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Backing a Young Horse
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Patricia T
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 Posted: Thu Sep 17th, 2020 12:50 am
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I've been riding my 4 yr old and 5 yr old QHs since they were 4 on the trails. Nothing strenuous but climbed a few hills - did a few canters but mostly walk and I weigh 150. People are telling me I'm going to wreck their backs so I've suddenly started to try to find some reliable information to read on that. I've never owned a horse under 7 yrs old. Before I rode them we did years of ground work at liberty. I would never want to hurt my horse so I'm wondering if I should be consulting a vet to make sure I haven't done any damage - where would I go from here. I really appreciate you allowing me to put this question to you on this forum. Thank you.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Sep 18th, 2020 04:41 am
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Tricia, there should be no problem whatsoever with what you are doing and the timing that you've chosen. A four year old horse is certainly ready to ride and capable of "beginning" real work. The period where you ramp up to "full" work is appropriately between ages 4 and 6, always metered of course by your best judgement and observations of the individual horse's apparent maturity. The physical prime of a horse's life is between age 6 and 12 to 14. Horses started in the way you describe yourself doing, and "finished" between 6 and 14, are amazingly durable. Horses brought along correctly are not delicate and can stand a huge amount of work, as evinced by the experience of our great-grandfathers who depended upon them for every aspect of daily life. For a lot of fun reading about this, get a subscription to EQUUS Magazine, where my articles on the history of American horsemanship and horse breeds appear quarterly.

If you go over to our main website at http://www.equinestudies.org and click on "knowledge base," then you will find a button called "The Ranger Piece" or "Skeletal Maturation in Horses." Click on that and it will download to your computer a review in the form of a .pdf document. This paper gives all that we know about when the bones in different parts of the horse's body become mature, with a range that allows for individual variation. For example, it is typical for small horses to mature sooner, as do horses that have had to live on rough tucker; and conversely for tall, long-necked horses like many German Warmbloods to mature later. Females typically mature six months earlier than males.

This paper also clarifies that there is absolutely no such thing as a horse that is "mature" at age 2; nor is there a breed that always matures early, nor one that always matures late -- in other words, they all mature at about the same rate, with the exceptions noted above. They all become skeletally mature at about six years. Arabs and Lipizzans mature at the same rate, plus or minus six months, as Quarter Horses. Quarter Horses are not "fast maturing"; unfortunately however, because they are muscular, they may look mature on the outside long before their bones are mature on the inside, and when people put their horse into "full" work as 2 or 3 year olds -- think QH futurities in cutting or reining, or the TB racing industry -- then yes that does regularly cause health problems to the horse.

But riding your horse at 4 years is not going to "wreck" his back, and you should say to those people who are giving you this sage advice that they need to read the Ranger paper, or if they have read it, read it more carefully.

Nor would I call in a vet UNLESS you are having a diagnosable problem. Many people fash themselves -- get all in a muddle, scare themselves -- by fishing around for a dignosis. I think this is very often due to the person being afraid of their horse or afraid to ride; when this situation evolves between the horse and the person, a little probing will usually discover that the woman got into some kind of wreck or got bucked off or starfished off, and that is the basis for her fear. This leads then, oftentimes, to guilt; because the woman has bought the horse with a lot of hopes and dreams and she is emotionally attached to him; so that even though the animal now frightens her enough that she can't get on without having a noticeable rise in heart rate or a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, she feels guilty so that she can't bear to sell him or get rid of him either, which would be the healthy option if she could only take it. And you may further be certain that this is what you're talking to (in terms of people advising you that you are going to "wreck" your horse) when you see that the woman is at the barn for long hours, doing anything and everything (like mixing feed, figuring out this and that supplements, blanketing him and booting him, going for walks with him, and who knows what else) -- anything BUT riding him. And keep your ears open, because pretty soon she'll be telling you that her husband keeps telling her that she needs to get rid of the horse or "he says why do I keep him when I never ride him." When this is what you've got -- then just smile and walk away, because their advice is worthless and yet if you try to reason them out of it, or suggest that they see a sports psychologist or an anxiety specialist, they'll almost certainly not listen and may get offended.

So go ahead and write back to us as you bring your young horses along -- I am always glad to see photos and hear reports of this process whereby you teach your animals the first and most important lesson, which is to depend upon you to understand anything that may be bothering them, and to believe that you will, within all the powers that you have, seek to educate them not to fear common situations, and also that you will protect them from the uncommon but truly dangerous situations.

Happy trail riding, and don't be afraid to start canter work now. Cantering is very good for any horse, much better than trotting; along with teaching a very forward walk in response to light aids of the leg; the walk and the canter are the primary training gaits. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Tricia Thomson
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 Posted: Fri Sep 18th, 2020 03:46 pm
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Thank you so much Dr. Bennett - this was the best news I could get!! We generally don't go out for more than 3 hours at a time because I have two fractured vertebrae so I could "wreck" my back!! I am definitely going to subscribe to Equus - I am a sponge and have already printed, read and highlighted the Ranger Piece - although I tend to over analyze so I really appreciate your response to put it into perspective in relation to my situation. I will keep enjoying my rides!! I do have one other issue on my 5 yr old of bucking up hills - I will have a look in the knowledge base for anything on that as well, and thank you so much!!!

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DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Sep 18th, 2020 11:01 pm
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Tricia, there are two likely reasons that your young horse bucks when going uphill:

(1) The hill is too steep, so that the horse feels that he has to plunge in order to progress forward  (i.e., move like a rabbit by pushing off with both hind legs). Plunging can morph into bucking, or perhaps his plunging just feels like bucking to you. You need to meter your horse's experiences with hills, not only going uphill, but more importantly, going downhill.

(2) You are asking him to take the hill at too great a speed. ABSOLUTELY INSIST that he walk -- that means a one, two, three, four rhythm and not a one-two rhythm. Again, if the hill is too steep for his current level of strength and balance, he will shift from walking to plunging.

It is also (less likely) possible that there is a saddle fitting issue; check to see whether your saddle is shifting forward or back while going downhill or up. If you find this is the case, the solution IS NOT to try to tie the saddle in place with crupper and breastplate. If the saddle shifts at all when going up or donwhill on a moderate slope, then your saddle does not fit and you need to investigate one that fits better. If your saddle fits well, you can ride up or downhill on a moderate slope without a girth!

Now, here is a training exercise that ought to help. Find a very little "hill", i.e. a ditch somewhere with sloping rather than vertical sides. A heap of manure will do, i.e. I mean two or three feet high, no more. Then you ride the horse up the little hill, and you stop him there and just ask him to "wait". Then you back him off the little hill, slowly, one step at a time. And you repeat this several times every time you go for a ride on him.

When he will stop, wait, and then back down step-by-step, so that you and he are both very well aware of the individual steps, then go find a little bigger hill. By which I do not mean a steeper hill, but one that is a little longer -- here a farm ditch is beautiful but you can also perhaps find a small bank on the side of a logging road. You work with this exactly the same way you did with the first tiny hill: ask the horse to go up it one-walk-step-at-a-time, and then wait a while while you pet and rub him, and finally you back down one step at a time as before.

When that sits well with him, then you approach the bank the other way, i.e. from the top. You ride him to the top of it so that he's looking downhill, and you stop him there and reward and pet him for just waiting. Then you let him step over the brink and start down, but stop him after two steps, and then ask him to step back up to the top. Repeat several times, never letting him go more than two steps down.

Finally you let him go four steps, and stop and wait; and then four steps more forward (without backing) and stop and wait; and so on until you're back on the flat at the bottom of the bank.

When this sits well, then you can go find a real hill but again, not too steep. And you go up the hill eight steps and stop and wait, and eight steps and stop and wait, and so forth until you get to the top. Then you turn him around and go down the same way. This develops in the horse an attitude and habit of listening to you all the time, because so far as he thinks, you might need to stop and wait just at any moment and he had better be ready. It also teaches him not to plunge -- that is absolutely not allowed at any time. And, it teaches him how to use his body when handling a hill, so that he becomes strengthened in all the needful places and thereby stops even needing to plunge.

Once you've spent a year doing hills of moderate slope this way, then you have some basis to try steeper hills and banks -- but not before.

The reason, by the way, that your friends are not succeeding with their horses is, as you mention, "no ground work" so their horses really have no firm idea of what is being required of them -- are they supposed to guess? Absorb what is wanted by telepathy? Not going to happen. But it's also because they haven't thought of riding them like I am describing here. Because there is not just groundwork; there is also schooling under saddle and you can no more leave that out (if you want to succeed in producing a safe, fun horse) than you can leave ground work out. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Tricia Thomson
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 Posted: Sat Sep 19th, 2020 01:53 am
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This makes so much sense and not something I would have guessed or have seen in any of the searches I've done - thank you. It's very possible that the hill is too steep, we have a few long steep hills - at first I thought she was plunging and then I saw a hoof above my head in my peripheral vision. She used to throw fits going down hill until I started doing zigzags down so this is all very pertinent information. I've tried different speeds and the walk is definitely the best except that I ride with other people who let their horses fly up hills, so mine does a crazy dance at the bottom. Maybe I should get off and walk her up those until I finish my smaller hills exercise. I am completely 100% committed to the exercise now and will report. I ride in a bareback pad so no saddle but the cinch may be slipping on the steeper hills. I would like to get rid of the pad but she's round and slippery. I've subscribed to Equus Magazine and I will be truly grateful for this trustworthy information - thank you so much!! Background: I got my horses out of an auction in northern BC. I didn't know the mare was feral and pregnant. She had a 3mos old at her side - so I got the whole family (family photo attached) - I've been in training with them since then (5 yrs) with help from Heather Nelson Liberty Trainer who is also a trainer with the Academic Art of Riding, for all of the ground work. Then for the backing I hired trainers to start them for me after Momma fractured my T12. I'm good now - we just need to keep working forward with a bit of reliable information and I'm sure we'll have many years of trails and camp outs.

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DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Sep 19th, 2020 10:41 am
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Yes, Tricia; your horse seems quite capable of communicating her discomfort when you get her into situations that are too much for her, either in terms of her level of fitness and balance, or in terms of how much her doubts about whether she can fulfill what you are asking actually scare her.

She "throws fits" when going downhill because -- very simply -- she does not know how to go downhill, how to handle her bodyparts when she feels she is starting to lose her balance. Losing its balance is about the most scary thing that can happen to a horse; they must feel well stood-up on their feet in order to be happy and confident.

Cutting zigzags when going downhill is the only smart way to go downhill. NEVER go straight down a very steep incline if you can possibly avoid it. There is no training value to such a maneuver; you are not enrolled in the Italian cavalry and you are not the Man from Snowy River and never will be.

I'm afraid I have to tell you also, that you're going to have to find some new friends to go riding with. Just bid them sayonara, adios, and farewell -- please. You must NEVER put yourself or your horse into a situation where you know ahead of time that your companions have neither any common sense, any knowledge, or any courtesy. I mentioned in my previous about how important it is for you to convey to your horse that you will always look out ahead for her, to protect her as far as it is within your power, from idiots. How do you expect a horse to come to believe in you -- to trust you -- otherwise? So don't just go get yourself into trouble. You have nothing to prove, and if your "friends" think they have something to prove, then you just let them go prove it. And by all means come visit them in the hospital afterwards.

Who you should select for a trailriding companion is ONE person, somebody with a lot of experience in the saddle and who is mounted on a well-broke, older and experienced horse. The emphasis when trailriding is on "quiet" and "steady", especially for the younger horse.

As to your saddle pad: Tricia, you need to get serious at this point about finding a saddle that fits. Riding without a saddle develops certain bad habits in the rider, especially a tendency to grip with the knees which will be fatal to your later efforts to learn how to sit properly to the trot and canter. I suggest that you give our Institute friend Dave Genadek a phone call (tell him I sent you) -- and have an in-depth conversation with him about what you might want and need. Also, please purchase his one-hour video entitled "About Saddle fit" which Dave sells at cost ($25 bucks). Once you learn what that program has to teach, you'll be in a much better position to start making decisions, and hopefully this will avoid you wasting time, getting involved with so-called "saddle fitters" who may take advantage of you, and spending a lot of unnecessary money. Knowledge is power, so please continue to go after getting it.

Bottom line here is your broken back. You don't need that twice. In fact, you don't need it even once. Accidents around horses are absolutely not necessary. While as we say "shit happens" -- sometimes no amount of pre-planning can avoid a bad situation -- 99.99% of the time, it can.

One other suggestion -- I see you're in Canada. See if you can go find Josh Nichol. He lives outside Edmonton at the Eagle Wing Ranch. Josh is another friend of ours and I am absolutely certain you would enjoy attending one of his clinics. Josh does travel, although I'm not sure what's happening with that in this COVID year. But call  him anyway, and again, tell him I sent you.

Your horses are extremely handsome, by the way; lucky you, you hit into getting some pretty high quality livestock. -- Dr. Deb






Tricia Thomson
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 Posted: Sat Sep 19th, 2020 01:52 pm
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Thank you so much Dr. Deb. Although I would do anything for my horses, I fear that I have to admit that I have put my young mare in some situations that were not ideal. I'm hoping she is forgiving. Information is power. I do not want to be Italian Cavalry (LoL) or Man from Snowy River LOL - so right on that!! - although I have been a bareback rider for about 50 years and after an unfortunate accident in a saddle when I was young, I'm not sure about being attached to a horse with a saddle. I freeze and sweat in a saddle. I am fine with walk, trot, canter or flat out gallop, with no saddle. I owned a racehorse at one point in my life, and was clocked at some very high speeds with no saddle. I'll have to think about that one, but I am definitely on a mission to find Josh Nicol. This journey I've been on with these horses has been like the Celestine Prophecy. We've come a long way from the day they arrived here, completely untouchable. The learning curve has been incredible and so interesting, and I'm so glad it continues.

My fracture could have been avoided if I had found the right person in the beginning to point out that my feral mare had back and leg issues, and was not sound to ride. After a year of groundwork I started to ride her and she would explode after 45 minutes almost to the minute. I survived a few of those without knowing the problem, as the vet who check her gave me a green light to ride. It was a graduate from the Equine Science Program who pointed out to me that she needed to retire. She is now enjoying her retirement.

I'm headed out for a ride with a good friend on a calm steady horse armed with all of this new and very helpful information - with thanks!! TriciaT

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Sep 20th, 2020 07:55 am
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Tricia, I do sympathize with your early unfortunate and traumatic experience with getting caught in a saddle during a wreck. And I have to add, I am quite pleased that you did not lay it on me that you don't want to use a saddle because saddles aren't "natural"; since there is, in fact, not one single thing around modern horsekeeping that could in any rational sense of the word be called "natural". Everything is a choice, and ought to be a conscious choice.

Nonetheless, you understand that your reluctance to ride in a saddle is a completely irrational fear. It is not one, however, that I think that I will be able to "reason" you out of. People who have been through a wreck and gotten hurt or badly frightened, have a great need to figure out why what happened happened. They think about it and then they decide what must have caused it -- and then decide to stay away from that forever afterwards. Which seems very rational and very sensible, except, unfortunately, very often they "figure it out" wrong. The saddle did not cause the wreck; what causes wrecks is lack of horsemanship, and the lack of a commitment to foresee situations on the horse's behalf.

But, as I said: I will not be able to reason you out of this. Who CAN help you is a sports psychologist or trauma therapist. And so I am gently suggesting that you avail yourself of all the wonderful options that the Canadian medical system provides for you, and probably the provincial system as well. You can get psychological services and help while we Americans usually cannot.

It's important that you do this, because as I said, if you want to help your horse you will have to learn about saddle fit, find someone who can make a saddle for you that does fit both you and the horse, and be willing to spend the appropriate money. Riding in a saddle pad, or bareback, is more potentially destructive to the horse's back than is riding in a saddle that has a functional tree -- that's why, historically, treed saddles came into worldwide use.

 I did not send you to Dave Genadek in order to get you to spend money with him (he is a saddle maker) -- but Dave has a commitment to client education and to helping horses, and that's what makes him a friend of this Institute. Go find him at http://www.aboutthehorse.com and get that saddle fitting video, please. -- Dr. Deb


Tricia Thomson
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 Posted: Sun Sep 20th, 2020 01:56 pm
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I am completely willing to look into the possibility of a saddle - there are two other problems with that though - one is the dismount in a sticky situation. I've become very good at sliding off and standing up and I'm not sure how that would work when my feet are in the stirrups and getting my leg around the back part. Also my knees ache when I sit in a saddle too long. I've seen some nice saddles on friend's horses and I'm always curious to just sit there for a bit and try it out, but I realize it's more about the horse than my butt. I'm listening to you, and willing to look into that for sure. My horses are still growing so how often do you buy one I guess that's where the saddle fitter comes in? It's not the money. I have a friend who buys and sells saddles and another friend who is a saddle maker, so I have access to many, and I agree to have a look at that, but I am wondering what the purpose of a saddle over bareback would be? Is it Safety first or the horses back? For me it's not about natural horsemanship, it's just what I've been doing now for decades - I only have one other friend who rides bareaback. Also, our farm only had one horse saddle and I was the youngest so it was never mine to use, ... so bareback it was. I'm guessing that the day the saddle turned on the pony I was riding didn't help, but I have ridden in saddles since, it's just not my happy place. The last time I was in a round pen and felt completely uneasy.

I'm doing the hill exercises! I really appreciate your help with all of this.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2020 08:19 am
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Tricia, you are a very honest person. Now you are telling me what actually happened during the wreck: the saddle turned, and if I hear you right, you got hung in the stirrup and dragged. This is about the worst wreck that can possibly happen, so I do not blame you at all for "associating" it with the saddle.

But it was not the saddle, was it. It was lack of horsemanship: somebody who was responsible for your safety did not help you make sure that the girth was tight, and did not walk the pony around before letting you mount, to give the pony a chance to relax and breathe out so that you could take up that last hole.

So I'm impressed by your continuing willingness to consider getting a saddle, despite bad past memories and wrong associations.

If you want to dismount by bringing your right foot over the withers, that is as easily done in a saddle as bareback. Unusual, but certainly possible, and if you want to do it that way, that's fine. However: let's be sure that your reluctance to bring your right foot over the croup is not because you're afraid your horse might buck or bolt if you touch him there in getting off. This goes right back to lack of horsemanship: I hope to teach you how to prevent all those situations wherein you might have to "slide off quickly", as indeed I suspect there have been some of those. I repeat: it never has to happen that you get into a situation where an emergency dismount is necessary.

As to your knees aching: Yes, I imagine they do; that's what happens to everybody when they don't know how to sit in a saddle, how to use stirrups, and how to select a properly designed saddle that has the stirrup hangers in the center of the seat instead of miles out in front, as most saddles are made.

This is another reason I sent you to Genadek and repeat again, you need to look at his "About Saddle Fit" video/DVD program. It does not just talk about fit, it also goes quite a bit into saddle design and what is wrong with the design of most saddles that are either individually made or factory-made. I myself cannot ride in those saddles and would not want to spend any time wrecking my body trying to ride in them.

As to "why use a saddle at all," I have already mentioned that there are two reasons: (1) For you, because you will never find the joys of refined horsemanship by confining yourself to bareback. You will never discover how you are really supposed to sit and function. Bareback allows the rider to lazily continue to sit more or less as if in a chair, exactly what the photo of you on horseback which you posted above shows. I am no advocate of "extreme" position, the silliness and pretentiousness of much of current dressage, nor the pounding which we often see in Saddle Seat, nor either the wooden posing or sot-back chair seat often seen in Western riding. This is one reason I send you to Josh Nichol; he will be able to assist you in learning how to use a saddle. (2) For your horse, because there is a reason that a saddle must have a viable tree. Weight and pressure must never affect the horse's spine; that is why there is a gullet down the center of the tree. Neither can the tree be so soft that gullet space is not maintained (as it is not, for example, in many "treeless" saddles and in a saddle pad -- no matter how thick the pad). Nor is a more rigid tree, such as the composites or the traditional wood and rawhide, going to "gouge" your horse's back UNLESS not properly shaped to fit him. And there is the rub: you will learn from Dave G. exactly in what ways most trees available today, whether that tree is incorporated into a saddle by a saddlemaker, or whether it is incorporated into a factory-made saddle, are not shaped correctly and have little to no chance of fitting your animal. So Tricia, before you begin you must educate yourself by getting the tape/DVD, as I have suggested.

Now....you didn't tell me why you felt very uneasy in the round pen. Would you explain this and we'll discuss further. Great that you're now enjoying the process of teaching your horse how to handle herself on hills. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Tricia Thomson
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2020 02:39 pm
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Ok I'm certainly interested in what you have to say. I think the saddle slipping is possibly something that taught me that I didn't want to be attached to the animal in case of emergency. It doesn't keep me up at night though. The round pen is not my favourite because when all hell breaks loose - and it did (about five times) on my feral mare before the finale, I seek out a place on the ground to push off to. One onlooker said I was riding out a very violent situation with no apparent concern except to look around on the ground for
"my spot" and then I did whatever I do and landed there safely and got up. In the round pen I can't do that so I don't feel safe. As my horses get better to ride I hope I won't have that problem. I've had horses I would ride anywhere - I was spoiled with some amazing horses. These ones I own now are the youngest/wildest I've owned and I feel like I'm safer in the clear. I have a good whoa on them.

I sent a message to Josh Nicol but didn't hear back yet.

My bareback pad is from Europe - Bent Brandrup - and has spinal clearance so it's not like a bareback pad you can buy in N. America if that matters ..but had to be said. I also replaced the girth with a more expensive girth. I will talk to the saddle fitter too though.

For my posture - well I won't be going in any shows anytime - and my two fractures make it difficult for me to sit up too straight or stand for a long time for some reason. I enjoy riding bareback too, but I am going on a mission to see if I can enjoy saddle. Here are some of the comments I've heard from people who don't think I should ride bareback: You will not be able to stay on at a gallop or (2) you will not be able to pull to turn (false). In my defence, I don't think many people understand bareback as well as they did during the cowboys and indian days, but I'm always interested in the scientific answer. I can clearly stay on every situation I've had except for the last one, which my trainer said no one would be able to stay on.

I think I'd like to work on the bucking first because if I can solve that I will feel so much better. If she didn't do that I feel like I could go anywhere from there. The other thing she does is if the other horse start to run and I hold her back she throws her head and bucks on the spot. Last night I found the 2-3 ft hill and did the exercise with no problem - we will do more today. Does the breeding matter to her bucking? She is apparently from a line of barrel racing stock?

Thank you very much for the information you have provided.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2020 07:42 am
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Tricia: Now we are about to embark on a conversation about societal norms and how much you may have thought about the impact of those on your life, and whether you are ready to break free of those.

People commonly do put an unbroken horse in a roundpen and then ask or expect somebody to ride him in there because the roundpen does inhibit the horse from bolting and it generally also does not encourage the horse to think about jumping out. This then becomes the scene for a rodeo such as you describe.

To use the roundpen in this manner is an utter, total, and stupid mis-use of a very valuable tool. That, to begin with.

Second, the societal norm, or you could say the accepted cultural value, is that a rider who is willing to get on a horse that may or probably will buck; or a frightened horse; or a horse that is showing any sign of distress, and "ride that out of him" is a better rider. I for one, and those I learned from and those with whom I ride -- we do not accept this at all. Instead, we think it means that she is a more stupid rider.

I hasten to add that I, and all those others who are my teachers and friends with one exception, have been that stupid rider. And from the one exception, our teacher Tom Dorrance, we learned to stop doing that -- to stop listening to our former "friends" who grinned when the horse bucked -- and to move entirely into another set of values which say that you do not get on any horse until the horse tells you he is ready for you to ride him; until he invites you up there.

I am asking you: would you like to enter this world? Because you can. But you are going to lose more than your trailriding friends if you do. Of course, you will also gain a whole bunch of new friends, and you may also find out things about yourself that you needed to know, including talents you didn't know you had.

Now, it is not possible for anyone to understand what I meant by "he invites you up there" until you receive some instruction and guidance as to how to tell when that is. We begin by teaching you how to tell when it is NOT. So please answer this question: when a horse is uptight and tense, it is true that he is more likely to buck or "throw a fit" as you put it. How do you tell when a horse is uptight and tense? There are several important signs, and I'd like it if you would list those in your reply.

A second question I'm going to ask relates to something you mentioned in passing in your first post, that is, that your neighbors who are not succeeding with their horses did no ground-work. This implies that you do know something about ground-work. I attach a photo of a French fellow by name of Henri DeBuissigny who came to America not long after the Civil War, opened a stable in New York City (it was much more rural then), and became a famous riding teacher. He is doing ground-work with his very handsome American Saddlebred horse. What is the particular maneuver he is asking his horse to make, and what is its purpose? I ask because this particular maneuver is the basis for all ground-work, and also the means by which all horses may be brought under control and made to enjoy and look forward to carrying a rider or whatever else your agenda may contain for you and the horse on any particular day.

We'll continue according to the answers you give. If you don't know the answer, just say so; I ask because I cannot instruct you unless I know how much you already understand. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: DeBuissigny ground work for Forum.jpg (Downloaded 26 times)

Tricia Thomson
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Joined: Tue Sep 15th, 2020
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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2020 02:47 pm
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I have made contact with Josh Nicol now. I think I have already been as far off the societal norm as anyone on a horse could possibly get by riding bareback for 50 years. I only know one other person who does that. Also I have been turned away from joining more events than I can count, such as the Make A Wish Ride where I had collected $1,200 in donations and then allowed to ride at the last minute so I am familiar and acceptable of my societal difference. I believe that any of my friends' criticism of me is what they think to be in my best interest, but I'm very grateful for a professional answer. I believe they are sincerely concerned and I plan to keep them as friends.

My experience has been good at the beginning when I get up on the horse - we have done five years of ground work together and she will park near a stump or anywhere I chose, and wait patiently while I get on, but when we are in a large group and one horse starts to run her reaction is to thrown her head down and start shaking it and jump up and down like she wants to run too. She will dance on the spot - clearly not happy. On the hills she will start the bucking half way up - maybe tired and wants to just stop and buck, or maybe she's trying to buck me on and thinks I'm slipping. It comes without much warning and after a nice quiet walk through the forest with her head down. We used to all go up together, then we tried one at a time which didn't change things.

My close friends are all very good riders, occasionally we have some new riders with us - all of their horses are better than my 5 yr old - even my 4 yr old is better. Some do groundwork and some don't but every single horse I've ever owned in the past would have no trouble on any of these rides except this horse - so I wonder if it's because she's so young. I have asked friends to walk up hills and we have started to do that. Maybe I keep to smaller groups where she behaves better I assume - then when do I progress? I have done about five years of ground work with Heather Nelson Liberty including haunches in, shoulders in, dressage moves for fun, walk, trot, canter on and off lunge - I've been in a Jane Stone clinic for fun on this horse, who did a side pass over a prop and completed many of the fun activities, like the bridge, teeter totter. I would like to keep my friends, who I really like a lot. I believe in the photo Henri is applying pressure to the side to ask the horse to move off the pressure? I've read Andrew McLean's book and Riding In by Bent Branderup. I'm coming at his honestly and from many angles. Now that I've concluded that I'm not wrecking my horses back (for which I thank you), I am looking for the anxiety control button.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2020 03:51 pm
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Tricia, all well and good; you can keep your friends that are really friends. I just would suggest you dispose of anything that is not helping.

You did answer concerning Henri de Buissigny, but you did not answer concerning how to tell when a horse is getting uptight. Or did you mean that "when she starts to buck" is the answer to that question?

I need a clarification on that and then we can proceed.

Very glad you got ahold of Josh. Did he say when/how you could meet up for a lesson?

-- Dr. Deb

JTB
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Joined: Thu Aug 11th, 2011
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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2020 06:47 pm
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Hi Tricia and Dr Deb,

Wonderful post and photos!

Tricia welcome to the forum and there is a tonne of valuable information here to be absorbed.

During Covid lockdown a friend and I stumbled upon Josh Nichol's online subscription. For not much Canadian dollars you can access a tonne of videos that are simply wonderful, you can watch again and again. Josh also makes himself freely available to all on his FB page and forum if you have any questions. If I was near him in Canada, I would bust a gut to go ride with him.

Josh's work is deep work so it fits really well with the information and help available here.

Happy learning :-)

Best Wishes
Judy


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