What have horses taught you - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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What have horses taught you

I was responding to another thread and got to thinking about all the horses that have helped me learn. Very few were good gentle horses. Many were spoiled or broncy or just plain scared but each one taught me something that benefitted the ones that came after.

My first horse was a pony cross named Singer because my mom was saving to buy a sewing machine but bought the pony instead. Singer was herd bound and was prone to taking the bit and running off. Once in a while he would jump out from under me if I got to fooling around. One time I was riding and he got stuck lin some wire. I couldn't kick hard enough for him to take a step and pretty soon my dad came back and cut the wire and we continued on. After riding him for a few years I wasn't afraid of too much and he would go pretty much anywhere he was pointed. I don't know where I would be in my horsemanship if it wasn't for him. I really had to decide that I liked riding early on because it wasn't easy and I had a few wrecks.

Please share some of your stories of horses that helped improve your horsemanship. Feel free to share more than one. I will share more later.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #2 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 04:02 PM
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You know, I wish I had more time here to go on with you about this. I bet we could talk for hours! My husband is interviewing with Dirk Blakesley, the cutting horse trainer? To be a right-hand man! I'm stoked!

I know that I can accredit 99% of everything I've learned from horses to 2 horses in particular, Titan, a big, fat, lazy paint horse... (my first horse) and my most recent pick of our bunch, Pepper. And she is just that. Peppery.

I've had my confidence built so well between the two that I feel like a million bucks. I wake up every day and say to myself, "I'm the baddest son-of-a-buck that's ever slipped these boots on!"

And don't get me wrong, I've been dashboarded my fair share, and that other 1% can go to the time I rode JJM Sunnys Hope in the FSCC college arena past a dead rabbit. I didn't look at it twice, but I sure didn't account for the fact that she smelled it! And boy did she light up! I was three-jumped, and face-planted... right there in warm poop. That's the last time I EVER forget to put the horse first.

Before then, I was soooo concerned with my own position in the saddle (my lack of experience) that I couldn't even begin to tell you how I thought my horse was handling me on his/her back. Now that I've got my position as branded-in knowledge, I no longer have to fight my head!
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post #3 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 04:47 PM
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This is a great idea for at thread! =)

I've ridden quite a few horses but I've only ridden three of them long enough for them to really teach me things. I mean, every horse teaches something but, at least for me, there isn't that connection that makes the stuff you learn stick...If that makes sense.

The first horse that ever really taught me things was my lesson horse, from about 7 years ago. His name was Cisco, he was an ornery old retired ranch horse. One of those that wasn't super into people but once you won his heart, oh boy did you win his heart. I hated him on sight. I thought he was the ugliest thing alive. I almost refused to ride him but my normal lesson horse was being used so i had to ride Cisco. I had only been taking lessons for three or so months at that point so I was kinda where I thought I knew everything. Well, I hopped up on Cisco and spent the next hour and a half arguing with him about whether he was going to move or not. He taught me about listening. He taught me to listen to his body and work with him instead of trying to tell him what to do. After that first lesson my trainer told me that he was going to be my lesson horse from then on. I groaned but yknow what? I rode him once a week, and eventually started randomly visiting him for a ride, for the next 5 years. As it turned out I was just what he needed. 6 months after I stopped going to that barn he laid down and died. I still miss him. He was my hunny.

Then came Shorty. He came along right after I stopped riding at the previous barn. He was a camp horse at the camp I volunteer at. He came fresh from the auction to camp. No one had ridden him except for when he was ridden through the auction pen. He was obviously terrified and displaced. The first week of camp we could not catch him. Nothing worked. We finally cornered him and caught him and since I was the one who got the halter on him, he turned into "my pony". We had many trials that little pony and me. I fell off of him at least twice a month all summer. We adored each other though. I turned out to be needing the exact brand of horsey love he could give and he turned out to be needing the exact brand of human adoration I was giving out. He taught me about not giving up just because I fell off and about how to sit quietly when he was being a jerk. If I got worked up when he got worked up we wouldn't get less than no where, we'd go backwards. If I sat quietly and let him do his thing, he would resolve whatever issue he was having and continue calmly. He's my baby. I spent two summers with him, the second summer was SO awesome. It was amazing to see this little pony that had been terrified become a little social man all basically because I was there giving him security. Sadly, last summer when I wasn't there he started getting treated a little more roughly because no one understood his relationship-oriented-ness so he started rearing for attention. I came back for a week and guess what? The problem disappeared. Hopefully he'll be back again this summer because I'm going back to camp and I adore him but I'm not very hopeful.

Lacey is the horse that's currently rocking my boat. One of the things she's been trying to get through my thick skull is trust. I need to trust that she'll behave and she will. If I anticipate bad behavior she'll oblige me and give me bad behavior. she's also trying to teach me to not be so set in my rules. I used to have a very strict list of things I did not want horses doing around me and she's been showing me that it really is ok to give a little leeway here and there. I'm sure there will be plenty more things she'll teach me in the time we have together, she's a little teaching machine!

Sorry for the novel but it got me thinking!

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 01-12-2010 at 04:50 PM.
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post #4 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 04:50 PM
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For a long time I was in to working with horses by refining my bag of techinques--which one worked for what issue and such.

Somewhere along the way--I can't really say when-- I realized that I was learning about their culture, society, language and how they think. I started focusing the premise that all of them were individuals with their own unique personality but there were constant values that worked for all. I started watching how their society was structured--and how the interacted with each other in a herd.

I was blessed to have the best lead mare I have ever seen-- strong, fair, consistent, supportive and a great mom. She taught me more than any other horse for sure about the interaction within the society of a herd and the way it worked naturally-- they have been working on their social structure for a lot longer that us humans and it works extremely well.

Once I figured out that if I could become a lead mare like old Blue I could be in a much better position to achieve the results wanted but for sure I always place respect and trust as the foundation for everything I do. Just like old Blue.

I have been thru the whip and ride part of my life--as a young cocky bull rider--but I have learned that the relationship between the human and the horse has so much more to offer--all of the horses I have had the pleasure of working with--more than I can remember-- are my friends. I can visit another ranch and all of a sudden there is one of them that I havn't seen in a while--its like a reunion in a way--we talk a little bit--reminise about old times and cut up a little--most of them steal my hat and its on!! A couple of cubes of alfalfa and a good belly scratch and its time to say goodbye again---Via Con Dios.
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post #5 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 05:03 PM
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Well, let's see, where to start. Peach taught me that you never want to show a mare that has a foal. That was my first experience with a buck and the cruelties of show parents. Meg taught me patience because of her lack of trust due to abuse. We became a great team and her trust in me only deepened after she went blind in one eye. Next came the devil.....Billy. Of all the torturous years I was with him he taught me two things: Expect the unexpected, and how to ride. He was notorious for trying to throw people at shows, he dumped me so many times, but by the time I was done on him I knew how to sit most anything. Then came Drummer, ah sweet, sweet Drummer. He gave me my confidence back after those painful years of Billy. On Drummer i grew to enjoy the canter again instead of dreading it and I learned how much I really enjoy showing a horse that trusts me. Rocket was the next horse, he taught me that every horse listens in different ways. I trained him to the point that he was almost not green anymore. He could neck rein, he could sidepass, he was a dream to ride. Once again patience was a huge factor in that because he was also abused. Currently I'm riding Razz, she's taught me to relax, but never relax. Everytime I relax she'll do something to get my attention and then behave again. She's also teaching me how to deal with a horse that could run all day and still have energy.

"And somewhere in the northwoods darkness a creature walks upright. And the best advice you may ever get is: Don't go out at night..."
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post #6 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 05:59 PM
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After buying a green four year old mare, I had to learn to be a braver rider. She taught me to be brave and in charge. Before owning her, I was a timid rider that let horses push me around and get away with things. Then, I started working with problem horses that taught me to be firm and in control. I could never slip up or I'd be on the ground. Then, I worked with an abused horse named cocoa that taught me to be gentle and patient. In this case, unlike the others, I wasn't trying to be in control, I was trying to gain trust and respect. After working with many different kinds of horses with many different needs, I started training my first horse. With him, I had to be gentle, patient, firm, in control, and never slip up. With him, I used everything I'd learned up until that point into training him.

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post #7 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 08:11 PM
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My first horse, Clyde, taught me to always pay attention, and how to stay on! He had the worst shies (and still has!) but he taught me sooo much. I can stay on just about anything now Clyde also taught me that horse are big animals and need to respect you to be able to have any kind of positive realtionship. I let him push me around from day one, I had no idea that my cute little first horse that I loved to bits needed someone to take charge. And now, after three years, he still tries to boss me around because I used to always let him get away with it. Yeah, he still does scare me sometimes, and every now and then I have to take a whip in with me when I feed him. Not to hit him, but to keep him away because he's sooo darn pushy!

The next horse was Indy (my avatar) he was a horse that I rode for a while in between my first and second horses and man oh man, he got my confidence back! I actually enjoyed cross country for the first time in my life, I could handle a little bit of excitement without breaking down into tears and resolutely saying that I won't do anything at all. Without Indy, I wouldn't be jumping at all.

And now, Scooby :) He taught me that every horse is different. Scooby's positive attitude and eagerness to do well has allowed me to teach him in 8 months what it took 2 years to teach Clyde. He is the first horse that I have had an actual friendship with (I would have with Indy as well but I didn't ride him for long enough). Scooby is my best friend, and I couldn't live without him. I am actually crying writing this because i love him so much, and to know that he loves me back is the best feeling ever. Yes he can be naughty out doing xc, but I can handle it. I know that he is actually doing it out of pure excitement, and not trying to be nasty or get me off, so that gives me the confidence to ride him through it and learn more every day about how he thinks.
Now all I can do is hope that he recovers from his supensory ligament injury, because there's not much hope for him if he doesn't. :'(

Eventing, the sport where you strap your medical information to your arm.
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post #8 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Last year I started a huge two-year-old gelding named, what else, Tiny. Tiny was super gentle but he needed more room than the 12 x 12 stall that I had for him. I worked him every day and in about 4 days I waqs riding him in the round pen. When I first got on him there were several spectators watching to see if I was going to get dumped. I disappointed them that day but when I started riding him in the indoor arena he started letting me know he was pretty wound up. I ignored him and the minute I put a little leg on him to yield him over he blew up. You have never been on a bucking horse untill you have been on a 17+ 1600lb horse. He piled me up in the sand but I shook it off and got back on because that's what cowboys do. Well the next time I put some leg on him I was ready (I thought) to pull his head around and stop all the nonsense. Piled again. Now I was warmed up and ready for any trick he could throw at me (yeah right) so I climbed back aboard and piled right back off again. This time my knees were shaking I was covered with sand but I had to get back on. I didn't stand a chance this time. The horse was honest about it and he bucked just as straight and slow and even as any horse could but there was way too much power there and I met the sand again. Now my brain had kicked in and I was thinking a little and I realized I didn't have this horse half as educated as I should have. I had been able to steal rides on him because he was gentle. I had to do something to get him with me. I decided laying him down might work so I tried laying him down. I was much better at that than I was at bronc riding. 10 minutes after I started he layed down as soft and easy as you please. I rubbed him all over, let him up and got on him again. This time I could feel the change in him. Much more relaxed. I gave him a tiny bit of leg and his wieght shifted away and he yielded just one step. I got off while the getting was good and put him away. I laid him down every time I rode him for the next 10 rides and he only got softer and betterat it. He never bucked or thought about bucking again and turned into a fairly good horse with the most bone jarring gaits I have ever had the misfortune of riding.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #9 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 10:36 PM
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Firstly, what I've learned from all the horses I've ridden is that it's okay to go in with a plan on what you want to accomplish that day, but you sure as hell better be flexible and adaptable because horses tend to disrupt even the best laid plans.

Secondly, horses have taught me is not to over-think situations. I over-analyze a lot of things, but horses have taught me that the simplest explanation is most often the correct one.

Thirdly, the green horses I've ridden have taught me that I am never as good of a rider as I think I am.

Funny story, my trainer had me ride a little four year old green pony, about 13 hh. I'm 5'10", though I only weight about 110 lbs. I said what the heck, I might as well. When I first started riding him, he hadn't ever cantered. I got him going, and he was a good little pony, no bucking or bolting, but I would fall off - often stupidly - mostly because his steering wasn't very good at the canter and I couldn't be that balanced on him because of my height.

So, we took him to a small show. I was schooling him over fences (little crossrails) and he went over the last fence of the course and started to canter past the entrance to the arena. I told him to keep going, but the pony had different ideas, darted for the exit and threw me into the fence. This fence was three feet of concrete on the bottom, with concrete pillars every couple of feet and strong thick wire run between the pillars. My hip hit one of the concrete pillars and my arm got twisted up in the wire. Luckily, I walked away with only a badly bruised hip and arm that took several months to fully heal, but I could still function.

The next day, I rode him in the actual show. He did the exact same thing except he threw me lower into the fully concrete bottom part of the fence.

Lesson #1: Don't ride ponies, especially green ponies.

Lesson #2: Don't do the same thing and expect a different result. Especially regarding horses, which are creatures of habit.
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post #10 of 26 Old 01-12-2010, 10:41 PM
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My horse has taught me that you have to deal with what you're faced with at any given time, not how it's "supposed" to be. Manage the situation at hand and move on.

On a different note, my horse has taught me that there is nothing in life that cannot be overcome by a nice fresh bag of carrots.
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