We often hear the words “balance” and “collection” along with a variety of methods of achieving these goals for our horses. There are many different opinions on this broad subject and the short version of my mine is based on many years of experience working with many different horses in a variety of breeds. I have found that some really great trainers who I have worked with over the years share this view. We all agree that a balanced horse is a horse that carries himself.Read More
When working your horse in hand, start with a simple cotton longe line clipping it to the snap on the same side of the halter as you are working the horse. Never use the snap at the bottom of the halter for ground training. I only use the bottom snap when I doing routine handling or leading, and only with a horse that is fully mannered and responsive to my commands.Read More
In the last article I stressed the importance of location when conducting ground training lessons with any horse. If you follow the progression I gave you to introduce each new ground training lesson. you will be giving your horse the best opportunity to learn. If your horse demonstrates he does not understand or is not responsive at any point in this progression, go back to the previous location to repeat the lesson until there is improvement.Read More
Safety on the trail is always our first concern. A horse that bucks, bolts or even rears when out on the trail is unsafe for the rider and for anyone who is near. This behavior is not acceptable and training is needed however, it is important to understand why a horse would behave this way. It appears that this happens frequently and there are multiple reasons why horses do this. Let’s discuss some of the reasons.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.
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.
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,Read More