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JTB
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Posted: Mon Jun 26th, 2017 10:09 am
Whitney's Law
'To the extent that the body and the Birdie are separated the horse will manifest signs of stress and misbehavior.'

Herd sour: In terms of her Birdie... I have left it behind and her thread is getting stretched.

Her behavior is sucking back, reluctance to go in the direction I would like to go and if I don't listen she will up the ante and threaten to rear. I think she is scared rather than 'stubborn'.

Regards Judy and Little
DrDeb
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Posted: Mon Jun 26th, 2017 11:33 am
OK, Judy, so far as "note-taking," that's right, but you seem to be blanking on an idea of what is to be done about the problem on a practical level.

What I have done in our clinics, by asking the other riders to surround you, is simply avoided having to solve the problem. When there is a horse on every side of your horse, Little is not particularly sucked in any one direction, and this allows you a semblance of an opportunity to experience what the others, whose horses are less troubled, have been having fun with. But make no mistake, it is merely a crutch and the real problem has been "ducked".

I choose to handle your barn-sour and herd-sour horses this way -- I'm using the plural because ALL of yours have been this way over the years -- because you are not the only person at the clinic and we have very limited time. If we were to focus on clearing up this difficulty during the clinic, it would result in Judy getting all the time and attention, and other people, who have already solved this problem and who want to go on to learning canter departs or leg-yields or other skills, can't do that while they politely wait for Judy to catch up DURING THE CLINIC on what she should have been doing AT HOME. This is the difference, you see, between conducting a clinic and what I would do if I were with you week to week like a normal riding instructor. When all the instruction is compacted into clinics, the instructor must depend upon the student not only to take good notes, but to grasp the principles and ACT UPON THEM independently during the 11 months and 3 weeks out of every year when I am not with you.

I know you've attended Buck's clinics in NZ. And I know from talking with Jenny that the occasion has arisen, more than once at his clinics, where it was necessary to help a horse to (as Buck puts it) 'get a divorce' from the herd.

Can you describe to me what Buck does to accomplish this? (Incidentally, we did this at my clinic for several people, including yourself, during the first several years, when the group was at a very elementary stage where many people were having this type of problem; do you remember?)

You are correct, you have tried to ride Little away from the herd, or away from wherever else her desires are attached; you have ridden her BODY away but you have not made sure that her birdie came along with her body, and this separation, which you force upon the horse by your desire to ride "out" no matter whether the birdie is coming along or not, is what stretches the thread and causes the horse to defend itself, even to the point of violence.

How does Buck's technique get the horse's birdie to come unstuck from the herd and fly back to the horse's body, so that the two are united? In short, what, exactly, are you to DO -- when we are not merely "ducking" the problem by giving you a crutch consisting of a circle of horses surrounding you?

As you know, only when the body and the birdie are united will there be peace and equanimity inside of the horse. Then the thread is not stretched, and you can go anywhere, so long as the horse packs its birdie along at each moment of each ride. -- Dr. Deb



JTB
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Posted: Mon Jun 26th, 2017 12:34 pm
Buck has spoken of the horse's divorce at his clinics, unfortunately the one that had a brilliant example of it was the clinic I didn't get to! As I understand it, the herd bound horse is ridden on a loose rein/not steered but has to work/is kept busy by the rider among the gathered herd. She discovers this is not a very comfortable place to be so starts to look for other options eg looks up the arena, here the rider gets quiet and horse starts to think someplace else might be more comfortable for her. The horse might need to return to the herd for more work but each time she leaves the herd she finds peace, and the time in the peaceful place gets longer in duration. This keeps going till the horse chooses to stand at the other end of the arena and rest quietly. This may have to be repeated. From a Birdie point of view this process calls the horse birdie to her and away from the other horses.

I seem to remember from your clinics the horse was kept moving among the herd, with the rider being a bit active in the leg and as soon as the horse showed a desire to leave the herd all was quiet for as long as the horse could stay away from the herd. I can only vaguely remember this so have done my best to recall.

Both of these call the horse's Birdie by making her desire darn hard work, and the horse herself starts to look for another option that will provide peace and comfort. As the rider is doing nothing but supporting the horse she is ready to tell the horse 'yes' that is the answer, so the horse keeps her birdie with her as we head away from the herd.

So as far as Little and I go, my job is to identify where her birdie is, if it is not where I want to go, who cares, we are off to catch a birdie. I will go to where her birdie is and make it 'work' so she looks for someplace else to go. I keep doing this each ride-- until she can keep her birdie and I can start to direct where we might go as she will be calm and obedient because she has her birdie and I am not stretching her thread.

Thank you.
Judy
Redmare
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Posted: Tue Jun 27th, 2017 12:29 am
Dr. Deb, thank you for your detailed reply. I understand your responses to #'s 1 and 3 very well: your response to #1 in particular reminded me of something Tom said again and again over the four days, which was how important the meaning of the words we choose is.

I would like to ask for clarification regarding a couple of things:

You mentioned Tom coming in with the flag to help the horse get that the leg means something, but Tom did not come in with the flag with me and this gelding. I did see him do so when the folks got up on the colts for the first time, and he helped move them around, but he did not do this with me. Now I'm a bit confused on what exactly the horse got to understanding in those few days: he can still get "sticky" to the leg at times, and he's been pretty bothered by the leg for some time before I started working with him, so I figured it would take a bit before he really understood that every time means EVERY time. I apologize if I'm being unclear, I'm having a bit of a hard time articulating the trouble I'm having making the correlation between what you're saying and what I did, even though I understand what you're telling me...

Perhaps I'll ask it this way: what is the difference in what the horse comes to understand, if anything, between the following: me using a light leg pressure to raise the life in the horse and Tom coming in w/ the flag when the horse does not respond, me using a light pressure to raise the life in the horse and coming in w/ a flag or whip that I am carrying when the horse doesn't respond, and what Tom had me do, which is ask for hustle in the trot until the horse offers to canter of his own volition?
DrDeb
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Posted: Tue Jun 27th, 2017 01:00 am
Well, Red, when their legs get to moving as fast as they do when you hustle the trot, at some point it's going to either be canter or fall down, isn't it?!

Many people spend their whole lives getting into a canter this way; it's the best they know. What they don't realize is that CANTERING IS NOT A SPEED; it's merely a different order of footfall. What helps the horse the most is that you send your feel and your intentions down into the outside hind leg, so as to induce the horse to weight that leg and push off from that leg. Then you don't have to hustle.

Cantering consists of two phases: (1) Weight and push off from the outside hind leg, and (2) Raise the life enough to ensure that the 'lift' of the mid and fore parts of the body occurs. When the only way the horse knows to get into a canter is to hustle into it, these two subcomponents get mushed together. In a quiet, schooled departure, they are quite separate; indeed if you're departing from a halt straight into a canter -- and this is of course your ultimate goal -- you can hold the horse onto the weighted leg as long as you like, and he will wait there as if to spring into the canter as soon as you give the order to raise the life.

So if Tom didn't come to you with the flag for this, I assume it means he's thinking that the horse would likely misinterpret that and just get jumpy and anxious. You note that the animal did learn to make soft, quiet departures during the clinic and you say he's continued to do this. There can only be one reason for that, and that is, that you and the horse both were able to get the abovementioned two parts separated, so that he no longer needs to be hustled and should never again be hustled, in fact.

So 'hustling' isn't how you get a horse over being resentful of the leg. If you feel like the brakes are on internally, i.e. what you call 'sticky', it will be because the horse's birdie isn't where it should be. Surely Tom had you focus "up and out" all the time while you were riding, and probably reminded you repeatedly not to look down and in, and not to FOCUS down and in. You pick out a target to ride to. This has a tendency to suck the horse's birdie up from down inside of him, or behind him, and put it out in front about ten feet or so, where it belongs. The LAW OF THE HORSE'S LIFE is that his body must follow his birdie; and hence, when you control his birdie, you control his body and the life in his body. You have to direct the birdie, not pull, push, kick, or squeeze the body to go this way or that.

Further, I suggest that whether you did this at the clinic or not, that you spend some time -- indeed quite a bit of time -- with him on the ground. Have him saddled up and OK with life, and be in an enclosed arena. Have him in a halter and lead. You carry a short whip with a blunt rubber butt. Using the butt of the whip like the end of your thumb, touch him on the ribs just where the widest part of your calf would fall, and observe his reaction. In a horse resentful of the leg, this will be one of several things: he will kick at the "leg" you're applying (so watch you don't get struck); he will shiver and shrink away; he will get all stiff-legged behind and perhaps kind of hop around as if to untrack but very stiff and clumsily; or (especially if it is a mare), the horse will bull into you.

You need to work through this. If the horse does not do one or some combination of the above, then I doubt he's actually resentful of the leg, rather simply does not understand it or possibly does not respect it. You teach response and respect by flagging him after two heartbeats, as I described in the previous post.

Let me know if this answers your concerns or causes a light to go on somewhere. -- Dr. Deb





DrDeb
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Posted: Tue Jun 27th, 2017 01:30 am
Judy, here's your reply:

I quote from the last paragraph of your post: "So as far as Little and I go, my job is to identify where her birdie is, if it is not where I want to go, who cares, we are off to catch a birdie".

No, no, no, no, no. You are to DIRECT her birdie. There are two times in the horse's process of training where you allow the horse to take YOU anywhere: one is the very first couple of weeks of breaking-in, where you are still riding in the roundpen and still getting the horse to accept the idea that somebody besides itself is going to be directing its will. With baby-green horses, you go along with their ideas at first, then gradually introduce your ideas as "suggestions" rather than orders or commands. You steer the minimum when they're that green -- one good reason to confine your riding at this stage to the roundpen. The other time when you let the horse take you where its birdie is, or wants to be, is when you two are old old friends, after he's proved for years to be the most reliable and delightful of mounts. He earns by this the status of company vice-president, and at that stage, it is not only safe but delightful to let him follow up on a suggestion that he may make. But note: EVEN THEN he does not get to take over; he has to SUBMIT the suggestion to you for approval before acting on it.

That you completely misunderstand this is emblematic of your overall problem, Judy, which is that you have great difficulty bringing yourself to take command. At the last clinic you made a great effort in that direction. Now you have to do it effectively, all the time, at home.

Next quote from your post: "I will go to where her birdie is and make it 'work' so she looks for someplace else to go."

OK, this is good enough. You don't have control of Little at the present time, so you will indeed be compelled to let her return to wherever she wants to be, because if you fight her you risk getting bucked off. Buck doesn't want to get bucked off either! But when she is in the place she thought she wanted to be, then you work the livin' crap out of her: you get very busy. But everytime you so much as face in the "outward" direction, you ease off. If she herself offers to face in the "outward" direction, you ease off a great deal and even take a rest.

Eventually you will feel her offer to take some steps in the "outward" direction, and you VERY TACTFULLY encourage this. Your leg should be a mere whisper. What got her into this much trouble is that previously, what you have done is gotten greedy, i.e. anytime she faced where you wanted her to go, you thumped her onward in that direction. What you're showing the horse is that going along with YOUR idea works out the best for HER.

Last quote from your post: "I keep doing this each ride-- until she can keep her birdie and I can start to direct where we might go as she will be calm and obedient because she has her birdie and I am not stretching her thread".

Again: confusion. You are to be directing her birdie all the time, EVEN when you are "letting" her take you back to the herd because you are compelled to for safety reasons. You are not to be expected to ride out a bucking horse; you ARE expected to be  psychologically ahead of the horse all the time, is what I'm saying. If she needs to take you back to the herd, she gets the crap worked out of her every single time, and you do this without shame, without guilt, without meanness or anger, and without hesitation -- you do it "clinically". The American TV psychologist Dr. Phil always says to the mixed-up people who come on his show, "OK, you went back to using drugs. How is that working out for you?"

I also suggest, Judy, that at home you start not only looking for situations, but even in a way sneakily setting them up, that tempt the horse to go back and thereby make an additional opportunity to bring this point home to her -- the point being, in short, that YOU are in control and not her. I would set this up as much from the ground as from the saddle, indeed as much from the ground as possible. Is she "sticky" when you go catch her and take her away from her pasture buddies at the very beginning of the daily ride? I imagine she is in fact! So handle it there -- you begin to lead her away, but you listen for her very breathing to change. When it does, you yourself TAKE her a few steps back but once you arrive "back", you start ground-schooling or longeing pretty vigorously. After a little while, maybe three to five minutes, stop, walk up the line, pet her, and then see if she don't come along with you a little sweeter and a little farther before she has another "regression." When she does, go back a few steps and school the piss out of her again. This won't take very many repeats I am imagining, and you will be amazed at how what she learns from this form of ground-work bleeds over into how she is under saddle. I think one thing that has been happening is that this little mare is smart enough to detect all the holes in your attentiveness, and she waits to take advantage of any hole or gap she finds.

So you see, this brings us finally to what people say about Harry Whitney: "Harry always gets closure." I've seen Harry groundschool horses like yours with such FIERCENESS -- iron-willed commitment -- or tough love, whatever you like to call it -- that it almost brought tears to my eyes. The poor horse! one is TEMPTED to say: that's enough! stop! But you absolutely MUST NOT STOP until the horse's will to have its own way is broken. When it softens, no faking it, no partial results; when it RESERVES NO PART OF ITSELF AS NOT BEING AVAILABLE TO YOU -- only then have you succeeded in "making" a safe and reliable mount.

So your determination, shown at the last clinic, to get a grips on yourself, and "bring your adult" as you said -- and find that power of command -- is really the main thing in question here. I hope you can find it and OPERATE ON IT, so that next year, if I should see you, you will at last have a horse at the clinic that does not beg for special attention and can therefore participate fully in skill acquisition, which is only possible when these holes in the basic breaking and training have been repaired. -- Dr. Deb


Redmare
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Posted: Tue Jun 27th, 2017 03:56 pm
Yes, light is on, Dr. Deb!

I thought on all this last night: yes, he has learned how to make those soft upward transitions (which it appears we both fell upon by accident, or perhaps I just didn't have the words to describe what I was doing but had some kind of feel for it) BUT he will only make them outside the arena where I usually school him. We are on a dirt road and there is a nice long straight stretch leading from the main dirt road to the farm parking area. The trees on either side create almost like tunnel vision, and I realized when I brought the horse back from the clinic how useful this might be to get his birdie out in front of him. So we practice our canter on the road, and he's taken to it very well. I have not been successful in replicating this indoors, however, and so now I am thinking I may have more a birdie situation than a situation mostly to do with the horse's understanding of the leg.

So when I take this gelding inside where I at least start every ride, I will spend a good amount of time working with the blunt rubber whip...would carrying the whip or the flag while mounted also be appropriate for this horse to help him get his birdie out in front of him in this instance? I recall a thread once where you discussed the true use of the whip or a flag under saddle not for "getting the horse to go", but to encourage that birdie to get unstuck from within the horse so the horse is then naturally drawn forward when the leg is applied.
JTB
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Posted: Thu Jun 29th, 2017 03:01 am
Dear Dr Deb,

Thank you so much for this. I was so confused, I really didn't know what to do. Desperation drove me here, as I couldn't answer my questions. Yes, her feet are sticky when I go to catch her but she couldn't give a poop about the pony herd she wants to go out the gate to the grass rather than come with me! Now I have a plan. She is clever, she came from a riding school where she outclevered them. My promise to her when I bought her, was as soon as I could I would do whatever it takes to get her okay on the inside. She has stayed this way too long in my care but now I am so ready to do what it takes.

Buck has said he only lets a horse take over on cattle work but I see there are other times when it is allowed now too.

Thanks again for clearing this up, I can't wait to get out there with Little. I know it won't take much as she is so bright. I will get effective.

Best Wishes
Judy and Little
DrDeb
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Posted: Thu Jun 29th, 2017 06:22 am
Red, I think you can work on both aspects here.

To be very clear: the blunt rubber "poker" is meant first as a diagnostic tool, to find out how "resentful" (read: ignorant) of the leg the horse actually is. After the diagnosis, i.e. you observe what his reactions to the first few pokes in the ribs are, then you shift into teaching mode. What you are to teach him with the blunt poker is that he is (1) not to fear the poke at all, and (2) he is to YIELD to it softly, each and every time. "Yielding" means untracking. Be very aware of your technique here: NEVER begin an untracking by pulling on the horse's head; ALWAYS initiate movement from the hindquarters. You can easily "untrack" a horse by pulling on the halter; this is cheap and incorrect, so watch yourself that you're not doing that.

The other half of this is the birdie problem. You can think of the "leg" problem as that he doesn't want to push his body on, i.e., the situation seen as from "back to front". But there is also that which is to draw the horse onward, which is to alter his focus and his desires so that he WANTS to go forward and finds out that's enjoyable. So you have "drive", and you have "draw", and you need both to succeed fully.

As to "draw": this is what the flag is FUNDAMENTALLY for. Yes we do use it to swat the horse's butt, or the equivalent of the ordinary riding whip as to be applied to the leg area or the horse's thighs or gaskins or hocks, essentially as a way to make our arm longer so that we don't have to deform or abandon our seat in order to reach down to where the money is going to have to count. And we like the flag for this, just as we like the ball-whip, because as Buck says, for the horse it's like getting swatted with a tube-sock -- we avoid the dressage whip at all costs, because when you hit the horse with that, it hurts. We want to "stimulate" and "awaken" and "raise the life", but we don't want to hurt him.

Nonetheless, use as a driving aid is far from being the main or fundamental purpose of the flag, just as running the horse around and around in the roundpen is far from the main or fundamental use of the roundpen. It isn't about driving; it's about DRAWING. So the flag is a butterfly net, a birdie-attractor. This is why there was always a drag pulled at Tom Dorrance's clinics, which allowed all the horses to notice it, hook on to it, have their birdies fly to it and land on it, and thereby, to literally be pulled forward by it. And the drag is so powerful that one did see every horse freely offer collection, even green horses and even horses ridden by complete neophytes; and the collection persisted so long as the horse's birdie remained out in front of him and the drag continued to pull him forward. It is very sad to think, but it is true, that this is the one and only time in a lot of those peoples' lives when they will ever have their horse offer them that feel. Most riders miss most of what there is in the way of joy to be had in horseback riding.

So your problem now is to invent drags in the indoor arena. Your gelding is "mareish" in this way; there's a lot of mares who just don't see any reason to put out a lot of energy in the indoor, when they see there's a wall facing them only fifty or sixty feet away. Nonetheless the horse must learn that when you ask for 100% output, he is to give that, even if for only three or five steps. This is called "learning transitions."

Maybe you can find a friend who has a real broke horse, one that's familiar with the rope....that's the classic way, you have the friend lasso a tire and drag that around, being careful not to get her horse tangled in it or hung up in any way. Your job is then to let your horse notice the drag as it goes BY him, in front of him; exactly the technique one uses to hook the horse on, by walking crosswise his nose in the roundpen. You be far enough back that if he feels so stimulated that he jumps, he won't jump into the tire or get across the rope. You don't need to be close, you will find out: so long as his birdie goes forth and lands on the tire, you'll see those ears prick up and the neck arch and the whole body arch up and the steps get light and lively: and you just let that happen for as long as it's liable to but DON'T FALL ASLEEP in it, so you quit just before your dragging partner stops, and you quit by veering off to the side into a circle.

If you can't find a buddy with a broke horse, then find one who's got at least a lick of sense or, at minimum, will follow directions exactly as given. Get a pretty substantial flag and give that to her. Then tell her to go out about twenty feet in front of your horse and just walk along, dragging the flag on the ground. This will have the same effect as the tire, and you do similarly.

You may need to do this over several sessions. When you are not actually following the drag, you also mind yourself, that at ALL TIMES when in the arena you ALWAYS have a target in mind: some definite point that you're going to ride to. You DO NOT make figures and you DO NOT fall asleep or get talking with somebody for more than howdy-doodies. You turn constantly; you change directions constantly. So you have two things in mind all the time: target no. 1, which is the target you're currently riding to, and target no. 2, which is the one you're going to turn towards the moment you reach target no. 1. Do not stop and pet when you reach target no. 1, in other words, but keep on going from target to target to target, and the whole time you do this, you mind your horse's eyes and ears and keep telling him that HE needs to get interested in the target, too.

Because, you see, a circle is composed of four arcs and contains four targets. But that will come a little bit later. Let me know how this works out for you. -- Dr. Deb

Redmare
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Posted: Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 07:58 pm
Alrighty, Dr. Deb. I took all you suggested and toyed with it over the last few days.

What I found was that the 'draw' for this horse was quite easy for him: he hooked on the drag no problem and followed it very contentedly once he realized he need not be concerned about it. The drag also helped me better work on my 'draw', as I sometimes find myself getting too inward with my own focus.

What he needed more help with was the 'draw' from the leg. After we'd worked with the drag for a while, I still found he felt somewhat 'sticky' to my leg, even just to make a transition from halt to walk or walk to trot without the physical drag in front of him. I have continued to work with the blunt rubber stick on the ground, and I don't actually think this horse resented the leg: I don't think he respected it because he didn't understand it. So I got out my flag and I worked the horse in transitions from halt to walk, halt to trot, and walk to trot until he no longer needed me to come in with the flag to go forward freely and promptly from only a few ounces of leg pressure. It was only when I knew he understood that, from a walk, I sat up and focused on a cone at the end of the arena and asked for a bit more life than I had previously. I was so wonderfully rewarded with a big effort on his part to lift up into canter quietly but promptly. We did a few more up transitions as I hadn't quite set him up enough on the outside hind the first time, and every single time his offer was better and better.

I've ridden him twice since you posted and while he needed me to start out with the flag again the second ride, he needed it for about a quarter of the time he'd needed it the first time.
DrDeb
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Posted: Mon Jul 3rd, 2017 09:52 pm
Dear Red: Good application and understanding on your part, with wonderful results.

Now the challenge will be to 'not get greedy' in terms of your rides inside an arena.

I would balance my rides for the next two months as three rides 'out' for every one ride 'in'. It being summertime, this will probably not be difficult in terms of inclement weather preventing you from riding 'out'.

When riding 'out', do the same things in terms of focus that you have now discovered that you need to do 'in': in other words, don't just let the great outdoors take care of the horse's reluctance to go forward freely without you being AWARE of what is taking place. Yes let the stimulation of being 'out' work for you; but be aware and take note of what aspects of the great outdoors seem to please and stimulate this horse, so that he 'frees up'.

Then you can perhaps even reproduce some of those, or some aspects of those, in your rides 'in'. The great challenge, always, with riding inside an arena is to promote variation within the variety -- to avoid boredom and sameness.

Keep us posted please as all your summer rides progress. So pleased that this is working out to be fun for both of you. -- Dr. Deb

Redmare
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Posted: Thu Aug 10th, 2017 11:53 pm
Hello Dr. Deb, I'm writing back with a rather different sort of reply than I initially thought I would be.

Shortly after your last reply, the owner of this gelding fell off him. I wasn't there to witness it, I just heard her account of it afterward. She said she asked the horse to trot, and he trotted calmly and rhythmically down the long side of the arena but tripped at the end. She said he then sped up and after a couple strides took up into a canter, at which point she fell off (she has never cantered on a horse. She rarely does more than walk).

What I think actually happened is the horse tripped, sped up as any horse will to regain his balance (and especially as this horse tends to do) and the owner got pitched forward. When she pitched forward, her lower leg came back/she gripped on with her leg and the horse interpreted that as a request for canter.

This horse certainly knows the difference between when I get in the saddle and when his owner rides. He is extremely aware of her and I've often witnessed him "come from the other side" to help her out (often times this means *not* doing something until she asks correctly, especially when that something is asked in a way that may other horses would panic about), or act in a way that tells me he understands that she is not as able-bodied a rider and thus needs more care. But with all the work I have been doing with him to make him more understanding of the leg, I'm wondering if I'm actually doing more harm than good in educating him, knowing that as long as his owner has him, she will rarely do more than groom, pet and get on and walk.

Since she fell off, the gelding has been more hasty in his canter transitions and his upward transitions in general. I have no doubt that the rider coming off can be traumatizing for a horse. He's gone back to being more stuffed up and when he does go, it's more explosive and anxious than previously. I use the term "explosive" loosely: he does not truly explode, but he certainly is anxious about the increase in energy and I feel it must be related to experiencing his owner come off.

How would you advise I proceed? He's been slowly getting better, but I do not want to make this horse unsafe for his person or confuse the poor gelding.
DrDeb
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Posted: Thu Nov 9th, 2017 10:35 am
HI, Redmare: I'm very sorry to not have gotten back to you on this thread for quite some time -- just too many trips out of state and too many classes to teach on my part, so that this thread kind of dropped out of my consciousness. Don't interpret my slowness please as lack of interest in your replies or queries, which are always good contributions.

I think your analysis of both the gelding and his rider is right on: the horse is now a little anxious, while the rider continues to be incompetent. Luckily for both of them, you are part of the picture -- otherwise, the incompetent rider would steadily drive the horse down the road to the horse's doom. Your report is a very clear description of what happens to a lot of horses whose owners are afraid to step up to the plate and just "go for a ride" -- the horse gets all the blame, he tries his best but he becomes more and more unsure and anxious, and it finally ends with the horse getting a "reputation" for unreliability or even dangerous propensities.

Your job, then, is to de-fuse this. Try to be the one who rides this horse the most. If you can't put skills on the rider, then I'd lie through my teeth if that's the only treatment that will work -- my bet is that if you "feed" her a reason why she shouldn't ride, even a very spurious excuse will do and she'll take that bait like a big bass gulping down a fat fly, because in fact she's already looking for a reason to be a nurse instead of a rider.

The next step is to get her weaned off the horse altogether so that she begins thinking about selling him. I wouldn't start this phase until you have identified a buyer. If you can, and you have access to him, get her husband working on this with you, because almost certainly he's the sugardaddy that's paying the board bill, and he's probably already (long since) been saying to her, "honey, if you rarely or never actually ride....why do you want to go on keeping a horse?" He'd probably love it if he didn't have to pay for it.

When you've got somebody lined up, maybe one of your other students, who would be a good rider and good caretaker for this horse, then you and/or the husband can work on the owner to let him go. Another way to make this go smoothly in the direction  you want it to go, is to also line up another horse for the current owner. The horse you line up for her needs to be one of two kinds: either a very small pony, too small for her to ever even consider riding, but something she can pet and coo and groom all the hair off of, to her heart's content; or else, he needs to be a rideable horse but 17+ years old, kind, patient, sleepy, and broke silly -- i.e., an old schoolie. If he's in need of special shoes and/or other treatments, probably even better.

In short -- you and I both know this type of owner, who would really rather be a nurse to her horse than actually go for a real ride. I always say, there oughtta be a requirement that people have a license before they can own an animal, but the way reality is, it's money as talks, so the idea here is to phenegle her and fuddle her and play on her "mommy" desires and her ego, so that she'll give her pretty good gelding up to someone who can be a true friend to him rather than use him as the lay object onto which she can project her fantasies and her fears. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Redmare
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Posted: Thu Nov 9th, 2017 09:53 pm
Hi Dr. Deb, thanks very much for your reply, and no worries on its lateness...I figured you were quite busy.

To this owner's credit, she has made some progress with this horse, and had some nice rides on him, albeit only at the walk. My assessment is that due to her age and physical limitations, she will probably never do more than walk. If she wanted to trot or ride at any appreciably higher gaits, she'd need a horse with a naturally much slower rhythm than this gelding to make up for her physical difficulties following the horse. She's also need, as you said, an older, very broke schoolie.

I actually would be quite happy to take this horse, and his owner and I have chatted about this given her complex medical history + age and potential for sudden changes in her ability to ride or care for him. It wouldn't be for at least another year or so, until I have our small farm up and running. Until then, I greatly appreciate the guidance you offered; at this point, she's really only riding under my supervision and I work with the horse far more often than she does.
Darling lil
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Posted: Sun Nov 12th, 2017 03:36 pm
Excellent info. A friend and I were practicing canter departures last evening in a beautiful harvested soybean field. I'm going to try this myself.



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