Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's My Line?

stilllearning said:
Will a very lazy horse ever have enough "juice" to do advanced work? My trainer says we won't have enough engine for upper level dressage. I'm hoping she's wrong. Any opinions?


holly said: I am wondering now, if cow bred horses are more "on" or something than horses bred for other disciplines.

I just love it when a subject I'm getting ready to post on dovetails with one or more thoughts from you guys.
As most of you have figured out by now, I have a "never say never" type of attitude when it comes to training horses. I used to be a zealot. I felt that any horse who was conformationally able to do the required maneuvers could become effective in the show pen if it was understood and trained with patience.
To a certain extent I still feel this is true. I have trained a lot of horses that were not specifically bred for what I wanted. I guess there are benefits to being a second rate cowhorse trainer. I was given ample opportunity to ride horses who not were bred for cowhorse, as a matter of fact they often were a prime example of BYB at it's best.
I have taught a Thoroughbred mare with string halt and her green owners, to slide stop, take her leads and do a respectable lead change.
I have taught a pacing,shambling wreck of a quarter horse mare to walk, trot and canter in the way she was supposed to.

I survived Sonita.

I took on a foundation bred mare that traced back mainly to race horses and had some success in the cowhorse world.
Those are a few highlights.

Then I finally put down some serious money for a Smart Chic Olena, Hollywood Jac 86 bred filly. I realized I had been training Chihuahua's to be sled dogs. Now I had gone and gotten myself a husky.
My life changed. My new little horse learned at the speed of light. Her spins were low and flat. She slid at least ten feet the first time I asked her to "Whoa". She was barefoot and had been ridden maybe 10 times. I learned to be more careful when I threw out my whoas.
The first time she saw a cow she trotted straight to it with her ears pricked and shaking with excitement. On her own she tracked it, turned with it and stopped with it. Since I had been carefully taught to do nothing my first few rides on cattle, I never picked up my reins or asked her to stop. With the right bred horse I found out I didn't have to.

By this time I was working for the Big K. I was riding his horses. They were essentially the same. Not in personality. I still encountered mean ones, scared ones, big hearted ones and cowards.
But it was a whole new world riding horses that were well bred for a specific job, out of proven parents.
We still had failures. But the difference was astounding.
I still had my other horses come in. I never climbed to a height where I could afford to train only the best. Because of the rise in the caliber of some of the horse I got to ride, I was much more effective with the regular guys.
I also learned what could be overcome and what couldn't.

Physical Limitations

Even if a horse looks conformationally correct, it doesn't mean it can do anything we want it to.
Cowhorses are often small. They don't necessarily have straight legs. Pretty is not always a concern, although pretty helps in all sports.
They are built to sink their hind end into the dirt. They have huge lateral flexibility, so they can spin and turn a cow. The are often bred to be low headed and flat in their way of travel. They are not necessarily fast. We only need them to be faster than a cow. Our sport is not a timed one. A cowhorse that wants to race does not want to turn a cow. A good cowhorse is agile like a cat.

A halter horse is not going to move like I need it to in order to work a cow.
Neither is a pleasure horse.
The Hanoverian stud colt I worked with last summer really showed me what a well bred dressage horse can do. He is not even broke yet. But he moves with a beautiful arrogance that takes my breath away. His leg action is so elastic he can kick a fly on the point of his shoulder and not bend. I don't know enough about dressage to say anymore than that, but I got a good idea of what a star this colt will be, just teaching him his basic manners. He would be a dismal failure as a cowhorse.

Mental Limitations

Cowhorses tend to be extremely hot.
I rode them for so long I adapted my opinion of what is hot. Cowhorses I considered completely quiet and gentle were either terrified of, or took delight in terrifying green riders. I realized my concept of gentle was not what it used to be.
In order to have the fire to succeed in the show pen, a good cowhorse is a lot of horse.
They are impatient, intelligent and have a bunch of go.
To my great sorrow I learned that a gentle, quiet soul without the drive or flexibility to become a star can be snapped like a twig, mentally and/or physically if she is pushed beyond her capabilities.
(another story, another day)
A hot, intelligent horse can be labeled crazy or mean when he is incapable of adapting to a quiet life in a barn, being ridden on week ends and being shown at the local 4-H show.
Most well bred pleasure horses I have known are sweet, gentle creatures. They have been bred to not only accept, but relish a life in Sleezy sleepwear, box stalls and excruciatingly slow jogs on the rail. They love being fussed over in a way that would drive a good cowhorse to drink.
The key here is to find the value in each horse. If my lazy, gentle dressage horse doesn't have the "it factor" to make the upper levels it can come from many places. Maybe my gentle best friend doesn't have the mental drive to make it to the top. Or maybe he can't physically reach those heights.
That doesn't mean he's not worth his weight in gold. It means I have the right mount to be learning on. I can study my selected discipline, and be safe in his gentle temperament and kind nature. He won't get rattled when I make mistakes. He will simply wait until I get it right and then he'll do his best.
The most valuable cowhorse there is? The one that will pack a newby around and not kill them.
They bring in tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds. Rarely will they go on to win The World Show, but these are the horses every trainer is scrambling to find. There aren't many of them.

Which brings me to my next point.
If we are dedicated to a sport we have to face the inevitability of outgrowing the horses we start on. The horses that were patient enough to deal with us as we fumble our way are rarely the super stars. The super starts expect us to know what we're doing. They deserve that respect.
Which is why we sell our horses.  
Realize the sweet teacher can go on to a life of being ridden within their bounds. Selling a horse is not the end of the world, for you, or your horse. You learn with each ride. The horses you learn on can stay where they shine, not become losers trying to shoulder a burden we had no right to expect.
I also am against selling a horse before we're ready. I have seen over and over again, people leave a horse behind to buy something bigger or better. Usually because they assume it's the horse's fault they aren't winning. This can be a trainer's fault or the rider's fault. I think we just have to be sure it's time to move up. Sometimes the reality is that we have to learn to ride what we have.
I am a huge believer in taking a horse as far as I can. I become a better horseman because of it and leave a horse with a better chance of becoming the beloved family member they all deserve to be.


  1. mugwump is right. I am too attached to my horses to sell them, so am up to eleven head. But I have farmed a couple out to homes where they "fit", better than they fit with me, very much in the sense mugwump is describing. The only difference is that I still own them and can (to some degree) control their fate. I used to sell horses that didn't fit me in my youth and am still sad at the thought that some of them might have ended up at the killers (despite being sold to what I thought were good homes). So that's why I don't sell them any more.
    Its funny--Gunner, who is 28, and a cowhorse such as mugwump describes, the horse I showed for many years at reining, cutting and team roping, is too touchy and flighty, even at his advanced age, for the quiet trail rides I want to do with my little boy. I had to go out and buy myself a gentle "plug" to do the work I currently need to do. Sort of the progression you are describing in reverse, mugwump. I'm going backwards (!)

  2. Well Laura, you're progression up to Gunner and then back to your trusty trail horse gives a good argument for keeping our first horses. When we're ready to be quiet and slow again they'll be waiting for us.

  3. I have a 12.3 hand pony. I outgrew her, and passed her to my sister. My sister outgrew her a few years ago. Instead of selling her, (the prospects of old, foundered ponies are not good) we've free-leased her to a succession of little girls, mostly our trainer's students.

    This frees us from having to pay the board bills on her, while still controlling what happens to her. Little girls get "their own" pony that their parents don't have to worry about if they lose interest. Our trainer has a sane pony to teach with, and in turn she keeps an eye on our pony.

    I wish more people would consider something like this.

  4. Prescient much? I think my trainer put me on the reiner he would like for me to buy. 13 year old been there done that QH gelding that who brought his owner up the ranks from green to intermediate nonpro in 5 years, which is how long this team has been reiner trained. I had heard the rider wanted to upgrade. I would like to keep the big guy I have in regular training with him. I am tempted. This may sound bad, but since the 13 year old was 8 when he began reining training, I am thinking he has a better chance at being sound at 20, unlike some 2 year old reiner trained horses. And he would be a good husband horse...

  5. What an excellent, well thought out post today. It brought to mind all of the "team ropers" with lots of money I've seen over the past couple of years. They can afford the most amazing horses, but then they can't ride them. It always surprised me to see that. Learn to ride first AND then throw the rope anyone? And always, without fail, when they didn't win, they would sell these amazing horses and buy bigger, stronger, faster more expensive ones. Then proceed to lose on those.

    When I bought my little cowhorse I realized immdiately that I didn't have the skill or knowledge to work him, let alone challenge his mind. I paid my trainer while I was still leasing my horse to train him. Which paid off for me since I did ultimately buy the little red horse.

    My trainer showed me the amazing talent my horse had. I always thought in the back of my mind that once he was a finished rope horse, I would probably have to "do right" by him and sell him to someone who could use him. He changed all that with his injury and at least I don't feel guilty just putzing down the trail or long trotting in the hills. he seems very content to do just that.

    But if he does continue to heal and the vet thinks he's able one day, I will pay my trainer again to work cows with him. Probably never roping again, don't think his leg could take the hit of the stop, but team penning or something like that with cows. He luuuuvs the cows.

    Either way, I've got my lifer. I don't have interest in competing, so I guess we're all set. (And since I also don't have interest in training, I don't need to find me a green horse. That would be a disaster!)

    Ok, done babbling now...

  6. that answered my question. Thank you.

  7. Thank you very much for today's post. My goal, eventually, is to have two horses, one that leans toward english disciplines and one western, with an eye on low level dressage, reined cowhorse, chasing a few cans, and camping. I figure the dressage horse can carry the packs just fine. :) However, because I am more interested in reined cowhorse and want to be more competitive in that field, perhaps I need to rethink my plan. Maybe keep my learning horse and use that one for trail and can chasing. Hmm. Thanks for the food for thought.
    I do want to ask you about one essential part of working with cowhorses, the cattle. Are there breeds or bloodlines recommended over the others? How many do you need to keep on hand, are there particular ages/sizes you should try to have available? How often should they be worked?
    Too many questions in this brain of mine lol Thanks!

  8. Thank you for this. This discussion comes up often in one of my chat groups whereas someone with a mustang gets bent out of shape because they feel it is implied they can't do dressage on their horse when the poster is really just pointing out that some horses are just better fits to be COMPETITIVE in certain disciplines. (And I'm only using mustang as an example... I like mustangs very much...)

    All I want is for my grade quarter horse who's career to date is being a trail horse (and she does that just fine) to move a little quicker down the trail so we could possibly do a novice competitive trail ride. Goal for next season!

    I was recently introduced to your blog and its taken me a few weeks to read it from start to finish & enjoy it very much. I did catch the posting on getting a horse to move out (I think it was in reference to getting a lope & keeping it) and look forward to trying your steps with my mare -- not necessarily in search of the lope, but the quicker walk.

    Thank you for your insight & look forward to reading more of your entries.

  9. Your take on Pleasure horses was bang on! My yearling that I showed this summer makes it clear to her owners every day that she belongs in a barn with her blankets on, not outside with the "other" horses. ;)

  10. Thanks, this post really makes sense and was what I needed to hear. I'll try to accept this lazy horse's good points while waiting to see how far he goes and what direction he prefers. He has the confirmation and movement to do dressage; can't tell yet about the mind. Unless my crystal ball starts working better, I'll just have to wait and see how far we'll go together. In the meantime, he's teaching me alot, and I'm realizing that the journey is more important to me than reaching a certain destination.

  11. Mugs, are you watching WCH at the AQHA world show? It is beautiful to watch. Ouch! a guy just lost his cow, how much is that gonna cost him?

    I loved what you had to say about not trying to put a square peg into a round hole. The first "one in a life time" horse I had was cow bred to the bone (had Leo and King still on her papers), but had a go nowhere, do nothing attitude. She would do anything asked of her, but only what you asked of her. She was a high end show horse, but in events that rewarded that attitude, trail and western riding. She had reining points, quite a few, but they were rewarded on pure technical merit, not on "wow," she could be beat any day by a horse with wow, sometimes by one that wasn't as technically as good. But you could beat and bang on her, and nothing ruffled her. Great horse for a kid to learn to rein and show on. Downside: because she would ignore her own pains with her "yes, ma'am" attitude (we once went through an entire show weekend, probably 20 classes on a pulled tendon, it never showed until she went home) she broke down before she was 20.

    Jessee: you've got that right on, I'm doing the same thing with my kid's first pony. She is 20 something now and still in good shape.

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  13. I sorta hopped into the horse world rather unprepared. I had schooled on plugs for a few months, leased and learned to drive with the easiest most push button mare ever...and then there was Fame.
    He's a hot horse, even by saddle seat standards. Things probably should not have worked out as well as they did. I've learned alot more working with Fame than I could on a lesson horse.
    R still temps me with fancier, younger, slightly less crazy, horses with more sparkely show records.
    But ultimately, where I'm still learning the game, were I had orignally been all about blue ribbons and winning, which are all nice, but working with Fame I relized what I wanted more than ribbons was to learn how to train my horse and be competent at it.

  14. i think that one of the best gifts an owner can give a horse is the right discipline, at the right level.

    forcing a horse to fit a mold or strain to a level that's unsuitable is a shame

    perfect post today!

  15. This frees us from having to pay the board bills on her, while still controlling what happens to her. Little girls get "their own" pony that their parents don't have to worry about if they lose interest. Our trainer has a sane pony to teach with, and in turn she keeps an eye on our pony.

    I wish more people would consider something like this.

    When I was a child, this is what we did. We had friends with a sheep station (that is what we call ranches in Australia) and they had a beautiful little chestnut 13.something gelding they weren't using.

    I had him for 3-4 years and then he went back home to be a horse in a paddock again.

    A few years later the daughters in that family grew more interested i riding and I passed my second horse on to them!

  16. i also leased my mare for several years after retiring her from the show pen. i reconized that she was getting a bit burnt out from it, gave her a year or 2 of leisure, and then she started as an intermediate/advanced lesson horse, and then we added part-leasing into the mix.

    she was always at the boarding barn with leasees recommended to me by the barn owner/lesson facilitator. i had one not so great experience with someone who wasn't mentally stable, but the rest were perfect fits.

    my girl is now 31, and she's at her end-of-years retirement home with a previous owner. she lives by the sea, has a big paddock to herself with a shed, and a comfy stall at night!

  17. A hot, intelligent horse can be labeled crazy or mean when he is incapable of adapting to a quiet life in a barn, being ridden on week ends and being shown at the local 4-H show.

    *snort* Yeah. Apparently a 16.3 OTTB is a fire-breathing demon even if he ISN'T doing anything! Heaven forbid he be a little snotty and yank on the lead or something... (He would try as much as he could get away with--the minute you set him down firmly he quit.)

  18. nagonmom- yours is a classic case of why it's OK to sell a horse. If this horse wasn't available for sale you would never have the chance to experience him. Already it sounds like you may be his perfect home. And yes, the chances of him staying sound are way higher than those of a reining prospect that started at two.
    joy->>> I always thought in the back of my mind that once he was a finished rope horse, I would probably have to "do right" by him and sell him to someone who could use him.<<<
    Just to play devil's advocate, I always told my students and now tell myself, it's OK to own a horse that has tons of potential, even if I'm never going to use it. The horse only cares about the "Big Four". Horses will never miss the show pen. They'll take good care and regular chow any day.
    enjay-cattle....hmmm. Very expensive. They go sour within a few workouts. Eventually they will simply stand there, staring at you.
    I like to work brahma crosses.
    tammy-beware of irritating mustang owners! They are a special breed!!!! (the owners I mean)
    stillearning-I think you'll be partnered up with your horse for years to come. And it will be a good thing.
    Smurfette-No. I'm a little sad about the AQHA Worlds this year. I was shooting for it quite nicely this year when I made all my changes. I do miss some things. I just follow on the internet.
    j.hatchett- you sound like my kind of horseman, er, person.

  19. My first cutting horse was a lifer for me even though I got offered anywhere from $20-$50THOUSAND for her...But I knew that those people wouldn't have put up with her "Make me" attitude. She was not the easiest thing to work all the time, but with patience and TIME we figured out how to get around that attitude. Besides that she was like a member of the family to me. One guy went to my trainer(after I had just marked a 76 in the cutting) and asked him if I would sell the mare for $30,000...My tainer just laughed and said, "I think that horse is a member of the family...I don't think she will go for it, but I will ask her. He did ask me and I just laughed and said "NO WAY!!" I agree with you Mugwump, a horse needs to be given every oppertunity to show you what he/she can do. My trainer believes more in LONGEVITY of the horse, not run it into the ground if it doesn't learn as quick as some of the others...thts why I have been with him for 17 years.

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  21. You know I am really glad you wrote on this subject. I have been struggling with one of my own herd to find a place for her. She is a BYB special, and was bought at 6 months of age with the hope that one of her would shine though. Alas it did not. She is now 4 and a wonder horse as far as soundness in mind and body but fast she is not. Stable, yes. Smart, very. But I am not sure what she should do.

    I have an unique opportunity to see what you wrote about. My barn is an extreme variation from TWHs to QH’s and one BYB. My walkers, some are better bred than others and the difference shows in huge volumes. My quarter horses, I have two that are very closely breed on one side and not at all on the other. They have some similarities, but the differences are great.

    Tanner is the closest thing to a “cow horse” I have ever been around and let me tell you he is amazing. He is Buck San Badger. A 14.3 sooty buckskin, stick of dynamite. This horse is so smart and picks up on whatever my daughter wants to teach him. He is calm and thoughtful, but explosive. He has NO patients with bumbling (or at least anyone else’s). He is the sort of horse that you MUST watch what you ask for, be clear about what you have in mind because if you ask you get exactly that; even if it is not what you “thought”, you ask for.

    This horse is a saint he really tries to please. BUT, he is not a horse for a greenie past the confines of an arena and a strictly controlled environment. He is one of those horses that would kill a greenie outside of that strictly controlled environment.

    Because of him my daughter has a distorted perspective on what a hot horse is. Tanner is hot. If you push the wrong button, you will light a fire the average person can’t handle. She thinks this is normal. Because of this, she can ride just about anything.

    Trace is an athlete (or was before he got sick). He doesn’t have that explosive element. Tanner sees a cow and perks up, Trace sees a cow and looks. He can work a cow but he does it because that is what you want him to do. Tanner works a cow because you want him to but also because he thinks it is fun, and it is a challenge. It engages his mind. It is like a drug for him.

    Trace is a packer, Tanner is a sports car. Tanner thrives on doing something. He becomes sullen and surly when Tiffany is to busy to spend time working him. He is only happy when you keep him doing something. Trace on the other hand wouldn’t care if you never ask him to work. He would be happy being a pocket pony.

    So long story short, this post helped me pinpoint what I was missing to help me find a job for Moon. I had never really dissected the differences in how my horses are bred, but it is very clear to me now.

    SOS Horses
    SOS Leatherworks

  22. reading all the comments made me remember somthing. I worked at a farm where the owner imported (for his own use) GP jumpers. Well one of the horses at a show caught the eye of a 'famous' showjumper aka Cap. Canada.

    He ofered $250,000 for the horse.

    The original owner kept the horse. Yes that horse could have done bigger and better things with the showjumper but he had navicular and would probly have broken down in a few years. As it is now, he's still doing low level jumpers and now packing kids around.

  23. Justaplainsam and slippinsweetlena--I hear you. Over and over I have turned down a big profit on horses I trained and owned. These horses are still with me. I have given the old ones a happy turned out retirement in a big pasture. It makes me smile every time I see them. I have never regretted the money I didn't make.

  24. Mugs, you're psychic. *rueful*

    I've come home today, frustrated and upset almost to the point of arguing with a long time friend. Why? We were out looking at horses for her, and she's fallen in love with 17hands of beautiful, elegant, talented, 5yr old dynamite.

    Far too much horse for her and not at all what we went out to buy. My only hope is that she doesn't pass the vet.

  25. For never know what their talent will be:

    Appy doing Grand Prix dressage!

  26. Hello Mugwump & co, I'm a dressage girl from the other side of the globe and just recently found this blog. I have very much enjoyed reading your stuff. Your horses may be very different and the things you do with them are even more different than what I'm used to, but horses are still all the same in a way. I can relate to your stories despite the differences and also have a feeling I've learned quite a bit. Please keep writing!

    I'm not a trainer but for the person with the too slow dressage horse I would suggest training on trails. It's perfectly possible to do everything you need to do in a test out in the open, and most horses perk up when taken outside the arena. I taught my mare the basics of collection and extensions with the help of a hill: extend up the hill, collect down the hill. Most horses like to go fast uphill when it's a beautiful windy day, so all you have to do is say "ok, but we do it in a frame". And on the other side of the hill, if the horse does not collect he will loose his balance. My mare got it real quick and then it's a piece of cake to do the same on level ground :)

    I also would like to thank everyone who leases out their old horse on behalf of all the people like me who get a chance to ride a schoolmaster. I'm leasing a former GP dressage horse who's too stiff to win at that level any more, but perfectly fine for me to practise on. His owner could sell him for big money, but is instead keeping him and letting him be the teacher I need to become a good rider. I couldn't afford to buy him, so this is a great deal for me. And the horse is certainly getting the best possible care he deserves.

  27. Thanks Aylin, good idea, he does perk up a bit outdoors...just have to wait until spring!
    And, yes, mugs, I also feel that I'll have this horse for years to come. There are other issues besides laziness involved and it'll take some time to figure him out and I'm not sure who elso would bother. Not a big deal, my ottbs always needed about 4 years to show me what discipline they preferred. This horse was the first I've bought big, pretty and sound, with a specific destination in mind and a bigger price tag. He was supposed to be my easier-old-lady horse. That'll teach me to think I can control things :)

  28. aylin-I LOVE the way you think....
    stillearning-I have a yearling that's supposed to be my old lady horse. I'm banking on him having his mother's mind. So you know what's probably going to happen.....

  29. Hay, my mare was supposed to be my "old lady horse" too...6yrs old, green broke appendix QH...Yeah, right.

    My retired border (who I can ride any day I want) is supposed to be bombproof...Yeah, expect when you ride him outside..turns out he's an arena baby. With two spooks, I refuse to go off a 17 hand horse!!! Rumor has it he may have been aced, too, to be dead calm (hunter/jumper).

    Sigh. Oh well..guess I'll just learn a lot more in my "old age" than I expected to :)

  30. Very nice post! I love that our first horses taught us enough to succeed with the next... my old man is 30 - I've had him since he was 8. He is a pasture ornament now and still teaching me all about senior horse care as well as teaching my 2 young OTTBs about "just being horses".

    Because of him, when I brought home my first OTTB, and began applying what what he taught me over the years ... voila! My young, green, OTTB became round and forward and relaxed - just like they are supposed to! It was just way, way cool. So gratifying to see correct riding produce correct results.

    Guess I didn't "think" about it until then. Didn't really need to cuz all I had was my old gelding.

    But wow - talk about an incredible feeling. It's so cool to start the young ones and see it happen. I am NO trainer. I rely a lot on my trainer's eyes from the ground... I do all my own riding...she guides me and clarifies theory and answers my questions and shares in my excitement and joy. I am really lucky. REALLY LUCKY. :)

  31. shanster-that's how we all begin to be trainers. One day you think "Wait a minute, maybe we should try it this way...." and there you be. Training.

  32. I introduced my horse to a cow this weekend and just wrote about it today. (

    I think... I think he's been a cowhorse before. His eyes and ears lit up. One ear occasionally tilted to me but that other one stayed on Cow. His eyes did not leave Cow. His little engine was fired up and I just held on and he knew what to do with Cow. It was weird. I do not know what to do with Cow. If we got too close, he'd want to back up. He'd match pace with it. He'd turn it.

    Every time I asked for something "wrong" with the cow he'd turn around and stare at me wide-eyed with a "what-are-you-stupid?" look. Much snorting happened and whenever we were travelling towards Cow he'd start farting with happy (gross, i know). He was more excited than the known cowhorse.

    We are well-matched because he also enjoys all the other crap (if he gets all dull eyed during grooming I apologize but he's owned by a girl and deals with it well.) He loves stalls and arenas and trails with friends and little jumps and some dressage (but hates longing)and all that other only-horse noob crap I give him. And cookies.

    But... I think he KNEW something. He has a secret past. How does one find out if one has a cowhorse? And where does one find a cowhorse person to test that? I'm in Minnesota. If he is a cowhorse I'm sorry he still has to be my all-around Doop but I'd be willing to take lessons to find out if he's already learned in something. :)

    My barn doesn't really have cowhorses that do serious things. We just have a few cows. If he is one, I'd like to add it to his resume should something happen to me and he's being sold.

    Is there like a "so you think you have a cowhorse" test or guide or person or something?

  33. amarygma- The North Central Reined Cow Horse Association is active in Minnesota. (NCRCHA) I would look them up on the internet and find a trainer or clinic nearby.

  34. I have a greater understanding of my horse now that I have read this. Also a greater appreciation for his intelligence and talent. It explains a lot of his behaviors.

  35. Stilllearning – great if you think it might work :)

    Mugwump – I'm a bit embarrassed how ridiculously happy I am that someone I totally do not know thought I was making sense, lol :)

  36. I'm quite new to your blog, but I've been reading through your older posts. I enjoy your writing and your thoughts! (I ride pleasure horses and... uh, classical dressage [I know that makes no sense!], but love cow work too!)
    I 'toasted' you on my own blog--it might bring some curious English riders over. ;) Keep up the good work!

  37. United horses of the world. How much can a cow horse trainer in Colorado have in common with a dressage enthusiast in Norway?
    A lot.
    I just happened to drop by your blog, and read your "What's my line"- post. It was SO well formulated, and mirrored my own thoughts - but I would never have been able to put it down in such a structured way. I hope you forgive me, but I just had to copy the end of it over to my Norwegian blog - with a link to yours, of course.
    And then I had to read all the remaining posts. Took some time, but what an enjoyable reading it was! There are lot of things that I can't relate to - to me all your show classes are totally unknown for example. But the horses are the same. And you are so good at writing, Mugwump. What makes it a bit eerie is that I feel I have a soul sister out there. I cannot differ between right and left, and need my trainer to use inside/outside when she gives instructions. I read a lot, and enjoy the same crime writers as you do. I love to read horse litterature, and feel that I can never learn enough about horses and training. (I envy you guys that have had the opportunity to work with horses fulltime, as you learn more than the rest of us that just have it as a hobby.) I could go on. Funny, isn't it?
    Another post was about favourite horse books. I have to share mine, because it's good. Mary Wanless: Ride with your mind - Masterclasses. Just the foreword makes the whole book worth reading in my opinion. Mary Wanless have really tried to anayse the interaction between the rider's body and that of the horse. Read it. I have. Many times :-)
    I will definately be a follower from now on, Mugwump (what does it mean really??)

  38. Hmm, I actually had the opposite happen to me, I got a pleasure bred filly who was shown halter all her life and had a ton of potential in wp and all around. I ended up selling her b/c she had no idea what to do with herself when she was outside an indoor arena and she missed showing. I understand the big 4 but she would literally make it obvious everytime she saw a trailer (empty or not) that she wanted to get in it. It was when she was at a show that she really lit up and seemed to be happy and sparkle. I don't know, maybe it was just me but some horses just seem like showing is their 'thing' and that's when I really feel like I'm wasting them and should find them a new home...

  39. esquared- I am way confused. Opposite of what? I'm not sure anything happened in this post to be opposite of....?

  40. Great post! Being the one to jog out & assist the vet with many horses for vet checks - I've seen the people who don't need to move up. Trainers pushing just to make a sale. The horses who get cast aside because they're 'too hot' or 'too boring'. They're not performing when really they're just not in their niche - bred for it but usually not. They're just like people, I think. Some are more athletic than others, some more coordinated/graceful, some smarter etc. etc. Each discipline even each level of a discipline, requires a different combination & amount of many things. A lot of people go in expecting too much of an individual animal - that's just not fair. No one would expect a casual jogger to necessarily win the Boston Marathon JUST because they *could* run. Then again sometimes, with some proper training, you just never know if you don't try.

    Also, I'd also like to thank those who lease out the ol' pro's too. I may not be riding currently if a nice couple didn't think their daughters ex-show horse needed to be worked. Boy has it been the best thing that ever happened to me with horses. Funny thing is they still thank ME! I also wouldn't have learned as much from one of my favorite trainers if two people at the small barn hadn't leased out their oldesters for lessons; my trainer couldn't afford lesson packers and her horse. If all the horses I'd learned on had been sold on down the road and replaced, I may have never had the chance to learn to ride. As their student, I'm thankful their owners gave me the chance to learn and they had forever homes where they could age comfortably and gracefully with a less stressful purpose.

  41. off topic: cross disciplinary video.

    I am touched, and this seemed an appropriate place to share =)


  42. darn the whole thing didn't show =(

    here it is in 2 parts...

    it is worth the trouble I promise =)

  43. Marvellous video of the dressage and western rider!
    A post a while ago was about the outside shoulder falling out, and weight aids. Can I give some thoughts from a dressage point of view, even if it is a bit late?
    I believe there are two reasons for the shoulder falling out; either the interaction between the rider and the horse, or a physical problem with the horse.
    I agree with the poster that said that the most common reason for the shoulder to fall out is that the rider is using the inside rein too much, often in an attempt to get the correct “bend”. The problem is that the rider can see the neck of the horse, but the back, which is the most important part, the rider has to feel.
    If the rider has more contact on the inside rein than on the outside, that is a warning signal. The bend should come from the inside leg, not from the inside rein. If I lose the contact on the outside rein, I use my inside leg to ask the horse to step up with the inside hind, bend and take contact.
    So far so good. But in reality a part of the problem often is the positioning of the rider.
    If the horse is stiff and weighs on the outside rein (and/or does not respond to the inside leg), it is easy for the rider to (unconsciously) give out on the outside hand.
    The result is not only that the horse’s shoulder falls out but often also that the rider’s position is affected. The outside hip of the rider often follows the giving outside hand, and moves closer to the front of the saddle. The rider might also collapse in the waist so the whole seat is displaced to the outside. All this while the rider believes that he/she is sitting to the inside as he/she feels the inside sitbone clearly (but the outside is lost!)
    When riding a circle the inside hip/leg should be placed further forwardthan the outside hip/leg. The difference of the hip/leg position ensures that the rider is in balance and creates the bend in the body of the horse.
    Sometimes it can be difficult to feel if you have kept the correct seat. A trick of mine is to check if I still have contact with my inside knee. If I have lost the position of the outside aids the inside knee can no longer stay close to the saddle, it opens.
    But what about the horse?
    If the horse has problems to bend correctly, i.e. the outside shoulder or the outside hind leg falls out, the horse might have problems with the body.
    As an example: if a horse has a physical locking in the right side of the back part he might not be able to move that right hind leg over as much as he should, which results in problems with a correct bend to the left. Even if he wants to accommodate the rider’s requests, he might not be able to. I believe that a good rider has to have the function of a physiotherapist to the horse, and help to loosen up the body. If the horse has had the problem over a long time, this can be very difficult. A good chiropractor can make wonders.

  44. THAT was a great video. And exactly the reason I took dressage lessons on my barrel horse! Speed events aren't about ramming and jamming, they're about a great amount of control with speed added.

    I free leased my "first child" to a gal who loved him to death. He still wanted a job, and I was at a time in my life when I didn't have the time to put into riding and hauling. J used him, eventually bought him, used him much more gently than I did, probably fed him better, and he is still being used, now as a kids horse, fat and happy.

    I was offered 3 times what J was able to pay for him, but he had earned semi-retirement, and I didn't want to see him on the road 4-5 days a week on the pro circuit. Like I said, he was my first child! He deserved to relax a bit.

  45. Hey Horse and 2Toad,

    Thanks for taking a look and commenting on the video. I enjoyed it so much I had to share.

    I have to say Mugs, the tone that you have set on this blog is so positive, supportive and collaborative. It is an absolute pleasure to be a member of this little blog community.

  46. I've said before that I think much of the unhappiness in the horse world, for both horses and humans, is caused by trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. Going with the horse's natural abilities, even if it's not your preferred discipline, makes for a happy combination - and I've even seen some riders learn to love a new discipline because they DIDN'T want to give up their horse and had to do what the horse loved!