Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hi Guys!

In my old life I used to go through periods of time when I became extremely quiet, introspective and fairly dark.

It wasn't that big of a deal, because horses don't care if you don't talk.

I would cancel my lessons for a few weeks and just do my thing. Sometimes it would result in a burst of creativity, sometimes I would just be lost in thought for awhile.

In my new life I no longer have the luxury of shutting out the world. As a matter of fact my job requires me to stay receptive to the very things I'd like to tune out.

So I guess the past few weeks have been my new version of a mental vacation.

Anyway, I'm back at it, I'm writing away, but I'd love to just answer some questions, untie a few training knots and discuss for a few days. Are you up for it?

Cupcake and Tally are on a rain delay.

My latest horse news is pretty good. Loki is adapting to her new life. She's riding well. I'm enjoying the sheer luxury of riding my horse in the time frame I think we both need.

She's a little bug-eyed, but keeps her feet pointed where they need to be, so I'm happy. We've been exploring the stable grounds, the arenas and a little of the trails. Her only spook was at the roping steers. I hope she's ashamed of herself.

On our second ride I took her to see the outdoor arena. We had only walked. She hadn't been in there yet and I'm not sure she had quite figured out why she was at the new digs.

The arena is always kept beautifully groomed (I know, I can't believe it either). I rode Loki into the arena, which puts us pretty much in the center.

My lovely little girl, who hasn't seen a show pen for 3 1/2 years, took her first few steps in the nice dirt. She lifted her back, dropped her nose to the vertical and loped off. She thought we were at a show and were heading into our first run-down.

She was going to give me everything she could. I almost cried.

Keep in mind I was slobbing around, she was in a ring snaffle on a loose rein and I hadn't given her a single cue except forward.

So I just circled her down, let her come to a walk and we toured the arena at a walk until she was as mellow and sloppy minded as me.

Leland is adjusting to his new pasture just fine. He was supposed to have his first ride last week-end but we've been having spring blizzards instead. It's OK, we'll get there.

The first clinic was a success. The volunteers are excited and everybody seemed to get something.

The next one is Saturday. I'm starting a mustang in the morning and then the volunteers will work their horses again. The mustang is just groundwork 101, but it's fun to be dinking with things a little.

That's all I got. Ask me some stuff and help me get back in the groove OK?

Oh yeah, the email is up again.....


Melissa said...

Sweet, glad things are coming together for you.

A question, since you asked: Do you do anything different when starting a mustang who just saw people for the first time two weeks ago than with a horse who grew up in a barn? You've mentioned that you like working with horses that haven't been handled much, but how much practical difference does it make in your training if a horse doesn't know the difference between you and a wildcat?

little K said...

Glad to see you back again Mugs!

Amy said...

Um, I guess just a little question? Do you find that horses with resistant personalities, tend to escalate bad behaviors before settling down?

I ask because we have started loping my bitchy mare in the arena... it's actually going well, but she would pull this stunt where she would decide to die out on me, and when I used my leg on her, throw a huge hissy fit- she realized bucking doesn't work, so now she is trying out rearing. The cow actually reared and turned to bite at my leg in one motion.... I stuck with her, got the lope I wanted, and called my trainer to put 30 more days on her, so no worries about my safety.

Turns out all she needed was a stronger rider, she even thinks to pull that crap on my trainer and she gets corrected immediately... she's loping off on cue for my trainer. My trainer wants her just working on forward and balance for now- I'm having her put the 30 days on, and then we do lessons to get her solid at one thing, and when I'm ready to work on something new, she gets another month put on.

I totally trust my trainer- she thinks that as my ability and confidence increases, the mare is going to test me and eventually just listen. Just bouncing the thought off someone else. Sorry to be long-winded.

Amy said...

And yes, glad you are back!

DarcC said...

Hi Mugs, glad you're back!

I have an 8yr old mare who happens to be blind. She was saddled and sat a few times at 2 and 3, walked around a round pen basically, (between eye flare-ups), but hasn't been asked to do anything since. She just had one eye removed in January due to glaucoma. So basically she is now pain free, and I think she would benefit from having a job and something to think about, she is a smart horse who has coped with blindness amazingly well.

I would like to ride her, but due to my own insecurities would feel better if I knew how to build in really good brakes first. I don't want to screw this up for her by her running into something. She is very responsive on the ground, very trusting and handles new environments with ease. I feel like I have only one shot at this. Any suggestions on how to proceed?

Denali's Mom said...

Welcome back! I know that feeling of needing to take a break. I do the same thing. Either a dark place or some brilliance. When I'm brilliant, I'm brilliant, when I'm in a dark mood, I'm impossible. Welcome back.

Amy, I have confidence issues with my mare. To the point I haven't been on her in a month. She knows all she has to do is throw her head up and I freak out. Sigh... I was hurt at work so the idea of getting hurt again (since a month ago I came off) doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Sigh... I wish that they sold confidence. I'd buy stock!

Welcome back Mugs!!

HorseOfCourse said...

I believe we all need a time out from time to time.
So much is going on around us.
Go back a century, and compare today's society with that - just imagine the difference in sounds, impacts and time stress we have to cope with.
I don't believe our bodies and minds are constructed to take it. A time out is probably a sound thing to do.

Katharine Swan said...

DarcC, I just wanted to say good for you for giving your blind mare a chance. I used to board with a guy who had a blind horse -- completely blind in one eye, and virtually blind in the other. She'd stick with the other horses but you could tell if they left her, she didn't really know how to find them, and would just wait for them to come back. Luckily she coped very well, and even did trail rides with her owner. She knew her own limitations and trusted her rider enough to guide her. I bet your mare will do better than you think -- she has to rely on you, so when you say stop, I just bet she'll stop.

DarcC said...

@Katherine Swan - Thank you! I have known blind and one-eyed horses that are ridden, however all of them were trained before they went blind.

My mare is very trusting and capable, so I'm probably worrying over nothing, I just don't want to ruin her confidence in me by not thinking things through ahead of time. i.e. - what if she panics and I go off or stay on but can't direct her? I have thought that perhaps I should long-line (ground drive) her first to teach steering and stopping, but don't know if that would be more or less confusing to her...

nagonmom said...

Welcome back! Next time you need a break, please do not leave us with a title of "Some Things Never Change". I kept checking, and checking. Yep. No change. LOL

necowgrl78 said...

I have a 9 yr old gelding that has trouble circling to the left. His head will be turned and body arched but he'll run through his right shoulder until he hits a fence. Any ideas anyone?

Anonymous said...

"My lovely little girl, who hasn't seen a show pen for 3 1/2 years, took her first few steps in the nice dirt. She lifted her back, dropped her nose to the vertical and loped off. She thought we were at a show and were heading into our first run-down.

She was going to give me everything she could. I almost cried."

me too

Slippin said...

Welcome back Mugs! I am glad that you took a mental break...we all need those once in awhile.
I loved how your mare went right back into "Show" Mode. I had a mare that was off for 1 year and after legging her up and working her on cattle for about 6 weeks, I decided to try her out at a cutting...I say we didn't do too bad! I marked a 75 and won it! I got in the truck when we loaded up and looked at my trainer and said, "Well, that was fun!" He just laughed and said, "Yeah, not very many people can give themselves and their horse a year off and then come back and beat everyone!"
I do have a question though. when my horse trots he really leans those shoulders down into the turn. (I call it "diving in his turns)He is worse to the left, but he does it on both sides. I have been picking up the inside rein and pull his head around and kick with the inside leg to get his shoulders to come up. I don't jerk him around, I just do it in a smooth motion. It has helped some, but I don't think I am doing it right. When I pull him around and he stops his forward motion, I start backing him in a circle and asking him to get off my leg that he is leaning on. I don't go nuts and start whacking at him with the spur, I just push and release. Should I maybe try turning him the opposite direction that we are going? I don't lope him very much...he gets too wound up and the more you lope, the faster he all we ever do is trot, unless I have ridden him for several days in a row and I know he is nice and relaxed. If anyone else has ideas..that would be great too! Thanks!

i know nothing said...

Welcome back Mugs!
Creative people need breaks. Sometimes long ones and there's no way around it. Kinda like going into hermit mode.

mommyrides said...

Whew, glad you are back Mugs! Was beginning to get worried about you! I totally understand the need for a mental break. Mine is between 11pm and 1am when no one else is awake and the house is totally silent. Sigh, I don't know what I'd do without these daily "life pauses".

My question is about bitless bridles. My gelding's previous owner rode him in a snaffle that just hung in his mouth. She said he likes it better that way, no wrinkles in his lips, just barely touching the edges. I've been starting over with him since we have been having so many problems. Right now we are working on standing still for mounting and walking forward, not backwards, sideways, or circling. And I only ride for brief periods of time and in his paddock because frankly I'm scared of him too. So we are both going very, very slowly. I'm trying the bitless bridle because the french link I had him in seemed to bug him. And I'm not sure about the bit position the previous owner recommended. He seems to like it so far and is responding well to it. Any suggestions regarding the pros and cons??

And since you did ask for questions, my 18 year old mare has become horribly herd bound and spooky as well, how do I stop this calling and trying to get back to the gelding??
Thanks Mugs!

gtyyup said...

Very glad to see a post from you today...was beginning to get concerned 'bout you! I'm sure the break was needed as it is for everyone at one time or another.

Nice story about Loki...what a big hearted girl!

Remy said...

@DarcC - I would think long lining her could be a good idea - you can have someone walk at her head at first while she learns voice and rein commands. It'll give her confidence too, to go forward when you're not there in front of or next to her all the time. :)

badges blues N jazz said...

I have a question! my new gelding will go quiet and relaxed on a loose rein. The minute I pick up on his reins he starts to jig. Also, after a lope, he will jig jig jig and is hard to get to walk.

I have tried: Stopping and backing him everytime he jigs.. Doesnt work so great. i started circling him in tiny circles, which seemed to work, but my trainer said I cant do that if I want to do reining on him?

Also, if I put a leg on him he jigs. REALLY need some suggestions on getting this horse to RELAX. I love him and he is a blast, but the MINUTE I pick up those reins the jigging starts. Thanks!

badges blues N jazz said...

oh, and to add: I am riding him in a snaffle bit. He gapes his mouth quite a bit. He WAS being ridden in a shank bit but I prefer to ride in a snaffle. (teeth were done). You saw the video of how "bridled up" he was (if you remember).. So I am trying to ride him LOOSE reined, but also, when I pick up on a rein, i want him to not lean on the bit, and he gets all panicky and jigs...


Heila said...

Hey Mugwump, nice to read you. I so get the need to disappear sometimes.

necowgrl78 maybe you should get a physio out to check your horse, it could be that he has pain or stiffness somewhere that makes circling to the left difficult.

mommyrides I've ridden my horse only in a bitless for more than a year now and we both love it. He is easy though to be honest. I don't believe a bit really stops a horse. Since you're retraining him anyway you might as well get proper stopping cues embedded in his brain that doesn't involve pulling in his mouth. One of the major upsides for me is that I teach beginners on my horse and I don't worry that they're going to jab him in the mouth. Neither will I if I lose balance. Downside is that some disciplines won't allow you to compete bitless.

mugwump said...

Melissa- I'm putting you in the next post...
Amy-Resistant personalities are almost always taught to the horse by getting it undone depends on how successful the resistance has been up to now.
Keep working with the trainer, this mare sounds like a handful.
Almost all bucking comes from a loss of forward and rearing is because the legs (and forward) are stuck.
The thought is unsticking the horse.
I want you to listen to your trainer so discuss getting unstuck with her.

DarcC - I would be riding the mare on a very loose, non-retraining rein. I would trust her to sort out her enviroment with me on her back.
She can probably get around better than you think.
I haven't worked with a totally blind horse before.
When she will wander around the arena with you on her then you could introduce some gentle guidance.
That's what I'd do anyway.
I was thinking how I'd feel if I was trying to negotiate new territory with a blindfold on and somebody holding on tight to my arms.
I'd feel helpless. I would think a blind horse who couldn't use her head would feel the same way.

DarcC said...

Mugwump - thanks for your input. As always, you have a very different perspective that I stand in awe of! Here I am obsessing about how to direct her, and you leap right to how she might worry less when relying on herself as usual.

@Remy - that's a good idea too. She already knows a few basic verbal cues. Shouldn't be hard to teach her more.

Thanks! I'll be sure to let you guys know how she does once the footing improves enough to use the riding ring.

HorseRedux said...

OT - but I know Mugs is a friend/follower of Kathy over at Fugly Horse of the Day. Do you know why her site is down? Somehow I have a feeling she ticked off someone with enough clout to get the server host to take her site down :(

Amy said...

Oh yes, definitely staying with my trainer, she's great. Mare can be a handful, but can also be a wonderful, responsive, fun horse to ride. She pulled a bunch of crap with trainer at first, had a few ass kickings and more than once ridden into a hellacious sweat until she did what was told... but she is finally doing much better. Back in the fall, WALKING in the arena was a fight, so the fact that we are loping in the arena AT ALL is amazing to me. My trainer believes in taking things slow, and her learned bad habits have taken a lot of time and consistency to fix. And yes, they are my fault- she tested me, and I didn't have enough confidence so I backed down.

Currently, trainer wants me tuned in to my horse so as soon as the impulsion starts to die out, I am there with leg, seat, verbal cues, whatever it takes to keep her going nefore she can stop to throw the fit. She hardly ever stops for my trainer, because she has more feel and stronger legs than me... but I'm learning and getting better.

Also, on another note, I'm tagging along with her, and being her helping hand to start some 3 year olds... so I'm learning tons and getting free lessons out of it! If anyone ever has a chance to do this, even if you aren't getting paid or getting free lessons out of it, totally do it... I am learning so much, and realizing that being comfortable with MY horses doesn't mean I am comfortable or proficient with ALL horses.

The bad thing is I fell in love with a registerable "oops" colt that the people are thinking of selling... I do NOT need another horse, do not need another horse....

Oops, I rambled again...

Anonymous said...

Badges blues N jazz, the horse I ride used to be a racehorse and he had the same problem. The moment I picked up the reins he was jigging and wanting to go.
I had to disassociate 'picking up the reins' with 'go faster' - he was taking it as a cue. I now make sure I gather my reins before asking for more forward. I also do my damnedest to stay relaxed and centred with him, which helps him stay relaxed and soft.
He still gets it after we've had our first canter; he will want to go faster and faster and will pull against my hand something severe. I take him in little and big circles at the trot until he is concentrating again. When we can walk and trot softly on a loose rein I will ask for the canter again.
I try to keep our rides snappy - after the initial warm-up I'm always asking for transitions, figures, corners, circles, whatever. Concentrating on what we're doing at the moment stops us both from thinking about what we could be doing - it works for both of us equally! I think of it as 'Busy feet, busy mind', and it's working so far. It helps me especially to relax and stop worrying about what could go wrong, and the horse then doesn't have any nervous signals to pick up on.
As for biting issues, he hasn't had a bit change but we did change saddles at one stage and he immediately felt quieter and more relaxed - the old one must've been uncomfortable.
I hope that helps a bit, good luck with your horse! :)

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