Slow and Steady Wins - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-26-2012, 09:22 AM Thread Starter
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Slow and Steady Wins

I got my Percheron 17 months ago, right out of the field a 19hh, 2000 pound 3 year old. Nothing had really been done with him. He didn't know how to walk on a lead, brushing was a horrid experience, standing still was a nightmare, he was afraid of EVERYTHING and all new situations, people, etc.

I started very slowly working with him, everyday, and did a full year of ground work with him introducing him to everything. I was the IDIOT taking my horse for a walk down the road (we live in a small town and people talk!), on the trails, through the fields, in the ring we did SO much work. At times I was frustrated, not with him, but I felt our pace was wrong, but I realized that while it may be wrong for me, it was right for him.

Well, one month ago, I starting riding him and what a joy it's been! We are doing so well in the ring, in the fields and even on the trails (only a little bit here for now). We are doing a great walk, trot and we are having FUN! He stands completely still for all grooming, the farrier, tacking and that I no longer even have to tie him for any of this. Such a pleasure...most days.

My point is that I see a lot of people buy new horses and can't wait to jump right onto them. Horses and people need time to bond, grow and learn. Now granted a year is long time, but honestly I wouldn't have done it any other way, even though it was frustrating at times for me. My guy and I now are a great team. Trust is huge.

Thanks for listening and enjoy your horse friends.
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-26-2012, 08:17 PM
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Your beliefs and mine are on the same page.
When you make your horse’s needs more important than the task at hand, you’ll be amazed at how that changes your horse’s feelings about you.
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-26-2012, 09:21 PM
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Kudos for going at your horse's pace and letting him grow into things rather than pushing him too soon. Every horse is different, and good horse people will listen to them rather than assume the horse is a bad egg if it is not moving along quickly enough. Many a horse was ruined by being rushed and overfaced.
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post #4 of 13 Old 10-26-2012, 11:25 PM
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Absolutely true. I just posted this morning on my journal how every time I have been forced to not ride, I have gained soo much in other ways with my horse - and my constant refrain to myself is to slow down, take it steady.

Take it at the horses pace indeed - it's so much more ultimately rewarding.
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Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 02:46 AM
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Yeppers, I'm about 6 months into owning (actually, more like being owned by) Fayde. I bought her as "green broke" and quickly realized that her previous owners were being VERY optimistic with their assessment of her progress.

I'm getting way to old here lately, and the ground isn't nearly as soft as it used to be, so we have gone back to the beginning as though she has never been touched. I figure this way, our first ride will be enjoyed by both of us when it finally happens.
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PercheronMom View Post
My point is that I see a lot of people buy new horses and can't wait to jump right onto them. Horses and people need time to bond, grow and learn. Now granted a year is long time, but honestly I wouldn't have done it any other way, even though it was frustrating at times for me. My guy and I now are a great team. Trust is huge.
The biggest skill a horse owner needs is patience, and don't ever let anyone tell you that taking it slow is bad. The 'up front' time/work investment that you made will be well worth it in the long run.

BTW, this also applies to recovering from injuries, e.g. tendon and muscle pulls and sprains. I can't tell you how many times I've seen folks rush their horse back into work the minute their horse is no longer lame only to have it come up lame again a week later.

Good luck with your progress.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 06:22 PM
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I agree 100% (btw where are the pictures?! Shame on you ) ;)
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 06:28 PM
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Definitely agree on the pictures!! Specially drafts <3!!!
I got my draft mare in much the same situation, except she was 7 and people had tried to start her, but went to fast and she learned how to get out of any situation. I worked with her for well over a year, leaving her paddock was honestly the biggest hurdle of our lives. Her ground work was fantastic in her field, but when we got to the gate she'd freeze and wouldn't budge for anything. Clicker training fixed this year long issue with her in 2 weeks xD
Now that she's worked through her paddock issues I've also started taking her for walks, yup I look pretty ridiculous, especially when my fiance comes along walking my pony with us! xD Kind of silly to watch a big man walking a tiny pony and a small woman walking a draft horse ^^

Time is so important, I love my mare more than anything (don't tell my fiance!) I've now ridden her 7 times and in our year and a half together and it was the 7 best rides of my life!
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-28-2012, 08:25 AM
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I would just like to add a little different take on taking a year or two to do just ground work.

IF you have that much time and money and feed and don't have any higher goals, I don't have a problem with taking 5 years to get a horse 'ready' to be ridden. But don't try to tell me that taking longer always equals BETTER. It just does not.

Any 'competent' trainer or good horseman can take a horse that is unhandled and with 1 to 2 weeks of good ground work (including halter breaking all the way up through saddling and ground driving) can have them READY to accept a rider. This does not mean that they are FORCING anything on the horse but are just much more effective at teaching the horse the desired responses.

Taking longer just does NOT equal better -- it only equals longer. Is faster always better? Of course not. Better only equals better. Either one requires competence. Either one requires good timing and feel. Without good timing and feel -- without doing the right thing at the right time -- taking a month or taking 5 years is not going to work. Knowing how and when to counter or interrupt resistance and knowing how and when to reward the right response takes competence --- not time.
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-28-2012, 09:05 AM
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I agree more time doesn't equal better, but in my personal opinion it doesn't matter what your doing with the horse so long as your spending good, positive time with them. On their back or not.
My personal situation tool excessively long for a few reasons, my own lack of time, if i had a full hour a day to actually work with her consistently it could have been much faster. But due to the set up of the rescue, being set up for retired horses not beginning horses, time was sparse for training. I would get maybe 1 combined hour a week, 15 minutes here and there. Then most of the winter off.
I also think there's no suh thing as too much groundwork. I'd much rather lead or linedrive through new areas than be stuck on their back in a bad situation. Perhaps i'm a better leader than rider as i feel more able to read and control the situation from the ground. I think horse's training lengths really depend mostly on the human's comfort levels, unless the horse has something hugely wrong with them that take more time to work through. But the humans comfort level is just as important.
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