Equine Stairmaster! Training, Courage or Bond? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-19-2010, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Equine Stairmaster! Training, Courage or Bond?

I wanted to share this video with you guys because it essentially shows exactly why I love this horse so dearly - for all her quirks (spooking at invisible squirrels) and bad habits I've created (wanting to race eveyrone), this mare just has never stopped amazing me from the day she was born. The trust she has in me is a phenomenal feeling, because she's such a "flinch spooker" everyone is convinced she's the biggest fraidy cat and is going to kill me one day - and yet she will NEVER say NO to me. It may take us a few tries, but in the end, she always ends up going "Ok, you better get us through this safe human!"

I'm sure we ALL have horses like this - horses where, despite a lack of any professional training or ever experiencing certain things, just seem resolute to trust us to get them through safe. At the end of the day, what do you think it boils down to - training, courage or bond? I think it's got to be a pretty even mix of the three!

If you read the description, Zierra has never technically seen any stairs, much less these stairs before. This was our fourth attempt - she mastered it the first time going up, took a couple tries going down for her to figure out where her feet were!

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #2 of 8 Old 06-19-2010, 10:22 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Florida
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My paint gelding has been my partner in crime for years. He was started well, I bought him as a 4 yr old, and we are to this day limitless to what we can cross, climb, open, or close. However, I know that with him, it is training. He trusts me completely, but he owns those skills through training. He has always had courage. I know that if I put anyone on that horse, he is capable of holding their hand and showing them how its done. After which, he will look at me, and give me that "get this person off my back before I rub them off on a tree look". I know that as well trained as he is, he is and will always be my horse.

In another case about 3 years ago, I stumbled upon an add that said "3 yr old appendix mare, $200". It was nearby, so I checked out this 13.3 hh "appendix" (seriously doubt it). She was wormy, underweight, and had horribly overgrown feet along with skin problems. She had been through the auction and her current owner was terrified of her since the pony had chased her out of the pasture on more than one occasion. It sounds corny, but as soon as I looked at the little fillies face, I knew she was coming home with me. The pony that didn't load well walked right in my scary little trailer. The first time I worked with her she reared straight up and started coming at me, once that was resolved the first time, she never tried anything again. Since then, she's ridden in parades, done pony rides at events, walked right up to and looked at the face of the man on stilts, and will go wherever I ask her to go without question. As willing and sain as this pony is with me, she will freeze up if I am not there. My goal with her is to help her to own her skills so that she doesn't always insist on following my lead. I have had multiple trainers comment on the extreme trust that the pony shows to me alone. I know for a fact that her skills are not training related, as I contacted her original owner and she had never been broke prior to sending her to the auction. The people I bought her from attempted to ride her and the petite pony managed to buck the person off. The first time I got on her, I rode her a couple miles off the property bareback with a halter and a lead rope by herself. Not something I usually do on a first ride, but the mind and willingness the pony was showing me was irrisistible.

I have always been the first person to say "well yeah, they are trained for it", and the first to roll my eyes when someone says "my horse only loves me". Now, I still think its is related more to the fact that they will go where the lead horse says to go. Any horse that I see resisting is also a horse that is still testing the leadership. I don't think my pony has a magic bond with me by any means, but she thoroughly trusts my leadership over any other.
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-20-2010, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Good post! I really agree - I don't believe in "horsey love", but it's been me and Zierra since she was born, so it's blatantly obvious a trusting bond has formed where I am her accepted leader. She tends to forsake other horses to my company, and doesn't trust other people.

However, I think it tends to be in the personality as well. I owned Playboy for 10 years, had him since he was born, and as much as he was a gentle and affectionate horse, he just loved EVERYONE and really never stopped trying to challenge people under saddle. He always believe it was his job to protect both himself and you, and we had some pretty interesting fights when I insisted otherwise. The Paint filly I own now is much the same - she just loves people in general, however she has a much more submissive personality and could likely be convinced to trust just about anybody to.

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #4 of 8 Old 06-20-2010, 02:09 PM
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That was good!
..But maybe just as well my horses haven't done stairs. They might start coming into the house.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-20-2010, 07:50 PM
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I understand exactly what you are talking about. I have the same type of relationship with Denny. To this day, I am the only person that can successfully ride him (not that he tries to buck them off or anything but they can't control him). If I ask him to go through an iffy area or situation, he won't ask questions like a normal horse will. He won't ask how fast or how high, he just goes. Regardless of what the situation is, though, we always come out the other side unscathed. Unfortunately, I didn't get him until he was 4 and he had been beaten and terrorized by the previous owner's "yahoo" boyfriend. Even now, around me or other women, he is completely relaxed and content but a man walks up and suddenly he is a fire breathing dragon.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-20-2010, 08:22 PM
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Wildey is my one of those horses. He will do everything another rider asks, but he won't quite give 100% - I can get that last little bit of try out of him that no one else can. I don't know if it is a 'bond' or just a result of 8 or so years of being ridden solely by me through some pretty interesting situations - but I know that horse like the back of my hand and vice versa.

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post #7 of 8 Old 06-20-2010, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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I would say that's the very definition of a bond! I think we can (most of us) agree that a bond is not "Oh, my horsey worsey LOVES me!" Having a bond with our horse means we know them inside out. We know their likes and dislikes, we've taken time to understand their fears and quirks to the point of being able to not only anticipate but understand. And I do believe the horses learn to understand as well - they learn to understand that YOU understand. They grow accustomed to a certain way of riding, a certain way of being spoken to, and while they may behave just fine for other riders, they don't feel confident or secure enough to respond with as much as they do for you.

I think it's probably about as close as a horse can come to understanding "love", and when it boils down to it, it's just the highest of all understanding and communication between two creatures, which makes all the difference in the world.

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #8 of 8 Old 06-20-2010, 10:12 PM
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My first horse, King was my best horse. We really bonded from day one and kept on building til the day he retired. When I bought him, he was 18, had a halter grown into his face and had two freshly bowed tendons. I spent 6 weeks in a stall with him (he hated stalls) and did all the little girl things you could do with a pony. I would pick him 5 gallon buckets of grass and hand feed him. From the day he got off of stall rest, we were best friends. He is what keeps me riding though he is long since gone. As a matter of fact, I bought my current horse Nico because he looks just like King only he is black and King was a bright sorrel. Same build, same markings, same attitude. Nico is quite a bit younger at 10 but he still trusts my judgement. If I point him at something, he just goes. The only problem is, I am his only rider. King would ride anyone anywhere. He was delicate with kids and would show off his training to anyone who knew how to ask. Nico, not so much. Ive had him almost a year now and 2 other people have ridden him. Niether of them would leave the ring with him because he wouldn't even listen to normal cues. I used to be dissapointed that he was a 'one person horse' but now, I kinda like it. It took me a long time to realize that there will NEVER be another King. Nico is trying his best to come in second.
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