Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just Stuff

You sneaky little things, having fun while I'm gone.....Just kidding. I loved it. But now you get my 2 cents.

When I taught you guys the "over-and-under" technique it was to get a horse to listen to a smooch. This had nothing to do with transitions, it simply is an effective way to make them go. I think I have mentioned, somewhere, this works with a crop or dressage whip or romel. The equipment doesn't matter. You can use a bag of kittens if it suits (of course no kittens were harmed in the course of this exercise and all were properly spayed, neutered, vetted and appropriately placed in forever homes). Laura's approach with her son points out the need to stop, regather and ask again in order to get the lope.

The idea is to be done with your swatting, except for an occasional tune-up, once the horse understands he needs to move out when you smooch.

It is often easier for a horse to lope from a standstill than from a trot. When he gets faster and faster in the trot he is actually stringing himself out and will make it harder to transition up, not easier.

Keep in mind I like my horses to walk, trot and lope before I take hold of their faces. So collection comes after my horse can pack me comfortably, not before.

There is no over and under needed anymore when I begin to ask for trot/lope transitions. If I do then my horse isn't ready to collect.

I will allow a young horse to trot into her lope for quite awhile. No death trot mind you, simply trot 5 or 6 steps to find her lead.

I do this because I want to keep a level head and quiet tail. If I sit back, stay out of her way and look ahead into my circle my little one can usually find her lead.
I keep about 5 more pounds of weight in my outside pocket, my thighs relaxed and my outside calf muscles lightly asking her outside hind leg to step in and pick up her lead.

My outside seat bone is slightly further back then my inside. If I look down, sitting like this will put my inside knee slightly ahead of my outside.

I help a young horse by lightly holding my inside rein up to about her ear and my outside rein might come back towards my hip-bone as needed.

I don't ask for collection here either.

Once your horse will lope and take her leads whenever you ask its time to transition. The upward and downward transition itself will help your horse collect.

I ask for transitions in this order:
Walk/Fast Walk/Walk
Walk/Trot/Extend Trot/Trot/Walk
Walk/Extend Trot/Walk

I never ask for a lope from an extended trot. I always come down to a slow, cadenced trot before I ask for the lope. My horse can still trot into her lead, but she must hold the slow trot, or at least not fall into a death trot.

I am big on using my corners to start collection. I will walk into a corner, ask for a trot through the corner and back to a walk on my straight away. Then I'll walk a straight away, trot my corners and ask for a lope on the other side.

Does this make sense?

My cues to transition up are: From a walk I will (1) activate my seat, (2) bump in a slightly faster rhythm (3) cluck for the trot.

From the trot to the lope (1) deepen my seat, (2) position my weight and legs to ask for my lead, (3) smooch

My cues for a downward transition are: (1)Drive my horse forward into my hands (light contact) (2) relax my calves, (3) deepen my seat

I am patient and very consistent. I will walk/trot through my cones both serpentine and like I'm running a pole pattern. This does more to prepare my horses to lope than anything.

Cherry Hill western arena exercises are great tools and fit well with how I ride.

Sally Swift has many things I use and many I don't. Not because they are wrong, but because they don't fit my needs as a western rider.

So there's my 2 cents. Want three?

Somebody asked why I haven't seen my Dad in so long.

Because I was a horse trainer.
Let me amend that. A small time horse trainer who did all of her own work.

I was responsible for an average of 15 head at any given time, plus whatever the barn owner threw at me.
In order to leave town I had to arrange for someone to take care of my horses. For some odd reason they always wanted money.
I had to credit my clients with the time I'd be gone.
In order to be gone for 5 days I had to be willing to eat close to 3 weeks pay.
I also invoked the wrath of whoever owned the barn I trained out of.
I simply couldn't afford to take a day off.
So I didn't for almost 15 years.
Except for the time I went to see my Dad for three days, 8 years ago.
I'm telling you, horse training is one sucky profession.

Someone questioned Lynn Palm's ethics when it came to selling horses. I don't know her, so I can't say. I simply like her approach as a trainer. I wasn't discussing her selling technique. I do believe I have discussed the horse trading biz' ad nauseum. We all suck, us trainers, every single one of us, some way, some how. Remember that.

So there's my 3 cents. I only have two nickels to rub together so I'd like my change please.


t_orchosky said...

I am going home to try this tonight! I know you've talked about it before but now I have a horse that it should really benefit. I also have a question. You probably have addressed it before also. I have a 6 year old gelding that I bought recently. From what I gather from previous owners he has had 60 HARD days put on him. He has indentions in his sides that look like from spurs. On the ground he is gentle, respectful and easy going. Under saddle he is GO! all the time! I've been taking it slow and just walking, but he has a killer walk and is always trying to break into a trot. I bump him back and stay OFF his face, well as much as possible. I have to keep my legs off of him completely because he's so sesitive to leg pressure. He's not a runaway, just wants to trot all the time.

mugwump said...

t_orchosky-On the right hand side of the blog I have a list "labels" go to "slowing down the hot horse" I think that covers this. If not, let me know.

t_orchosky said...

Just got done reading it! I don't have an arena at home, so should I just roll back and switch directions? without a rail?

mugwump said...

t_orchosky - yup!

mocharocks said...

Great post! I don't have a problem getting a lope out on the trail, but in the ring it's really hard, I think she's really backed off in the ring. And then when I do get the lope it's really hard to maintain due to lack of balance. Ugh, why did I want to start ring work again? :)

So glad you were able to take a few days off Mugs, hope you enjoyed it!

t_orchosky said...

Thanks! I can't wait to get home and try it out! I know this horse has lots of potential, I just have to find it.

stillearning said...

Welcome back! Thanks for more things to think about, and a few chuckles.

slippin said...

Glad you were able to get away and see family. I just got back from seeing family in California. I had alot of fun seeing old friends and family...
Anyways I was reading your post about "slowing down the hot horse" because as you have heard, my horse is the same as t_orchosky...always on the verge of a trot. I have tried trotting small circles with him, but my trainer said that it was causing me to be in his face all the time, so he told me that when he speeds up, pull him in the ground and make him get underneith me. I do that and it works pretty well, but the other day he was wanting to do the death trot and not slow down, so I tried the roll him back into the fence like you said. I was just playing with him and the trainer was not there, thats why I did it. LOL...but I started to roll him back each time he sped up, and he would really sit down and do a really nice move, but then just go faster...so I rolled hm back again....still faster, I tried it for several minutes but he kept getting faster and faster and his legs were flying everywhere, so I picked him up and nicely asked for the stop and then grabbed his nose(not a jerk, just pulled his nose to my knee)and made him walk forward into my hand in a small circle until I felt him slow down and relax, then I would slowly drop the rein and allow him to trott off. I took about 5 or 6 times of me doing that and he finally melted down into a slow trot and was really starting to listen to me. I just thought that it was interesting to me with how my horse reacted to rolling him back into the fence. Maybe I wasn't doing it right. Who knows with me! LOL
It cracked me up about the kittens in a bag thing....

Redsmom said...

Welcome back, Janet. The cat joke was funny - I got it! No show Saturday as we got rained out.

I haven't mastered over and under while also hanging on for dear life. At least I don't hit myself with the rein ends (most of the time) anymore!

mugwump said...

slippin - There is a moment after the turn when your horse will slow,(or through the turn) you have to release with your hand and body in that stride.
Then the horse will be able to figure it out.
Is it possible your horse was picking up a "go" cue from you as she came through the turn?
I went through this with Sonita on her run downs, but finally realized I was releasing as she blew forward.So I was telling her to run.When I was able to release for the first slow step (as she gathered) she finally figured it out.
I will back a horse as punishment, but not when I'm trying to show them something.
The roll back isn't punishment, nor is it a roll back, it's pulling them around with one rein, no leg and no finesse. That's what gets them to walk a few steps so I can release them.

mugwump said...

slippin- I just reread your comment and then my old post....it's the roll back thing. I'm definitely not executing any kind of maneuver, simply pulling them around with one rein. I'm not rocking them back, they're usually dumped in front because I simply pulled them around with no warning.
I also am willing to do this for as long as it takes. Ted, the horse I posted about took at least an hour before I got that first step. But I got it.
As usual though, I can't reccomend going against your trainers advice.

slippin said...

Ok...I see where I went wrong...I am so used to pushing them through the turn(roll back)when I am working cattle, so its a habit to push with my leg. I must have been doing that even though I was "trying" to just sit on him and allow him to turn. Thats what half my problem is when I ride. I either do too much, or not enough. Today we worked him on the flag, but before I went to step up to the flag, he had me walk him in circles and driving him into his face and make him follow his nose and go where "I" wanted him to go...not where he wanted to go. And thats where the pulling him around in circles when he trots too fast to get him to slow down..but when I do it, he wants me to drive him into his face and make him bend, not get stiff and lean on me. (Does that make any sense? I am not as good as you are at describing what I am supposed to be doing)this horse still has some steering problems. No one really taught him to go where you point him. He leans his ribs to the outside of the circle, so he is not underneith me or between my legs at all. He is a totally different horse now than when I got him. he steers a whole lot better, but I still have to "help" him when he puts his head to the outside of a circle. When I got him, they were riding him 2 handed and unfortunatly for the past 3 years, I have been riding a young horse, so I fell right in the habit of riding 2 handed until my trainer started helping me with getting him ONE handed since that is what we have to do in the show pen when you go to cut a cow!! I have shown him and do well with driving the cattle out now that we have been working him one handed most of the time.
Sorry, I am rambling...thanks for the clarification...maybe I will try that next time I ride by myself.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Tonight I rode again. Janet...I didn't have a bag of kittens to use, so I grabbed some of my cats and shoved them into the pillow case. Did you know you can fit 4 adult cats in at once? Anyway, I found that it was hard to mount with them all in the bag yowling and clawing...how do you mount with them? The bag in your hand? Or in your mouth so you don't bump your horse with the bag and use your hands in the normal way to mount? And dismounting was hard, too. My arms also got very tired holding the bag out so they wouldn't bang Starlette until I wanted to. The over/under was a little tough...just managed to wack her shoulders without wacking her in the ears. Also, do you know that mad/upset cats pee all over the place in the bag?

HeeHeeHee...sorry, couldn't resist...

Actually, I had a great ride tonight. Starlette was so good...she went right into canters, sped up when I asked, slowed down when I asked, so I quit cantering for the night and worked on trotting/walking transitions, turning on the forehand (she gets real good with the whip touching her hip!) and turning on the rear. I actually got to work on my canter seat she behaved herself so well, instead of focusing on getting her to go forward!


Red Horse said...

Hey Mugs, great post! The mental image of whacking your horse about the neck with a bag of kittens is priceless... and about how I felt after my ride today on my little mare tonight. ;) I'm wondering if you've done or can do a post on bracing against the bit. I ride a lot like it seems like you do, and have been bringing my mare along slow. We ride in a snaffle, and she has a terrible habit of hollowing her back, lifting her head (not tossing or throwing), and bracing against the bit. This has recently come up as I've started asking for her face a little bit. It mostly happens through transitions, but both up and down. I've tried riding her forward, slowing down, stopping, pulling her around (like you recommended in a previous post, quick and dirty), but I just feel like she's either not understanding or I'm missing a step in her training that makes it hard for her to sit down and use her butt to power up. Friends are recommending draw reins or a running martingale, but I feel like that would just be a shortcut that would backfire later. Thanks in advance for any tips!

Londoner said...

It makes sense that if a horse uses their outside hind to canter, that stringing themselves out at a fast trot would make it harder to canter because of the weight on the forehand.

Talking of that trot, who here groans when they hear someone say: 'oh he looks so beautiful and natural in the field...that's how all horses should look ridden.' no it isn't!! A horse in the field is invariably hollowed out, his head is flung up and he is trotting heavily on his forehand. Horses don't automatically assume the best position for themselves when they're out, they're just trying to get from point A to point B. It's like us running for a bus - nary a thought to running technique. My running consists of jerkily flying legs and arms accompanied by a strange grimace on my face - it's obvious I've never been taught how to move. just like a horse! I shudder when I think my main selling photo for my horse was her in the field, doing an extended trot that depicted her dragging her back legs behind her as she powered off in front.

still, at least I've learnt from it - lack of interest from buyers tends to do that, hehe.
and glad you liked our sneaky conversation Janet ;)
Jackie - I went on to Sally Swift's website, that thing about 'soft eyes' is genius! That coupled with Janet's 'silver line' has really helped my approach to fences. However, I'm still not sure about Jane Savoie's mental techniques - I'm pretty sure that if I continuously repeat: 'I'm going to ride in the Olympics', people will think I'm a nutter-butter.

Georgi x

Anonymous said...

Hey Mugs,

Could you clarify a few things for me please? Sorry if these questions sound too stupid and i if i ask too many or if they sound too direct, i'm not the best conversationalist (is that a word?).

When you say activate your seat, do you mean rock your pelvis back and forward a bit?
When asking your horse to walk faster do you cue it by bumping your legs in a faster tempo until the horse matches it?
Downward transitions, when you deepen your seat, that drives the horse forward into your hands, right?
At this stage do you bother doing anything if the horse is sticking his head in the air? Or does all the tranitioning keep them reasonable?

Thats 'bout it. Hope your little holiday was excellent, you deserve it!

autumnblaze said...

Londoner - The Sally Swift 'soft eyes' was HUGE for me. Everyone said look up, just not how. I am actually aware of what my body is doing now. Almost to the point of annoying myself. I've figured out all my faults and want them all fixed. Now. Gator has been pleased with my progress. He's very sensitive and seems to read my mind when I'm relaxed. I'm still far from where I want to be but when I first came on here, all my questions were 'OMG he's spooking what do I do?'. We're a far cry from that now.

Oh and Mugs, I have a job interview Friday... if I get this job, Gator's mine. :) I think have a great shot too. Shorter commute and a raise. Horse ownership here I come...

autumnblaze said...

P.S. I should say I haven't figured out *all* my faults. That sounded really arrogant. I can now *feel* when something isn't right and am better at correcting most things. My trainer and I have a lot of work to do yet.

mugwump said...

HorsesandTurbos-That's why you have to use kittens - you can't get the loft you need with full grown cats. And if I have a bag of peeing cats I certainly would want my full range of motion.
Red Horse-let me think about this and post tomorrow. It's a big subject.
Londoner-That's my primary objection to the term "natural horsemanship." There is nothing natural about what we do with these horses, from the second they allow us to place a hand on their shoulder.
Anon,- 1.yes 2. yes. 3. yes, except I would drive forward with my seat also. If I just deepen my seat the horse will slow, but not necessarily move into the bit 4.Hopefully the transitions help with the horse not needing to stick his head in the air, but this will apply to Thursday's post. So tune in!

mugwump said...

Autumn Blaze - Hurray! Keep us posted. I just love the way the world works sometimes.
Here's one of those twists that keep horses interesting. In Reined Cowhorse, and cutting for that matter, we zero in on the part of the cow we want our horse to head for, or block. So it's pretty much "eagle eyes" for us.
The Big K very deliberately stopped my use of "soft eyes" when I started riding with him.
I had to learn to use the weight of my head and my direct focus to guide my horse.

autumnblaze said...

mugs - It is funny how sometimes things work out afterall.

Oh, I still use 'eagle eyes' too. I just don't need to often for my purposes. I think they both have their place. I would see especially in cow work and the like the necessity of focus. It was just something that say, out on the trail was a big big deal for us to STOP focusing. I was focusing on each thing around us... he felt that and decided I was hawking for scary stuff even when I thought I was pretty relaxed. He became spooky. I had problems. It made me even less relaxed. He spooked more... vicious cycle. I also am handling spooky situations better... that's the 'Ben Cartwright' though ;)

I am still having trouble wrapping my brain around the half halt. I don't have a well formulated question though and plan to talk to my instructor about it next lesson. I'll probably get back to you on that...

mugwump said...

autumnblaze-We're going to need input from some of the real dressage people on the half halt. I don't really get it either, but we have plenty of good horsemen who show up around here who can explain it. When you're ready we'll get a good discussion going on it, because I'm interested too.

quietann said...

The one thing about soft eyes that "gets" me is that yes, maresy is happier and less likely to spook if I'm soft-eyed, but I can't trust her 100% not to spook, given her general personality, and "came out of nowhere" spooks are pretty terrifying for me.

I have gotten pretty good at knowing when she *might* spook, and turning her head slightly away from the spooky object. But I have to know about the spooky object to do that.

OTOH -- here is a funny photo of *me* thinking she might spook at something, while she is totally nonchalant about it. (When we first went past it, the other way, she danced a little bit and stared at it. This was on the way back...)

Scary White Sign, Oh Noes!

mugwump said...

quietann- I love it. "Look honey, there's something for you to spook at! Really, I mean it's right there...."

lopinon4 said...

Mugs, I know of a mare who is REALLY having a trailer-loading issue. I tried your method last night (and it would've possibly played out better if I had experienced help with me), and although we almost got her inside, she just wouldn't commit to the final few steps. We even tried sedation, but she just wasn't cooperative. About 3 1/2 hours after we started, a big burly neighbor guy was allowed to intervene. He decided to "muscle" her in and ended up injuring the mare. I know you said your method always worked for you, and I'm wondering if any of the horses that you had success with had experienced any previous trailering traumas. This poor little mare is truly terrified. Thanks for any help/insight that you can provide!

autumnblaze said...

quietann - Very cute pic.

Soft eyes don't make him not spook ever. He still spooks. I don't always know when he's going to spook. Usually, if it's REALLY spook worthy I don't have a clue until we're a stride or two into it.

I was however on edge more not utilizing the soft eyes which made him spook more often because it put him on edge. Lord, he still spooks but I've learned to roll with it, stay calm, settle him and just get back ot business. It doesn't unsettle me for the rest of the ride anymore and so far I haven't made any unscheduled dismounts. I majorly adjusted my attitude regarding spooks too. That's the Ben Cartwright thing... I just sucked it up.

I usually turn him to the spooky object instead of away if I notice it before or when he does and make him check it out (well except deer). Gator is pretty experienced and I can make him face it, check it out and I'm calm he realizes he's being a big dork. Then the next time he knows it's not anythign to worry with.

Mugs - Okay, I'm glad I'm not that only one who's a little unsure what exactly is going on with half halts. :)

EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

"I'm telling you, horse training is one sucky profession."

Amen and you'll never know it until you are really doing it.

EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

Just re-reading, that was not meant snarky.

That was meant for anyone headed down that path.

It SEEMS in THEORY like a great job.

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