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Looking for a confidence boost (book/advice)

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    09-16-2012, 01:15 PM
  #1
Foal
Looking for a confidence boost (book/advice)

This will be a very rambling and long post, sorry. That's the way I'm feeling...
(And most probably there's been hundreds of similar posts, sorry for that too. )

I just bought a horse. She's 5 years old and has a very basic riding background: all gaits, halting, turning. She's been ridden English this far. Her basic training from birth has been solid (mostly NH style, if you want to brand it) and she's very easy horse when it comes to everyday stuff like leading, grooming, etc.

I have trained and helped to train several horses before, but have had a few years off due to health reasons. My confidence has taken some damage. Especially groundwork gets me all iffy: am I getting it right, should I do this now... And my timing sucks (is getting better all the time though). I think I'm making her a Western horse (Riding, Horsemanship, Pleasure?), and if not, we're probably going Classical.

My mare tenses up very easily. It shows in her muscles: every single one has a knot or two. I've previously trained my mare's sister and she was just the same at this age -- until something clicked. Currently I'm focusing on getting her muscles unknotted with massage and stretching exercises from the ground. Her saddle hasn't been the best fit and am waiting for her back to be pain-free before fitting for a new one. So no riding until those things are sorted.

As she is starting to get better, I think I should start adding other stuff on our plate. We have been tackling the issue of staying in the box with the door open this past week and next I'm planning on standing still "come what may". Long reining is also on the list: she most probably has done it before but I haven't tried yet. I have tried Parelli's 7 Games and she's pretty good with those. Still going to work more on those exercises.

Things that rile me up and I need to address:
- her way of looking away from me even when she seems to be listening and doing what I ask (critical)
- not relaxing and keeping her head low
- wanting to take everything in her mouth
- reacting to rein by lowering head instead of tensing up and stopping (getting better: reaction due to existing tension in the muscles?)
- not loping in the pen/on the line (mostly due to my inabilities)
- "being quiet": getting to know each other better

Now, I'm looking for a nice book or two to help me out. To give confidence and in a way list out things I should be doing next. I have a trainer to give me a hand every now and then, but it's the rest of the time that intimidates me... I don't want my horse to get bored and her training to stand still/go backwards.

Also, advices/tips on things I should/could do with my mare very welcome!
     
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    09-24-2012, 10:46 AM
  #2
Foal
Okay, since listing those things I'm not sure if we're going forwards or backwards...
"Looking away" issue seems to be at least partly about guarding her sorer side and easing the load on that side's front leg. Though I'm not absolutely sure she respects me enough. Would like help getting her attention better.
"Keeping her head high" pretty much sorted. She keeps forgetting it, but mostly ok. Responds well to reminders.
"Taking everything in her mouth" better, only temporary issue?
"Not loping": tried once and loped nicely in one direction, difficult to another and protests (again, soreness?). Maybe two-three good strides.

There's a couple of new developments (f.ex. Turning away when grooming/kicking when picking up left rear leg -- do these go fully back to soreness/attention issues?; tossing head/bucking in round pen when trying the lopes -- did that do much harm to our relationship?) that get me a bit hesitant on where to go next. So still looking for tips.
     
    09-24-2012, 01:47 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayhmk    
This will be a very rambling and long post, sorry. That's the way I'm feeling...
(And most probably there's been hundreds of similar posts, sorry for that too. )

I just bought a horse. She's 5 years old and has a very basic riding background: all gaits, halting, turning. She's been ridden English this far. Her basic training from birth has been solid (mostly NH style, if you want to brand it) and she's very easy horse when it comes to everyday stuff like leading, grooming, etc.

I have trained and helped to train several horses before, but have had a few years off due to health reasons. My confidence has taken some damage. Especially groundwork gets me all iffy: am I getting it right, should I do this now... And my timing sucks (is getting better all the time though). I think I'm making her a Western horse (Riding, Horsemanship, Pleasure?), and if not, we're probably going Classical.

My mare tenses up very easily. It shows in her muscles: every single one has a knot or two. I've previously trained my mare's sister and she was just the same at this age -- until something clicked. Currently I'm focusing on getting her muscles unknotted with massage and stretching exercises from the ground. Her saddle hasn't been the best fit and am waiting for her back to be pain-free before fitting for a new one. So no riding until those things are sorted.

As she is starting to get better, I think I should start adding other stuff on our plate. We have been tackling the issue of staying in the box with the door open this past week and next I'm planning on standing still "come what may". Long reining is also on the list: she most probably has done it before but I haven't tried yet. I have tried Parelli's 7 Games and she's pretty good with those. Still going to work more on those exercises.

Things that rile me up and I need to address:
- her way of looking away from me even when she seems to be listening and doing what I ask (critical)

When she is standing facing you, if she looks away, then do something, anything, that breaks her focus outward. Scuffle the ground, or give a tug on the rope. Do enough that she stops looking elsewhere and looks at you. Don't expect her to stay that way for a long time. She is a baby, so has a very short attention span. So, when you get her looking at you, pet her lightly once on her face and walk away.


- not relaxing and keeping her head low

Relaxation comes as a result of all the other work, and I think from movement, in the case of a horse, with lots of bending. I say movement because that is how the horse will dispell tension. Not from hypnosis or petting or being told to "Relax".
- wanting to take everything in her mouth


this is the way of babies. I would guess it will pass in time and repeated discipline in a patient manner.
- reacting to rein by lowering head instead of tensing up and stopping (getting better: reaction due to existing tension in the muscles?)

Not sure what you mean . YOu WANT her to tense up? If she is tense due to rein contact, it could be needing her teeth floated. (Pain). Or, just that she is not sure what rein contact means, or has had harsh contact before , so now worries about it. Or ? Need more info.
- not loping in the pen/on the line (mostly due to my inabilities)

What does she do when you ask for a lope ? Trot faster and all unbalanced? Buck? Stop? This way both directions? Is she "off" at the trot?
- "being quiet": getting to know each other better


Now, I'm looking for a nice book or two to help me out. To give confidence and in a way list out things I should be doing next. I have a trainer to give me a hand every now and then, but it's the rest of the time that intimidates me... I don't want my horse to get bored and her training to stand still/go backwards.

Also, advices/tips on things I should/could do with my mare very welcome!

My questions/comments in RED.
     
    09-24-2012, 02:06 PM
  #4
Foal
I would start off by getting her checked over by a vet and a dentist then take it from there. I found Richard Maxwell's books good if you take them with a pinch of salt!
     
    09-24-2012, 02:18 PM
  #5
Trained
Agree with Tinyliny.
Im not a real friend of PP or some others. Therefore my suggestion would be Bill Dorrance-True Horsemanship Through Feel. Or, maybe easier to follow, Buck Brannaman
     
    09-24-2012, 02:48 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayhmk    
Things that rile me up and I need to address:
- her way of looking away from me even when she seems to be listening and doing what I ask (critical)
Horses brains are wired differently to ours. Even when they are looking away, part of their brain will still be tuned in to what we are doing. We just have to make it so the majority of their attention is on us, not whats around them. I would take your mare into an open field and lunge her doing lots of transitions: 1-4 each circle, depending on gait. When she is listening to you, her inside ear will flop inwards and stay trained on you. It may flicker about a bit but will spend most of its time on you. The open field will give her lots of 'excusses' to look away, but ultimatly you will be able to tell better if she is listening to you properly or not. When you have her attention move onto groundwork like yielding of the fore and hind, back/forward etc. If she loses her attention, repeate the process. It may be better at this age to do a couple short sessions a day instead of 1 long one.

- not relaxing and keeping her head low
Train her in hand to lower her head by squeezing the muscle in the top of her neck. May be easier to start with poll pressure then convert it to a squeeze of the neck in due corse. When you can remount, transfer this so when she raises her head you can squeeze her neck and her reaction should be to lower it again.

- wanting to take everything in her mouth
This is something a lot of young horses do. Alli used to do it lots, still does sometimes, but she has pretty much grown out of it. If its leadropes/reins etc, when she goes to lip it, say 'no' and tap her gently on the nose. The tap is to tell her which body part is causing the 'no', not a punishment- don't want her associating ropes with bops on the nose!

- reacting to rein by lowering head instead of tensing up and stopping (getting better: reaction due to existing tension in the muscles?)
I found long reining both on a circle and normal long reining benificial for Alli. The added weight of a rider means young horses can't round their back and bring their butts under them to stop, so they hollow instead. Transitions on the long reins builds the muscles needed for transitions. Also when riding, use you seat as much as possible to alter the tempo of a gait so very minimal rein pressure is needed for changes.

- not loping in the pen/on the line (mostly due to my inabilities)
Could she simply be unbalanced? Circles are difficult for youngsters. Perhaps stick to trot until she's stronger. Or you could try canter/lope on the long reins, they may help her balance

- "being quiet": getting to know each other better
Make sure you are quiet and relaxed when you are around her. Be pleasant in your manner and voice, praise simple things like moving her butt over for you and generally be a nice, relaxing pleasant experience for her. She'll soon learn she can be relaxed and calm in your prescence.

Now, I'm looking for a nice book or two to help me out. To give confidence and in a way list out things I should be doing next. I have a trainer to give me a hand every now and then, but it's the rest of the time that intimidates me... I don't want my horse to get bored and her training to stand still/go backwards.
Books can be great, but they can also lead to single tracked training if you don't have 10s of different trainers' books. Instead of getting books, look at loads of different trainers' techniques on the internet. Take bits you like from each of them. Don't just stick blindly to one method, but allow youself to soak up tonnes of different takes on differerent aspacts of training.

Also, advices/tips on things I should/could do with my mare very welcome!
If your mare is clever/quick to learn, don't get stuck in a rut of repateing stuff she already knows until she is fit to ride again, mix up your session types. Think up 5 or 6 different types of session- eg lunge, inhand walk, Parelli games 1-3, Parelli games 4-7 (8?? Idk much parelli) free lunge, long rein, yielding fore/hind quarters etc- and do a different session every day. Don't forget to include rest days though, 1 or 2 days rest a week means she can recover physically and mentally and have a fresh take on things the next day. Its helped me keep Alli focused and interested in work during weeks when I haven't been able to ride. Have fun!
deserthorsewoman likes this.
     
    09-25-2012, 12:32 AM
  #7
Banned
Hmmm I read your post with much interest.....I actually believe you have the confidence, I just think your are frying your own brain by over thinking every little thing your horse does.

A very good friend of mine, who is a superb rider (I wish to be her one day! ) told me....don't go get lessons, just take ONE thing and work on it, get good at it and go back and get one more thing to get good at.....you'll just fry your brain and be trying to do everything perfect all at once and end up blowing it!

For instance, you said something about your horse fighting/kicking his back foot when you picked it up.....ok, for the next week you research techniques for handling a horses feet, then when you spend time with her feet work on that, and forget everything else until you have the feet sorted out.

Don't overwhelm yourself by over analyzing every little thing your horse does, she feels it from you.....even staring at a horse for too long puts pressure on it.

You are pressuring yourself.....write a list of the things that You want to work on, most important things first and in a logical order that makes sense for the horse to and just slowly work on it.....it will help your confidence to see one whole success rather than a whole lot of little 'just about did its'......goodluck

Ps. Cannot recommend a good book, but personally don't support the idea of Parelli......It's a gimmick to give people an excuse not to ride and to not deal with the real problems they have with their horses......sorry Parelli lovers. That's just MO.
Ripplewind likes this.
     
    09-25-2012, 12:34 AM
  #8
Foal
I agree with Coloureds4Mimi
     
    09-25-2012, 01:50 PM
  #9
Foal
Wow, thanks for the replies! I glanced through them and found many great tips.

A couple of clarifications/answers (will read & comment better when I'm on a computer instead mobile):

My horse's teeth have been checked a little over a month ago. Everything should be ok, though her mouth is so... narrow (? Right word?) that she requires more frequent checks than most. Haven't used a bit on her now when she's recuperating.
I think the problems she has with lowering her head on rein contact is partly due to tight neck muscles and partly with not really understandig what's asked. The one time I've ridden her, she clearly stated she didn't understand (tried a few things I knew she wouldn't know just to see how she reacts and it was the same). I think she is getting better now that she's not so sore.

"Not loping": she just trots, no big accelerations, tenses up. Sometimes stops, but that I suppose is my fault: "blocking" her by going too far in front of her.

I'm very glad that you think she's still a baby! In my experience the "taking stuff in her mouth" phase has been well over at this age, but I guess she's just slow on that front too. :) She requires a lot of time to learn and process stuff, and that's partly why I want to go through the basics again.

And lastly, Muppetgirl, I think you're so right! I really do overthink everything. It's in my nature and now with the break and a new horse... I know a lot of the problems we're having are only about my nervousness and my finding something wrong where there's actually not a problem.
I talked with my trainer about the break and how I trained my mare's sister before that. She agreed that when I get over my own hesitations and get back in the swing of things, everything's sure to go fine. I just want to get there so badly and being an analytical person (to a fault, as stated above) a book will be of great help to me.
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    09-30-2012, 04:13 PM
  #10
Super Moderator
I'm not personally very talented as to training horses and don't have experience about Western but something that comes to my mind is Tuire Kaimio and her training books. Kari Vepsä is another one here in my country (Finland). Tho I'm not sure if these are available where you are or have been translated to English.
     

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