Tuesday, February 17, 2009

According To H.T. part 9

Now that I am beginning to be able to control his speed and getting him relaxed in the walk I will begin working him in his gait. If you notice I am progressing his training as he allows me to. Your horse may need a little more time to respond and stay consistent in his gait. At this time I have not tried to control the type of gait he does other than by speed. If your horse is trotty you will need to work him different than if he is pacey. The definition of a trot is a two beat diagonal gait. The pace is a two beat lateral gait. The gait I will be working for is exactly between the two and it will be a four beat gait. Let's say our horse is trotty. The first thing is...you do not want to put any shoes on the front feet. I will keep his foot trimed short in front. If this does not help in getting him to a four beat gait, then I will try other things, but for now I will try my riding skills to get him started. If I can get him to hit (meaning to travel in gait) for one or two steps, then I know that I will probably be able to get him to hit all the time, in a short while. I will try to adjust his speed to where I felt him "hit" and then work him at that speed. Sometimes this is fast, sometimes it is slow. Consistency is what we are aiming for.

Friday, February 13, 2009

According To H.T. part 8

Each day I try to add a little more to what I expect from my horse. You want to have a planned idea in your head as to what your exercise will be for the day. Such as yesterday, I asked my horse to step up into a faster gait. Today, I will also ask him to do that and I will try to hold him there until I ask for the walk. I will go around the ring 2 times to the left, reverse and go 2 times to the right, stop, back my horse 3 steps, ask him to go back to the rail and walk slowly back to the barn. Once I have this pattern in my mind, I set out to stay the course as much as possible. I mostly ride Mountain Horses of which are bred to have a four beat gait but, at this time I am not concerned about his gait. My main objective is to regulate his speed. I will ride him next to the rail so if he tends to drift toward the inside I will apply pressure on the leg opposite the rail to push him back to the rail, so that he follows it in as close a line as possible. You will find that when riding in a ring your horse will know right away where the gate is. To avoid my horse trying to exit before I want him to, I will never let him just walk straight out of the ring. I will ride past the gate, stop, turn toward the center go back past the gate, turn toward the center in a small circle riding straight out at a walk. Always ride back to the barn at a walk. Not as much fun, but your horse will learn patience. :o)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

According To H.T. part 7

I want to take a minute to thank all of you for visiting our blog. I would like to know that you are out there, but if you are like me you are a little intimidated by all of this. I see I have some followers, but I know I have more than the ones that are showing on this blog. If you are viewing us through our website, please place your mouse over the title and click. That will take you to our actual blog page. Go down to followers on the left and click on some of the people that have already joined this blog. You will see their profiles and things they enjoy about horses. Some have not written anything in their blog, but I encourage you to, we can all have a lot of fun sharing things that go on with the day to day events and care of our horses. The more people who join the blog the more fun we can have sharing our ideas. I encourage you to sign up and follow the blog.

We always start our session the same way (from the ground). Today we will ask a little more from our horse. After we walk him off and ride him over the obstacles we will ask him to pick up his pace (speed not the gait). The reason I have not ask before is that I have found, if a horse is going to cut up it is usually at the higher speed. In the beginning I always ride with my hands close to the saddle horn (or where the horn should be). I am not too proud to grab some leather or mane if the horse jumps. Always pay attention to your horse by watching his neck and ears. You can usually tell when a horse is getting ready to jump by the feel and his demeanor. If your hands are close to the saddle, you can grab the horn with one hand and lift the reins with the other. Usually this will void the jump. If he tries to speed up on his own, flex his head to one side. This will disengage his hips and will limit his power making him unable to jump or run. When he stops let him walk off or back him up, then walk off. Cluck to him and proceed at a faster pace. Repeat the above process until he does as you wish. If you don't feel comfortable with his behavior, don't be afraid to go (if you think you need to) back to the round pen for a refresher course with your horse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

According To H.T. part 6

Again, don't forget the ground preparation before you mount. After mounting I will set still for about 1 minute, then I will ask my horse to back, in hopes that he remembers everything from yesterday. My next step will be to flex his neck in both directions. These drills help to keep him relaxed and his mind on me. I will then cluck if needed and squeeze with my legs just a little, (never more than nessasary) to ask him to move forward. Walk your horse in a relaxed manner for about five minutes directing him in the path you would like for him to go. Ideally, you have planned your riding exercise for the day, so you know where that is. :o)

Today, we are going to ask our horse to do some obstacles. We have already prepared him from the ground and familiarized him with the obstacles, so he should not be afraid of things like water, the bridge, etc. As you approach the obstacle, don't think of it being any different than you did when you were working with him on the ground. Horses are very receptive of our seat, hands and legs,.. the way we convey our messages to him. Look how easy you are getting him to move to the left or right. You will find all you have to do is look in the direction you want to go and he will understand the que. I have watched John Lyons with his horse Zip. He found that Zip would move if all (he thought) he was doing was thinking about moving. If John "thought" he wanted to move to the left then Zip would move to the left and the same for the right. Now, I know that Zip did not read his mind, (and so did John) but the point is...his que for moving to the left was so subtle that Zip was able to pick up on it. I couldn't see John give Zip a que and John did not think he was giving Zip a que, but we both knew in the smallest way he did. So eventually we want our horse to be as in tune to us as this. My point being don't think about the object being scary and you will find your horse will not pick up on que that this is a scary object. Is that as clear as mud?

Monday, February 9, 2009

According to H.T. Part 6

Once again, don't forget to go through your ground exercises before you mount your horse. Once mounted our horse should be getting accustomed to us being in the saddle. He is getting more responsive because his mind is not just thinking about us on his back. Today when we mount we are going to ask him to back. Before we ask him to back we should make sure he has his feet up under him. It is very difficult for a horse to back if his legs are in a stretched position or if his legs are not under him straight. There are several different ways to ask a horse to back and I have tried several of them. I will not go into all of them but will try to give you one that works well for me. First remember how you ask him to back from the ground. Start with saying the word..back...take the slack out of your reins...keep the reins low on his neck...add a little pressure in the reins. Do not pull back quickly or severely as it will cause him to throw his head back as he will try to get away from the pressure in his mouth and will forget everything else except getting away from you. We want to keep all of his experiences happy, so that he does not associate backing (for instance) with pain. It is not important at first to get him to take more than one step. As soon as he takes the first step release the pressure (the same as we would from the ground) He may step to the side, but that will be O.K. for now, we just want him to move his feet back when we ask. After a few times of asking for one foot to move...ask for two steps...this will be over a period of time. I don't like to dwell on one thing for long periods of time. I don't want the horse to become aggravated with the same thing over and over. So, if I get a little bit of what I want from the horse, I will move on to something else, and come back to the backing later. Since I don't want to put the horse up for the day, this lets him know that I was happy with what he gave me because we moved on to something else. If you have played with your dog, after a few minutes he will become bored with running after a Frisbee, but if you move on to a nice walk on the trails, and come back to the Frisbee later, he will go right back at it again. This is what we want to do with our horse also. Notice when he becomes aggravated or bored with something you are teaching, be prepared to move on to something else he knows and come back to it later.

Friday, February 6, 2009

According to H.T. Part 5

Our electric is back on, and we are starting to get things lined out around the farm. As Kentucky is noted for...if you don't like the weather today, wait until tomorrow. Today it is 55 degrees. While we have lots of mud, we are out of the ice age. :o)

We should have our horse moving well enough to start asking for direction. I try to guide my horse as much as I can with my legs. I try to stay out of the horse's mouth and keep my hands as steady as I can, with little pressure in the reins. Remember, we have already gotten the horse to guide with just a halter and lead, by teaching him from the ground. The pressure we applied during our ground sessions was in preparation for the time we would mount our horse and ask him to change directions and all the other things we have covered with our ground work. My methods may differ from what a quarter horse trainer would tell you, but it works for me on my gaited horses. If I want my horse to side step to the left, I put pressure on his right side with my leg, just to the back of the girth, the same as I would if I were asking from the ground. If I want to turn to the left, I extend my left arm just a little to the left, therefore putting pressure on his head or mouth and then squeeze with my left leg just behind the girth. This is asking my horse to bend around my leg. Once our horse starts responding we should start releasing the pressure. Remember your horse has learned to yield to pressure and once he has done what you asked, we always release the pressure as his reward. The less you have to get into your horses mouth, the better. We always want to keep the horse's mouth soft. We do not want to develop a habit of throwing or tossing the head, or pulling against the pressure. Don't ever try to force your horse into turning his head by trying to out pull him.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

According To H.T.

While staying in a controlled area repeat the steps you took before mounting....ask your horse to back, move left and right front over front and rear over rear, flexing, mounting/dismounting. I have found that if you always do a little ground work before mounting your horse will pay more attention when you do mount. If I take a stick with a plastic bag tied on the end and touch him all over before mounting he will not spook near as easily once mounted.

O.K. we are back in the saddle and we have been able to get our horse to move his feet. It is not so important to move in any particular direction at this time as it is to keep him moving. You have already heard us say that we do not start a horse with a bit in his mouth until we have taught him to yield by turning left and right, go forward, back and most importantly to stop and after the horse has seen the dentist. At this point we use a D-ring snaffle or ring bit with a broken port. Today, as you will from now on, we will ride our horse a little longer and ask a little more from him, but you will want to continue to stay in an enclosed area.

Just because we have gotten on the horse and we are riding him, does not mean you can forgo the beginning excercises. Those need to be quickly run through every time you ride. Tomorrow we will ask a little more from our horse by asking him to change directions.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Winter 09

We (Van Bert Farms) still does not have electric, but with a generator I am able to spend a little time on the internet, and thus write to you. I will be starting back with the next post in "According To H.T." tomorrow. I hope you will continue to check our site and our blog for the new things we have to tell you about the Mountain Horses.

There is going to be a lot of clean up after this winter, but that is what keeps us moving forward:o)
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