Tag Archives: April Reeves

How to handle a horse that won’t accept a bit

Comment from Horse Enthusiast writes: I knew this trainer who had a really angry paint filly- she was vicious when the owner gave her to him for nothing- and he managed to train her enough that she was easy to handle which was a big accomplishment considering if you showed up with a halter she would run you down, but she still pulled back when tied and riding she would blow up really badly on occasion, or at least that was the state she was at when I left…
I don’t know her history or how she’s doing now as I haven’t seen her since spring… Anyway he wasn’t my ideal trainer as  he was the “old” cowboy type and would run the snot out of a bronc horse, no matter what age. (this filly was only three and he was cantering and loping her constantly and working her really hard).

But the trick he used to get this filly to accept the bit, because she was terrible of course, was to turn her out with the bridle. (no reins)

Would you ever even consider this in the most dire situation or would you just give up and go bitless? My big fear at the time was that she would catch the ring of the snaffle on a part of the fence or something and rip her mouth apart in a panic, but luckily she didn’t but she actually became easier to bit and was less resistant to it after a week or so. But still, I think that’s too risky…
Just curious :)

Answer from April Reeves: There are many ways to ask a horse to accept a bit, and although many of those ways end up with a horse that will “take” a bit, the question remains, “Is there a better way?” I have had to work with some of the toughest of bitters, and have barely had as much as a fight or future problem.

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20,000 Horse Enthusiasts and Growing!

Today I have had 20,000 visitors to this blog. I couldn’t reach that many people if I did clinics every day!

I hope that everyone that visits comes away with something, even if it’s small, that they can take back to their horse and work on.

We are always learning. As a clinician and trainer, I know I learn from you and my students every day as well. That’s the beauty about this industry: horses never cease to amaze and surprise us.

Through all these articles is a common thread: leave your ego and emotion at the gate before you see your horse – within every problem lies the solution – horses do not know the difference between English and Western – horses are more connected and sensitive than humans give them credit for – they cannot learn the English language.

A great big Thank You to everyone that made the 20,000! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. If it helps the horse, it helps the world…

My jumping pony needs to be calmer: how can I do this?

Question: I have an 8 year old jumping pony. She is 14.2 hands. She seems to be picky on her jumps. She has the one plank that is red and white and she refuses it all the time. When I mount her she may sometimes take off or start rearing with me. After a jump she may sometimes take off but after that she calms down a little. She is scared at almost everything. Once at a show a man started fanning himself with his hat and she whipped around and then continued the next jump. She needs to learn to be a lot calmer but how? Help me.

Answer from April Reeves: This is such an important question and if you read my past posts you will see I say the same thing over and over again. Let’s review this, as we keep coming back to it, time and time again.

Why do horses lose their nerves? Why do they get edgy and do things we don’t want them to do? I want you to really think about this question, because if you can’t answer it, you can’t train or ride your horse past where you are now, and it’s likely you will get worse. The question poses a problem, and within every problem lies the answer. Now – start thinking…

What did you come up with? See if it matches anything I’m about to say.

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Hot horse needs lunging or bad idea?

Question: My horse is a bit “hot” so I lunge him before to take the edge off. Some say I have to, and some say I will only get a hotter horse as she gets fitter. What is your take on this? I read about your sending exercise. How does this differ from lunging? I keep getting mixed answers but no real advice as to why you would choose one technique over another.

Answer from April Reeves: Oddly enough, a well-mannered hot horse comes down to good ground manners, not time on a lunge line. I often see some of the hottest horses that are still safe because they have been taught the skills to know how to channel the “heat”. Ground manners are everything.

I do not lunge a horse that is quiet, as I don’t need to and like to have the energy in the saddle, not burned out around a circle.

If the horse is hot or not joined with me in the work, then that horse is put to work until his lungs catch up with his brain. They all have a “breaking point” where they finally exhale and chew. Then you can go to work and learn something.

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Canadian Bill C-544 put forward to ban horse slaughter

April: I rarely get into this sort of thing but I’m also a big “foodie” when it comes to humans and horses, so this post has to be shown. Alex Atamanenko is a huge supporter of Genetically Modified-Free Alfalfa, which, for horse owners, is a great thing! Believe me, we don’t want GMO alfalfa or wheat in Canada. Ever. I work hard to petition and keep it from entering. It has the potential to make all our alfalfa-eating horses ill: very very ill.

There are several issues around banning horse slaughter. One is simple: ignorant horse owners will simply abandon their horses somewhere or leave them to starve. An ugly truth for anyone that has come across this, but the horse world does have this reputation of attracting some of the bottom dregs of society (I don’t mince words and I don’t apologize for them). Secondly, Canada is about to put tons of our taxpaying dollars into an “Equine Passport” that no one can completely control. Once again.

I just lost a horse: I put him down as it was the humane thing to do. Someone commented after that I could have made $500 on his carcass. My horse was so full of antibiotics, bute, other chemicals and drugs to keep him alive for those 6 days that I’m sure his “meat” would have killed someone. But yes, I could have released him into society, if I lacked integrity.

Take a read on this and let me know what you think. Should we propose some “law/rule/governance” that every horse owner should partake in, such as a fee for euthanizing that goes into the “coffers” before a horse is bought? Or ????

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 17, 2010

ATAMANENKO MOVES TO BAN HORSE MEAT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION

OTTAWA – New Democrat Agriculture Critic, Alex Atamanenko (BC southern Interior) tabled a Private Members Bill (C-544) yesterday that would effectively shut down the slaughtering of horses for human consumption in Canada.

“The fact is that drugs which are prohibited for use during the life of any animals destined for the human food supply are routinely being administered to horses,” said Atamanenko. “It is irresponsible for Canada to allow the sale of meat from horses as a food item when they have never been raised in accordance with the food safety practices required for all other animals.”

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Horse Rescue: What it really means

I was asked to help rescue a horse and her foal yesterday. I don’t usually do this as I hate having to fix my trailer afterward, but something compelled me to do this one.

We drove to this large farm and a rolling field with 11 mares: most with foals and back in foal. The stallion ran wild with them: a no-so-great quarter horse with a nasty chunk of hide off his back leg (exposed and proud fleshed) with nice side profile but on the weedy side. No papers (as usual) and breeding mares of almost every breed other than quarter horse.

Also, as usual, a group of drug addicted men were there to shout and scream to get the horses to “obey”. This is why I don’t usually do this: just want to tie them all up and duct tape their mouths. I soon discovered, all the horses were completely wild: I don’t imagine many of them had been handled in over a decade, and most never touched by a human at all. Their feet were unbelievable.

My friend was after an Arabian cross mare and her colt. After a closer look, once we “softly” moved them into a smaller corral, I noticed the Arabian cross was broken down in the back pastern area, and my friend wanted her to pleasure ride into the hills for several days. Not a good choice.

There were 2 big mares: dark bays with 4 white legs. One had foaled that previous night, and her placenta was not fully discarded. The owners of these horses (son of the father) didn’t seem to understand the consequences of this. I suggested to my friend to get to like bays really quick, because the one mare not yet foaled was stunning. It was later revealed she was half hackney.

We tried to connect with the Arabian cross: this mare and colt were completely wild, and any movement too fast would have sent her over a fence. Since we had to use a chute to move them into the trailer, I didn’t want any part of this, so we abandoned this mare. My friend decided to work with the hackney mare and her unborn foal. She was lovely: ate a few apples from our hands and softly moved towards the trailer and hopped on.

It’s a sign: this mare was meant to be. She free hauled home with no sweating or screaming. I have always said: the right thing is often the easiest. We are not meant to struggle: it’s the Universe’s way of saying we are on the right path. I use this motto in all my training as well.

Today though, I am paying the price of horse rescue: my heart can’t handle this well. As I write this, the other mares and their babies are going to slaughter in a huge truck to Saskatchewan. The bigger hackney mom will likely not survive the trip: her placenta will infect and eventually kill her, and it’s quick. Her newborn will not survive the trip. The other new foals will be crushed in travel.

Why do we do this to horses? Why do we neglect and treat them this way? These are questions I will likely never answer: I often lose faith in mankind. The two words: man and kind do not always blend well on this planet.

When you receive this post in your email, those horses will have their fates sealed. Take a moment in silence and say goodbye. One of them is alive and well, and galloping with 2 other very special mares. She was worth rescuing.

I would do it again.

When Great Horses Die

On Saturday, my beautiful big palomino QH, Max, passed away from an infection in his hoof.

It was one of the freakiest accidents I have seen yet. The 3 vets who attended him were completely baffled over the week he stayed with them. They tended to him daily, but could not get the infection under control. It was only after his death that an autopsy show the capsule around the pastern bones was severed by the small chunk of wood that was lodged at the front of his coronet band. Once that seal is broken, there is no hope for the horse. Who would have thought 1. a horse can even get a piece of wood shoved into his hoof there, and 2. that it would cause such incredible damage and pain?

Life can be so fragile sometimes. They are with us one day and gone the next. For all our loving and caring we put into these magnificent animals, they still have their own agenda’s for their time here with us on this planet.

Many people have said that Max would not have lasted his 8 years if I had not owned him. He was an exceptionally difficult horse, right from birth. His first owner disliked him. She could not bond with him as he had a mind of his own, and it was far away from what any human could have wanted. I saw him as a weanling, while looking for a horse for a client. Aside from being very tall, very  pretty and a stunning golden palomino, there was something else about this feisty little horse that captured me. I wasn’t looking for a horse. He wasn’t looking for an owner.

By the end of the day, we were a pair. A match made in heaven.

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