 5 yr old, and had zero confidence in the abilities I USED to have. My husband expected me to pick right up where I had left off with my super broke barrel horses I'd had when we first started I was glad that he wasn't underestimating me, but I wished that he didn't have so much confidence in me SO SO SO many times. My 5 yr old was "Cowboy Broke"-all he'd ever done was be a ranch/feedlot horse. I bought him for a barrel horse prospect, and then realized---"Oh, crap! I don't have the guts for this..." Anway, I did get to watch Clinton's TV show from time to time, and I picked up little stuff that helped me get back in the groove without wetting my britches and crying like a baby!

  31. O.K. so for my question...

    I have a 4 year old quarter horse that I had started by a trainer in his two year old year, 90 days, then I sent him back out to pasture. I brought him back in the summer of his 3 year old year and I trail rode him and worked on the basics myself. Sent him back to the trainer last fall to work on reining for 7 months. She did a great job. The problem is he is LAZY, LAZY, LAZY. He always has been. Even as a 2 year old, you could put leg on him and he just grunts at you. You put a spur on him, and he grunts at you, you really put a spur on him and he grunts at you. He will move, but there is no "try" there and he just can't wait to stop. And stop he can! He stops nice, his transitions from fast to slow are awesome, but getting to the fast or turnarounds, etc is ugly and lazy. No energy at all. The trainer said that I needed bigger spurs and only use them if I really meant it and then really mean it. I bought a pair of rock grinders and did just that, it gets him going for about 20 seconds. Then you can just feel him deflate and the energy just fades away. So the other day, I had enough. He hates to be smacked with the reins. Smack him with the rein even lightly just gets him moving and he really doesn't like it. So I picked up a dressage whip and ask him to move out with my legs, when he didn't I gave him a couple of light taps to get him moving out in big circles and he thought he was dying. He had so much energy and just carrying the whip kept that energy level that made riding him a sheer pleasure. I stuck the whip in the back of my pants and worked turnaround and I only needed to put my leg on and he would go. I was so darn excited. I told the trainer to see what she thought and she said it is great that I found something to make him have some try, but that it isn't a viable solution because you can't show carrying a whip. When you carry the whip you can use light legs aids and he responds quickly and willingly.

    So my question is, how do I transfer the energy from the whip to my legs (preferablly without the use of rock grinders)?

    I do notice if I start out carrying (and I swear you only have to carry the whip, don't have to smack him) and then put it down, he seems to maintain the energy. I am kind of stuck, I don't want to do anything that is going to make him duller or lazier, but doing drills and working him can really try my patience. I hate that I have to constantly get after him and work the snot out of him to get the manuver that he knows how to do, done right.

  32. I guess I missed the hugs and kisses parts of Clinton's stuff-I distinctly recall watching an episode with a big TB mare that he smacked the crap out of w/his elbow ever time she got in his space. LOL It cracked me up-he rationalized it by saying, "Another horse kicking her would've used 10 times the force I just did-It didn't hurt her. She'll live!"
    That was part of why I liked him.

  33. Thanks :) I know it's the best thing to do for him, but it is hard. I am excited to learn and see what he learns. I think it will be an amazing experience for us both.
    I'm wondering too if it's "ok" to let the trainer know what does and doesn't work for your horse? I understand that I am sending him there because his expertise is much greater than mine, but my knowledge of my horse is greater at this point. However, I don't want to offend the trainer.. I think my example would be that for my horse, making the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy, takes very little. He is sensitive. High energy or a lot of pressure, gets him emotional and he quits learning. Is that the sort of thing that you appreciate a client telling you?
    I'm still laughing about the person taking their horse home over Christmas carrots :) I'm also on the wait list for one of your books! Your writing is awesome!!

  34. Someone once told me that the more you know, the more you know you don't know. It is so true!

    When I was younger and rode horses all day every day during the summer, I thought I was one of the best riders out there! Granted, I was also a teenager and therefore knew everything and rocked everything, but that's beside the point. I could jump 4' jumps bareback, I could swim with my horse, I could gallop down twisty trails and never lose my seat, I could tear around the pasture bareback with just a halter and lead rope.

    I have always had great balance and the "feel" that you talk about for horses, it just came naturally to me. But as I got older, I was introduced to things like collection (not just your horse tucking it's head!), bending, moving hips and shoulders and rib cages, horses stepping under themselves and reacting to the slightest move of my leg or seat instead of hauling off and booting them for go or ripping their head around for steering. I learned about feeding and supplements and keeping horses at a good weight, about shoeing and vaccinating and worming and doctoring. Wow! I never knew how much I didn't know!

    It is always hard to tell what level people are really at because back then, I would have said I was a very experienced rider. Now, I might classify myself as intermediate. I have tons of hours in the saddle, have started a few horses and "trained" a few others, but I know that there is SOOO much out there that I just don't know. And I can admit it.

    On that note, I admire your ability to write about things in a way that should make sense to people at any level that would be interested in what you write about. I also like the fact that you set ground rules and put it out there that hey, just because you say you're an expert, doesn't mean you're an expert in my book! Some people just don't know how much they don't know.

    Anyways, I LOVE your blog Mugs. It's entertaining, very informative and makes me think about different things and how I go about business with my horses. You just make sense to me! :)

  35. Kel:

    I'm no pro, and Mugs will probably have the exact right answer.


    I once new a yound gelding that was exactly like the one you described. They tried everything from motivational objects to changing the feed. Finally they had a blood panel done and found out that he had a thyroid problem and that's where alot of the laziness stemmed from.

    Just though I'd put that out there.

    Good luck!

  36. Hey jamie, from my perspective, I never minded being told what a horse was like in the owner's experience. What could be irritating, was when owners told me what to do about it...

    When I ran a livery yard, that happened a LOT. I'd get a long list of instructions about rugs, supplements, turnout, feed, tack, boots, flyspray, homeopathic medicines, channels they liked on the radio, you name it, but they'd frequently forget to mention other things. Like: "Doesn't tie up," "Bites when you do rugs up," "Absolute bastard to worm," "Kicks nine bells out of other horses," "Feed possessive - broke his last groom's arm," "Has to be sedated to shoe," "Throws herself over backwards when she sees a lungewhip," "Stress colics after every hunt meeting."

    These are all REAL examples of things people 'forgot' to tell us about their horses, so in comparison, the ones who made a point of telling me, "He hates lorries," or "She's very ticklish and spooky, you need to be gentle," got listened to and major consideration points.

  37. Didn't mugs do a post on horses not responding to cues etc.? Three step approach to get 'em moving? I feel like that would help kel.

  38. char...

    Thanks for the thought. The funny thing about this boy... on his laziest day when he makes you feel as though you just worked his little legs off (worked a good lather and had him breathing hard several times), you cool him out, put him out in his paddock/pasture and he will go tearing off, bucking and running like a fool (not just a little, ALOT, rolling back off the fence, sliding to a stop, whirling around). Almost like saying "F.U. look at what I can do".

    It has occured to me that he just hates reining and maybe some other discipline would suit him better.

  39. This is extremely true. Maybe I just intuitively knew that any and all advise given should be taken through that prism. It's like the Sonita post where you took her to Garden of the Gods and 'let her go'. That's how you figured something out with her. It surely isn't the way for everyone to figure things out!

    I agree I'm glad mugs posted trainers she like and not bashing those she didn't. That's classy. More than that I agree about training your own horse or at LEASt being very involved with the trainer who is. Even the best trainers don't mesh with certain horses and can end up trying methods (tack... bits) out of frustration that may not be acceptable to you. It's still YOUR horse and while you're paying them to teach what they know it's extremely advantageous to be involved. If I'm lucky enough to do so, I'll be a thorn in a trainers side I'm sure. However, it will be for all the right reasons.:)

  40. char...

    I have tried the 3 cues, ask with my leg, ask with spur, kick his butt. The problem is he doesn't care if you kick his butt, you can really gig him with a rock grinder spur and then go back to the ask, and he still will grunt at you. That is why the whip intriges me so. You don't have to beat on him, you just have to have it.

  41. kel:

    Hmmm....very interesting, indeed. I can't wait to see what Mugs has to say.

  42. Thanks Mugs. I'm glad to know Larry at least seemed good when you talked to him. I'm also glad you're only posting the trainers whose methods you know well. I am not in cutting or reining yet (or showing at all) but would love to learn someday. I rode a son of Reminic who was trained by Jon Roeser once and he was such a blast! I love horses who seem to read your mind and "do your thought" right when you start thinking about it.

    P.S. I'm glad to see Russell Dilday on the list. I have only seen him compete at the Mag 7, but he really should have won that event this last time. And his horse always looks happy.

  43. kel, Thanks for the nice "review" of my books. Glad you like them so far.
    So, I have a thought for you. I've known other horses who didn't respond much to spurs and responded real well to being "over and undered" ie whipped. Why can't you use either the rommel if the horse is in the bridle or the ends of the reins if you're still in split reins and over and under him to get some go? That's what I'd do, and it sounds like he'd respond well, from your experience with the whip. Once he was moving out to that, you'd only have to threaten him with it and he'd jump out. What do you think, mugwump?

  44. Laura...

    I think your writing is wonderful. I haven't been reading much in the last couple of years, used to read alot, but was having trouble finding something that "fit". Your books are just the ticket.

    I do the over and under thing and it does work. But you have to do it often. And lord knows, I am not the most coordinated when it comes to doing the over and under. I always feel like I am off in my timing when I get to whacking him with my reins. I remember when I was a younger rider, I had it down, now it seems foreign. I am going to work on it though. It is a viable option.

  45. kel,
    I also thought of the thyroid.
    I'm no expert, but I wonder what would happen if you stopped drilling and reining work for awhile and gave him sort of a horsey vacation? As in, go on trail rides only. Not forever, but for awhile. Could it be that he's burned out?
    Just a thought...

  46. "OK, I really don't know much about him and have only met him briefly. But he is really hot."

    Hahahaha, you are gonna start a stampede! Is he single???

  47. Fugs- no, he's not single. But I'm old enough to leer at young cowboys no matter what their status.At this point in my life it's more about art appreciation than actually drawing the picture.