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Scott Wehrmann
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Joined: Sat Mar 24th, 2007
Location: Blair, Nebraska USA
Posts: 16
Status:  Offline
Posted: Fri Mar 30th, 2007 05:25 pm
Hi!

 

Maybe this is just a cowboy thing, but to us, it is a cardinal sin to have a horse come up and make contact.....whether with a nose or lip or especially a hind foot.   BUT...is equally as offensive to walk up to another cowboy's horse and just pet him.   You just don't do it.  It is almost like meeting the guy's wife for the first time, and instead of taking off your hat, shaking hands, and doing this right, you just grab her wherever you want and give her a big wet kiss right on the mouth.  You are in serious trouble. 

It is not too much to ask for people to be polite, to show the proper respect and courtesy to a horse.....especially one we have put hours and days and weeks and months and years into bringing along. 

The odd thing is, I am convinced that horses have a sense of this too.  When they have invested a considerable amount of their own blood, sweat, tears, and toil, they have earned a certain stature.  I know it.   My horse knows it.  I expect him to act like it.  And I expect people to respond.  If they don't know it yet, no problem.  I have no problem with someone who just doesn't know any better.  But from someone who should.....    you are in serious trouble.  Now, most guys, if someone just simply said,

"Hey, would it be alright if I petted your horse?  He's Beee-yoo-tee-fullll!"  

everything would be fine.  And the horse seems to know this too. Sure, pet him till the hair rubs off.  We both kind of like the attention. 

So from the first day I work with a horse, I try to foster a feeling of dignity and quiet strength.  There are invisible lines we won't cross.  Once haltered, school is in.  Once we're riding, we're on the job.  No goddamn cow on earth is going to beat us.   And we're not kidding.  But we expect to be treated accordingly.  We're quiet and easy going and fun to be around, can give and take with the best of them.  We're the one you turn to when you need a little help.  The horse understands this too. 

This kind of goes to the whorl conversation.  If I expect my horse to be kind of a fun plaything, a pleasant diversion when I feel like it, I guess he will be.  But if I expect him to be a true partner and friend and to stick his neck out for me when I need him, well then that is a whole different story.  That kind of thing is not to be taken lightly.  I expect absolute trust and respect from him.  He expects it from me.  And we both expect from everyone we meet. 

   

 

 

 

   

 

    

StaceyW
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Joined: Wed Mar 28th, 2007
Location: Virginia USA
Posts: 11
Status:  Offline
Posted: Fri Mar 30th, 2007 08:27 pm
Interesting ideas. I agree that carrot training set Bashirah & I up for issues such as being lippy with me and with others. I laid off the carrots  last weekend for exactly this reason. Although they seem to help to get her to initially understand that I wanted her to do something ( for the carrot in her mind) I felt that they were becoming a problem instead. As recommneded in the book "The Power of Positive Training" ( forget who the author is) I spent some time  finding out where her  physical reinforcer spots are. She seems to really enjoy  being scratched on the crown of her head, anywhere on her ears, under her chest, just above the dock of her tail, the udders and the spot of all spots is located just behind her withers where the downhill slope begins. This spot causes her to stretch out and makes nose circles so it is reserved for the really good responses to my requests. And you know what? She is even better to work with without edible reinforcers. She is focusing more on me and not whats in my pockets.

My girl is overly friendly as well, a perfect example of the "in your tent Arabian". She does have some space issues and we're working hard on those. I have been using "wait" when I know that she wants to approach someone until they consent and then I allow her forward. The only problem with this is that she likes to check what's in the hands of the person she is meeting, obviously wishing for a treat. I have neighbors who give her apples, etc so I think that has something to do with it.  I have put a bucket out by the gate and asked that treats be left there. I hope that works.

I do find myself  redirecting Bashirah more often some days than others. Today when I was grooming her before our walk I had to remind her to "Wait" (which to me means be absolutely still, head in front of the chest, feet still- in one place). I wonder sometimes if I am being too hard on her, expecting this at her young age, but then I also feel that she is intentionally pushing to see what she can get by with. Somedays she will stand as still as a rock when asked. When she moves from the position I put her in I gently put her back in the exact same position and repeat "Wait". This usually works very well. I think she may have noticed that the grass was much greener today as spring has truly arrived in Virginia.

Bashirah was bottle fed as a baby and I have read that some horses raised this way can have trouble understanding boundaries within the horse/human relationship. Is this a true phenomenon? How do I best deal with this sort of issue?

Can I be training too much? We do our 2.5 mile walks at least 5 days per week, often 6. This usually takes anywhre from 1.5 hours to 2 hours as we stop frequently and do various things such as waiting , yielding haunches, shoulders, dropping the head, stepping up & down on stairs, backing up & down hills  and inspecting potential spooky objects. I always let her see things that she requests to look at and she is a very inquisitive filly. I like the walks because neither of us get bored and I find something new to do each day even if it as simple as sloshing through mud puddles in stead of going around. I want her to be stable and trusting. I notice that if something does really concern her she will look to me and I 'll tell her "It's Ok" and she continues forward. So she must trust me.

Thanks for the input. I really do have my thinking cap on, sometimes a little crooked maybe, but I'm always willing to learn new things and I want  my Bashirah to be a really wonderful, well trained & versatile horse so that if something ever happens to me she will  hopefully be more likely to get a good home. Otherwise I'm keeping her until the end. She is a sweet and good hearted horse.

Regards,

Stacey




 

DrDeb
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Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
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Posted: Fri Mar 30th, 2007 09:02 pm
Dear People -- I have not been in the Forum for a few days due to software problems. This thread was posted while I could not reply. Just a few points:

1) Stacey: We have no interest in "desensitizing" here. You absolutely want to avoid "desensitizing" your horse. Please go get a dictionary and look up what the word means: to "desensitize" is to benumb. Think about this: if there are any problems around what you are doing with your animals, this will be the leading problem. You are not trying to "desensitize"; you are trying to educate. There is an enormous difference.

2) There is no difference between using, or not using, food treats -- so long as the person doing the training uses them correctly. To use food treats correctly is exactly the same as to use pressure and release correctly. The food treat is simply part of a spectrum of pressures and releases -- toward the higher end of release, you might say. On this spectrum also lie getting off or dismounting when the horse has done something well and willingly, turning the horse loose in an enclosed space and/or removing the saddle for the same reasons, or simply walking away from the horse and ceasing to demand anything.

When we say "pressure and release", most people do not think of bribery. It's hard to consider "release" as bribery, but indeed to a concentration camp victim, the offer (however false) of freedom or imagined freedom could be used to get the prisoner to do almost anything his captors want. So even 'release' can be used as a bribe. The whole situation would be wrong and rotten to the core -- this is my point.

On the opposite hand, many people DO think of "bribery" when they use food treats. Why can they not think simply of release instead, that is, release in its good sense, as when a child who has caught a baby bird or a butterfly opens his hand and lets it go free? This is the right way to use food treats too: openhandedly. You are not kissy-kissy-pooing the horse, using food before performance or a good try, in order to beg or bribe or cajole him into doing it; instead, the food treat is his just and merited reward given promptly and openhandedly when he makes that good try.

"Openhanded" is also applicable as a word to describe the technique aspect of giving the food treat. The hand must be pushing toward the lips all the time, and once the animal has taken the treat you must keep the flat of your palm pressed against his lips for a few heartbeats before removing your hand from contact with his skin. This prevents any type of lippiness. For the rest, it is a question of whether manners have properly been taught to the horse or not -- one of the rules of mannering is that the horse shall not enter the handler's "space" until and unless invited.

And here is where Scott misunderstands something a little bit. Our elderly teacher was certainly a cowboy -- indeed, before his death he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. And he said, "you can't pet a horse enough." And he petted other peoples' horses, and he had us pet other peoples' horses. Ray Hunt pets horses. I have witnessed both of them teaching other men -- especially white men or men who come out of the Anglo culture, which typically teaches men that they should not touch living things warmly -- how to touch horses warmly. This is what the young redheaded cowboy from Oklahoma means when, on the "Turning Loose" videotape, he says, "Ray taught me that I didn't even know how to pet a horse right."

Some horses benefit from food treats, and they need them as brain lubricant. Other horses do just as well without them. View the Circus Knie tapes and see Freddy Knie Sr. and Freddy Knie Jr., vastly experienced trainers, frequently using food treats -- and not a single animal does more in the way of 'begging' than very politely sniff and look hopeful, which is no more than to say that the animal is enjoying the training session and the company and guidance of the human. This is the key to happy times with horses for anyone, of any culture.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb  PS -- small request to everyone. I know that this new software makes it easy to post pictures. But you must remember that pictures EAT server space. So unless the photo shows something CRUCIAL that you cannot DESCRIBE IN WORDS -- please don't post them. This is not the forum where we just chitchat, and it is not a place to post your favorite cutesie-pie photos. Photos are welcome if they are germaine to the discussion; otherwise, I will be pulling them. Thanks for the courtesy. -- Dr. Deb

Scott Wehrmann
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Joined: Sat Mar 24th, 2007
Location: Blair, Nebraska USA
Posts: 16
Status:  Offline
Posted: Sat Mar 31st, 2007 08:05 am
Hi Dr. Deb, it is good to see your notes.   

They brought a couple of thoughts to mind. 

As far as touching and petting......I absolutely want to be in physical contact with the horse in a kind, gentle, soothing, affectionate way.  Whether it is called petting or patting or stroking or rubbing or scratching or whatever, the horse sure knows how and what we're trying to express....and why.   It turns out the horse will forgive just about any mistake I can come up with....now there's a long list....if I just ask. 

Quite a few years ago I got to be part of a group in one of Buck's clinics and one of the riders was constantly smacking her horse.  Buck would say "Good, now pet your horse"  and she'd just whack him on the rump.  This went on for a day or two.  Next thing you know we're all on the ground learning how to touch a horse....it took up a good share of a morning.    It was one of  the more important things I've ever learned.  

The "cowboy" thing is more along the lines of touching someone else's horse without permisssion.  If someone asks, great.  But ask.  We do both like the attention.  It's right up there with riding in front of the man next to you while working cattle.   Or thinking you might just ride his horse.   Those cowboys we both admire and emulate and try to learn from would certainly not ever just walk up and mess with another person's horse or gear without permission. 

 I would like to hear more of your  views on desensitizing  ....especially as it relates to foals.  A while back I thought it would be interesting to explore this whole "imprinting" business.  I was not real happy with the end results.  No question it was a little easier to do some things with those colts later on.  But I also felt like they didn't become quite the horse they could have been.   It seems the lines were just too fine for me to recognize.  I did wind up numbing the colts.  Perhaps I don't have the feel for it that some do.  Or maybe my heart really wasn't in it. 

So while I still do want to prepare them for things like strangles vaccine in the nostrils and all the other things they need to know for life, I need to get better at recognizing those lines.   Any thoughts here would be great.    

 

 

 

   

 

StaceyW
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Joined: Wed Mar 28th, 2007
Location: Virginia USA
Posts: 11
Status:  Offline
Posted: Sat Mar 31st, 2007 09:48 am
I think I should have used the term "bomb proofing" as it is closer to what I meant in my question. My goal is to create a willing, trusting horse, not a senseless zombie.

Stacey

RaBo
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Indiana USA
Posts: 20
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Posted: Sat Mar 31st, 2007 11:17 am
I would like to hear more about 'imprinting' too. I've heard this word thrown around & realize there is a theory on it out there, but have no idea who may be claiming it currently or who may claim it originally. I haven't even read about it but figure when people talk about imprinting,what they are referring to is the handling a foal from birth. I do this with our foals, as they are born in foaling stalls. We tend to the mare first, find the afterbirth (sack) then, when she complies, we meet the new arrival. We give them an enema & treat their umbilical cords, take their temperature, etc. All typical foaling stuff, but we try to get the mare & foal to stay comfortable with our presence so that the babies aren't afraid & the mares aren't so protective we can't safely handle them in case of an emergency or just in general daily handling. As the foals mature we try to teach them little mile stones, so that when we wean them, they have basic training & acceptance of halters, leading (which is a whole new thing after they are weaned)  but they come along nicely & easily when they are taught along the way- which brings me to that word/concept/theory of 'Imprinting'. Isn't that what imprinting is?

I've never seen or had a colt/filly become numb or less responsive or less a performer as a result of the handling- (imprinting?) we do with our horses. 

I am learing much from Dr.Deb & members & like the different points of view on theories & words! Desensitizing, bombproofing, petting, etc. But in the end, we do want our horses to act like HORSES! They need to be "Handy" & deserve it!

Callie
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Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
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Posts: 53
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Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2007 10:01 pm
"imprinting" has a very specific meaning these days, as put forth in a book & video (I won;t mention them here as I think that's against the rules).

I have never met an imprinted horse I liked.  The term encompasses sticking your finger in all openings of the foal's body (100 times or more, each!) rubbing it with a plasic bag, clippers, etc. before it even gets up and has it's first milk.

I am not a practitioner, so if there have been refinements I am not familier with them, so I apologize.  Usually what I see is the horse ends up "dead" to stimulus, or it learns to fight harder, depending on the practitioner.  I would generally call this technique "flooding", and as I read research directly links foal infections to an increase in the time it takes for first nursing, I want my foal at the udder ASAP!

So thats my take on the program, FWIW.

-Callie

 

 

Scott Wehrmann
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Joined: Sat Mar 24th, 2007
Location: Blair, Nebraska USA
Posts: 16
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Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2007 10:55 pm
Hi,

 

I'm with Callie on this.

We raise quite a few babies each year.  They are foaled out on pasture, so I usually don't come into contact with them until the morning after foaling. 

I went out and got the book Callie is referring to.  The author is a well-known equine vet out in California who published his views and promoted them.    

Even when I tried awfully hard to not "numb" the foal, I am convinced that I did.  A few years later when they got started for real, I could tell the difference.  For two years I "imprinted" about half the babies.  Same stallions, same mares, same environment, same everything.   I'll never use this approach again.  The imprinted colts just didn't have the same spark and life the others did. 

 Now, if your goal is to produce a horse that is extremely quiet and bombproof and just plain dull, I believe this whole process would have some value.  There are folks in the world who, if they are going to have a horse at all,  really do need one like this.   I don't.  If you don't have a lot of experience in working with  horses and don't want to take the time to get really good with them, then a horse like this might be a good thing.   Or maybe a four-wheeler would be an even better option. 

Some of you may have seen horses who were roped and thrown, maybe with a running W or some such thing, then sacked out pretty hard.  There is something inside them that dies, and you can never get it back.  The whole process of imprinting as it was  described in the book was not this tough on them but it produced a result in that general direction.   It basically comes down to a human who is bigger and stronger and can use leverage on the foal forcing it do put up with a whole lot of poking and prodding and just plain giving up the struggle and submitting.  I am convinced there is a light in the eye that goes dim somewhere along the way.  The thing that strikes me is how many folks would be genuinely outraged and offended by treating an adult horse the same way, but think it is kind of all cute and cuddly and beneficial when we're talking about an essentially defenseless baby. 

There were a few lines where I did a really poor job of trying to convey building a certain confidence or bearing or something? in a horse by the way you approach him, touch him, the way you expect him to approach  people and livestock,  the way you expect  people to approach him.   Maybe that is still possible with an imprinted horse, but I am convinced it is much more difficult.         

 

Linda
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Joined: Thu Mar 29th, 2007
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Posted: Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 11:50 am
My experience with imprinting has been a positive one. Foals that I have imprinted were more trusting and at ease with me and other humans as a result. This trust was encouraged and built on every day. I do not find that it dulled them in any way. My experience was quite the opposite. They are more confident, curious, outgoing, and eager to see what new strange thing we can discover. In a strange and potentially scary new situation, they look at me as if to ask,( are we safe ? ), when I say yes. They believe me. This attitude grows with them into adulthood as long as that trust is protected. They are not spooky, they are eager to learn.
Callie
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Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
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Posted: Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 04:07 pm
Conscent is a very important concept for me.  I wan tthe horse to conscent to my requests, I want him to want to partner with me.  Imprinting goes against the grain for me because it is forcing the foal it a big way and at a very traumatic juncture in its life to begin with.  "make the right choice easy and the wrong choice hard" sort of thing, In imprinting there is no choice for the horse.  So that is what really rubs me the wrong way about the technique.

There was a study done at I believe Texas A&M where they imprinted one group of foals, did not imprint but handled daily another group of foals, and I believe there was a third group that recieved nothing beyond the initial wellness check.  They were handled for a while (acouple weeks maybe?) then everyone was turned out for several months.  They found no difference in the acceptance of the imprinted foals to the stimulus they tested (fly-spray, clippers I can't remember exactly) then the non imprined but handled foals, though both groups were I think slightly better (but not by much)  than the unhandled foals. (I may not have all the details exactly right, but the no difference in imprinted foals was the result)

Scott- I am impressed with your willingness to try the technique and see if it could work for you.   I admit I never tried it on my own foals, by the time I decided to breed a few I had run into enough problems with clients horses that I didn't do it, besides my objection on principal.

-Callie

cyndy
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Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Prophetstown, Illinois USA
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Posted: Thu Apr 5th, 2007 08:56 am
i have imprinted foals. but, i think the biggest thing with any horse, from foal up to a mature horse, is frequent handling. grooming, cleaning the feet, stroking them over ever part of their body. have you ever noticed a foal you had to treat a lot from a injury or sickness becomes the most gentle foal that year? i believe it is because of the time spent with them. it is amazing what the horse can understand if you can be a state of trusting and respecting you. like ray hunt says "keep them out of trouble". it seems if they don't know or trust the human well, that is pretty hard to do.
Vida
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Joined: Thu Apr 12th, 2007
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Posted: Thu Apr 12th, 2007 01:37 pm
Hi all,

am new to this forum although used to read it years ago.  This thread is great timing as I'm currently doing similar things with my 4 year old gelding - sat on him lightly last year as a 3 year old about 10 times just asking for walk, turns, stops and back for about 5 minutes each session (bareback in a halter) and this year will be a little more intensive in the ground work before hopefully starting him just on trail lightly by the fall if we're ready.

About a month ago I made a list of things I thought were important in our foundation and will share some that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread yet or in the articles on this forum.  I have also nabbed some of yours that I hadn't thought of yet!

Rope flicking over, around and on body.
Wind horse up with rope around body and then ask them to follow their nose as you unwind.
Tie for periods of time.
Accept hosing.
Backing over poles.
Go over mattress.

Walk through narrow gaps.
Set up narrow spaces with barrels (just slightly narrower than the horse's body and ask to go through and knock them over.
Set barrels on top of each other and ask to walk through higher narrow spaces.
Ask to go through barrels on top of each other in a too narrow space and knock them over.
Go through belly high grass.
Accept umbrellas.
Ride through hanging sheet.
Throw balls from rider to ground person and back
Swing polo mallets, ropes.

Vida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


zenjane
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Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: Minnesota USA
Posts: 3
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Posted: Sun Apr 15th, 2007 10:59 am
I think doing a lot of ground work is great for young horses, but I think some of the things you are thinking of asking him are pretty intense for a young horse. Some breeds are less flappable than others, but if you have a sensitive horse you may want to save some of those scarier things for next year. You don't want him to get in a wreck and destroy the trust you've already built up. If you still want to do the bottom half of your list I'd suggest doing it with another horse AFTER letting him watch the other horse go through the whole course at least once or twice. JMHO!
RaBo
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Location: Indiana USA
Posts: 20
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Posted: Sun Apr 15th, 2007 06:02 pm
Really good advice about using another horse! I've tried this myself & have found it to be very helpful, nothing like utilizing their natural herd instinct as a training aid.
Vida
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Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 12:33 pm
Nah, an extensive list is only as good as it's handler and the particluar horse you're working with.  I need as many ideas as I can get as the horse I'm currently working with is a total curiosity and play monster and is always looking for things to get into and play with.  The more the merrier in his mind!  Here's some examples.  The first time we walked past super long grass while walking around my property, he took a flying leap into it (I had no idea he'd do this as my intention was just to go for a quiet walk) and he had a blast exploring in there and didn't want to leave from there.  Luckily I had a really long lead line he could explore in there while I kept tick free!  The first time we walked past my raised vegetable garden (about 2 1/2 feet high) he wanted to stop and sniff it and then tried to get on top of it.  The first time I let him sniff the kid's trampoline, he tried to pull it apart with his teeth and then tried to get his front legs onto it.  The first time he saw a mounting block, he tried to climb on top.  He loves getting his feet on things including the other horses.  They get annoyed as he drives them nuts sometimes as if they won't play with him, he puts his front feet over their backs and stays up there and bothers them walking along on his hind legs until they can shake him off and then chase him.  For the very tall horse, he just grabs his tail and pulls him around sideways until he gets annoyed enough to chase him.  Very curious, very inquisitive, very brave and absolutely loves life and the more you can do with him, the happier he is.  

And he loves to play.  His favorite game is to be a big thief.  When I have my stuff out and he goes near it, I usually growl at him as he steals everything and takes off with it.  When I tack up the other horses, I don't usually tie or stall and everybody just mills about.  The minute I turn my back, he quickly nabs something and then takes off with it then shakes it at me from me afar daring me to come and get it!   When we're done with our work sessions, his favorite game is to pick up a lead rope and play tug of war with me.  I think he tries to flick it at me just like I have at him when he gets too close into my space!

Don't get me wrong.  He's probably not going to be an easy horse by any means under saddle as his mind goes a thousand miles a minute and he's a smart little guy.   He's not one of those that just accepts anything.  Right now, he accepts things only at this stage because it entertains him and he finds it fascinating.   I'll have a hard time trying to think a step ahead of him so we don't get into trouble and I'll have to super wary of noticing instantly the minute his mind switches under saddle away from me.  So right now, the more we can do, the better.  And right now, things are super easy because he's loves doing anything and thinks it's all his idea.  Gradually I'll switch things here and there and ask him to comply with my ideas too without a fuss when he's not so keen on it but I'll need to do it carefully as he has a wonderful spirit that I don't want to squash so my goal is to meet in the middle by the time we're finished with our foundation on the ground.

And yes, I do have a wonderful teacher in my herd.  He was just like the horse I'm working with now 20 years ago!  I've used him alot over the years to teach horses things (and to teach me!) without a fuss and so far haven't had to use him with this young guy yet.  But I do have them in pasture together so he can teach the young guy his tricks of how to handle life without getting flustered about things.  We will though soon start using the old guy when it comes to road riding, cars and trucks etc.  This young guy is actually going to be my riding replacement for the old guy as he can't do the really rough and steep trails anymore.  So me and my old man just cruise the easy trails these days relaxing together enjoying the sights and sounds.

 




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