Thursday, July 7, 2011

There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat

I'm over my irritation about the bay horse. It is what it is and at least I know that he's not ruined. I most definitely give Levi credit for that. A lot of trainers would have just kept pushing until they created a real problem or somebody got really hurt and then shrugged their shoulders and sent the horse home...or called to say he was permanently injured or dead.

So while it's easy to get pissed off because I think I know what the problem was...Levi did the right thing by the horse and by me. Afterall...this kid makes his living riding horses. If he gets seriously injured, he's screwed. Laid up means no income and you can bet he doesn't have any kind of insurance. I was where he is at in life at one time too and when you have to ride 6-8 head of horses a day to make a living...you don't have the time it takes to camp on something that doesn't fit into the XYZ mold.

This my friends is why I and so many other people moved to and had success with picking up these kinds of horses as project horses and turning them into useful and problem free mounts. It's not about being a better trainer than someone else, it's about having the time to invest into figuring out each particular horse's mindset and working with that.

Now that I'm not mad, I realize what I saw in Levi's demeanor yesterday as well. The kid is tired, he's still hurting and this has not been a good year for him...he's discouraged. Training horses for the public is really a thankless job. You are either a hero or a zero in the customer's eye. I sure don't think Levi is a zero or I wouldn't have left the sorrel horse with him. The kid will get it. Eventually. And at least he isn't forcing things and ruining horses along the way.

So anyway...Where to go with the big bay from here?

It's time for me to do my thing and that is nothing in particularly special or talented...

I'm just going to start treating him like I did Frosty and the sorrel horse, saddling him, ponying him, bathes, grooming, stretches, massages, working with his feet and hauling him with me everywhere I go. He's essentially going to get treated as if he was a broke horse, without the riding for a while. It's not like he didn't have some riding on him before he blew up. Before I brought him home the first time, Levi had been riding the horse. I thought he was going pretty decently and just needed to get out and cover some country.

One thing I have always noticed about Jet is that he is 'overly' light about pressure on his head. It's more of an avoidance of pressure vs. giving to pressure. He's always been this way, even as a youngster, so it's nothing that Levi did. That particular trait is often harder to work with than a horse that lays on pressure. These are the kinds of horses that are prone to blowing up radically when they run into pressure that they cannot get away from. Which is why I think Levi has problems with trying to drive the horse and had to give up on that and move on and would explain why the horse went to rearing and striking when Levi would get his head pulled up when he went into his bucking fit. I think it would be better to work on teaching the horse to drive into pressure by bitting him up and starting by loosely tying his head while working him in the round pen.

A combination of learning to move out and learning to gather up has always worked well for me.

I've been needing to get some good dirt hauled in for my round pen anyway. Because Moon could stand to be worked on some bitting up and reinforcing his rear end drive. A lot of times the same technique can be used on horses with the opposite problem to achieve the same result. A horse that avoids pressure needs to learn to drive into it. A horse that lays on pressure needs to learn to get off of it. It's all about forward motion and encouraging them to find the correct balance and center of gravity. Bitting them up and working them for short intervals gives them a chance to figure that out on their own. Over time they strengthen the appropriate muscles and maintaining balance becomes easier.

Bitting up a horse can be over-done just like all the bending and flexing though. The point of the exercise is never to punish the horse for not giving (or not driving up into the bit). The problem is with the crappy 'show horse' training techniques that have taken over the real horse training world. Nobody seems to know when to quit with screwing with the head these days.

Once I get forward motion and some level of confidence about pressure instilled in the horse, I don't think he is going to be a problem. If there is one thing I am good at...It's mauling a horse into a willing state of mind. It's a fatal flaw mind you. I wasn't even interested in this bay horse. He's totally not my kind of horse. But now that he is a challenge...

Well, it's kinda like a moth being drawn to a flame.

12 comments:

Story said...

Glad to hear that you don't think he's ruined. That was my biggest worry from your previous post.

I know what you mean about being over sensitive to pressure. My sister's horse is like that and she took him to a dressage trainer who just immediately started accusing other people of doing that to him...nope, sorry, he really was born that way. The trainer's brilliant (insert sarcasm) solution was to throw side reins on him. What a mess. Horses are individuals and don't all fit the cookie cutter.

Sure sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck with your challenge! I'm anxious to hear about how you work with him.

Crystal said...

Hmm I missed a couple days and so much has happened! Wow glad the bay isnt ruined and you have a solution to try with him.

It gets frusterating when you ask a trainer something and they do thier own thing anyways, especially when you arent around all the time.

fernvalley01 said...

GET VIDEO!!! I would love to see you working with that horse, I am betting you will het a good handle on him too

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I ponied him today...went straight out to the field next door and he was plumb fine. Walked and trotted right along with Spooks. Gave him a bath, cleaned his feet, did some stretches...He was good. He's not wildly happy about all of the attention, but he didn't look pissed off or annoyed. I'm not going to get to excited, but I still think the horse just needs to cover some miles. He's a mover, doesn't like being all bound up.

cdncowgirl said...

"If there is one thing I am good at...It's mauling a horse into a willing state of mind. It's a fatal flaw mind you. I wasn't even interested in this bay horse. He's totally not my kind of horse. But now that he is a challenge...

Well, it's kinda like a moth being drawn to a flame."

Daaang girl, that's darn near poetic ;)

Really interested in your progress with Big Bay. Are you thinking of doing a post on bitting up? Like you said there is a lot of incorrect info out there about this.

Laura said...

I think the skill of knowing what works for each different horse is very valuable. One formula can't work for every animal... I hope Levi could learn that lesson from you.

Hope you can make a bit of progress with that big bay and get him going again.

I agree with Cdn - it would be interesting to see more info/pics on the bitting up you were mentioning.

GoLightly said...

"He's totally not my kind of horse."

I have a garage he would fit into very nicely;)

Oooooh, word verf is "prophese".

I prophese big bay will turn out to be one helluva harse.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Damn GL...I snorted coffee through my nose. LMAO

Yes, I will do some bitting videos. I'll probably have to pull out my actual video camera and make sure I can download the video to YouTube from that. Cause they won't be 30 second clips. Should be able to get some sand/dirt hauled in next week for the round pen.

I think it takes a lot to 'ruin' a horse. One blow-up, wreck, bad decision may set you back while you figure out what caused it or how to deal with getting them past whatever caused the problem, but horses are for the most part, pretty simple. They react badly to pain, fear or anger. Anger/belligerence is usually the one people recognize...but is almost always a symptom of something else going on.

Danielle Michelle said...

I think you're right in taking your time. Time and again that consistant ground work, standing tied, ponying, etc just learns 'em patience and builds your confidence in the horse as well. Maybe he's just not completely mentally ready. My oen mare was like that. Went beautifully and would blow up. never found the root cause of that but going back to ground work after each episode kept me from getting too anxious and calmed her down as well since she would pick up on mt moods as well.

Good luck!

Danielle Michelle said...

I think you're right in taking your time. Time and again that consistant ground work, standing tied, ponying, etc just learns 'em patience and builds your confidence in the horse as well. Maybe he's just not completely mentally ready. My oen mare was like that. Went beautifully and would blow up. never found the root cause of that but going back to ground work after each episode kept me from getting too anxious and calmed her down as well since she would pick up on mt moods as well.

Good luck!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Hahahaha, some of us are just gluttons for punishment. Give us a challenge and get out of the way. SOmetimes you just have to find what works for that horse. no biggie.

When I rode Pal for the first time, I just asked him to go forward. Treated him like a horse that didn't know anything. Sometimes that's what ya gotta do with them. Start all over and go from there. Touch on the basics they know and move on to what they don't. No harm, no foul.

kestrel said...

Sometimes it takes a blow up to figure out exactly where a horse's booger zone is. I absolutely hate the sullen horses that never quite let you in and randomly blow, but have found that sometimes an all out argument clears the air. Then back to same old/same old, and the argument starts to look like too much effort to the horse. Yup, sometimes it IS mauling them into getting over it, haha!

Really great points about Levi, too. We can't be right all the time, and when dealing with horses it doesn't matter how many times you get away with it...it's the one time you don't that hurts.