Why your horse isn’t learning as fast as they should
By April Reeves
I have a herd of 10 horses. No matter how long I leave them, I can go out into the 80 acres, catch any one of them (most will come without a halter) and start off exactly where I left their training, regardless of how long that was. How does that happen?
This is the value of consistency. Not the type where you take a lesson then ride the way you always do the next day. No. This is the type where you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to ask at least one new thing and apply it every time I need to in a consistent manner until my horse understands the question.”
We don’t realize how damaging it is to the horse when we change the question. Example: you were taught how to back up your horse, but today, he does not want to back up and it’s been a few months since you asked for it. So you do what you know to get him to back up, but he hesitates and stalls out, so you try another method, same zero results, then you try something else while you get more aggressive and by this time, your horse is hyper anxious and tense and the entire lesson is lost.
You have just asked him more than one question and there is no way you will get any result you will like. Let’s use the backup as an example.
Posted in Colt Starting, English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Western training answers
Tagged April Reeves, backing up, consistency, herd, horse training, lesson, rhythmic pressure, show ring, trainer
Question: I was watching your lesson last Saturday (I was the one wearing the yellow jacket) and was fascinated by your explanation of energy work. Thank you for letting me watch! My question is, when the lady couldn’t get her horse to move out, can you explain again why that was happening? I missed it, and I’m sure that was the most important part! When are you back at Bowden again? So glad you moved here!
Answer from April Reeves: Hi yellow jacket: yes, I remember you (hard to miss actually!). Feel free to audit any lesson (unless my client asks otherwise).
Energy surrounds all living things every second of our lives. Even rocks have energy levels. Horses are highly tuned to energy. We all know this by the reaction our horses have to our emotions each time we approach them, yet we routinely disregard this and blame our horse for the reactions he/she has to us.
After having received and answered questions on this blog for some time now, a recurring theme keeps popping up.
Riders of all disciplines seem to get to a certain level but never seem to be able to get past it. That’s when the questions come forth, and the frustration begins. People intuitively know, even if they don’t consciously know, that they are missing a very integral part of the “equine journey”.
It’s all fine to learn the “mechanics” of riding. We learn how to sit so that we and the horse are more comfortable and safe. We learn how to use our hands and legs to ask the horse how to do a specific task – but we really don’t feel, at a deeper level, what that truly is – to the horse. And so begins our feeling of being “stuck” and asking questions.
We brush our horses, feed them, kiss them goodnight or goodbye, and the second we step away, we move right back into our outer world beyond the horse. But our whole intention, if we search higher, of having a horse in the first place, is to connect very deeply with another spirit. Not another human or animal. Another spirit. And to retain that connection while away from them. This does not mean that you “think” about the horse. It means you bring forward “that” which you carry between you and your horse into all the other aspects of your life. Things like, patience, understanding, grounding, centeredness, unflappable and unshakeable – emotionally and ego free.
Question from New Zealand: I have been working through your site for answers to a lot of questions :-) and have found it invaluable as I work with my wild caught mare who is now 7 yrs old. She was only broken in at 5 and then we just got her home and a couple of months later she broke her foot. So after a year out with that I’m starting her all over again. She was trained by Trisha Wren who’s methods are similar to your own.
BUT the issue is with her little paddock mate. A warmblood 3yr old, almost 4yr filly (Pipsqueak) who each time I take Charity away from her gallops and bucks around her paddock. The last time she wasn’t even out of site but took off around her paddock and chest crashed a gate twice. The 3rd time she knocked it off it’s hinges. Very luck for us she didn’t cut herself but it must have bruised. Many times I thought she was going to jump the gate. Now she hasn’t always been like this.
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.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Western training answers
Tagged April Reeves, Bit, bitting, Bridling, Cowboy, Filly, Horse Trainer, horse training, Lope
Question: I have a four year old Morgan who was doing terrific in her training and then I hurt my back. I couldn’t ride, had her trainer working with her and an experienced rider exercising her. I had just started to get back to walking on her in early August when she started pinning her ears for everyone who got on her back and refusing to move forward. We had her saddles checked by a certified saddle fitter, had the vet come out and check her (she’s also a chiro/accupuncture expert) and we let her rest for over two weeks. I’ve stayed off her; only her trainer works with her but she still will sometimes put her ears back or kick out when she’s asked to move forward into trot. It’s now mid-October–what haven’t we thought of to solve this? She was doing so well all of last year and had moved into learning to canter before this started!
Answer from April Reeves: Hi SallyAnne. This is a common problem but not easily solved at this stage. There may be several things going on here to build this mare up to this point so I will go over them individually.
Question: Hi April, I have a really big problem that’s getting worse. My horse stalls out after every fence. We jump one fence and he just quits. I can get him moving again but he just keeps doing this over and over. I can go over one fence and he does it okay but he won’t do a line of them. Help me please! My instructor doesn’t know what’s wrong with him either. Is he sick?
Answer from April Reeves: No Angela, he’s not likely sick. He’s likely trained to do that, and you trained him. I know what you’re thinking right now “Gosh, no April, I’ve never trained him for that!’ but we unconsciously train our horses to do many things we don’t want them to do.
This is a typical scenario when you first learn about jumping. You aim at a jump, pray the horse will keep going, and then immediately stop the horse after you go over the fence and take a look at your accomplishment. If that isn’t training a horse to stop after every fence I don’t know what is!
Posted in English Riding answers, Hunter/Jumper
Tagged counter canter, english riding, Equine Behavior & Problems, Gallop, horse forward, horse training, hunter, Jump, Jumper, jumping, Lead Changes, Rein back, Stride
I hear it a lot – young students watching a big Warmblood move through a jump or event course and saying “I could ride that horse”. Unless you have ridden the bigger horses, a lot, you have NO idea what it’s like and just how quickly you get somewhere. So for those of you that want to train for eventing one day and ride something 17 hands or higher, here’s a little test trial for you: one of the best video cams I have seen. This really puts it all into perspective: how fast you move along, how many fences you have to take (and remember), how much distance you cover and how long it takes. Granted this is Peter Atkins (one of my favorites), but if eventing is your aspiration, you will have to ride to a similar level, as there are no baby steps to eventing. It takes guts, stamina, and one incredible horse. Pay attention to the close relationship Peter has with “Henny”. Then tell me you want to train for this sport. Or not. Just for your information, Henny is only 16 hands!
Video cam of Peter Atkins and Henny at Richland Park CIC, 2010
Question: Hi April, I have a quarter horse that is 7 years old (gelding) that walks, trots and canters. Turns on the forehand, sidepasses. For the last 4 weeks he has been doing the strangest direction change at a canter. He will all of sudden decides he doesn’t want to go that way and will change without any notice. Only tends to do it in one direction. He also has started around the same time running into the corners of the arena. We have no idea why he is doing this. I have started lunging him more then usual since this began and he is fine when I do it. I walk with him up and down the center of the arena when lunging and he doesn’t do the sudden change at all. But as soon as I ride him he does it. I have tried putting alot of leg on him at the same point in the arena and pulled on the rein but he manages somehow to do it anyway. There is no other reasons we can think of why he has started this. He does it with our trainer as well. I was wondering if there is anything else we can do to control this sudden turns and running into the corner. Thank you.
Answer from April Reeves: Hi Cindy, That is one of the strangest things I have ever heard, but I may have an explanation.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, Western training answers
Tagged Arena, behavior, Canter, Dangerous horse, Equine Behavior & Problems, horse training, lunging, problem horse, Trot
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.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Hunter/Jumper
Tagged April Reeves, behavior, english riding, Equine Behavior & Problems, foundation training, horse forward, horse training, jumping, spooky horse
Question: My horse keeps throwing her shoulder and I was wondering if there was some thing I can do to prevent it and because she does this it makes it hard to get her to turn easily without trying to go the other way.
Answer from April Reeves: Getting the shoulder from dropping is a task that requires a great deal of sensitivity and timing. I will walk you through it and you can take it as you feel comfortable.
As with any gait problems we’ll start at the walk:
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.
Question: My horse tends to get very strong while we are jumping. I have a twisted D ring but I just feel as though i cannot stop him. Do you have any suggestions for a bit that is not too harsh, yet will help me slow him down? My trainer told me to look into a D ring with hooks but they are all very expensive.
Also, I read some other answers to similar questions like mine, and all the answers state that it is all the riders fault. I would just like you to know that I am a very good rider and I am never harsh on my horses. I just simply cannot find an appropriate bit, and am looking for suggestions. Your help is appreciated!! Thanks! Olivia
Answer from April Reeves: Hello Olivia. Thanks for asking me this question, as I will be honest and keep it real, but it may not be what you want to hear. I urge you to consider my answer, as it is the only way you will fix your problem.
My first suggestion: consider another coach and get the softest bit you can find. I kid you not, and this is why:
When a rider comes to me with a problem like your having over fences, it has nothing to do with bits and everything to do with lack of a good foundation on a horse (and rider). You won’t solve the problem with a harsher bit: it will only slow down the horse for a few days until that bit also becomes useless, as his mouth gets tougher and tougher and he gets stronger and stronger (ie: his brain). I’m not being mean: I’m just keeping it real.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, Hunter/Jumper
Tagged behavior, bitting, bold jumper, collection, english riding, foundation training, horse too fast, horse training, hunter, jumping
Question: I have a 10 year old arab that I’ve switched from the Arab circuit to eventing. I bought him as a 5 yr old and did Arab shows for a couple years. He’s a gorgeous horse and an amazing mover, but has a really hard time keeping himself under control. He is always a happy horse, with ears pinned forward. My problem with him is when we get to shows he gets so excited that he literally can’t contain himself. He ends up rearing/jumping/bucking nonstop. I’ve had a chiropractor out, a vet out, and he has no issues with back or saddle fitting. If I take him to school at a place, he’s a pretty good boy. He just really feeds off the commotion of the show. Eventing has been better, he loves to jump and does great on cross country and stadium. But dressage is the first phase and he usually rears and leaps through our test. I’ve tried lunging him for an hour before, and he just gets more excited. We generally get there the night before and that hasn’t made a difference either.
If you have any suggestions on how to get him to calm down, please let me know!!!! He has amazing talent, but he is just like a child with ADHD.
Answer from April Reeves: Arabians are one of my favorite breeds: they are highly sensitive and intelligent, and learn fast. And they’re just incredibly beautiful as well.
They also can get a little out of control, which always brings me back to groundwork. An Arabian can never have enough groundwork. It’s great for their minds and they catch on to it faster than many breeds.
Posted in Breeds, Equine Behavior & Problems, Hunter/Jumper, Natural Horsemanship
Tagged behavior, bucking, english riding, foundation training, Groundwork, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, problem horse, rearing, spooky horse
Sorry everyone but I have been extremely busy lately, and I know many of you are waiting for your questions to be answered! I have been organizing this years clinic schedule and it’s a big change this year with the inclusion of open clinics. It’s more work than private clinics, but I can breathe now for a while and will be back to posting many answers for you.
This blog is insanely busy. Thanks to everyone that comes here to find answers to their horse training questions. Hopefully I will see many of you this year.
I am limiting my clinics to BC for 2010, as the US is too strict on clinicians coming in. I have always felt as though the US was my best friend I get to visit all the time. Hopefully one day we will be able to move back and forth freely again. I will miss my American friends this year!
Be first to sign up; send your email address and your location and I will contact you first if I am in your area.
Question: Hi, I hope you can help. I have had my little cob for about 9 months, at first he was very bossy and wouldn’t even let me touch his face without trying to bite and ears flat back , he got loads better and now I can stroke and even brush his face, he is great to catch and comes when called , but lately, even when I go to greet him as he comes over when I get there, he puts his ears flat back and does that trying to send me away thing , he will try to bite if I persist in trying to touch him, unless I can get to scratch him in his fave spot. I spend a lot of time with him , he will not let me pick his feet up most of the time either, I know his previous owner and I know she would hurt him too , how can I get him to respect and trust me, I am rather nervous of him now but I love him and won’t let him down.
Answer from April Reeves: Hello Carol from the UK! I’m glad you spend a lot of time with this horse. It is the best therapy you can give him, short of a few ground lessons that I will give you that should keep you busy for about half a year.
One thing you didn’t mention was whether he was gelded or not. This would make the world of difference if he wasn’t castrated yet. Once that is done, his whole attitude will change. However, even as a young male he should still show respect and manners, as it will carry forward when he is gelded.
Think about how it feels to have someone speak to you in a foreign language. If you don’t know the language, you can’t understand them. If they speak slower, you still won’t have a clue what they’re saying. If they shout at you, you still won’t understand.
That’s how it is for your horse. When you train, you’re developing a non-verbal language with him.
When you learn a foreign language, you first need to learn the letters of the alphabet. Once you know the letters of the alphabet, you can put them together to form words. Then, eventually you can put the words together to form sentences. Your horse has to go through this same process as you develop your non-verbal language with him.
1. The letters of your equine alphabet are the different actions of your seat, legs, and hands.
2. When you put the letters of the alphabet together, you form words. For example, you’ll see in Lesson 6 on Connection that the combination of the driving aids, the bending aids, and the rein of opposition create the word “connected” or “on the bit”.
3. Finally, you’ll put words together to make sentences. For example, if you want to do a transition on the bit, you’ll form a sentence by using two sets of aids at once. You’ll give both the aid for “on the bit” and the aid for the transition itself. In your horse’s language, you’re saying, “Do this transition on the bit.”
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
Question: I got my horse very soft but for some reason I am having trouble teaching her to yield her shoulder. She knows how to move her back in and out of saddle. Here’s what I’ve been doing so please tell me what’s going wrong. I always start training out of saddle before I expect it to happen in saddle so I have been standing on the ground putting pressure on her shoulder trying to get her to yield her front legs but all she keeps doing is moving her back legs in a circle like I was pushing on her hindquarters but I’m not. I don’t know what to do – please help? Shes a very fast learner so I know I have to be doing it wrong.
Answer from April Reeves: Let’s start by looking at ‘pressure’. Rule #1: never push on a horse. Laying your hand on a horse and using any pressure will result in the horse pushing against you, unless the horse has been taught specifically to move away, in which case you only have to ‘touch’ the horse. I don’t know exactly what you meant by ‘putting pressure on her shoulder’ so I added this in.
Question: Hello, I have been training horses since I was 12. I’m no expert by any means and have lots to learn.
But as of right now I am currently working with a 3 year old quarter horse. She is the most nervous insecure horse I have ever worked with. Her previous owner told me they had started her under the saddle already and she had accepted it, which I found through further training was a lie. I have been constantly working with her since October and am hardly moving forward. I started right from scratch with basic halter training. Now, I have ridden her only because I was pushed into it by her owner. I stopped because I felt she was not ready, every time I sack her out its like its all new to her. I have used many objects such as a bag on a whip, a cowboy hat, a blanket, just a plain stick, and she still flips each time I bring out an object. Even if it was an object she has previously seen! She is having major difficulties with switching eye to eye. And frankly I am running out of ideas. I’m not sure if I should just move on and ride her in hopes I can work it out of her on her back.
Answer from April Reeves: I have run across a mare like this. You may have to back off from using objects to desensitize her as it makes them worse.
Where this problem originated was back in her history somewhere. Owners never tell you the whole story. It’s up to you to assume the worst and work from there. People can really ruin a young horse.
This mare will take a great deal of consistent gentle handling. Get rid of bags on the end of whips and other cool toys that work on other horses. With this mare, you will be doing basic work. But it’s not the work you are doing, it is HOW you will carry out this work.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship, Western training answers
Tagged break horse, colt starting, Equine Behavior & Problems, foundation training, Groundwork, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, problem horse, spooky horse, western training, young horse
Question: I have a 7 year old Appendix, who is in full show hunter training, and he is a fantastic hunter, but he has one major issue. He is a fairly dominant gelding and when another horse, no matter gender or size, passes him or gets too close (in either direction, although the same direction is worse) he bucks. I don’t mean like a baby or one time buck. It is a full bucking fit around the arena. The last time he bucked, it was because a pony passed him and he took 5 minutes of pure 4 feet of the ground bucking, and a run in with the fence to stop. He did NOT do this when I first bought and showed him. It started in June 2008 and that was 6 full months after I purchased him. My trainer and I have exhausted all of our options, and cannot find an answer as to why this started nor can we find a solution. We also thought it was me for a while, but I have been evaluated by a mental coach and my nerves are not the cause, they are a reaction to his bucking fits. Can you help?
Answer from April Reeves: I need a bit more information. What are the options you have exhausted? That way I won’t need to go over them again. Have you done any groundwork and if so what did you do? This is an easy fix but it will require time and probably someone with a different skill set. I will wait for your reply before suggesting a solution.
Question: Can you wash your horse to much? I have never had a problem with this but I wash my horse about once a week in the summer. I thing its good for the horse and me. lol. I turn her loose and she just roles in the dirt when I’m done but someone told me it was unhealthy to wash your horse this much. (my brothers wife said that, been eating on me, they dont like how I train or even ride my horse because I am way into Natural Horsemanship and they do things cowboy way but hay you never no she might be right so thought I’d ask. Dont want to hurt my horse)
Answer from April Reeves: If you are using soap every week, you are likely stripping away essential oils in the coat. I only use soap no more than once a month, if that. I do use water to wash away all sweat and mud on the body and legs, when it is warm enough, and I do that daily! Water alone does not damage the oils. It is important to remove sweat and mud as it will damage the coat and hairs. It also keeps the horse healthier and happier, so spray away every day if you want! Just put the soap bottle away. You will find you won’t need soap at all if you just use water. I don’t know where you live, but we can’t wash off our horses all year ‘round. I make up for it in the summer though. All my horses love to be sprayed; it’s a good thing to get a horse use to.
In order for me to make this blog valuable and useful, I need to know what YOU want to read. What YOU want to see. What YOU want to discuss. What am I missing?
You can say as little or as much as you like.
What are your goals with your horse? What are your dreams? What do you want to accomplish but are not sure of how to go about it?
Help me make this horse blog one of the best out there. What you have to say matters to me. Together, we can create a community that benefits us all, which benefits the horse. It’s all about the horse.
Thanks everyone, and a very, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Question: I am looking at a 16.3 hand 2 yr old appendix quarter horse gelding. His owner is a college student and can’t afford him anymore so she is selling him for a reasonable price. When he was 1 a bone spur was found on his hock. His owner had him injected with hock injections and has kept up on proper shoeing and neither her nor the trainer have seen any signs of the problem since. He is now 2 and is broken. He has been shown (hunter under saddle, equitation, and showmanship) and has won a good bit of money, and is ridden/worked everyday and hasn’t been injected since. I’m wondering if he could’ve grown out of this or if it is going to give me any future problems, i already have a horse with a badly injured back so i don’t need another hurt horse. I plan to do hunter under saddle, equitation, showmanship, some western pleasure, and some light jumping (around age 5) he will be worked just about everyday and shown almost every weekend. PLEASE HELP!!!!!
Answer from April Reeves: Ouch, there are many things you have written that suggest to me to look somewhere else for a horse. I’m not a vet but after all these years there are certain training methods that show up in physical problems down the road, and riding before the age of 3 is the most prominent.
Regardless of the bone spur, anyone who has started a horse that young and works it every day is setting the horse up for back issues down the road. No, there is never a guarantee of this, but your odds right now of having a horse with back issues are 50% and in my books, that’s 50% too much.
Jane Savoie – Should I Ride My Dressage Horse ‘Deep’ or ‘Up’?
You’ve probably heard lots of discussion about whether or not to work your dressage horse “deep.” There are a variety of opinions on the matter. Some riders warm up and cool down their horses “long and low” to stretch and loosen the muscles. Others always school in a balance and frame appropriate to the level at which they are working; they never stretch their horses. Many trainers school in a deep frame only during the movements when the horse habitually comes above the bit. Still others do all of their work “extremely deep” with the horse’s nose almost on his chest; they bring him up only when they are getting ready to compete.
So what should you do with your dressage horse? Use benign antagonism to help you decide.
Question: I have a welsh section a driving pony, he’s 12yrs and I have owned him for 18months. I was a novice driver and he was a very experienced pony, his previous owner drove him out alone without any problems. I believe I have spoiled him by being too soft, due to this he has no respect for me and I believe he has a learned behavioral problem of rearing now. When I ask him to stand and wait at a junction, I ask him with soft hands but he’s very quick and goes up, very scary. I have had him physically checked and there are no problems. Please can you offer any advice. Thanks, kind regards. Debbie
Answer from April Reeves: Hi Debbie, I have seen this a lot. It’s a common habit a driving horse/pony can get into. Depending on how long it’s been going on – will determine how long it will take to change it.
Start back at ground driving. Begin to drive him as you normally would in a cart, but stand to the side, not behind him. Walk him around for a bit to get use to being back on the ground again, and when you are comfortable and handling everything well, ask him to halt, with you standing to the side (enough to avoid being kicked).
WELCOME TO THE WORLD – a non-invasive and loving approach to imprinting
By Liz Mitten Ryan
De-sensitization and imprinting are found in every trainers tool box. Their importance to our efficient handling of horses is invaluable. From a human perspective our interaction with horses from handling to riding is safer and less stressful. Its value to a trusting partnership though is dependent on how sensitive and considerate we are to the horse. Is our horse enjoying the relationship more as a result or are they simply dead to the stimulus?
My journey with horses has been an adventure of discovery. I am always looking to refine and enhance the connection and communication, to dance with my horse to the rhythm of joy, love and perfect communion. I know that our journey as spiritual beings seeded in matter is universal. Each and every being is an equal and unique fruition of one consciousness in all life.
Adiva Murphy and Pal
A SPECIAL POST BY ADIVA MURPHY – FOUR PART QUESTION
Question: So when they try to knock into you what is the next step? I haven’t quite figured out how to work the stick yet but I have been using my lunge line.
Answer: Get familiar with that stick – it is your new best friend. I used to stumble along with the rope for years because I felt it was too much to handle having a stick in my hand, but once you realize you use it like a longer arm….it is FANTASTIC!
Question: We recently bought a 3-year-old horse for our daughter. I know it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but the horse was very quiet and we were assured that he had no problems. He does seem quiet most of the time but every now and then when your not expecting it he will blow up. It’s not a bolt but more of a jumping straight in the air and then striking out. I think he is simply trying to avoid work, but I am worried that someone will get hurt. I am trying to decide if selling this horse now would be my best decision as with a more experienced person I’m sure he will be great, I just want something safe for my daughter (she is 14 and has 6 years experience riding). We are an experienced horse family but if this is likely to progress into a continuous problem I don’t know if we want to deal with it. Thanks for any advice.
Answer from April Reeves: This is one of my favorite questions as I deal with this every day. First, buying a young horse for a young girl who has had time in the saddle does not bother me. This horse does not sound aggressive enough to do any real damage, and in fact may become one of her better ‘teachers’. But the learning curve begins here, as there are differences between a horse below 7 and a horse above 7 that we will discover in this answer.
Posted in English Riding answers, Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship, Western training answers
Tagged behavior, collection, foundation training, gait, green horse, green rider, Groundwork, horse training, thoroughbred, young horse
Question: Hi there. I’ve been around horses all my life but to be honest, I’ve never actually trained one. I’ve only ridden and taken care of them.
I adopted a Paint Cross colt a Month ago who’s now 7 Months old. He lives out with my 4 other horses who are all way taller than him.
He’s a sweet little guy who loves attention but he has no emotion. He’s so calm and cool and thinks he is stronger than anyone. He walks into me, through me, nibbles me, pushes me with his head and all the rest. Doesn’t know his space and does everything a colt can at that age.
I know it’s normal so I’ve decided to tackle his problems NOW instead of later on when he will be stronger.
I read you’re not supposed to be violent with them when they are so young but he’s emotionless. He only responds when I smack him.
Do you think you could give me some basic tips on how to earn his respect? Am I right using physical force on him when he misbehaves?
I have no intention of training him under saddle alone but I want to at least get his ground manners in check. Thank you, Laura
Answer from April Reeves: Hi Laura. I first want to speak to your comment “I’ve never actually trained one.” I have this theory/understanding that anyone who has been in the presence of a horse has had influence on the ‘training’ of that horse (what he knows of humans). This is because horses ‘soak’ everything a human does. All your movements, signals, voice and body language ‘speak’ to a horse. That non-verbal language translates into what the horse will become. So while you may think you have never trained a horse in all your life, you have actually spent years training horses. Humans believe that training is simply a matter of learning techniques. While this is true to a point (and it’s best to learn good techniques that produce happy results) humans need to understand the horse at a much different level first before entering into a relationship of any kind. Humans must learn to speak their language first.
This is where we will start.
Posted in Equine Behavior & Problems, General riding answers, Natural Horsemanship
Tagged April Reeves, colt starting, Equine Behavior & Problems, foals, Groundwork, horse training, Natural Horsemanship, rope halter, young horse
How do I Get My Horse To Pick Up the Correct Canter Lead Every Time?
Jane Savoie and 'Moshi'
Do you struggle getting your horse to pick up one of his canter leads? If so, here are some tips and exercises to help you with this all too common problem.
The first exercise is done completely in the walk. It’s great rider coordination exercise. You’ll practice positioning your horse alternately for the left lead and then switch to the right lead after
a few strides.
Let’s say you decided to pick up left lead: