Just wanted to add that I can see from re-reading this thread that my difficulties with finding the right vector of pressure for backing up were caused by the fact that, as dr. Deb says above to AtLiberty, I was trying to back him up by his head and not by his feet.
Son of a gun. It works. I was so surprised at how well and how fast it works. 3 heart beats? I guess I expected calm would come with time, maybe after we’d been practicing it a few times it would start to come. Instead, boom, there it was.
I didn’t expect to see him raising the base of his neck as he did this backing up. That was another surprise. And his birdie never flew away to Kitty, though we were out of sight and she was hollering for him. Yet another surprise. Son of a GUN.
I have to comment on this because I can relate to it so much - it seems for a long time I was under the misguided notion that these simple lessons would take weeks/months not minutes/days. Well I guess it does if you keep going through the wrong door and talking some foreign language to the horse. Between starting to read Dr. Deb's material, as well as Mike Schaffer's material - (and ballisting off my previous lessons from 'teachers' who I now realize were not teachers but business people), I am constantly surprised and reminded that the horse already KNOWS all this stuff and how close to the 'surface of the horse' the response we are wanting really is.
I have found as a result, one of my basic principles has been reformed. And that is, if I ask and don't get, I stop and think about whether my request has been RIGHT but not CLEAR, or my request has been altogether WRONG, before I act again. There was a time that I always assumed it was right but not CLEAR. And that was often, the incorrect assumption.
They catch on so quickly, like they just alwasys wanted it asked this way! I think my horses have a sigh of relief that I'm actually talking in a language they can hear. I've had to learn how to break down this stuff into tiny steps, I used to jump ahead, way ahead and expect them to know what I meant. Professor Bennett's CD lesson series has been exquisitely helpful with that. Need to slow way way down.
One question about riding and 'birdie': why only 30 ft out front? If the target is 120 ft away, shouldn't I focus on it? Will the bird and thread fly/stretch farther as more experience/confidence is gained?
Apples wrote: I have to comment on this because I can relate to it so much - it seems for a long time I was under the misguided notion that these simple lessons would take weeks/months not minutes/days.
Yes indeed, I know what you mean. "You just do it over and over and over again and eventually they get it." That's how dressage training was described to me, dressage being considered the ultimate form of human/horse interaction!
I guess I should be more chary of being snarky, given that I just made these astonishing breakthroughs the day before yesterday, but boy oh boy, the difference in results is just amazing to me.
The "do it over and over until they get it" was filling the pockets of my dressage coach many years ago, not much more than that.
Then I learned that 1 good step was better than 10,000 wrong steps. Since every step counts, there is no choice but to figure out how to ask for that one step in such a way to set the horse up to succeed. Two good steps are just one good step, then one good step. 10,000 good steps are just individual good steps in succession. That concept of the building blocks has helped me enormously. A great deal more time spent with my horse I now do at the walk. Dr. Deb takes that concept to a whole 'nother level in the CD.
Hi everyone, I've been a more of a -lurker- than a -poster- to this forum. I can relate very much to all these women in this thread. I have leadership issues with my horse Ruby, too. She's a 6 year old appendix who has been mostly left unto herself for the better part of her life. She has very clear confidence issues with the human kind, -meaning me-. I'm learning to go all the way not half way! Hard but rewarding work.
This thread and the Josh Nichols articles have helped me a lot in starting to communicate with my horse. And yes her way of communicating scared the bejeesus out of me often times (rearing, bucking, charging, kicking etc.)in the beginning. She still doesn't trust me enough when it comes to riding in the outside pen or walking away from the stable area. I've got a lot of work to do. I can't seem to get her focused on me for more than a very short period of time when we are outside. She'll start getting nervous looking out over my head at whatever's there. That's when the -fun- starts (she rears a lot). It is very difficult to get her birdie back at that point. I know that I have to notice in advance when that attention of hers is going to leave me. That's the hard part.
I know that it has gotten better since we have started working with the information offered in ESI, because among other things she doesn't run over me anymore when she spooks like she did at the beginning. She's pretty respectful of my space . She's even happy to see me when I come to see her now.
What I find very difficult is actually feeling I have to -hide- from the stable owner, (who also has taught me riding lessons and sold me Ruby). She is a very strong minded person and a very good reining competitor with the opinion that horses make excellent soldiers. Which is and always has been contrary to my secret belief. Before reading the ESI info I didn't realize the danger I was putting myself and others into by riding my mare when she considered me to be just another nuisance getting in her way. I had been led to believe that all riders had to be tough enough to stay on no matter what the circumstances (rearing, bucking, running away). Somewhat like a right of passage. Lately, (and to my trainer's big dismay) I have been concentrating on ground work for the moment and have put aside riding for the moment because I feel that if I have difficulties leading Ruby on the ground it can't be any better in the saddle. Am I wrong or isn't that like the blind leading the blind? Should I continue to ride her anyway? The progress has been slow (and not so steady...). I can't refer the owner to the site because she is french-speaking only, and I don't feel confident enough translating the information for her. I'd rather she heared it directly from the horse's mouth but that seems impossible for the moment.
I have sent a couple of messages to the ESI e-mail concerning the -Mannering Your Horse- CD that have been unanswered. I would like to kow how I can order it. When I joined ESI I got the Birdie CD instead ( and I had already bought the book). I know that this is not the place to be asking for this but I don't know how else to get it done.
I would again like to thank you Dr. Deb for the unfailing and unending effort you put into trying to make life easier for our beloved animals. I'm sorry for this long message but I feel as if nobody I know personally can relate to or understand what I'm feeling at the moment. It somehow has to come out.
Rachel, if you are in the barn of somebody who has so little ethics that they would sell a beginner a horse that rears, kicks, bites, and runs over you, then my dear, you are in the presence of a physical abuser. I mean that the person who sold you that horse is physically abusing you, and you need to leave.
You also need professional help, by which I mean just about anybody but the person who sold you the horse. Go get qualified help immediately. Your horse is dangerous and, although I believe you have learned a lot just as you say, you are in danger every time you're around this animal and that has to STOP -- NOW.
It will be of no use for you to romanticize and gush and admire and tell us that you are learning, if your horse stoves your head in tomorrow. Do you know what it sounds like, Rachel, when the horse kicks the person's head off and it flies over the fence and lands in the dirt? It sounds like this: SCHMUCK.
Horseback riding is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby and pastime. How often has it been that for you, Rachel, since you bought this horse? I have never been able to understand how it can be so common -- but it is common -- for a sadist to be running a stable operation. Rachel, you need to recognize that the only way the sadist can get away with it is with your full complicity. This is what makes a 'schmuck' a 'schmuck', in the Yiddish sense of the term.
Write back to us, please, when you have located a competent teacher and a new place to board your horse. -- Dr. Deb
PS -- Rachel, we have received zero EMails from you concerning problems with your orders, and this is why you have had no answer of course. Are you sure that you have been EMailing to firstname.lastname@example.org? (not dot-com).
Please check your outgoing EMail to ascertain whether your own EMail address is correctly spelled. Otherwise, when we reply it will bounce back as it is trying to go to a nonexistent address. -- Dr. Deb
Just a little message to tell you that I have found a new boarding stable that's even closer to where I live than the other one. It doesn't have the same facilities but the owner is so much better it seems than Mrs. X where I was. She even teaches, and I like her philosophy. She's actually open to new ways of teaching horses and that is a big plus in my opinion.
I also have decided to sell Ruby, my beautiful mare. She is way more horse than I can handle and I am way to little to take her on like I should. I have learned a lot from her and I think she from me. She would benefit from having a calm person with lots more experience than I have (and that's not much). She has tremendous potential I think.
So with the help of this new teacher I will be on the look-out for a much older, slower, and smaller horse (Ruby is 16 H), that is, after I have found my long lost confidence. I will be taking riding lessons to get that back. On the bright side if it wasn't for Ruby I never would have found this site and your teachings! I now also know what I don't want. I would also like to say a big Hello to the girls I met at the Tom Curtin clinic in June ( Rose, Jan and Ann ). That was great fun! What a great teacher.
By the way I've never heard the sound a head makes when it hits the ground but I did hear (and feel) what it sounds like to have your thigh kicked. Thud!! No it wasn't Ruby's doing. A great big 4 year old Canadian gelding (that had been imprinted and handled by a big brute of a man since he was a wee foal) did this while I was mucking out his stall in late June. My leg didn't break because it actually followed through with the horse's kick. My whole weight was on the other leg. But it was a great big wake up call!!!
Sorry for the long message, just thought I'd give you a little update. Thank-you again for the standing up and seeing the injustice where it needed to be discovered.
Rachel, this is a real good outcome for you. You have made a series of wise decisions, I think.
Now, as you go shopping for your next horse, you will have the wisdom to consider the horse's temperament first before anything else. Large or small does not matter very much; it is not largeness that made the horse you are selling dangerous, but its DESIRE to have its own way, defend its own space, no matter what the expense to you. So having learned that, you would now hopefully look for a horse that exhibits no such desire, a horse that already has manners pretty well ingrained.
The best place to look for such a horse is in the hands of an older rancher or farmer. They will sometimes have a horse that is usably sound for sale. It will probably help also if the animal itself is not younger than 13 years or so. Do not buy a three year old. No horse really starts getting steady until they're about 9, and if manners were installed early it will be a life habit by the time they are in their early teens. You will then have at least 10 years to enjoy the horse.
And I do mean "enjoy". The whole idea here, with owning a horse, is that it should be enjoyable, a daily pleasure. So you'll then take your new horse and present yourself and the animal for lessons with your new teacher, and that should be another kind of fun. Do not let the teacher tell you that the animal is not "suitable". What you need lessons on, Rachel, as you have discovered, is not "this" or "that" technical point, or this or that figure or exercise. Rather, what you need is saddle time so that you can get to know a horse on whose back your heart rate does not have to be uncomfortably high every minute. Maybe your new teacher will take you out for some trailrides -- nice slow walks someplace away from the barn -- someplace where there will be some little banks for you to go up and down, some little logs for you to step over, a little sluggish creek for you to learn how to cross. The whole idea is to ride like you were a little kid, do what little kids do when they're out with their horses -- get off and get on again, get your feet muddy (all six of them). Do not let anyone chide you for not fronting greater obstacles, and never get suckered into doing anything on horseback that you don't feel comfortable doing. Let your teacher hold your hand, until you truly know that you don't need to have it held anymore; that's what (I hope) she is there for.
The other aspect you have got to consider, Rachel, is what part you may have played in making, or maintaining, your previous horse in such a state that it would be dangerous. You opened your correspondence in this thread by stating that you feel you have "confidence issues". You will have to get over those -- because if you don't, you will contribute to ruining any horse that you buy, even if that animal has perfect manners and a great attitude when you first purchase him.
If to gain confidence you need to go visit a sports psychologist, do that. If you need to go ride with Harry or Buck, do that. If your new teacher seems to help in this area, then by all means spend goodly time with her. BUT DON'T JUST SIT ON IT. You, and all horse owners, owe it to the horse to be the animal's self-confident teacher. I will not tolerate any "wingeing" here or any "reasons" which are just excuses. If you want to go on being a horse owner, then you'll find a reason why you can succeed and you will then find that you have the ability to succeed. That's a promise.
Good luck with all that you have planned, and write in sometimes to let us know how everything is going. -- Dr. Deb