Monday, September 21, 2009

Mouthy Mondays

I had a thought. I know, Uh-Oh, she's thinking again. I had a comment about not trusting a horse enough to lay down and fall asleep still holding the rope.

When I'm in trainer mode then I think safety, safety, safety. When I write my stories I'm telling you what I did, but not what I necessarily want to promote as intelligent behavior. Please, please understand I did a lot of really stupid things.

I used to take long rides on Mort. I would stop to take a break. I would lay back and tie one rein around my ankle. Then I would doze. Or eat my lunch, or whatever. Think about this for a minute.

I was self-taught in so many ways. I had already been a trainer for at least two years before I started getting regular help. I learned my craft in an extremely bass-ackward way.

I guess what I'm getting at is, do as I say, not as I write, OK?

Badges Blues N Jazz sent me this ages ago, another one of my record keeping errors. Sorry Blues, there's a reason I'm not a file clerk.

Summing It Up

Well, I figure its time to sum up what I have got so far in this blog. Of course I will continue with it, I just wanted to sum up the past year in one post. If that's possible.

So, I buy my "dream horse" who was a product of the breeding farm that I had yearned to buy from but couldn't afford. Bought her off her second owner for a steal.

With fresh dreams of training her from start to finish all by myself, and how wonderfully broke she was going to be and how bonded we would be.

Pick her up and shes a body score of MAYBE 2, and skittish as hell.

Do ground work, pony her, lunge her, had her side passing, moving hindquarters and forehand on the ground, hauled her out to show her cows, drove her etc etc.

A warning bell had kind of gone off in my head on how whenever she was left for a few days, it would be like starting all over again.

I chose to ignore it and proceeded to get on her and walk a few steps shortly before she turned 2. Did it a second time, 3 min TOPS.

Then, the third time, just got settled in the saddle and BAM, she exploded into a bucking bronc. Landed on my back, winded.

Was nervous of a repeat performance, so sent her to a friend to put a few rides on her. He had his wife lead him around. 1st ride, great, 2nd ride, great, 3rd ride? BAM, explosion. 1 pulled groin later, she is back at my place.

I continue to do groundwork but am too scared to ride. I would get brave enough to put a foot in the stirrup, and she would EXPLODE backwards, sometimes. Not all the time. September of her 2 year old year, I decided she was to much for me. Traded her off for something else and regretted it the moment she was gone.

Spent four sleepless months plotting on how to get her back. Finally, had to use my credit card to buy her back at a ridiculous price.

Hubby had a HUGE blow out, he hated Jazz and couldn't fathom WHY I would want her back. They said she had 2 months training. NOT. Finally got a hold of their 18 year old trainer who said she had put a MONTH on her AND got kicked in the stomach by her which made her unable to ride for 2 weeks. Hmmmmmm.

More warning bells you ask? Nope, I was just happy to have her back.Got her back on December 24th and put a ride at a walk on her on Dec 30th. Yea, she was still SUPER green. Sent her to a trainer, who rode her for 2 weeks, then did 2 weeks of groundwork.

Trainer told me I should sell before I get hurt on her. I couldn't. I was bound and determined to make the dream come true, and began my blog to keep me motivated. I put approx 2-3 months of just walking and trotting on her and started off with my fear at a 20 on a scale of 1-10 and gradually got down to a 9.

She has bucked me off twice since then, but there are also huge milestones of progress. I don't regret it for even an instant. She can be very light and responsive, as well as witchy and stubborn. She has tried EVERY trick in the book which has made me a better rider.

She turned 4 this month, and although she may not be as well trained as a lot of 4- year- olds, I am extremely proud on how far we have come together and the fact that I have been her sole rider for the last year.

Do I get frustrated? Yes! Of course. When I can go trot the barrel pattern on her one day without an issue, and the next day, a barrel on the side of the arena is a horse eating dragon. Or one day she will lope wonderfully slow collected circles with sliding stops, and the next day she will bolt and go 90mph and have no whoa.

How bout that she will go into a herd of cows with absolute passion, and LOVES to chase them, then the next week she is poking her shoulder out and trying to avoid going into the herd? Yea, I get frustrated.

It doesn't mean I will give up. She keeps me on my toes. Just when I get over confidant, she will try a new trick that brings me back to reality that she is a living, breathing, thinking, conniving creature, not a robot.

I love her individuality, and have NEVER come across a horse like her. She has taught me that it doesn't matter what people think, because riding her in a crowd, I am prepared that she may bolt or buck, and there is no way in hell I am going to look pretty riding her, so its best to give up on any sort of pretense that I may actually look like I ride good: sure enough, if I do think "hey, look how good we look" she will poke her shoulder out and bolt halfway across the arena, there is no way to recover your dignity if your hauling back on your reins and kicking like a crazed woman trying to get that shoulder back, or (God forbid) eating a mouthful of dirt, so, I have learned to accept that.

Thankfully, I have not come off her in public yet, but it is just a matter of time. I am prepared to leave my pride at home when I got to events with Jazz and to just enjoy it.I have had to revise my goals a bit. The dream of riding bareback and being "one with my horse" like Stacey Westfall is not to likely to happen with Jazz. Maybe once she is 30 years old, but not anytime in the near future. So, my goals now are to continue with her training and hopefully have her consistent.

My immediate goal is to do this season of cattle penning with her, and then start doing time only's in barrels next year.

I have purchased a yearling that I will transfer the Stacey Westfall dream to, and already I can tell he is NOT another Jazz. I don't want Jazz to every lose all of her 'tude, because its what makes her Jazz, and why I love her.


  1. Good luck! You know what you want and what you want to do!

    Any move forward is progress. You don't need to measure or compare to others. It's all subjective and it's all so personal to each of us.

  2. Awesome, sat on a yearling and rode as a two year old? Huh, think it might have been a tad overfaced???

  3. eventer79 - Not that I agree with how its done but that's the age you would begin to compete AQHA futurity horses. It not uncommon to train them at that age. Many readers here are critical of the program that allows this to happen but some of them also want to have competitive show careers. One of the things I love about this blog is that we can have different opinions but everyone is respectful about how they state them. I find I get more credibility when my comments don't put anyone off and I learn a lot more that way.

    Badges Blues N Jazz - I give you credit for recognizing and appreciating what you have in Jazz. I wish I was there with December. Thanks for the story.

  4. I have had the occasion to reject a couple of training horses that were like wasn't worth my livlihood or body to fool with them. Pay me double AND buy my insurance????

  5. Personally, I learn from reading. I'm also notorious for becoming defensive when I feel under attack.
    I started more than one horse who was technically a yearling. I started more than one futurity prospect.
    I made my decision to wait longer to start my young horses once I was free to make my own choices of when and how to start a colt.
    Badges is training as she's been taught.
    It seems to me she is a kind and thoughtful rider.
    She has been able to come here to talk about training without critism for a long time.
    I'd like to keep it that way, for Badges and everybody.
    Explaining how and why we do things ourselves is the best approach for explaining a difference in training. At least that's what seems to work around here.

  6. Sorry, it's Monday and I'm in a bad mood so my ability to be tactful may perhaps have been hampered. However, having watched too many animals suffer too many things "because that's how it's done" has put me to the point where that's not an acceptable excuse anymore. Either you are ok with damaging your horse or you are not. And I'm trying to say this in a very calm, non-attacky way and probably failing. I appreciate that people want to have show careers and that's fine. But I will never be able to say, "oh, it's ok because she wanted to show it" or accept without comment sitting on a yearling. By participating in that particular event, you are implicitly endorsing that it is ok to hurt horses as long as it is for personal gain. Badges may be a lovely person and a nice rider but I cannot in good conscience call sitting on a yearling "thoughtful." I understand that there are times that we "do what we have to do" for work, but on one's personal horse...I can't think of an acceptable excuse really. Learning is great, sharing experiences is great, but I think as a collective world of horse people, we have the power to make a statement FOR the horses. Again apologies on my lack of tact -- my job is one that constantly serves in disappointment despite trying to do the "right thing" and today is not a kind one.

  7. Sounds a lot like my mare when she was that age. If you can truly get through to her, she'll probably be amazing...for you, and only you.

  8. Very well timed post for me. I had one of those great "humbling experiences" this weekend. Ate dirt in front of God and everyone. Off to the doc in a few minutes now to get my leg x-rayed. *sigh*
    Thanks for the pep talk though. I know I have a "good 'un", I just need to hang in there for awhile longer and be patient. :)

  9. The trainer I work with thinks I'm crazy and missed a window of opportunity because I started my crazy mare at 4 instead of 2. They do some groundwork and put a few little rides on their horses as very long yearlings. Their horses are sound. My horse is sound.

    I went with a friend to a talk at UC Davis about stem cells and all of the other new procedures they are doing for horses before and after injury. My friend is always very vocal about not working horses as 2 year olds. One of the examples they were showing was a Thoroughbred that had a hairline fracture, low on the backside of its pastern. It was very difficult to properly diagnose. My friend basically told them that 2 was too young to be raced. The main guy there said no, that indeed they have found that the horses' bones etc are stronger and harder because they had the work then. Of course, he was sure to say that good trainers know how much to work those horses at that age.

    Anyway, I know that some young horses are damaged by people who don't know what they're doing, and I do feel badly about them. However, there are many people who DO know how to bring a young horse along. Still, I won't get in an argument with anyone about this. Do what's right for you and your horse.

  10. p.s.
    Good job on hanging in there Badges, be safe! Think of all the good knowlege you have for the next (and less difficult) one that you start!

  11. Hey Mugs: we seem to have lost our common sense in this world of equines, wouldn't you say? Along with all the good things we have learned about horses, there seem to be an equal number of maybe not so good things. See FHOTD's blog on helmets and Parelli. We have all done stupid things with our horses I remember tying my gelding to a barb wire fence when I was a teen just so I could go and catch some rays for a bit, ya dumb doesn't even begin to describe some of the things I did. So you lying on the grass dozing with Sonita made a weird kind of sense to me. You weren't doing it in the middle of the training ring, you trusted your mare to use the time to relax and you probably weren't dozing all that heavily. Being a mom myself, once you have kids the ability to sleep without hearing everything that goes on around you forever disappears. I guess all I'm saying is lets cut each other some slack and realize that most people don't set out to intentionally do their horses wrong. You do better when you know better and until then a whole lot of us are just trying to do what we believe is right. Does that make sense all the time, probably not. I guess what I'm trying to say is that what I did with my gelding was dumb but I knew him and he was a great guy and we had reached an agreement on a lot of things so that I trusted him not to be stupid and he trusted me to eventually untie him and get him back home to his dinner!!

  12. oh badges blues n jazz - thanks for sharing your story! I gain so much encouragement from the trials and testimonies of other horse owners. It helps me go forward knowing that their are other people out there trying to do right by their horses!!!

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Badges Blues N Jazz~~very nice story. You've got determination that most don't have and I give you a 10 for that! Glad to read that you've got another prospect going that sounds like a nice fit for you...congrats~~

  15. Well, Jazz competed in a team penning at a fair this weekend. It was AMAZING. We got a 1st place for a fast go and a 3rd fastest go, and as far as sitting on her shortly before she was two, she is 4 now and so far, I see NO SIGNS of damage from sitting on her. Her REAL training didnt technically start until last year as a 3 year old.

    For anyone that thinks of giving up I have this to tell you. Jazz, who I thought would NEVER have come this far - walked down the road several times to the fairground, cars, motorcycles etc going past us, she went into the arena with HUGE crowds, rides all around, banners on the arena AND even stood quietly beside me while the lawn mower races went on. She "grew a brain" and I am so dang proud of her.

    back to sitting on her shortly before she was 2. I have a 15 month old, and will I sit on him at 2? You bet. I dont agree that sitting on him is going to hurt him in any way shape or form- its the HARD training that does. My opinion is that walking a few steps, learning to stop and back up a few steps at that age doesnt hurt them in the least and I have yet to see a horse "damaged" from it.

  16. oh, and just wanted to add.... I am anxiously awaiting another Sonita story...although, I dont want the story to end either...sigh

  17. For the record, we routinely start our horses under saddle at two and (touch wood) they are very sound. They spend most of their two year old year wandering around the mountains on trail rides of one to two hours, mostly walking, but they do learn to jog and lope out there. By their late two year old year they usually start tracking some cattle. This is not a futurity schedule by any means, but they are being ridden. The last horse we sold had a very thorough vet check and the vet proclaimed him the soundest 6 year old he'd ever seen-- not a spavin, not a bump, nothing. That horse was being ridden on cattle at team pennings at three. I think all of the long, slow time in the mountains does them good and makes them stronger, much like the research on putting young race horses in moderate work.

    We've ridden a pretty fair number of horses over the years, so it's not like we just got lucky on one or two or they haven't gotten old enough to have problems. Sure, you can mess one up by starting them too early and doing a lot of maneuvers that torque the joints, but getting on one at two doesn't automatically make the trainer a horrible, abusive person that doesn't love their horse.

    Having started some older horses in my time, I think it's harder on the horses that are 4 or so before they go to work, as they don't have much of a work ethic and the whole "job" thing is a pretty rude awakening. They also seem to have more trouble with cinch galls and other maintenance issues that I attribute to not physically adapting to the life of a saddle horse as they're developing.

    I know I'm not going to change anyone's mind who has already made it up. I just wanted to point out that riding two years olds is not the work of the devil, regardless of what FHOTD or others may espouse.

  18. Mugs, your tying to the ankle story reminded me of a question I've been wanting to ask someone for some time....

    Ever since someone BIT MY HEAD OFF (and I mean those capital letters... she had foamy spittle flying from her mouth and everything)I've avoided doing the following just in case, but sometimes I wonder...

    Can you tie two horses to the same tie-rail if they can technically reach each other? By reach each other I mean that they could, if they so decided, turn butt to butt and start firing away at each other. Or do they have to be on opposite sides of the tie rail? Or so far apart that there's no chance of it happening?

    When I was 16 I tied my mare to a rail next to a gelding--- both horses were great at standing while tied. They were maybe 5 feet apart, on the same side of the rail. I went around the corner (still within earshot but out of sight) and was eating my lunch with Crazy Horse Lady came flying around the corner and chewed me a new one for endangering my horse like that.

    Was she right? It make sense, but it also doesn't.... I've never repeated it since because it made such an impression on me, but sometimes I felt stupid walking my horse waaaaaay far away from all the other horses when I knew she would stand calmly, and knew the other horses well enough to trust them also.

  19. Hey there--it's been a while since I came over to have a good read-around. I've been missing a lot of great content!
    Ever thought about either hosting or contributing to the Carnival of the Horses? Blog carnivals are a great way to get in contact with other like-minded bloggers and to promote your blog.
    Contact me if you're interested. We'd love to have you.

  20. BBnJ, you are brave. I don't think i could've done what you've done and I give you huge kudos for it. I hope that you and your mare get to the place you're working towards. Stay safe. I'm in awe (and I'm a chicken, so there)....

  21. Becky... with horses you know, I wouldn't be too worried. I'm a hick show person... we tied our horses to the back of the horse float (trailier ) and it was one of those "horrid" straight loads (They're really the only type of float that was around when I was a kid - unless you had a truck). We'd have 3 tied in teh 6 foot space behind the float, and if we took someone else, they're be standing near a "known but not paddock mate" and all were fine.

  22. Badges Blues N Jazz, you are so brave!
    The horse you have is exactly the kind of horse I don't want - one I can never relax on - the fact that you are sticking with her, and not just sticking, you seem to be thriving on her 'tude', is a great encouragement to me. Your ability to not get frustrated at her antics, and not get discouraged by all of the extra time and effort she's taking, well that gives me great comfort with respect to my gelding, Oliver. As I've posted about on my blog, he's got attitude, on a much lower scale than Jazz, but the same ballpark.

    Also, my input on the training issue:
    I started Oliver at two, we lunged, saddled, bridled, ponied, long lined, and yes, rode.
    We walked all over pastures, down trails, up the driveway, just putting miles on the little guy to get him used to the idea of travelling with a rider.
    Like InTheBridle says, it's not a matter of training at two, everything is still a game at two, it's getting them used to the idea of having a job, and a purpose. I've since started horses older than two, three and four year olds, and they seem to have a bigger problem with being asked to work on a regular basis than two year olds, who are so young they just seem to accept it without question.
    For that reason, I will always (unless there is a physical or emotional problem), start light riding at two.

    Great post badges blues N jazz, I'll be checking your blog regularly to see how Jazz is coming along.

  23. BB&Js - She just had some mental growing up to do it seems! To me that's one of the bigger reasons I have a problem with rushing training/showing etc. - their brain isn't ready. Light work actually has been proven in a 2 year old to help build stronger bone structure, at least in TB's. You've taken your time and she's come along and will be better for your patience. Good for you.

    My dog Autumn was this way - seemingly insane in her younger days. I almost gave her up at 9 months - a few trainers thought she was insane and I was just a dumb college kid. She's 7.5 now and just this weekend a friend was wishing her dog was as good as Autumn... :) It's a good feeling to know you were the one to give them a chance and had the patience and trust to know there was something wonderful in them. I know dog/horse not the same but I know what you mean so kudos.

  24. Mugs - I was thinking last night about the self taught issue. I was the same. I'd been riding for years before I went to a trainer. I had a lot of bad habits to unlearn but I had a better relationship with my pony than any of the pony club kids that had been in lessons for years. Even then I worked for board and couldn't afford a ton of lessons but soaked up everything I could like a little sponge. It also meant I got a chance to learn a little from the dressage trainer, a little from the H/J trainer and a little from the play days we did. I could kind of pick and choose what worked best for me and I think it made me more well rounded. I wouldn't trade my background for the world.

    I pulled some old pictures to show a friend of me jumping my first TB. You know what? My posture looked better than I ever remembered. Seems like I'd figured something out along the way. I'm going to have to scan this picture and add it to my blog soon. It gives me hope every time I look at it that I will get back there again.

  25. I just want to add: I have been riding on and off for 23 years. I feel Jazz came into my life to teach me. I have learned more in my time with her then in all those years put together.

    Mugs, when I first came to your blog, I was having shoulder issues with her. I have learned UMPTEEN methods to fix it. There are now no longer ANY issues with her. She has grown up. So, my words to anyone in the same situation, who feels they have an extremley talented horse on their hands, but thinks they should give up - DONT.

    I went from trotting circles for two months, to competing in a large event this past weekend (and winning a fast go round!) My mare, who was broncy, scared of her own shadow, and flighty, now lopes quietly, goes down the road, even stood for the lawn mower races. All it took was persistance. Anyone can do it. Just dont give up, and push yourself past your comfort zone a little each day.

    The sense of accomplishment I felt as we chased our cow down the arena with the crowds cheering will never be matched. I did it, and so can you. Jazz is my Sonita. I did it!

  26. On the tying your horse too close's bigger than you think.
    Standing tied is a requirement for horse I train. It's the first thing they learn.
    When I had a lot of horses to train I would often get them all out. They would stay tied until I rode them. Then I would tie them and not put them up until I was done for the day.
    If room was an issue I would bring them up 3 at a time, but the rest was the same.
    Here's what I learned.
    Some horses (usually mares) will gripe and argue and kick and fuss at everything.
    These I carefully tie out of range.
    Horses tied close to each other will cause less damage than horses tied almost out of range.
    All horses will chew up any tack in range, so I make sure no teeth can get to them.
    Older horses will bully babies, so I grouped them, babies, mares, geldings.
    I tied my studs across from the other horses unless they were dangerous.
    They could fuss, scream, cry, kick, whatever, but they still couldn't get to the other horses.
    It helps a stud immeasurably to stand tied across the fence from mares in heat.
    They learn that when they are tied the world is not theirs.
    If I was riding a horse for someone who was freaky about their horses getting hurt I tied them well away from the others. I didn't want to stress someone over something like tying.
    I don't discipline horses while they are tied unless their behavior directly affects me. Like crowding, shoving, striking while I'm around, etc.

  27. Umm, you're waiting for her to reach 30 so that you can ride her bareback.Don't count on her changing too much,a couple of months ago my 16 yr old Highland pony who I would describe as dead broke exploded & got rid of the lion on his back.Said lion being me his 63yr old long suffering owner.Only took Y/O scraping a bit of metal fencing along the outside of the indoor school to make fathead forget himself

  28. Thanks for the story, BBnJ.
    It is so easy to loose confidence, and start doubting oneself when things are tough.

    Many talented horses are quirky.
    You see it over and over again in top competition, you need the right match between rider and horse for the horse to perform to its potential.

    So nice to hear that you now are getting the reward for all hours of patient work. Well done!

  29. This blog was timely for me, too. Thank you for sharing your success story, Jazz.

    Once a fearless rider, I am now the biggest darn chicken you've ever met (as I've already complained to Fyyahchild):). I bought my dream pony 5 years ago as a 4-yr old, then a series of unplanned events side-lined my riding her for 4 years. Now that she's 9 years old I am dying to ride her, but she is worse than green broke. I've been trying to work with her when I'm able since I can't afford a trainer, but I no longer have the confidence to help her through her issues. I don't want to sell her, but probably need to. We are currently working to finish our fence and barn, so I am hoping once I get her in my back yard I will have the time to devote to starting her completely over. Maybe I should send you her story, Mugwump, and you can give me some wise advice...sure wish you were close by!!!!

  30. I have a few things to say. First, Great story!!! I have started my horse as a 2 y-o. she is now nearly 4 and she is quite the reliable horse. I will ALWAYS start my horses riding at 2.. the difference between my methods and other people's methods is that I tack up my horse, get on from a mounting block (lesser stress on back / shoulder), ride for about 15-20 minutes (if even that!) at a walk, practice stops, large turns and back. I also start groundwork as soon as the foal is born. HE gets haltered (I never leave a halter on) then starts being worked on the lead, all of my weanlings lead great. They learn that I am what they should respect and listen to. They learn that my space is MINE unless invited in it. After the horse is past the 2.5 y-o age, I start trotting them, but mostly let them decide when they've had enough, I let them stop instead of pushing them, the same goes for canter. I only start to teach them to stop when I say so at the age of 3 or 3.5 y-o. I never lunge a young horse and will only start that work at 2.5 or 3, the rest of the time, I get them used to the bit, ground drive, hand walk, ground work (feet, noise, etc.) My horse can come across ATVs, Snowmobiles, chainsaws, lawnmowers, tractors, heavy machinery, traffic, dogs, etc. without a spook. I do not work my horses hard, I have someone boarding at our farm that rode a 1.5 year-old horse HARD... she canters and runs her pretty much the whole time she's riding... the filly is now 2 years old and lame on the right front, it's sad because she is a great horse, great personnality. I have seen no signs of lameness or nothing even near lameness in my horse.
    2. We've all done stupid things, I won't talk about what I've done... long story!
    3. I teach all of the horses in my barn that when they have a halter and a lead rope (or a saddle and a bridle), that conflicts between them is not allowed. Believe it or not, this works! When my horses are working, they are not allowed to pin their ears, strike or kick at other horses. In the barn, they are tied end to end (like a train) in crossties and if the first one wants to kick the other, well, they can reach her... but it is not allowed as long as they have those halters on. When I first get a horse, I teach them to respect other horses when I am around, it's a safety issue when you are walking in your pasture or whatever. Horses are not allowed to push, shove, pin their ears or strike at any other horse, while I am around. If they do... they get corrected by me (I strike or smack them and keep them off of the victim). Same goes if under saddle or tied up. When they have learned the lesson, I can successfully have two horses that are ennemies in the pasture ride side by side without a problem. it's a question of respect (and safety) for the human.

    To Eventer79: I don't think the issue is the age of the horse, since many 2 y-o have been broke and backed without becoming lame in the long run. I believe the amount of work and the intensity / lenght of the workout is the key here. This is what causes problems, this is what causes lameness. I am against riding a yearling, even a late (long) yearling... I believe you should wait until the summer of their 2nd year and ONLY ride tiny amount of time, once a week, the rest should go into ground work and caring for the horse. Even today, I only ride my horse lightly 2-3 times a week (she's almost 4 y-o) for no more than 2-2.5 hours at a time, there still aren't any sharp turns even though her knees and joints are all closed now. I expect to do the same with all of my future horses.

  31. On riding young horses and bone modification:

    Any extra weight-bearing exercise is going to increase bone density, as bones are constantly remodeling themselves. A short-term study could easily show that beginning weight-bearing exercise will result in bone modifications where the bones get stronger. Think of doctors telling older women to do some weight lifting to build bone.

    Equine bone researchers need funding to perform experiments/eat. Some of the big sponsors (Jockey club, AQHA) would not be so willing to fund research that would jeopardize their industry/practices.

    Continually loading bone at sub-maximum levels but not to the point of breaking is "strain" which weakens the bone and makes it susceptible (like a building under stress).

    So yes, throwing weights on a weanling would build bone. Sitting on a four year old builds bone. Starting a 15 year old builds bone. In other words, riding builds bone.

    Saying your horse is "still sound at 4" or "still sound at 6" (or 10) is not really supporting anything, because those horses are still young. The argument is that until age 4+, the horse's bones have not yet fused, so the weight is also being supported by cartilege. This stress then affects the joints.

    It is not the size of the horse. Yes, a draft horse could hold you, but it's bones actually take longer to mature.

    Looking for ancedotal evidence (which for some reason resonates well with horse owners), think of the horses you know that are arthritic. When did they start working? What kinds of things did they do?

    I've seen a lot of older (late teens) horses able to still do eventing, dressage, jumping, endurance, etc. They were well-bred, trained later, and conditioned for such work, and sound into their 30s.

    I've seen an equally well-bred mare backed at 2, careered until 6, and arthritic at 10.

    How many horses have you seen arthritic or lame at under age 15? Heck, a horse should not be noticeably arthritic under 20!

    If exercising young horses really really made bones stronger and better.... then WHY would we have so many track breakdowns and injuries?

    There are plenty of other things to do with your baby, and get them trained up for. You can teach them to go, woah, back and turn without being on them. You can pony them on trails to get their minds sound/stimulated, you can long-line them around, trailer train, clippers, stall-train, tie, ground manners, tack up, and all sorts of things with babies.

    Also, are YOU plus your saddle as light as a jockey and his?

  32. RE: self-taught bad ideas, Mugs, I wasn't informed that you CAN'T park a bareback horse under a tree branch, climb up the tree and out onto the branch, then drop down onto the horse's back...until I'd been doing it for 5+ years. Apparently, nobody told my mare, either. Do I still do it? Heck yeah--the current horse is even taller than the old one, and I can't jump that high. I haven't told her that it isn't possible, so we just do it and try not to scare anybody.

    RE: getting on young horses. I agree that the current research shows that adding weight and motion to a horse that's not done growing is asking for trouble when that horse is 15. However, I also know that many horses (mine included) are not mentally ready for the work at such a baby-age. I started mine at 6 because she was just to damned immature before that--a common weakness of her father's get (they've retired him from stud because too many of his offspring are klutzy dorks until they finish growing at age 6 or 7!).

    RE: being rude and mean to each other, please stop. The world is too small. Really. Please. Stop.

  33. BBNJ...Great story! I almost gave up (and almost didn't even didn't buy) my mare...same type of attitude, only I wasn't around when she was "broke". Only they could not "break" her and she bucked to prove it. When I got her she bucked when she didn't feel like cantering...but she was 6 by then. Dumped me nicely. Spooked a lot. Dumped me then, too.

    Anyway, at 9 we have come a long way. I wonder if part of it is her breeding, part is her smarts, and part is that she needs to *think* about what you are asking, and spurring her to do it (previous owner/trainer)just built up a wall.

    I'm glad you got her back and am hanging in there. Funny thing...I was going to give up on the Stacey Westfall for my mare, but have been riding her bareback the last week (I tried my Western saddle on her after a year, and it gave her a gall, so it's for sale) and she even spooked and I stuck...

    Ya never know!!!


  34. Bareback question....

    Do you all ride bareback worrying about heels down? I tried that and it tensed me up. I realized I don't even think of my heels when in a saddle - for me, they drop naturally with stirrups.

    I sit deeper when I don't think of my heel position bareback so won't change, but was just wondering.


  35. H&T - I found that too when riding bareback regarding my heels. Cantering bareback was a goal of mine this summer. So much easier than I expected... as long as I don't try it for too extended a period of time. Gotta work up to that... Though tips on position are much welcomed. I did my best not to 'chair seat' too badly.

  36. Horses and turbos - I haven't ridden bareback in years....but when I did, I just rode. I think the most effective seat comes with relaxed legs, but you don't get that without just going. I didn't ever think about my heels,to be honest.

  37. you just described my you happen to read minds??