Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rearers and Bolters and Boogers, Oh My - The Sequel

So now we tackle Jess's problem, her rearing horse.

I am really glad Jess didn't whack her horse over the head or flip him over.
I strongly suggest Jess stay away from the boneheads who offered this as a solution.

I went back and carefully read her description of what her horse is doing and how old he is.

I also asked HOC to describe a horse in front of her leg.

There truly is method to my madness you see.

I want to point out some of the things I got from her comment before we get into her horse's criminal activities.

This horse is only four years old. He has been out on two trail rides in his life.

So I'm going to start with a little story and then my basic approach to trail riding on a young horse.

When my daughter started walking we began to explore the world around her. As a baby we went on long hikes with her in the backpack. Once she started walking our pace became hers. I crawled like a snail behind her as she toddled from interesting rocks to pretty flowers or crawly bugs. I waited as patiently as possible while she crouched over a grasshopper eating a leaf or poked a stick into the creek behind our house. She had a little apron my mother made her with rows of tiny pockets and she would fill it with her treasures as we poked along. It was long, slow and boring. I resigned myself to the fact I would be watching the ground instead of looking ahead for at least the next few years.

When I first take a young horse out I go with a trusted, older, experienced trail horse who has a rider with a lick of sense. I tuck my little colt at the hip of this trail wise horse and we stay there at first. I plan on going at a leisurely walk, allowing my young horse to gawk at the new world as much as he wants. I plan my trail ahead of time and avoid too many traumatic elements for my horse to deal with.

I will periodically gather my reins and push my youngster into a fast walk, I look ahead, ride with an active seat and get going, but only in an area where I can see ahead and judge the obstacles we'll be dealing with.

My colt can jump a little and take a quick look at something, but I am much more interested in keeping his feet moving than I am in proving he doesn't need to be afraid. I'll let him give that horse eating tree stump a wide berth as long as we get back on the trail and on our way.

I never stop and have him sniff things, or make him approach things we could easily walk around. It impedes our forward motion.

I keep the ride short. I usually dismount at the halfway point, loosen his cinch, slip the bridle (my rope halter and lead are underneath) and let him graze for awhile.

Then we rebridle, tighten the cinch and walk home.

As we ride out more I play leap frog with the other horse. I lead a little, my friend leads a little. I get my horse used to being in front.

I start to trot in the places we used to gather and walk out in.

I begin to tackle scary obstacles, like a bridge. I have my friend go across first. If my colt follows quietly after I say "Yipee!" because that doesn't happen all that often. If he's stuck at the other side squalling for his buddy I sit back and get ready to wait.

I get my friend to sit on her quiet trail broke horse on the other side. I sit quiet and loose and keep directing my colt's head, he has to keep looking at the bridge. I make absolutely sure I only direct him one rein at a time. I don't make him do anything except keep looking at the bridge. The buddy on the other side has all of the pull I need. I let him sniff, put on foot on it and back away, whatever. Eventually he'll cross. I've never had one not. This is a lot like trailer loading, crossing water, any of those things that make your horse say "What the hell? You want me to go where?"

So what I'm trying to say is, slow down, keep it short and plan ahead.

On to rearing. Rearing happens when the feet stop. Feet stop when the forward is lost.

Really think these sentences through. It's everything.

Here we get down to why I walk, trot and lope my colts before I do anything else. I want my base to be forward motion. I want my horse to freely travel with me on his back. I want him to understand this is his primary job.

I work on my forward all of the time. I take my horses face last because I want to push their hind end into the bit.

As the years have gone by and I've really ironed out this philosophy, I have had zero rearing or refusal issues. Not that I haven't had horses say, "Oh no, I don't want to do that," but because I understand I want forward motion, I can impart this onto my horses, I have always been able to resolve my problem.

Horses rear because they are having their faces hung onto.
They rear because their rider is kicking them forward and pulling them back at the same time.
They rear because the rider is kicking them forward and what the horse is afraid of or mad at is in front of them.
If I can keep those feet moving I will eventually get them forward. If I'm pulling with both hands I can't move anything.

If my horse rears I loosen my reins and lean forward so I don't die. Right as he comes down I start to kick the crap out of him and yell whatever nasty thing comes to mind until he goes forward. Because I'm still off his face we normally go forward.

If he doesn't want to go through a gate I might rollback away from the gate, kick him hard and mean, rollback to the gate, kick, away, kick, back, kick and finally get him in there. Then I sit quiet for a few minutes and take him out of the arena. Obviously it is best to practice this when a show isn't going on.

When I worked for the big K we would trot, lope or gallop (depending on the mood) our colts into the arena with a lot of forward energy. We would stop in the middle of the arena and just sit. We would stay in the middle anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes. But they were always hustled in and they always got a relaxed rein rest. We had no balkers at the gate.

I think Jess has to slow down her rides and ease up on her expectations. This is just a baby. I think she needs to work on her forward, in the arena, until she can count on her horse moving out as soon as she asks. I think she needs to check and re-check her hands.

I would work on getting my horse to move to the left with the left rein, to the right with the right. I mean the whole horse needs to go, not just the head back and forth.

That's all I got.


  1. Hey Mugwump - I've been waiting for this post :)
    I have a question - My mare rears, mostly when first mounting, with no contact on the reins... any suggestions? She also likes to flip over.
    I've had more experienced riders try to help me, They do the right thing easy, wrong thing hard as in when she rears, she gets her butt kicked in the round pen until she's so tired, she'd rather die than rear, and then get back on for a short ride around the arena. Another came out and did a bunch of NH Parelli stuff with her, then began as if she was a new colt, they stood in the saddle, flapped the stirrups around, and she stood there letting them do it until she got bored, then she started rearing. (she's 9 and is trained to the hilt, rearing is a refusal to do work on her part, not from pain or discomfort, and not because she's in season, she does it at totally random times of the month)
    I've had the vet out, and he says there is nothing wrong with her physically to cause her to rear, she's just a spoiled rotten brat.
    So, with all that being said, how would you handle her since "typically" she rears as your swinging your leg over the saddle? You never get the chance to ask her to go forward.

  2. This horse is a bigger mess than I can handle over the internet. I absolutely do not ride horses who flip over. I'm sorry I can't help more.
    If you are not an extremely experienced rider this horse is absolutely the wrong horse for you.

  3. Liked your two posts on bolting and rearing. I agree with rearers that the issue is often the rider stopping the forward motion, and the energy having no where to go but up (especially if the rider is asking for forward but not allowing it). We have an off-the-track TB that would rear (really really high) because she did not know how to soften her jaw, head and neck - we had to teach her that first to deal with the rearing. And she had no idea how to back and would rear when asked to back - we taught her to back from the ground.

    I like your approach to introducing a horse to the trail - I agree that being in a hurry isn't a great idea. I do a lot of ground driving - this allows me to get a lot done safely. I use an approach very similar to yours to get a horse to move forward - over a bridge, past scary obstacles, etc. - I just keep calming presenting the question by keeping the horse pointed where I want to go and rewarding the slightest try with a release (usually walking around) and then re-present the obstacle, reward with a release, and repeat as many times as necessary. I have a mare that used to refuse to cross water - even a puddle - and successfully used this technique which is very like yours with her.

    All that said, both bolting and rearing - as well as bucking - can result from serious pain issues - dental/bitting/chiropractic/saddle fit that should be ruled out before they're considered training problems. Also to S&D's question - some vets don't know s**t about pain issues if they're muscular and the horse doesn't show obvious unsoundness - a good chiropractor and dentist, in my experience, will be able to do a better evaluation.

  4. I've dealt with horses that reared as a form of balking. If I felt the horse was even thinking of stopping (and subsequently refusing to go and then rearing), I over and undered him on the butt right then and made him jump forward. I've taken their heads and kicked them forward into tight circles, while I spurred or whacked them, too.

    I don't care for horses that rear. Its not a vice I'm very tolerant of. I think it goes with a resistant personality, such as the horse I wrote about today on EI. Or a horse that's been spoiled. The horses I've known that took up rearing never really got over it. They sometimes got better, but when in a bind that pushed their buttons, they still thought of rearing. I have had friends get very seriously hurt (one died) when horses went over backward with them in the team roping box. One thing to be very careful of is putting a tie down on a horse. Some of the worst wrecks I know about came from horses flipping over when they hit a tie down for the first time, or the tie down had recently been shortened.

    I so agree about taking a steady horse to be a leader for the first few trail rides (even many, many rides, if that's what you need). I broke all my colts to go outside this way. I had one colt (Plumber) who really hated to cross water. He wasn't so bad about bridges. He hated to get his feet wet. I was employing the method that mugwump describes, with his buddy horse on the other side of the creek. Time passed. Plumber fretted but wouldn't cross. I had buddy horse move off down the trail out of sight. Plumber fretted more but wouldn't cross. I was running out of patience. I over and undered the stubborn little shit. Still wouldn't put a toe in the water. Finally, exasperated, I broke a branch off a tree and whacked him firmly on the butt. He jumped into the creek. And from then on he crossed water. But the first step in (for many years)was always a spine jarring leap. Maybe I'm not so smart(!) More patience would have been better.

  5. Thanks Mugwump - obviously not the answer I was looking for, but it's your honest suggestion, and I appreciate the honesty.

  6. We tried the "keep her feet moving" approach on our mare. (the barrel mare) started off with trying to circle her whenever she looked like she was going to go up, tried kicking her hip over, etc.

    This mare just HATED the pressure of barrels. (we did rule out pain...) and it was her way of saying " I really really do not like doing this". So she is happy with her new owner now and enjoying her cowplay.That being said, I am sure the rearing issue STARTED due to my daughter being rough on her face.

    I 100% agree with the forward motion and keeping the feet moving though. My 4 year old has "stalled" on me a couple of times this year, and I think if I hadnt "felt it" and dealt with it, she would have gone up if I pushed her forward.

    There was a period of about 2 weeks, where she would "stall", and she was THINKING of going up, I could tell. I quickly booted her around in a circle to "unlock" her feet and mind and it worked everytime. She hasnt tried to "stall" for along time now. Please keep in mind: this mare has tried EVERY trick in the book, so I just KNEW she was going to attempt rearing, but was able to feel her thinking about it and prevent it from happening by keeping her feet moving... But not straight, I had to go in a circle to unlock her, I think if I pressured her to go forward when she was in that "moment" she would have tried going up. Does that make sense how I am trying to explain it?

  7. badges - I try not to pull my horses in circles as punishment. I want my horses to seek a circle as a relief, not think of it as a punishment.
    When I say I yank them around I pull them around and change direction.
    I'm big on taking them left and right to get the feet moving, but I always keep their face pointed where I need them to go.
    I move them with my feet and legs and point the head at the destination. Especially rearers.

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  9. This is fascinating reading. My three year old doesn't rear or bolt (yet...knocking on wood), but it's interesting to have a perspective on what to do if he ever thinks about it.

    My first couple of trail rides on a young horse are with "friends", but once we get those first few rides, I get them out by themselves. I confess to being a wimp about this though. I start out leading them, when they are fairly calm, I climb on and ride. I don't mind if they do a looky-loo at something, but if I come across anything really scary, I get off and walk them by it, then get back on.

    Merlin is coming along fairly well with this method. Before the bug season kicked in, he was going out by himself for 2.5 mile walking trail rides with minimal theatrics, and longer group rides. Of course, he's pretty laid back about stuff, having been ponied out on the trail since he was itty bitty.

    I love training discussions....

  10. Mugwump, you're exactly right about dealing with that kind of rearing. My wonderful first horse started rearing about a month after I got him. Everybody told me he was drugged when I bought him and I ought to hit him with a big stick and/or flip him over. I thought really hard and read a lot and realized I WAS NEVER GIVING HIM SLACK. I was constantly pulling on his head and he was going up instead of forward. I let up on all contact, rode him like he was a western pleasure TWH, and that fixed it.

    He'd still rear, every now and then, when he didn't want to go forward. I'd just lean forward, wait for him to put all four feet back on the ground, and cuss him, and he'd go. Big difference in the two types of rearing. One was my fault, one was just him being ornery sometimes.

  11. Hey Mugs,
    Great post, it really hit home. I have a wonderful, wonderful event/dressage/jumper mare that I bought as a barely-broke just-turned-5 year-old who was (still is) late-maturing and headstrong. Smart as a whip though. I left her with a trainer I trusted when I went abroad for a semester in 2007, after she'd been solidly under saddle with me for about 6 months, and I came back half a year later to find a starved and beaten skeleton of the horse I once had. She also had developed a huge rearing issue.
    I don't know how many times the trainer flipped her. I know she did it though. Her back was so out of alignment it wasn't to be believed. She only did it with me once, well over a year ago, and we both landed softly and I take full credit for pushing her beyond what she was mentally capable of on that particular day. It's been a year and a half of patience, and she's incredible. She was once terrified of contact (hence the rearing), but now seeks it out willingly. She hasn't reared in several months, and the last time she did rear, it was a very small indignant hop, and only once. I really don't believe how far she's come. She's unbeaten so far this season (knock on wood... our next event is in two days!!)

    Rearing is an awful, awful issue and it can be really terrifying. To anyone with a rearer, please be careful. And seek help.... professional and mental!!

  12. I really enjoyed this post, mostly because a good friend of mine purchased a walker mare a few years back to trail ride on. The mare was awesome to trailride, except she would not go out by herself, not a bit. You could normally get her down the driveway and into the park a couple hundred yards. Then, she decided she was done because she was so herd bound, she would spin and bolt for home. If you held her, even just to a slower pace, she would rear. Normally, the first rear wasn't bad, but at this point, you're at a fast clip towards home, when you checked her a second time, she normally went over backwards, she would stop as soon as you touched her mouth and flip. If you tried to spin her back the correct direction instead of slow her, she reared and twisted herself over.

    Her owner asked if I would start taking her out, being the cocky teenager I was, I agreed. I switched to a snaffle and rode out. My genius plan was to simply get off when she got antsy, and lead her forward. She flipped even though I wasn't on her. I rode her three times and realized how dumb it was to keep getting on this horse. I'm glad I stopped, she flipped on top of her owner 3 weeks later on a group ride because her rider checked her back from the horse in front of her to avoid getting kicked.

    After those medical bills, the mare went down the road (literally in this case), and is a brood mare now that no one rides.

    I'm curious to know what your theory on a horse like this is, or if you would even attempt to mess with her or just stop her riding career like we did.

    We had many theories thrown at us, including one I found ridiculous, but kind of interesting. We were told to ride her with a water balloon or raw egg in our hand, and when she reared, to break the balloon or egg over her head while she was up. The theory was that the mare would think she hit something going up and was bleeding, and therefore would not do it again. Truthfully, I found is hilarious and didn't think it would work, but I was curious. Thankfully, I didn't trust myself to bail fast enough if she tried to go over, and so I never climbed back on board. But it's wild what methods people have supposedly used successfully on these types of horses.

  13. Mugs,

    First, thanks a lot for you advice and for posting about my topic.

    Second, I am heavy with my hands, its something I am working very very hard on.

    This horse has been out on only 2 trail rides with me. But his previous owner and trainer took him out multiple times, with other horses, as well as ponying him out.
    I probably did push him too hard though and lesson has been learned. We will be taking things much slower from here on out.

    With taking him out on rides with more experience horses, and taking things slower I don't think I will experience the other problem again. Hopefully.
    I am moving him to a new barn this weekend and unfortunatly won't have another horse/rider to go out with. I am also moving my older mare that is fairly reliable on the trail though, so I may pony him with her for a while.

    Is this a good solution to that problem?

    I will also be starting lessons again at this new barn to help with my bad bad hands.

    Thanks again for all your help!

  14. Nothing scares me quite as much as a rearer - I had a young one go over on me a few years back - she didn't land on me, she sort of went over to a point where she was sitting on her rump and hocks like a dog and then tipped to the right while I tipped to the left. Somehow during the 3 seconds it took from her starting to go up, to us both being on the ground, we covered 20m along the side of the arena and did a full 180 degree turn. I only know more or less how it happened because a friend was watching, it was all bit of a blur to me. I'm not 100% sure what set her off, although we discovered a broken off wolf tooth a few weeks later. Luckily neither of us were hurt, aside from her stomping squarely on my ankle as she stood back up.

    I rode this horse again, after I had her teeth done, had her sent to a trainer and got to a point where I was quite confident on her, depsite some ongoing issues with her attitude - but then one day in the middle of a ride I freaked out for no apparent reason and started envisaging her going over on me and developed a deep fear of rearing. I've since had vivid nightmares of riding a horse while it goes over rearing and have leased her out as a broody - I was just too scared to get back on her. I am a little sorry we never got to the real cause of the rearing - we assume it was the tooth although we had lots of theories and whilst she never did it again, she would stop and jack up if she sensed I was not in complete control or was freaking out. I wouldn't even sell her as a riding horse as I was too worried she would hurt someone if she ever tried it again.

    Thankfully for me, my current steed is very much a "all four feet on the ground" type of girl :)

  15. Like most people in the UK I've been taught to pull on my horse and it's taken me a long time to get over it- even when I thought I was riding without any contact I was still pulling on my horse. I'm sure I still do it more often than not, although I know I'm a lot better than I was.

    It's a hell of a tough habit to break as a rider but I'd say most horses appreciate it if you do, certainly it allows the horse to respond far more subtly.

  16. Stelladorro-I have heard of the water balloon deal, but haven't tried it. If it works at all I would think it would only work on a horse who wasn't panicked.
    On a frightened horse, like the one you're talking about, it wouldn't help.
    I have always thought that horses who will flip over backwards are scared stupid. The horse logic is not...I don't want to be alone. I'll flip over. There, I get to go back to the barn.
    It's ...Oh my God, evertime I leave the barn alone I flip over backwards.This hurts and terrifies me. I knew I shouldn't go out alone! I'm NEVER LEAVING THE BARN AGAIN.
    The muscle memory and automatic response we use to train our horses comes into play here. She has trained herself to flip over backwards.
    Which is why making sure we have automatic forward is so important.
    All being said and done, I don't know how to fix a horse who reacts that violently. I do know I wouldn't ride it.

  17. Jess - I think you're making some great choices. You will more than likely find someone to go out with in short order.
    Juli made an excellent point. Get off and lead him through stuff your not sure to handle. The trick is to get down before you have problems, not during the problem itself.
    I used this approach often when I was starting my colts at the barn without an arena.

  18. Andrea - Totally off topic but I looove you avatar pic that's so cute. :) I just had to say so.

  19. I've never been on a rearer and I thank my lucky stars. Bucking yes but no rearing. Good post though... always educational!

    The emergency brake is coming along quite well. We haven't made it back on the trail but will shortly.

    I have soft hands EXCEPT when he jumps etc. unexpectedly. Wham. Did NOT realize I was doing that... sorry buddy. The touching the withers for a 'whoa' is helping to train ME to drop my hands instead of slamming his mouth - even accidentally. I'm also simply AWARE that's what was happening. I think THAT will be the most beneficial thing of all. :) Thanks.

    Now making him go where I point ALWAYS without assistance from the crop... I hate having to carry a crop (especially in the large fields/trail) but just SHOWING him I have it and his halo sure does stay on straight. Never need it for forward just to remind him I'm always the boss brain in the horse/human duo. It just pisses me off to carry one, ever... I shouldn't need it. He's spoiled.

    Oh and we're moving him next week - when he offically becomes ALL MINE. :) Being a first time horse owner is a little skeery I have to say. :p

  20. Stuck this in the wrong spot....
    Hmmm...the two times I can think of my mare getting so scared she didn't want to go forward that she started to bounce on her front end, I instinctively loosened my reins, leaned forward, and kicked/wacked her with the reins until she got past the scarey things (both of which are normally in her pasture). Glad to hear I did something right :) Normally when she's scared she spins to run away, which I can handle (around and around we go).

    I have an idea/request. I find that I am using some stuff now that I learned from past blogs - i.e., teaching my mare not to drift out when circling...and would love to relay the experience here, but don't want to go off topic on the blogs. How about, say, once a month (or more, since are all learining so much)have a day when we share what we've discovered or learned from Mugs.

    We could even call it (ducking down low) Mug's Monthly - or something like that (okay, we don't have to call it that LOL!)

    Just an idea...


  21. "Rearing happens when the feet stop. Feet stop when the forward is lost."

    Is there a corollary like that for bucking? I'm riding a mare (6 yrs old) who bucked me off last summer. I had created tho, the "perfect storm" for that to happen--I know this. Result: Concussion and me spooked bad. She went back to the trainer. He worked with her (and did like her a lot), with me, with both of us (very good guy), and now a year later, I'm riding her again and enjoying it. Really. But way back in my mind, there is still this tiniest voice that says, she's knows how to get you off. ???

  22. milwaukeecob - to me its the same answer. A horse moving forward freely can't get it's head down and stop to give a good buck.

  23. Horses and Turbos - That's what Mouthy Monday is for! E-mail me at

  24. Milwaukeecob...What Fyyahchild said.

  25. When I got my Appendix QH, Toby, he had a horrible, nasty rearing problem. The girl that had him couldn't ride him for more than 3 or 4 strides without a full- on rear. Of course, she didn't tell me that when I went to look at him. I did, thankfully, ask what his tie-down was for. I was told "I wanted to train him to carry his hear lower" (my internal though process "What on Earth?!??!), and I took that off after making sure he didn't throw his head around sky-high, and before mounting. Ta-daaa..... Toby didn't rear. I also know I have MUCH softer hands than his former rider, and I trickride, trail ride, and do hunt-seat on him, instead of running barrels. We've found Toby HATES barrels. To him, it's pointless. I don't enjoy it much either, so we're a good match. I've also found that he enjoys being ridden off of my seat and legs. The more I pitch my reins away, the more cooperative he is. That's not to say I don't still have a few issues a year with Toby, but thankfully he's the kind of horse who advertises waaay in advance that he's going to have an issue. Bumping him to get more forward fixes everything, and Toby has recently (after 4 years of him learning I'm NOT going to yank on his mouth) started to learn dressage and take a lovely, if very light contact!

    I guess the moral of this very long tale is that forward fixes almost everything!

    For MilwaukeeCob- I was at a dressage clinic when I heard this statement "A truly forward horse cannot rear or buck"
    I don't know if the horse cannot, but I do know that I've never had a horse that was forward offer to rear or buck- forward isn't just about feet (although that's a HUGE part), forward engages the brain too!

  26. Another great "calm down and break it into steps" post. Great stuff. I'd love to ride with you some day, but 2800 miles is pretty far.

    Rearing is one of the big ones, for good reason. I totally agree that bashing a scared horse or a dangerously unbalanced one over the head is just nuts. Better to be focusing on how to stay on or bail out safely.

    That said, I own a horse who sometimes threatens to rear as an intimidation tactic, usually with no intention of following through. I have had success flipping a short crop upside down and holding it between his ears, where he can see it. (If he can threaten, so can I.) I have never hit him between the ears, and have no intention of doing so. I just ACT like I will.

    I sent this horse out to a trainer the day after he reared repeatedly and "shook me off" to go graze outside the ring. In hindsight that day was my fault resulting from expecting too much from a young horse, push-pull riding, not reading the situation, AND leaving the gate open. Too bad, I was intimidated and knew it. The trainer was someone I know, and good. While he worked on the horse, I rode as many other horses as I could to get my confidence back. (And get rid of the recurring dream of rearing...) The trainer used the turning repeatedly method of stopping any resistance, then sent him forward. It worked, but eventually I got tired of going through this routine every single day as warm-up. The day I flipped up my bat, faced my fear of rearing and said "bring it on" was pretty much the end of all that nonsense.

    It may be that it works much like using the over/under--my posture becomes much better and my focus is wonderful when I fear that I'll bop myself in the face with my bat. It may just be my change in body position and that mental determination. But it certainly did help my current horse give up the argument and find forward again. Worrying that he might rear was making me an ineffective rider.

    Also...I've ridden my entire life and have handled many misbehaving horses. This one just had me shaken up. So, maybe take this tale as a story, rather than a how-to, ok?

  27. rerider-Didn't you know their brains are in their feet?

  28. MUGS, can you please come to BC Canada and spend a week with me? (Daily riding lessons please)

  29. bbNj - I'll fight you to get her to VA! :p

  30. Great advice as usual, Mugs. I don't think I ever told you that I used quite a few of your methods to get my mare to finally cross the river from the arena to the thanks for all your great posts!

    -Made it really hard for her to move away from the river, but really easy to walk toward it
    -Always made her look at it, no matter what else she was doing - she HAD to look straight ahead to the water
    -Let her rest and relax for even the smallest try that brought us one step closer
    -Once she crossed, walk up the trail to the clearing, then turn for home and be done for the day after crossing back (anything from dismounting and loosening the girth before going back to her stall to untacking and letting her roll and play for a few minutes, if the arena was empty)

    I think the thing that finally got her to start crossing on the first try, every time, was holding the reins just above the buckle, with enough contact to correct her if needed, but long, loose reins, and then keeping my body relaxed while asking her to move forward. I guess it had dawned on me that I wanted my trail rides to be easy and relaxed, so I needed to start out that way, and make crossing the river easy and relaxed.

  31. Badges-I'm sitting it out so I can get my non-pro status more lessons from me.
    Promise -I think remembering "this is fun" is the hardest thing we have to do.

  32. Mugs...what if it was just free advice but in person. LOL.

    Actually, I'm just glad you continue to offer yourself so freely here. That way I can steal your stuff and act like I know what I'm talking about. sister and I always give you credit. Everyone's probably tired of hearing about what we read on your blog. I'll tell you what though, we got a horse in the trailer this last weekend who DID NOT want to go in. She's a spoiled brat who's owner is too afraid to handle her well. We finally talked her into taking this horse to a trainer and by god we were getting her in that trailer. It needed to happen. Although, you know, its really too bad the trainer couldn't come out and see what she was getting into. We kept this mare's nose pointed at the trailer with a rope through the window, we kept her feet moving from behind. She fought...hard. When she stopped to think about going in we gave her a little break each time. Finally she just hopped right in like she's done it a million times. I never even smacked her with the whip. I thought her owner was going to pass out and die right there watching her horse thrash around and we ignored her. Well, until afterward when she was silly enough to tell my sister how scared she was of the mare. My sister kindly but bluntly told her that she had no business owning her then and if she couldn't get over it she needed to find a horse that didn't scare her and if she couldn't do that then she needed to get out of horses, period. I don't know if truer words have ever been spoken. I mean we all have fear but when it overwhelms you like that you create an animal that is dangerous for you and anyone else that ends up getting involved. It isn't fair to that mare and it isn't fair to anyone that has to work around her.

    These last couple of blogs have really made me think. I want to train horses but I don't know if I really thought about dealing with the kinds of messes people make. Its so different to pick a horse I like and work with those specific problems. Its a whole other thing to take on whatever you get brought with all the crazy owners, the liars, and all of the fruitcakes we know are out there but don't impact me right now at my small barn with my limited contacts. I'd bet cash money this lady wasn't honest with this new trainer about what the situation with the mare is. Sigh...

    Sorry, that was kind of off topic but kinda not.

  33. Fyyachild - My frustration with clients got bigger as my patience grew shorter every year.
    My long term clients were different. They knew me, I knew them, we made it work.
    It was the 30 to 90 dayers that made me batty.
    I swore time and time again I would only take a horse for a minimum of 90 days.
    I swore I wouldn't ride crazy trash anymore.
    But then there would be a show I wanted to get to or a bill needed paying, or someone who could only scrape up a couple of months worth of training, but really needed help. And there I'd be, riding yet another puke who was supposed to be a finished cowhorse in 30 days.
    See what you've done? Now I'm all cranked up.

  34. I don't know mugs, with all the interest in you traveling around the country to give lessons, maybe you should become a clinician after all. Wouldn't you be excited to wear the fancy clothes and carry around carrot sticks? Just kidding !!! ;)

  35. I can totally see the trap of that. That's not what I want either.

    Heh...finished in 30 days. I need to up my game considerably. I have after a year finally taught my gelding to canter half way decently. I want to find a trainer to apprentice with. Free labor for an exchange of ideas. The problem is I'm not 19 and I work a 9-5 job, plus ride and clean for my barn and have a family. It doesn't give me a lot of time for slave work but I would figure it out if given an opportunity.

    I wish I could get fast enough to flip horses like bad houses
    in good neighborhoods. Take in OTTBs, give them a great start on a new career and sell them to decent homes but I've never figured out how to make it profitable because of my level of experience and right now this economy doesn't help. Plus I'd always worry about the ones I sold.

    On the other hand, I'm riding better than I ever have before. I'm riding with a plan and a purpose with my own beasts. I'm also riding 2-3 extra horses a week for our barn owner and she and her husband seem pleased with my work. They pay me which is a bonus. I exercise her sale horses and keep them tuned up. I'm even learning to ride WP right now and thinking about doing some showing on her quarter horses. Sometimes other boarders ask me to get on their horses and fix a problem. More often than not, I'm able to help. I'm trying to look at this as a good place to be instead of being so worried about it being a stepping stone to the next thing. The truth is I just want a way to not have to work and to have an excuse just ride all day. :)

  36. mocharocks - I've already got the hat....

  37. Fyyahchild-How do you fit it all in? I can barely fit in riding one horse (with a full time job and a barn to clean) and I don't even have a family...yet. I know there are lots of you out there that fit in riding more than one horse along with everything else in life, and as far as I'm concerned you are all awesome! If only there was just one more hour in a day... :)

  38. Mugs- I think we are gonna need to see a picture of that posted on the blog ;)

  39. Mocha - Quite honestly I'm insane. And a bit selfish but not in an entirely bad way. I sacrifice, I prioritize and I've always done better under pressure. I like having too many things going on instead of not enough. I wish there was a better answer. Oh and if you figure out how to add an hour or two let me know, kay?

  40. Wow Fyyahchild, you have my utmost admiration! You seem to fit about 36 hours into every 24. I'm currently struggling with my 2 ponies at home, and one of them is retired! Unfortunately I don't get to ride everyday, I work from 7 - 5.30pm and live a little way out of town, so I'm away from home from 6.30am til 6pm which means leaving and coming home in the dark in winter. I only have one stable to clean and no children yet and lucky for me my non-horsey husband is happy to learn how to help and can now catch, rug and feed at night. I think us horsey people should petition for an extension of hours in the day!! I hang out every year for day lights saving to roll around again, right now I'm just thrilled that we are past June 21st and the days are offically getting longer :)

  41. It's not easy but summers are not so bad. The kids are out of school and go to the barn with me. I get off at 4:30 get home by 5:30 and head to the barn by 6. I clean 3 nights a week for about an hour and then ride at least 2 horses. On good nights I'm done by 9. Head home, clean up and bed to get up the next morning at 5:30 to jog before work. My kids have learned to eat on the run.

    Saturday is usually my barn day and I spend at least 8 hours. Sundays I spend with the family. I'm trying to figure out how to fit showing and trail riding away from home into this mix but don't have enough give yet.

    I don't clean house often. I don't get my bills paid on time as often as I should. I never even look at the mail if I can help it. I don't shop or have time to get my nails done like I used to. LOL...priorities. Fortunately my hubby is a saint about helping with the house.

    In the winter this will all fall apart again. It's why its taken me so long with Tax. I will clean in the dark 3 night a week and never get a chance to ride except Saturdays which are miserable because everyone is stir crazy from being locked up. Plus I will have to try to figure out how to help kids with homework and have them ready for school the next morning. Boo! Put there is a new trainer at the barn and we're talking about collecting money for arena lights if the owners won't do it.

    So, is this really out of whack with what others do? I assumed when Mugs talked before about working odd jobs and training and having a family it was similar in the sense of the busy-ness of it.

  42. yes - it's close. I get home by 5:30 or 6 most nights, except Monday and Tuesday, which run on until 7 or 8.. I run up to the barn and ride. On the week-ends I head out to Kiowa to see my other ones.
    Cleaning? Ha!
    Sanity? None!

  43. "Cleaning? Ha!
    Sanity? None!"

    I'm just sitting here lol at you guys....too funny! ;)