Monthly Archives: February 2016

You’ve Got To Kiss A Lot Of Frogs

First let me say Thank You to all of you that encourage me to continue to do this.  I have fun, try to hit on topics that will help you, and get you to smile.

I’ve touched on this topic before, but want to come at it from a different angle this time.

As you think back to your childhood I’m sure you remember the Fairy Tale where the princess kisses the frog and he turns into this handsome prince.  Well in life, not only with trying to find that handsome prince, but also in trying to find that perfect horse, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.  Don’t settle on the first frog you kiss, he just might stay a frog.

Okay men, I’m not just picking on you.  You all know, very well, that frogs come in pretty packages too.

So today, instead of trying to help you in finding the right prince/princess or horse, I’ve got a different mission for you all – speaking up and don’t allow someone else to get warts.  If you see a train wreck about to happen, and you know facts from experience, speak up and save someone from a lot of heartache, or actual pain.

What do I mean by that?  Well I’m glad you asked.  You’re all so sharp it’s hard to keep up with you people.

One of the girls told me about a woman she was speaking with, who wanted to get a young Arabian from a rescue for her young daughters.  Bells, whistles, fireworks went off in this college students head.  Years ago she had gotten a very young Arab from a rescue.  She had worked with this foal and knew him well.  She wasn’t in the market, but when the rescue became over crowded, they called her and asked her if she would take him.  She said yes, and five years later he still pushes her buttons sometime.  She is a very good rider, he is a typical Arabian.  High spirited and full of himself.  She rides him well and they do very good together, but he doesn’t belong in the hands of the inexperienced.  Not then, not now.  She wasn’t going to say anything to discourage this woman from rescuing this poor creature, but common sense won out, and she told her it was not a good idea.  She explained why a green horse and green rider don’t mix.  (I say green on green makes black and blue.)  Then she explained about the spirit side of the Arabian horse, and the lack of experience and knowledge of her children.

When speaking to people, like in this situation, you really must speak intelligently, with concern for the others safety.  Don’t come off like you know everything there is about horses, trust me, no matter how long you live or deal with horses, you will never know everything, but show concern and give facts.

As the old Diana Ross and the Supremes song goes:  Stop! In The Name Of Love, (before you break some bones)  Think It O-Over.  That’s my twist on that old song.  It could be a hit, yeah, really.

It’s All About Having Fun

With all the responsibilities and things on our “To Do List”, we must remember that it’s all about having fun.  Everything, even work.

As horse owners we have all our barn stuff, horse stuff, house stuff, kid stuff, laundry stuff, shopping stuff, and I could go on, but I won’t.

Why is it that we don’t pencil in “Fun Stuff”?  We have a habit of not remembering to do Fun Stuff as we mature.  (Notice I didn’t say as we get older.)

Today when I was giving a lesson to an eight year old, who has now ridden five time, she was asking me questions about falling off.  Why do you fall off, how do you fall off, and do you have to fall off?  I told her that you become a better rider after you’ve fallen a few times.  (Like 100)  I could see the concern in her eyes.  So I started goofing on her, and made her laugh.  I told her to get down and then I climbed on the rails of the fence and was going to get on the horse she was riding.  The horse decided I was at the right height to rub his head on me as I was suspended hanging onto the upper rail trying to mount.  Now we’re not talking just a regular fence, we’re talking round pen about six foot high.  The girl started laughing, her mom started laughing, the horse was thinking this was the funniest thing he had ever done.  Everyone was having a good laugh except me.  I was plastered against the wall of the round pen, doing something stupid.  I just figured I could climb up two boards and get on this 17 hand horse so I wouldn’t have to change her stirrups.  So much for that idea.  Got down dropped the stirrup and got on.  Then I showed her an emergency dismount.  That wouldn’t hurt a bit.  So then it was her turn to try it.  Well she had so much fun jumping down and landing on her butt that she just wanted to keep doing it until she could land on her feet.  But I had to keep giving her a leg-up.  Okay, I’m 68 years old trying to give a short kid a leg-up, who really doesn’t push off, up onto a 17 hand horse.  She was having a great time, I was exhausted.

But the bottom line is that she was relaxed, having a great time, was no longer concerned about hitting the ground, and that made me have a great time teaching her.  We strive so hard to teach them how to ride and be safe, we have to remember to teach them how to have fun.

Having fun, no matter what we are doing, makes it easier to do, and makes the time just fly by.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Even the bad things, like falling off, don’t seem to be as scary when you’re laughing.

Bottoms Up!


If you Fail To Succeed,Try, Try, Again

I was just reading about a woman who picked up a flyer that read “Keys to Forming a New Habit,” and it got me thinking about the similarities with horses.

Her flyer read –

  •  Set up attainable goals
  •  Measure small steps of progress
  •  Avoid negative self-talk
  •  Reward yourself for success.

These flyers were placed at a gym in January.  At the beginning of each year we all think about getting healthy and fit; at least for the first couple of weeks.

Now we all know how hard it is to stick to our New Years Resolutions, we try it every year.  To form a new habit we have to do it for 21 days.  Good or bad, it’s up to you.  We usually fail and give up until next New Years Day.

Let’s take this train of thought and apply it to our horses and riding.  I know I’ve quickly touched on this idea in several posts, but now lets elaborate a little more.

  • Set up attainable goals. – Not only for yourself, but also for your horse.  Just take one step at a time when trying to learn or accomplish something new or different.
  • Measure small steps of progress. – Acknowledge that you have succeeded in what you are trying to do (no matter how small the accomplishment) not only to yourself, but also reward your horse.  We always tell them when they have done wrong, but praise them when they do right.  They are more willing to do the right thing again if they know it was good.
  • Avoid negative self-talk – Both to yourself and your horse.  If you keep a positive energy, your horse will feel it, and respond.
  • Reward yourself for your success –  And don’t forget to reward your horse.

I’m not saying throw a big party.  Just positive thinking about both of your accomplishments can reinforce the idea in your head, and your horses.

When I was a kid we were always told “quit on your best fence” in our jumping class.  Always end on a positive note or feeling (they taught that in golf lessons too).  This is what your mind and body will remember.  If you are doing something with your horse and he’s not being successful at it (and neither are you) don’t end there.  Go back and do something you will both feel good about, and end with that.  Then next time, after warming up, go back and try the difficult task again.  You both will be refreshed, mind cleared, and ready to give it another try.  Remember, energy and attitude is our biggest step to success or failure.

Don’t forget – “A winner is a loser who gave it one more try.”  You can, and will be a winner if you take all this to heart, and apply it.

Happy Valentines Day!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

Couldn’t think of a good title for an Artificial Aids Post so I thought this was cute.  It got your attention didn’t it?

Okay let’s start with the obvious.  What is an Artificial Aid.  Well if our hands, feet, legs, and weight are real aids, than anything we use that is materialistic is artificial.  For example crops, spurs, draw reins, martingales (tie downs), brain chains (don’t get me started on that), and variations there of.

Everything can be used for good or evil.  A Ha!!! bet you never looked at it that way.  A simple snaffle bit, in the wrong hands, can be severe. (I’ve said that before}

Why do we use Artificial Aids.  Well they are supposed to enhance or reinforce our natural aids.  Natural aids are supposed to be used first at all times.  If the horse is not responding then you add an artificial aid to correct or encourage them.

Now Artificial Aids, in and of themselves, are not evil; its how you use them, and if you grow dependent on them, that’s where the trouble comes in.

Carrying a crop is not wrong.  It is there to reinforce your request if need be.  By a gentle tap, not an all out beating.  Most of the time it is a magic wand,  you just need to carry it and all of a sudden they remember what your heels mean.  Once again, it is not there to beat your horse into submission.  As with any aid, overuse can cause dead sides or a horse that just ignores you.  It’s really kind of like dealing with a teenager.  If you keep repeating yourself they just tune you out.  If you say it once or twice and really mean it, they will learn to do it or face the consequences.  Beating a horse will get you one of two things – a sour, or a violent horse.  I’ve known horses in the past that will either plant their feet and won’t move or they blow-up and become totally dangerous.  Not only dangerous to you but to themselves and everyone around them.  Sometimes you have to go in through the back door and make them believe it was their idea in the first place.  Same with kids.

If you are using artificial training aids for more than a couple of weeks (other than carrying a crop), you have to find out why the horse isn’t learning what’s right or what you are doing wrong.  I’ve seen all kinds of contraptions to get the horse into a frame.  And the worse part of it is that people continue to use them forever.  If you are not educated enough to train the horse properly, get help from someone who really knows what they are doing.  I know someone who has been putting this torture thing over her horse’s head for twenty years so the horse will drop her head and use her back.  Really???  People never look into their horses conformation, or possible back problems.  If there is no physical reason why the horse can’t perform this way, then it’s the riders lack of education, not the horses.  This horse just goes along with the idea of, that’s just the way life is when this person rides me.  Some will just blow-up and go over backwards when they’ve had enough.  I’ve ridden this horse.  Just get her balanced, get her hind end engaged, and she’s good to go.

Do I use martingales (tie downs)?  Yes.  Not to tie their heads in a position, just to assist.  Depending on the situation, I will used either a running or standing martingale.  I will use the running with Zoey, just to help keep the bit where it belongs.  She likes to put flip her head up to avoid the bit.  She grabs the bit, just puts the pedal to the metal and runs her heart out.  Not always a good idea.  When I’m too lazy to put one on she knows it and pushes my buttons.  Desert was short necked and short coupled.  When he was learning to jump he would toss his head back and break my nose.  That ended when he learned more about jumping.  I don’t like to work on a horses mouth, so we get along much better with a martingale on.  You know, power of suggestion.

I pretty much use breast collars on all the horses.  Hate saddles that slip and shift.  Not good for the horses back.  Most people put them on but never really learn how to adjust them where they are doing any good.  Same thing with standing martingales (tie downs).  They are either too tight or to lose.  If you are going to use something, learn the right way to adjust it.

Spurs.  Do I use them.  No.  Have I used them in the past?  Yes.  I’ve trained and sometimes reinforced my leg aids to where I don’t need them.  My horses know what my heels mean, and they certainly know when I want a gallop from any gait.  And for that, I don’t need my heals.  A simple word of go, along with, shifting my weight and the release of the reins is all they need.  My horses have plenty of go, and actually have plenty of whoa too (sometimes too much whoa which leaves you kissing their ears.)  If you get a horse that has been trained or abused by someone elses heels and legs, you might need to use them to reach your horses response system.

Draw reins, like everything else in the wrong hands, can create more problems than success.  Have I used them?  Yes.  Do I use them now?  No.  Don’t need them.  Just sometimes you need them to help babies learn to balance themselves better.  It’s just kinder than having hard hands.  People don’t always realize they have hard or heavy hands.

The bottom line is –  If you and your horse are trained properly, you don’t need any of this stuff.  Some horses, however will push your buttons.  Some may need an occasional refresher course.  Or sometimes you need that extra edge, just a short reminder of how things are supposed to be, and how simple everything is if they just do it right to begin with.  But never depend on anything permanently.  If you do, get help.

So I’ve buttered the bread with real butter.  Just chew on these things.  They are for your consideration.