Guide The Oh Shits of Horsemanship

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Keep up the great work. That is a fantastic shot of you and your horses. Great article and very insightful. This is my first year having horses and I just had a foal. I started out just offering love and attention but there has to be a balance with them. Stephanie, even though we have not had any real lessons yet, you have a fantastic insight and understanding of horses.

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You have been a great help to me in dealing with my new foal. Recently we went out riding and I was behind another horse who likes to kick and sure enough he got me and my horse. She threw me and went running toward the house with her baby.

She had to cross one intersection on the way and fortunately there were no cars coming at the time. I know she felt bad by the way she acted when I finally got to her. It really is amazing how sensitive they are to your emotions. It can be a challenge at times having horses in your life, especially for the first-time horse guardian. Accidents easily happen even with some of the most experienced horse people.

However, the majority of those accidents can be prevented the better you become at reading a situation and the horse. Keep up the great work Ed. Register for our free library that provides you access to valuable, cutting edge information on caring for your horse naturally.

Ransom, Stephanie and Faith. Your horse needs you to be impersonal and personal. She needs you to be considerate, not pushy. She needs you to be loving, not mushy and weak. She needs you to be confident and athletic. She needs you to be consistent, but add variety at the appropriate time. She needs to trust you fully. She needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your imbalanced, destructive emotions will not take over a situation.

Comments Bravo Stephaine, very poignant and honest. Thank you for sharing this-sooo time appropriate for me. Hi Shelly, Sometimes the most difficult for the human, when it comes to horses, is to be in the moment. Carpe Diem, Wendy. Hi Wendy, Oh yes, the Confident Captain. Stephanie, 10 being the best, this article rates a 10 both for content and illustration. Hi GT, I was shooting for at least a 7. Thanks for the 10 rating! Hi Melnda, I appreicate you sharing your story.

How do you know? I happen to think a good wool pad is more important than a perfect saddle fit. For years, all saddles were made about the same and people rode one saddle on many different horses. Is it a perfect system? It may not be, but is it bad or damaging to the horse, probably not. I see many people very worried and willing to go to great lengths to ensure good saddle fit yet they are over-weight, ride like crap, have no balance, no rhythm, no seat, no leg strength, but by gosh that saddle fits good. I have one saddle and it has been on no less that 50 horses and it fits fine on most horses in my book.

Some horses are smaller some are bigger. Now with that said if I was riding a large Clydesdale draft horse, then my saddle may not fit. Another dumb thing I see people doing is putting a saddle on a horse with NO pad to see if it fits. Really, is that the way you see if a saddle fits? Now of course you have all these new gimmicks fancy new pads in gel, foam, neoprene, magic cushion, space age pads or whatever.

Everyone trying to make a buck on the constant NEW dumb horse people and sell them something new and improved. Some will say you need to measure your horse to get a proper fit, but what if the horse is slim or has some winter fat, or gains weight, what about extra hair in winter, what if the horse back starts to sag, or the horse develops muscle, what about if you change your pad or get a different pad, as you can see there are lots of variables that are not always constant.

Proper saddle fit isn't an exact science. To me a proper saddle fit is a good quality and well-built saddle designed for the type of horses you ride. A good saddle should clear a horse's withers no contact when you are in the saddle and allow the shoulders to move freely and unrestricted.

Horse Trailer: When buying a trailer, think of the horse. If you ever watch a horse standing inside a stock trailer, they will be standing at a slant and not straight with their head in the front and butt in the rear. Standing at a slant is more comfortable for the horse. It enables them to balance better and control weight shift during turns, acceleration and stops.

So if the horse chooses to stand at a slant when given a choice, why would a person buying a trailer buy a straight load? I think the horse prefers a slant load trailer, therefore, I prefer them. The picture above is what happens when a horse is forced in a trailer and locked in and then panics. Gates: I see lots of people being careful while going through gates. They take their time to be extra careful not to bump their horse with the gate.

That teaches a horse that the gate is never going to touch him. Let the gate bump him, close it on his butt, use the gate to ease him through the gate and let it hit, bump or rub his legs, hips, shoulders and other body parts. Let him know that when a gate hits or bumps him, it is no big deal and he can ignore it and will not be hurt. Once a horse gets comfortable with the gate he will start pushing it open or close it for you. By trying to protect the horse too much, we teach the horse that things will never scare him.

A horse needs to get scared so he knows that he does not have to be scared. Another thing about gates is they tend to be gathering places for people and horses. This is bad and dangerous for both. People tend to want to pet and say goodbye or hello to their horse all at the gate. This teaches bad lessons and causes problems down the road. First of all gates are normal gathering places since horses learn that they get out there and get fed there, they get treats there, they get attention there, so the draw to the gate is already too strong.

Now you people that want to put gates in corners and increase the danger ten fold. Then you get people who want to put water buckets near or next to the gate, now you increase the danger 20 fold. Gates should be for walking in and walking out, period. Don't feed at gates, don't put water or food at gates, don't stand, pet and encourage horses to gather at gates. This only encourages horses to gather and increases the chance of a horse getting kicked or people getting run over and or both.

Blindfolds: Few people practice for a crisis. My horses allow me to cover their eyes with a rag, t-shirt, sweatshirt, or scarf. Then I lead them around while blindfolded. This is an advance sack out technique. It builds trust and lets the horse know that when he can't see, he can trust me to move him and walk him safely.

If you ever are caught in a forest fire, barn fire or pasture fire, this will be very valuable for you and your horse. Having the ability to take away your horse's sight and still having him responsive to you, temporarily, is good for you and the horse. It may help you save your horse. Also remember that if your barn is ever on fire, don't let your horse go right outside the barn. The horse will be nervous and scared and may panic and run back to his stall for comfort and safety, not thinking about the fire.

Crawling under your horse: The more you do with your horse the more your horse will do for you. The more you trust your horse - - the more your horse will trust you. If you understand and trust your horse, you should be able to lay on your horse's back, slide off his butt, stand behind him comfortably, crawl under him, sit under him while grooming his belly and back legs and lay down beside him and rub him with your feet as you lay on your back. All of this builds trust. It teaches the horse to relax with you knowing you will not hurt him.

It teaches you to read your horse, to trust him and to know how far you can go, when to release and when to go slower.

Horse Neck Strap in Multiple Sizes and Colors

I look at this as a calming exercise. Crawling around under my horse tells my horse to trust me no matter what I am doing and it teaches me to trust him. It is a little scary, I get a little nervous sometime, but I always trust my horse more afterward I am done. Just like the horse, sometime we have to get scared to know that we do not have to be scared. Go slow at first, coming from under a horse from one side puts you in a blind spot under the horse so if you come out too fast, it may startle the horse.

This is also good to teach the horse that it is OK for you to be on the ground. Too often, the only time a horses sees you in the ground is when you are yelling, screaming as you hit the ground, and then the horse runs off from fear. This exercise will help the horse know, if you should end up on the ground, it is not a bad thing.

Click here to see a video on how to walk under your horse:. Fire Drill: Another crisis drill is loading your horse in a hurry. In a fire, you may need to run to a trailer and load your horse fast. If you have never done this your horse will get scared, panic and fight you. This will frustrate you and will transfer to the horse and put you both in a panic. Try to run your horse to your trailer and load him fast. It may take a few times, but once he learns he gets out fast once he goes in, he will not resist so much.

Trying this in a fire is not good planning. So after you load him a few times at a walk, try it at a trot a few times and then try it at a run. See if you can make him run into the trailer from different distances and at different approaches. Every time you push your horse and yourself, you both grow. Bath Time: I see lots of people get into real trouble in this area.

Horses know how to get wet, they stand in the rain all the time. However, getting sprayed with pressure from a hose is different. A horse should be sacked out with water like any other thing that is new and scares them. When giving a horse a bath, always spray the feet first. By wetting the legs and feet, you let the horse know what is coming and prepare them for what is coming. This will also help prevent a horse from kicking when water drips on his dry leg, which he may mistake for a fly or bee.

So start with the feet and legs, then work up to the lower body, then the top and then the neck and head. I see lots of people say my horse does not like his head wet, so they never wash the head. Your horse will accept his head being sprayed if you do it and don't avoid it. Don't stop spaying a horse if he dances, moves or tries to get you to stop.

Only stop washing him when he stands still and shows no resistance. The trick is to stop so fast at first that the horse does not have time to move. That way you work from the right answer. Too many people try and do it too long and then the horse moves and then they stop, teaching the wrong answer. Stop more and faster is the key, so the horses learn you will stop and there is NO reason to move or get scared. Like in all horse training , you stop pressure when you get the right response, not when you get resistance.

See a video on Click Here: on how to wash your horse's sheath:. One is proactive and the other is reactive. Hard to catch horses are smart horses. They have learned that when they see a halter, they are about to be caught and put to work. Using a catch rope will do many things. It will make you learn to lead your horse without a halter, it is easy to conceal or just throw over your shoulder and it is easy to carry with you while doing your chores.

A catch rope can be thin or thick, a broken lead rope with the snap removed, or a piece of hay string. I tie mine, by tying the two ends together I make into one loop. This means I have to put it over the nose and head. It may be easier to start out with just a rope that is not tied. That way you can pet your horse on the shoulder and slide the rope around his neck without messing with the head.

See a video Click Here: on how to lead your horse with a loop: Teach your horse this catch in a stall or round pen first. This leading technique will force you to use better horsemanship skills to lead your horse. You will not have the advantage of a rope near the nose where you can pull or yank the horse around.

Without this advantage, you will have to think more and convince, urge and encourage the horse to follow you. Later, as you get better you will not need the rope to lead your horse. The idea is to only use pressure on the rope when you need it. It is a safety catch if the horse stalls or stops following you. It should not just replace the lead rope and halter as another pulling advantage.

Catching, like most all things with a horse is about pressure and release. If your horse follows you it gets release since you walk away while it follows. If the horse does not follow, then it has not been taught pressure and release so it does not understand that if it does not follow you, you will put pressure on it and make it move faster and work harder. Then the horse learns, not following is hard, following is easy. Here is handy way to make a quick catch with any rope with a loop or where you can tie a loop: The images go down in order 1,2 and 3.

Slapping a horse: Horses don't like to be slapped or patted. They like rubs and scratches not pats. Think like a horse, when horses say hello or are relaxed, they present their head slowly, smell, nuzzle or scratch each other. They don't talk, they don't say good boy or discuss things, it is all done with body language.

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Give your horse a soft rub or scratch to help him relax and feel comfortable. Patting or pounding is not pleasurable to your horse. It is predatory behavior that we do to our dogs, which are also predators. It is hard and high pressure, which makes a horse uncomfortable and not want to be with you. Can you imaging if you were sitting in a comfortable spot, relaxing and calm and someone came up to you and started patting you on your neck or face. You would not like it and would feel uncomfortable and you would not want that person coming around when you were relaxing.

Same thing would be it I offered you a lick off my ice creme cone or I said here take this and shoved it in your face and mouth. One way would be your choice the other would be me forcing it in your face. Show Respect when Approaching Horses : People who understand horses have a soft way to approach a horse. I see lots of people walk up to a horse and go right for the face, reaching, grabbing and very predatory. In horse talk that is rude. Horses don't just walk straight into the face of another horse in the herd. They make eye contact; they lower their head and slowly walk in almost requesting permission.

Then they stop and both horses reach out to each other and smell or acknowledge each other, then they move in next to each other and rub. So when people approach a horse, if the horse pulls away, back up or bites or nips, it is because the person was rude. Watch people and you will know who understands a horse and who does not. The horse will tell you if you approached him politely or rudely. Of course, people that don't understand will blame the horse and slap them for head pushing or nipping, saying the horse is rude, mean or disrespectful.

As I say a lot, the way people interact and describe horses, is really a description of themselves, since most horses are a reflection of how they are treated. One Rein Riding: Most good trainers will start horses with one rein. This helps the horse understand how a rein helps the horse turn and bend in one direction.

This way the horse gets can only get one cue from the rein and is less confusing and easier for the horse to understand. Since a horse is mostly led around in a lead rope and halter, it is used to one rein, one rope, and one direction at a time. You can use this to get a horse to relax when you are on him for the first few times. However, this is a good drill to continue as you grow with your horse. I always say if you cannot ride a horse with a halter and single rein, then you should not be riding him with a bit.

Doing this drill helps remind you to be aware of your cues. You cannot cheat, like you can with two reins and a bit, you must pay attention. You have to anticipate what your horse is going to do and be ready to give him guidance and assistance so he knows what you want. This will teach you how to talk to your horse softly and without pain and without making him do something verses showing him and requesting he do something.

I always want to tell someone I see being rough on a horse with a bit, to try that with one rein and a halter and see if you can get away with it. The horse would teach you a quick lesson that you would not like. Ride your horse from time to time with just one rein, you will learn something about yourself and your horse. This will also teach you to use each hand independently. Riding with each hand working alone is better for the horse and sends more simple cues so the horse understands with less confusion.

By only having one rein you cannot pull on two reins, which confuse the horse and braces the horse so he can learn to pull and brace against you pulling on two reins. This will give you confidence that you do not need a bit or pain to control a horse. You can really tell if your horse is neck reined trained when using only one rein.

If he is, you will be able to make him turn both ways with just one rein, if you can't then he is NOT neck reined trained, so STOP pulling him around with two reins and thinking he is neck reined.

Kissing or Clicking too Much : Constant clicking and kissing for everything makes a horse ignore those cues. Horse's don't talk with their mouth for any reason. Even the Mares : -- So if you talk or give a cue make it mean something. There are certain words that horses should only hear if you want a specific response. Some of these are stand, whoa, walk, trot, canter, quit and come.

If you were to say these all the time and not associate them with a specific act, they would soon ignore these. Clicking and kissing at a horse all the time does the same thing. Try to make your words and sounds mean something together so as your horse advances you will not need both and will only need one.

Horse's learn from consistency. Constant clicking or talking is like sacking out desensitizing a horse to your voice, you don't want this. Words and sounds have to mean a specific thing to a horse. If I kiss to move, kiss to have my horse jump, kiss to have my horse come, kiss to have my horse give me his foot, and so on, the horse soon learns to ignore a kiss. Now you have loss a verbal cue that could help your horse understand. They do things like say Step, when a horse walks over something or they Move when a horse moves or they Ear when a horse moves his ear, or they Left when a horse's left hoof hits the ground or they say Gate when a horse goes in a gate, or trailer when a horse is by a trailer, almost as if they really think the horse knows what they are saying.

Horses just ignore your words if you never stop talking. One word, one sound means one thing. This is just another example on why talking to a horse all the time makes him ignore you and your voice. Pick Feet Before a Ride: Always pick your horses feet before you ride. This removes rocks and burs, allows you to check for injuries, cuts or muscle soreness and tells you how much resistance your horse as in him.

Remember, moving a horse up, down, left, right, back and forward maintains your higher position. I also like to stretch my horse's front legs after I saddle to remove pinches or folded skin under the cinch before mounting. This will help you notice any foot pain or stiffness as well. Also make sure to pick your feet before loading a horse into a trailer. A rock in the hoof can make for a long and painful ride for a horse. The best thing about riding is getting off knowing you both enjoyed it.

Groom Before a Ride: Before saddling, brush your horse on top where saddle goes and under the belly where cinches go. This removes dirt and stickers that irritate the horse and may get you a buck or two, and I am not talking about money. Brushing your entire horse is better, that way you can inspect him for cuts and injuries, see any resistance he may have, help spread his oils over his coat and makes your horse feel good and helps bond you with him.

You should also be able to tell if he has any soreness on any parts of his body. Always check the cinch, saddle pad and straps of the saddle for burs and stickers before saddling up. I see lots of people groom their horse. I also see lots of different ways people do it. Grooming is important to horses and humans.

It causes you both to learn about each other, to spend time with each other, to provide a service to each other and to get pleasure from each other. When grooming a horse many things are happening that most do not realize. Bonding, relationship building, establishing leadership, being accepted by your horse, learning to read your horse, discovering your horse's muscles and bones so you know what is normal and so you will know when something is NOT normal.

When grooming you check for injuries, pain, you desensitize your horse sacking out , remove stickers, remove loose hair, remove mud, remove dead skin, dirt, identify sensitivity, increase circulation, you spread and distribute oils and it massages the horse so the horse finds comfort and safety when being with you. Therefore, the next time you groom, try and remember all the things you are teaching and all the things you should be learning. If you don't you can ask your fairrer for an old rasp he is going to throw away.

Using the side of the rasp, sliding it back and forth over hay string will cut through it quickly. This avoids things like scissors or knives getting lost in the hay and cutting you or your horse. So use an old Rasp, it is big, easy to find and works great.

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Saddle Pad Placement: When saddling a horse, always put the pad closer to head and then slide back into place over the withers. This will ensure the hairs on the horse are lying flat and will be most comfortable for the horse. Don't put on the back and slide it forward as this would make the hair unnaturally. If you ever put a hat on and your hair was messed up, it feels funny and uncomfortable, that is how a horse feels if you slide the pad against the hair.

Any extra pad pad that extends past the saddle should be forward of saddle, since when a pad moves or slides, while riding, it will normally slide back. By putting extra pad in front, you prevent the pad from sliding back and ending up with the saddle in direct contact with the horse with no pad for padding. Wool Saddle Pads are best. Always put your hand under saddle pad , between the horse and the pad, when saddling. As your saddle settles, the pad is pushed down onto the withers, will put pressure on the horse's back, and withers. By placing your hand under the pad, you make extra room and it pushes the pad up into the saddle gullet.

This keeps the pad off the back, off the mane hair and off the withers. It is being aware and making your horse more comfortable. Click Here See a video on Saddling a Horse:. Placement of Pasture Items : When putting things in your pasture, like salt blocks, water, feed buckets, put them in different areas along the fence. This will teach your horse to walk straight lines from one place to another, which will make it easier for him to do when you are on his back.

Time, understanding and love makes a good horse, not fine stables and food. Stretch your horse's front legs after you tighten cinch and before mounting. This removes pinches, folded skin, and lets you see any resistance in your horse. It also lets him stretch out his front legs. A piece of folded skin under the cinch can put your horse into a spook during a ride.

This should be smooth and easy on the horse; I see some yank the foot and do it with force and speed. This should be calming move and help the horse relax and feel comfortable not a command. This is also a small enforcement of your position as the higher horse.

Remember, moving a horse left, right, backwards, forwards and up or down feet tells the horse you are higher and he is lower in the herd order. See a video on this: Click Here How to teach horse to lower his head. Stampede Stings come in handy on windy days. Also known as a hat string. You can guess how it got its name. Many stampedes have started with a hat flying off into the herd and spooking a horse or cow. If windy and you are wearing a ball cap, you can wear it backwards so the wind will not catch the brim or you can take it off and tie it to your saddle with one of your saddle strings.

I have been bucked off a few times when riding other people's horse's when my hat or someone else's hat has flown off and scared the horse I was riding. This always confirmed that the horse was not sacked out correctly. A horse should not react to a hat flying off you or any other rider. But finding that nasty little fact out while on a ride is not fun. Bucking Strap : Putting a " night latch " or " bucking strap " on your saddle comes in handy. This helps when riding at night, since horses spook and move sideways at night more than during the day.

Horses see more at night then we do, so they will see things before us and we have less time to react. Since you can't see as well as your horse, and can't see the ground, your balance is not as good as during the day. If your horse does buck for some reason, jump quickly, or spook, you have a much better chance of staying in the saddle and keeping your balance if you have this strap. A night latch is a piece of leather, much like a dog collar, which is secured to your gullet, next to your saddle horn and can be used as a handle when the ride gets rough.

You can watch my video where I explain and show this by clicking here to view What is a Nightlatch or Bucking strap by Rick Gore. The picture above are examples of night latch or buck strap. The rope one is called a cowboy night latch and can be made with a lead rope.

Straight from this nag's mouth

Soft rope makes a nice handle. I can't say how many times this has saved me. Had I known this years ago, I would have a lot less falls under my belt. This helps the horse from learning bad lessons it a horse gets you out of a saddle , by you staying in the saddle, the horse does not learn he can get rid you when he wants.

This has another very important benefit. If one hand is in the nightlatch then you can't be pulling on both reins BAD when the ride gets rough. An easy way to always remember this is " One rein you live, Two reins you die ". Since you are only using one rein anyway, you have a free hand and if that hand is in a nightlatch, you and your horse have a much better chance of success. Some say that the nightlatch was invented by old cowboys who rode many hours and would tap naps or go to sleep while the horse walked home, since horses always know the way home.

Leading Your Horse : Leading a horse is not pulling it around by the lead rope. You should lead your horses on a slack rope. The harder you pull the harder you will have to pull. Light touches and request will teach your horse to follow you and respond to you rather than to feel he is always in a tug of war with you. Soft hands make soft horses, hard hands make hard horses.

A lead rope should be used as a suggestion cue and not as a pull rope. Notice others holding their horses, many people feel the need to hang on the area where the lead rope attaches to the halter. This is annoying to a horse and will cause him to ignore pulls and changes in pressure to his halter. The less you move, pull or hang on the halter, the more the horse will pay attention when you use it as a cue. Don't hang, pull, tug, fiddle, swing or mess with your lead rope or reins.

These are used to give a cue not for you to annoy the horse or occupy your idol or nervous hands. When leading your horse try and lead it with no rope. Try and put your hand under the chin and on the opposite cheek of the horse. If you lead your horse like this with a rope, soon you will not need a rope. Another way is to place your hand on the withers while leading your horse on a lead rope, soon your horse will learn to walk with you if you place your hand on his withers.

You should also try and lead your horse with other things. Try and lead with your belt or shirt around his neck, a hay string or other string. Never pull a horse straight, you can't do it, he will learn to pull and you will loose. Always pull and release at an angle so you take away the horse's ability to pull straight back. You can tell someone who does not understand a horse when they continue to pull straight on a horse until they cause the horse to rear and they say their horse NEEDS a stud chain.

Leading is about getting a horse to follow you without pulling it. Less is more. The photo above and left is a Picasso done in of a boy leading a horse. Picasso was known for some of his horse paintings. Asking for help : Don't ask people how to fix a problem with your horse, just because their horse has the same problem. I see this all the time. If John's horse throws his head, don't ask John how to fix this problem. If Bob's horse bucks, don't ask Bob how to help you stop your horse from bucking. People often think that if someone has the same problems with their horse, then that person will know how to deal with all horses, that have the same problem.

This comes from the belief that the problem is the horse's fault. In fact, most of the time the person causes the problem. If your horse runs back to the barn, don't ask another owner that has a horse that runs back to barn how to fix this. If their horse has the same problem, they obviously don't know how to fix it and like you, they probably caused it. Dropped Lead Rope : Allow your horse to walk around with a lead rope dragging in a small area. They will step on it and pull back thinking they are trapped. After a few times they will learn they are causing this and it will not be a big deal.

The more you do this, the more they will learn that it is not a bad thing to step on the rope and they will learn how to release the pressure over time. That way when you accidentally drop your rope and your horse steps on it, you will not get a blow up or run away. Remember use a rope halter with no snaps so your horse will not break it and it will not hurt him. Not to mention that if the snap breaks he will not learn how to release the pressure and only learn to pull until the snap breaks. Braided Tails: This may look pretty but it is bad for the horse. I hear all kinds of reasons for this; it helps the tail grow, it keeps the tail free of tangles and stickers, it stops other horses from chewing on it, it keeps it clean, bla bla bla A horse needs his tail free.

The tail helps keeps flies off him, it allows him to buddy up with another horse to keep the flies out of each others face, it acts as a warning for danger to the herd, it acts as a warning to another horse, it is used for communication with other horses, helps cool him on a hot day and last but not least, I have never seen a wild horse with a braided tail, which makes it very unnatural. Don't do it, it is bad for the horse. Spooks : When a horse spooks it is NOT a bad thing.

It is a training opportunity. Sometime a horse needs to get scared to know that he does not have to be scared. Spooking is a very natural act for a horse. They do it all the time in the wild except it is called being alert, staying alive and surviving. A good alert horse will not let a mountain lion get you or let anything get close to you without letting you know about it.

Don't get mad a horse for doing it. Reassure him and let him know he does not have to be scared. If you get hard on the bit, start flexing and getting forceful, then you confirm that the horse should be scared. You don't want your horse associating pain with any fear. Horse of a rides: Too many people want a perfect horse from riding it three times a week or every weekend or a few times a month.

After about a rides you can consider your horse broke. I hear horses for sale that say "three year old, dead broke", BS. No such thing as a dead broke horse at three.

'Oh shit'.. Horse Fall

In order to get a rides on a horse, if you ride a horse every day for three years you will get a rides. If you ride a horse twice a day for two years your will get rides. If you are like most people and only ride two times a week, it will take you 10 years to get a thousand rides in. The number of rides is not the only thing that is important, it is how long the rides are, what you are doing and how well you are doing it.

Therefore, with all those factors, the odds of getting a well trained and well broke horse under six years old is very rare. Now, with that in mind, that is only considering the horse. What about you? How many actual rides do you have under your belt? What did you do on those rides? Were you just sitting or were you actively driving and learning?

So even if you have a horse with a rides, if you only have rides, it will not take long for the horse to know this. So be aware that it takes time to make a good horse and it takes time to make a good rider.

The horse is the best teacher of the horse: learn from them all and be a good student of the horse. Before you blame the horse for a problem, make sure you have your rides in. Flexing: Don't over do this, but by flexing your horse left and right after you mount, it gets the horse in a routine and he will not want to walk off after you mount, knowing you are going to flex him. This also tells you where your horse's head is at mentally , is he paying attention to you or how much resistance is he feeling.

While trail riding, flex your horse and make him let you touch his face and rub his eyes while flexed. This will make him more comfortable about flexing and when he gets a pesky fly on his face or something in his eye, you can flex him and help rub it away. If you do it enough, the horse will learn and will flex when he wants help with flies or something else on his face. You want to feel his hind legs pushing off the ground.

Now back, back, back, nearly to walk — now forward. When he goes into trot, just give him one more touch with your leg to let him know you really want him to go forward. When you are going forward and coming back, ask yourself was it the reaction I wanted? If you are doing it halfways, then you are always compromising with him. The first one it was a bit hit and miss, and make it up as we went along. The horse was generous, I was lucky. It was really good to get that straightened out.

It was great. The first few years, he was really out of control, what he is doing now, he has only been doing for the past six months — the first eighteen months were just scary. They can be lame and on the wrong leg and still win, as long as you stay on them, and they are pretty. Are you enjoying the slightly more objective judging system that comes with dressage? The previous day she had ridden her stallion, Rodrigo, today she was bringing her mare, Diamantina.

It had been some time since Nathalie had worked with the mare, so she was looking forward to seeing her progress, but as with all her riders, she also felt that Maree had to ride more forward:. If you ride back and back and back, then you really have nothing to bring the half halt through. Think forward to get back. I felt I really needed that intensive week so we could work on them.