Teaching Your Horse to Accept the Clippers

Do you have a battle with your horse every time you try to clip his bridle path? Is clipping around his ears and feet impossible? Here are some tips on how to get your horse to accept being clipped, or being what I call a “clipper broke” horse. In other words, the horse accepts the noise and vibration of the clippers and stands quietly.

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Working with a Blind Horse

Over the last 35 years I have worked with many blind horses, probably three or four dozen. Most have been blind in one eye, and some totally blind. Through practical experience I’ve found that when a situation like this happens, the horse wakes up one morning and can’t see and life goes on. Unlike the human reaction where we, with our mental processes and rational minds, understandably fall apart until we come to terms with it. We must become familiar with what we have and with our space. We must learn to accept and cope with life. With a horse, blindness comes much easier. They don’t have the trauma of the loss of something and they don’t have the emotional stress. I think with horses that are blind in both eyes, they learn to rely on other senses just like humans, hearing and smell and a level of acuity. Like humans, they utilize their other senses to adapt to the best of their ability.

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Western Dressage: What’s It All About?

For me, western dressage is a dream come true. I was so fortunate to learn dressage training as a young rider. I rode with my mentor, Bobbie Steele, for more than 25 years.
What I learned in the dressage saddle, I went home and practiced with my ponies, my first horse, and my second horse, which was a yearling. Dressage applied to all aspects of training and all horses that I worked with, from the ground to the saddle. Even if a different saddle was used, whether western, hunt seat, saddle seat, or dressage, there was no reason to ride any differently.

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Similarities Between Western and “Regular” Dressage

You’ve probably already figured out that you can do the same dressage maneuvers in a Western saddle that you can do in a “regular” dressage saddle. This reminds me of our Western Dressage motto, “Why Not?!” I’ve been saying that since I learned of the vast interests in Western Dressage at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games.
For the first 30 years of riding, I rode consistently in the dressage saddle. I still find myself training the exact same way whether I am in a Western saddle or a dressage saddle. Dressage principles are the basis of my show ring success. By using these principles with the training of the horses, I find I ride the same when riding in a hunt seat or Western saddle.

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Dealing with a Horse That Rears

I’d like to discuss what causes a horse to rear and how we can actually set a horse up to rear. There are two basic facts to consider. Horses learn by pressure and release and, a horse can go six different directions: forward, back, left, right, down and up. If you think in those terms, when we work with a horse, we always have to give the horse a way out, a way to find release. If you try to close off all the directions, the horse is going to take one of the directions that you can’t block. In other words, you may not get the response you wanted and the horse may go a direction that you didn’t want at all. For example, if we want our horse to go over a log, a tarp, a pole, through a creek or toward anything that the horse does not want to go near,

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Working With a Pushy Horse

I see a lot of rude, pushy horses. Probably 90% of the horses brought in to the barn for training are pushy and do not respect our space.  As owners, we usually spend more time riding than dealing with ground issues. There is nothing wrong with riding and having a good time. We buy a horse so that we can go out on the trail, rope, sort cattle or do any number of activities.  However, believe it or not, more accidents happen on the ground than while riding.  

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Tired of Pulling

Dear Julie,
I’m 15 and have been riding for 11 years. I just bought a Halflinger pony that stands at 14.2. He’s a pleasure to own but rests his head on the reins and often pulls. I would like to find out a way to get him lighter on the reins with lighter contact—but without him zooming off when I’m schooling him. I’ve tried lots of things. One trainer recommended that I put my rein and hand up on his neck then bring it back and repeat the process on the other side. This does reduce his resting on the reins a little but it also encourages him to take off in a fast trot. Then I have to pull on the reins and feel him pulling against me again. I don’t see any point of the exercise. Please help me!

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Western Dressage Benefits Any Horse

Dressage is the only way to naturally train Western horses of any breed. After all, a horse is a horse! You don’t have to train differently just because you use an English or Western saddle.
We must remember that “Dressage” is a French word that means “training of animals.” Dressage is a foundational way to teach a horse according to his natural instincts, behaviors, personality and temperament. Dressage utilizes successful methods that have been practiced for centuries.

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The Influence of Natural Horsemanship – Part II

Another principle of natural horsemanship that has become accepted is the practice of de-spooking. Back when I first talked about de-spooking a horse, it was an unknown concept. Now it is a common term and simply means we are taking the spook out of the horse. All horses have the flight instinct and de-spooking is getting a horse to accept pressure. What I see now is that people are trying to make their horses safer by desensitizing or de-spooking them. They often end with dull horses because they are not willing to increase the pressure until the horse gives.

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