Monday, October 28, 2013


I have systematically worked all 8 head of horses into a fairly regular routine.

Frosty and Moon have to be ridden every day. Frosty is back on the barrel pattern and while I don't want to jinx myself...By jove...I think he's getting it. :-)

The TB gets rode 2-3 days in a row, lightly and then if I have to miss him a's fine. Buddy is a little strange. In that, I know this horse had to have been ridden fairly regularly for at least a few years after he came off the track. He's plumb solid under that there is no buck or runaway in him no matter how long it is between rides. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what they did with him. He really don't know anything. He doesn't move like he was ridden english and he was certainly not a rail horse for western classes (leeetttllll on the hot side), but he doesn't know any speed event patterns either. I'm pretty sure all he's ever had is arena riding too. In the arena area he walks along nicely. Out in the open...He's a mess. Can't walk, stops, stares, whinnies and acts completely lost and confused. In a way, that little prance he has is kinda cool...It's like you are heading for the starting gate...But then again...A horse NEEDS to know how to walk. So that is the majority of what we are working on....and I started him on the barrel pattern. It's a good cool down exercise for him after we spend 30 minutes working on w.a.l.k....and only make it a few hundred yards down the road. LOL.

Shooter is being saddled again...not that you would know he hadn't had a saddle on him in 8 months. I swear, he was born 'broke'. He is very excited to be back to doing something. Anything! Even if it is only for 15-20 minutes a day. I'll start taking him on short walks (ponying him) this week. I can't work him much in the round pen because of his leg. Straight line work is better.

Beretta took to being saddled again extremely well...
This was day 2 in the round pen and I saddled her almost immediately. Day 1 she ran around like a fruit-loop, but she's kinda chubby so it didn't last long and she was huffing and puffing so she stopped acting silly. Then she stood perfectly still while being sacked out. She didn't mind being saddle on day 2 either. She remembered, even though when I first started saddling her as a 3y/o, she was a broncy little heifer. She did take a few jumps when I asked her to trot, but it was half-hearted. She's matured a lot this last year. Miss B is another one who will go immediately to being ponied. Again too much circling, even in a big round pen is hard on her leg and I want her broke...not broken. She has mommy duty to fulfill next year. :-)

Belle is working in the round pen nicely and we started the sacking out process. I'm in no rush with Belle. Just work her often enough to keep her moving forward.

Frenchy is proving to be a bit of a hag. LOL. She wants nothing to do with being sacked out or letting me handle her front feet. I'm cutting her some slack though. She's been a broodmare for 6 years. It might take her a little while to remember her former training...but it will come. Her mother was a snorty rip too, but it's all bravado. She is so much like her mother and grandmother it's eerie sometimes. I have accidentally called this mare Dandy a couple of times that is how similar she is to her mother.

And last, but not least...My other 'toughie'...
Don't he just make you drool?...Ugghhhh!!! The Big Bay takes the longest to work. Every...single...thing has to be done step by step and you can't let up until he will look you in the eye. Dr. K's analysis of this horse, being stuck in the 'on' position, has been tremendously beneficial to me when I'm working the Big Bay now. I can see when he disconnects mentally and as I see him do it, I go to work re-establishing his connection and we have been able avert every blow-up I could see brewing in his pea-brain.

This is an entirely different type of connection than you might be thinking. I am not working to establish a bond with The Big Bay. I actively go to work on him, with my hands, working to mobilize his shoulders, soften in the neck, drop his head and flex (in, out, and side to side) in his poll. When this horse checks out, his eyes glaze over and he gets extremely stiff from the wither forward. That is when the blow-ups happen. We don't do anything else until the glazed look is gone and I can tell he is 'seeing' me again....and then he is fine.

I still think there is something wrong in this horse's poll, but I'm not entirely sure it's a structural problem (atlas and axis). I am leaning toward habitual tightness has created a musculature problem and that coupled with the way the trainer that started him pulled his horses noses around has taught this horse to simply rotate his nose when you ask him to give side to side and he panics.

For example...see in the picture how his head is turned toward me...and the head is horizontal to the ground? When you ask a horse to bend this is the way you want to the head to come. This type of flex stretches the entire neck and as the horse gets more flexible, will lead to them stretching through the whole body.

Unfortunately, the trainer that started this horse was one of those people who just pulled the nose around, much like Clinton Anderson does...
Now, Clinton Anderson may be a famous horse trainer/clinician...But this type of 'stretching' really doesn't do much except teach a horse to give their nose. Big Whoop!!

If you want to feel what it feels like to your horse...Sit in a chair, face forward, shoulders square, chin and eyes up. Now, without dropping your chin or your eyes, turn your head and look over your shoulder. Feel the stretch through the entire opposite side of your body?

Now, to feel what CA's 'stretch' feels like, face forward again and tip just your chin toward your shoulder. Feel the difference? You are actually just straining your neck, not stretching through the body.

It's my personal preference to have a horse that learns to stretch through his whole body, not to just take the nose away. Taking The Big Bay's nose away just makes him panic, so we are working to establish a true stretch, which helps calm him, releases tension and helps him check back in. It's coming. It's literally one step at a time...but it is coming. :-)


Shirley said...

Interesting analysis of the neck stuff. My mentor never did this Clinton Anderson style of "give"; what he had us do (ground work) was head and tail the horse- tie a ring in the horse's tail, and run the halter rope or rein through it, starting with just enough tension that the horse had to flex to the side to get relief, and work our way up to a tighter tie where he had to flex a lot- BUT the horse was always free to move and even encouraged to move, and it was a building block for crossing over his front feet. Now that I have Rio back from the trainer (reining) I find that he doesn't have any flex in his ribs, so I'm going to head'n'tail him to get him bending throughout his whole body.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Yep Shirley, same thing I was taught, although I'm often lazy these days and just tie to the back cinch ring. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Have you ever watched a video of Clinton Anderson teaching a horse to flex? Flexing this way gives you more control over your horse on the ground and in the saddle. It's not supposed to be a 'stretching' exercise. And the point of this IS to give their nose.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I HAVE watched Clinton Anderson and I make it a point to try to learn something from everyone who is putting information out there. However, I am NOT a big CA fan.

And he has very often referred to his technique as stretching and limbering or 'softening'. Not exactly true. It's more of a dominance maneuver and is effective on a lot of horses, but not all of them. Ever watch how his horses whip their heads around the instant he applies pressure?...That is not 'soft' that is intimidation. And when the trainer that had my big bay horse over-used the technique he created a panic button on this horse that causes him to lock up mentally and blow up when you touch his face.

BTW, CA's technique is not 'new'. I learned it when I was 12 and learning how to start colts. Taught to me by my father, taught to him by his father, etc. etc. It's how you kept a colt from blowing up with you. CA was probably still sucking on his momma's tit about the time I learned the trick. LOL.

Sherry Sikstrom said...

very interesting, I like the horse to bend through his body like you are saying as well,never seen CA videos or attended his clinic but it seems to me the "banana bend"(whole horse flexing around centre ) Dan James talks about is more my style

Sherry Sikstrom said...

I think it may be a short cut a lot of trainers use , so we work it through with most when we get t hem home, nice thing about both trainers I worked with last year was they seemed ot not short cut, and its a pretty cool feeling to get on Phoenix and have him practically wrap around your leg like a cat rather then just bend his nose and swap ends

Cut-N-Jump said...

BEC- Funny that you mention learning the old ways long before CA claimed them as his 'ways' when he became popular or famous or was in the spotlight.

I remember watching one of his programs long ago on RFD and laughing at his 'new found, fandangled' way of doing things. I laughed because I had been doing that same. exact. thing. years before... taught to me out of necessity for safety and not wanting to get my head kicked in by a horse being foolish. It was Old School, plain and simple. Been around forever because it works. Nobody got hurt, no horses were traumatized and it's still a method I would use today as needed, but not because he publicized it and calls it his own.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I forgot to mention- ^^^ I was talking about something different, not the stretches.

Crystal said...

Wow 8 horses a day! I hardly even wanna go out and work one. of course if there wasn't snow on the ground and I wasn't all bundled up it might help.

kestrel said...

Looks like he's aweful tight in the top line to me, you might start teaching him to give his nose down and back between his front legs. Yes, I cheat. I teach them to follow a treat (carrot or alfalfa pellet) with a hand pressure on the nose. Kind of avoids the panic 'confined by a rope' feeling for them, and starts making stretching a fun and interesting thing, instead of human's idea of torture. Keeps a horse interested, instead of trying to 'check out.'

Yeah, you gotta love the latest and greatest 'gee looky I haz discovered the entire secrret to training' bs. It's all a human and a horse folks. An old cowboy told me 'training is just a big bag of tricks. The trick is to know which trick to use!' I'll mix English, Western, kid style noogy noogy, old Native American, whatever trick I can find to get through to the horse. After all, that is the objective.

Sounds like you have a great handle on all your horses, and I sure love to read about them!