Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mouthy Monday on Tuesday

Sorry....My multi-talented computing skills allowed me to lose yesterday's post instead of put it up.
I do want to post a thank-you letter I got from a reader who asked me how to fix a jigging horse. I have always maintained jigging can be fixed if the rider invests the time to do it, with patience and consistency.

I have had more argument from people about this than any other training technique I have offered. It has always confused me, because it's so simple and effective.

"I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for this wonderful advice (zig-zagging to quiet a jigging horse). Last night, my mare calmly walked all the way home to the barn from a solo trail ride, relaxed and happy, on a loose rein. This might not sound like a big deal but it was SUCH a change for the two of us! I can't get over how well (and how quickly) this technique worked. My horse "got it" almost immediately and it was such a perfect way to correct her without either of us getting worried or upset.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!"


Here's a story I managed not to lose.

Our writer bought her horse as a halter broke 5 year old. She wrote, " We spent about 16 months fighting and struggling. Just in the past 6-8 months have we really started to get things figured out. Now we are competing in endurance (finished 4- 50 mile rides so far) and working on dressage as cross training. We have both come a long way and I am really starting to love this horse!"


Cougar Prowl- The Fall

I will preface this story by saying that Boomer and I finished the Okmulgee Cougar Prowl and we are both doing great!

However, we did have a fall. It was by far the worst wreck I have ever been involved in and the second worst I have witnessed.

It rained a few inches in the week preceding the ride. It was pretty muddy and slick, but not too boggy. It wasn't raining during the ride, but the ground didn't have much time to dry out.

We were trotting along and had to make a sudden right turn off of a jeep road into the woods. Then two strides later we had to make another hard right into the woods on a slight downhill slope.

I didn't expect the second part of the turn and we just didn't make it.

Boomer started to go down and I could see the ground coming closer. We both fell towards the left.

You know how after an accident, you can only remember things in clips, like they were photographs? That's how it was for me.

I see the ground coming closer. I am looking up and his shoulder is inches above my chest. Then I have a sensation about my legs being under him, I can feel part of the saddle but I'm not stuck.

I don't remember how we were positioned on the trail after that. I don't remember getting up or where I was compared to him when I got up.

I do know that I ended up on his left side, he was facing straight like he hadn't made the final part of the turn. His right side was facing down the trail.

He flailed and tried rear up twice, trying to run. He kept jerking towards the right, but wasn't going anywhere. I reached out to grab the reins but only got his breast collar. I was repeating "whoa, whoa, whoa" and hoping he wouldn't run. After struggling and trying to rear up twice, with his head facing towards the right, he collapsed.

He was struggling and on his right side. His jaw was jerked open and I realized his reins were stuck. That's why he couldn't rear up all the way or run. I dropped down so I was below his neck, between his front legs and head, and put my hand on his shoulder to calm him so he would stop jerking his bit. The reins were under him and around his back leg. They had come over his head, were along the right side of his body and wrapped around his left back leg.

He stopped thrashing. I unclipped the reins from his bit, slowly unhooked his leg and straightened the bit in his mouth.

He relaxed his back leg and laid there, still. I just sat by his head and stroked his cheek, talking to him. I looked him over and didn't see any damage.

In the moment I asked him to get up I had the realization that as calm as I had felt thought all of that, if he couldn't get up, I would just breakdown and lose it. Luckily he just continued laying still until I quietly asked him to 'get up'. He just stood up like he understood me and stood there. I checked him over and everything seemed fine except for a small nick on his right front cannon bone. Looked like he got himself with his shoe. It was bleeding but didn't seem serious. I checked our tack and decided we would keep on moving since we were about halfway through our first loop. If he felt off at all, I was going to pull.

I did a quick mental check on myself while all of this was going on. It went something like "I'm standing- legs are fine. Arms seem fine. I can breathe. Wearing contacts- no lost glasses. Helmet is still on."

I got on and we walked down the trail. He felt fine. He wasn't panting or breathing hard. He wasn't shaking or scared. Neither was I. It was so strange. In every other fall I've had, I always get a huge adrenaline rush. My arms and legs get tingly, I shake, and I feel nauseated. I never felt that when this happened. I never panicked or got scared. It was a strange thing to have happen. The whole thing probably happened in 2 minutes or less.

After a while walking down the trail Boomer offered to trot and I sat it instead of posting so I could feel his foot fall pattern and check for lameness. He seemed fine.

He sure was much more cautious about the mud though. When I asked him to walk, he instantly slowed down. When it felt slick, he slowed on his own. He was much more careful and so was I.

At the first vet check I told the vet what had happened and she looked at his leg extra closely. The nick had been rinsed clean in a stream. It wasn't bleeding and looked clean- no clots. She said that he looked fine and passed him with all A's.

Needless to say, John was freaked. He was so worried about us all day. I knew I couldn't make him feel better about what had happened but I did try to emphasize that it was an accident, It wasn't Boomer's fault, and we were both fine.

Looking back, it almost doesn't seem real. It was a very, very scary thing. We were so very lucky that we were in such a muddy area because I could have been crushed had we fallen like that on hard rocks or a packed surface.

The day after the ride kind of felt like the day after Christmas. Sort of a deflated feeling. Almost a regretful feeling, like I had done something bad. Something bad did happen. Boomer and I were both very close to having been hurt badly. But we are fine. It took a lot out of me on Sunday to think about that and wrap my mind around it. I mean, my horse rolled over me and I am no worse for the wear. I have a bit of a muscle spasm in my lower left back area, but I'm fine.

I just keep saying that to myself. My horse rolled over on me and I am fine.

Puts things into perspective. Strange as it was, it was bonding experience for Boomer and I. We both felt the gravity of the situation and we both got through it. Every ride we finish brings us closer.

My horse rolled over on me and I am fine.


  1. Thank you for that story. My horse and I fell a few months ago when we cantering and he slipped on some wet grass in a shady area. I ended up breaking my nose but thankfully he nor I had any other injuries. It really shook me up though and honestly I haven't been that comfortable on him since. Your story really helped but it in perspective for me that we were ok and things could have been worse.

  2. That feeling of your horse going out from under you is the worst feeling you can have. Shadow and I fell through a bridge once. You never forget that skittery feeling as the legs slide, your stomach turns over as you feel the balance go.
    It takes a while to get your confidence back.
    Good Story!

  3. Mugs did you post the response to jigging on this blog? I'd REALLY love to read it, but I must have missed it.

  4. Amazing to think of. Glad you both were fine. I am trying to figure out how the outcome was so good. You and your horse must have been positioned just right, or the ground was hollowed out where you were or.....your horoscopes said "Extremely lucky today".

  5. Glad you both came through okay! It does certainly sound as though you both gained trust in each other, I wonder has the trust remained on subsequent rides?

  6. Mugs--- I'm seconding Minus Pride... I can't find your jigging response either. Can you give us the link?

  7. Is the anti-jigging training the blog about doubling the horse back on the rail? I've shared it with the yahoo answers crowd three times in the past week. I love the technique, and its so simple. KISS is my favorite advice.

  8. If its the one I am thinking of, I've got it bookmarked, its so good.


  9. If its the one I am thinking of, I've got it bookmarked, its so good.


  10. Minus- It was a private letter, but I'll find mt response...

  11. burdfour- I use that to teach my horses to be quiet on a loose rein in the arena...I feel a post coming on...

  12. I recently had a 17.2 hand horse rear up and fall backward on me. I was my fault...he was confused about the cue I was giving him and got frustrated and reacted. I don't remember exactly what happened after he went up. My next clear memory is hitting my head hard on the ground and my helmet popping off (scary). I was bruised and shakey but otherwise alright. That was the exact same thing I kept telling myself. I had a horse fall on top of me, a huge horse, and I'm okay. It should have terrified me considering the fair amount of fear I've had to work through when I started riding again, but for whatever reason it didn't. I had a horse fall on me...I'm still okay.

    Good luck to you and Boomer. Things happen, and we learn from them. Glad you're both okay too.

  13. Mugs - I'd also love to read that response. What seems to have worked best for Tax is lots of wet saddle blankets. The more we go out on the trails the quieter he gets. The more work he gets in the arena the quieter he is on the trails. Every once in a while he still gets something up his backside and starts jigging like a mad fool. I'll experiment with whatever you've got if you post it and let you know how it works.

  14. I wonder if the lack of adrenaline rush was due to the fact that Boomer's mom HAD to stay calm to help him out of his predicament. If she hadn't, he might have just kept thrashing ans fighting to get his head back, probably resulting in much more injury to both of them. There was definitely a trust thing going on between them! [It also strikes me as very lucky that no one else came bombing through those two switchbacks while they were lying there trying to sort things out!]

  15. What a great story. I'm so glad that neither of you were hurt. Last time a horse slipped and fell with me was years and years ago and I broke my back.


  16. Evensong, that is exactly what I was thinking. The effort to stay calm, help the horse calm, analyze and resolve the problem calmly must have demanded a huge chemistry change in brain and body.
    Putting the horse first and then remembering repeatedly 'everyone is fine' Was brilliant.

    Thank you for sharing this story!

  17. Another (proud?) member of the horse rolled over me and I am fine club. Bolting horse who got tired and went to his knees, and used me to cushion his rotational fall.

  18. Mugs, I have come to the conclusion that I need someone to yell at me "stop sooner rather than later" every five minutes or so when teaching a maneuver.

  19. Mugs- Much appreciated! if it's easier to e-mail it, send it to apassaro@yahoo.com

  20. During one spring time ride years ago my Morgan (who had been off all winter) started bucking and slipped on some wet grass. She flipped mid-buck. My dad saw it and thought she broke her neck. I broke my collar bone and a couple of ribs (not the first time...) and she gashed her lip with a tooth. We were both fine but shaking. And lucky. Funny though, she didn't buck the rest of the year.