Freedom of Speech - The Horse Forum
  • 9 Post By DanielDauphin
  • 2 Post By Incitatus32
  • 1 Post By karliejaye
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 6 Old 04-29-2014, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: South Louisiana
Posts: 382
• Horses: 1
Freedom of Speech

Who among us would say that they don’t want a partner who is both happy and relaxed? A comrade who understands their job completely and fulfills said job with willingness and try? We all want a horse that wants to work, and then wants to hang out after work. Right? Well, how do you know that your horse fits these criteria? He’s a whisperin’, and sometimes yellin’, his opinion to you constantly, if you listen.

There’s a video going around of a very famous dressage horse. The comments surrounding that video are mostly about how beautiful this is, and how much this horse loves his job. Well, that horse is telling me a fairly different story. While the horse is completing the maneuvers as requested, and the rider is using very subtle cues, as you’d expect, the horse is actually showing his displeasure with the leg aids by swishing his tail every time he’s touched.

For me, at least, the tell-tale tail swishing pretty much ruins the performance. While the ride is technically proficient, the rider is subtle, and there is no show of force, the horse is certainly not a happy and willing partner. He’s simply going through the motions he knows he has to, in order to be hassled as little as possible. Admittedly, for some horses, this is the best we’re going to get, but I’d sure like more…

One of the things that I try and do periodically is check out my horses au naturel. What I mean by this is I ride them absolutely as simply as possible. My reasoning is that I want to see where my horse really is in his training. If I am using a martingale to help me soften him in his poll, how do I know when that goal has been reached? If I haven’t ridden my horse without a caveson, how am I going to read how happy he really is with his bit and my hands?

Give ole’ Sugar every advantage and opportunity to show you just how willing and happy, or unwilling, unhappy, and untrained he really is. An extreme of this would be to ride with no bride, no saddle, no halter, and no spurs. Ride just as a man or woman, on a loose horse. While I do not recommend diving straight into the deep end, you can easily dip your toe. So, if you are using some sort of training device, which is designed to mask problems, take it off. Get rid of that martingale, running or standing, take those draw reins off, chunk that gimmicky bit behind the barn, and hang up that caveson.

Ride your horse in a plain Jane ring snaffle. No gag. No doodads. No quadraphonic sound system, spinner-bait blades, pulleys, nose bands, rings, or chips and dip. Nada! No mechanical advantages at all. Be just a rider, a horse, and simplicity itself for communication. Adjust the snaffle so that there is no wrinkle, and it actually hangs just below making contact with the corners of the mouth. BTW, this is how I ride all of mine, right from the start, an Ounce of Prevention and all that. If your horse does like the bit, and is actually picking the bit up with its tongue, as it should be, you will see no change. If you’ve had him smiling like a crocodile and used a caveson to clamp his mouth shut, you’re likely going to see some excessive mouthing of the bit. Your horse is finally showing you his disapproval of how his mouth has been treated. Or, ride him in just a halter and see if all of that feel remained, or if he became harder to steer.

When you pull that tie down/standing martingale off of him and ask him to lope, does his head shoot up like it is on a spring, or does it stay down, and he remains calm and relaxed? When those draw reins, or running martingale come off, is your horse still soft in the poll? How about those spurs? Can you sidepass without them? Will he still yield his hip and do a nice lead departure without steel in his belly? He’s telling you his side of the deal the only way he knows how, unless you Speak Portuguese, the native language of the horse.

Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that there is never a time or place to use aids or various training devices, but their use should be temporary, if they are actually helping to accomplish the training you seek. If they become permanently needed to avoid action XYZ, then your horse hasn’t learned a dadgum thing making the aid a crutch rather than a “training device”.

If your horse tells you during my test that he understands his job and does it willingly, congratulations! You are an effective communicator and you have a willing partner. If it all fell to pot, you have some work to do, but better to know that, than be blind to the real issues your horse is having.

You don’t need gimmicky bits, overpriced fad tools, or any of that stuff. In fact, a great question to ask yourself about that stuff is, “Can I easily imagine this bit/halter/clinician in a 2am Infomercial?” If the answer is yes, I’m out. Control of your horse is in his head. It isn’t in his mouth, or clipped to your girth or saddle.

Whisper all you want, but your horse would much rather that you just listen.

Last edited by DanielDauphin; 04-29-2014 at 11:12 PM.
DanielDauphin is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 6 Old 04-29-2014, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 2,088
• Horses: 0
Well said and I couldn't agree with you more! Personally a horse who loves his job is worth his weight in gold. People get so caught up with pairing horses and people together that they forget that you also have to pair horse with job.

And they seem to forget the purpose of training aids lol aids is a pretty key word here.
boots and DanielDauphin like this.
Incitatus32 is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 04-30-2014, 03:24 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Central Oregon, USA
Posts: 2,883
• Horses: 2
Yes! Reading this article I kept getting more and more excited to see someone else who sees training aids as AIDS! (not the disease).
I just love all of your articles and wish I were in Louisiana so I could ride with you!

Originally Posted by DanielDauphin View Post
He’s simply going through the motions he knows he has to, in order to be hassled as little as possible. Admittedly, for some horses, this is the best we’re going to get, but I’d sure like more…
^This made me lol, since I have a horse who is "that" horse. He does what is asked, and I keep him in minimal tack, just a snaffle bridle and the saddle, and once in a while a crop, but he just looks SOUR. Sweet as the dickens on the ground and a great riding horse, just never looks happy, but he is an appy, so I think it is his personality
DanielDauphin likes this.
karliejaye is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 05-03-2014, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
Posts: 17,193
• Horses: 0
My two favorite bits are a loose ring snaffle and a $10 curb bit. I don't ride with a knotted halter because of the pain they inflict on a horse's face. If the flank strap isn't needed it's removed. When I watch WP classes it's easy to see who touches a spur to the horse because of the tail wringing.
Saddlebag is offline  
post #5 of 6 Old 05-15-2014, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Arizona USA
Posts: 1,737
• Horses: 1
Yep! I ditched my spurs in favor of a dressage whip to get my horse lighter on the leg. I ride in a mild english hackamore, no caveson. I would have to pull really hard for that curb chain to really work. I have it set so it doesn't even touch her when I ask quietly. She has improved so much without all that crap. Now only if those girls I used to ride with would take those tie-downs and harsh bits off and train their horses properly!
horseluvr2524 is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 05-15-2014, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 22,258
• Horses: 0
Love it!
smrobs is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Doing a speech on equestrian HELP* jewelsinnpink General Off Topic Discussion 6 03-09-2014 12:25 AM
Ideas? 4H speech! SaskGal General Off Topic Discussion 10 12-29-2013 10:35 PM
I need help!!(Writing A Speech) CaseyCat27 General Off Topic Discussion 6 05-01-2013 10:30 PM
Speech problem/Cashier Spotted Image General Off Topic Discussion 16 05-30-2012 04:54 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome