Is your horse Handy or just useful? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Northern Utah
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Is your horse Handy or just useful?

What makes a horse 'handy'? When you come to a gate on a useful horse it will stand quietly while you get off and open the gate. When you come to the same gate on a horse that is handy you sidepass up to it, open it, ride through, then close it behind you.

A useful horse is good for gathering and penning cattle and will stand indefinately tied to the fence while you sort the cattle prior to loading them. A handy horse is also good for gathering and penning cattle but once penned you can easily ride in and sort and load the cattle quietly and efficently.

Basically, when a horse is handy nobody notices his presence because the rider isn't yanking and cussing or letting the cows run past or knocking down jumps or wrecking carts.

Ray Hunt is the one that first got me thinking about the distiction. He said that if all he used a horse for was to ride to the mailbox and get the mail he would have a horse that was handy to do it on. He also said that the way to get there was to understand how to set a horse up to help it do what you wanted instead of getting in the way and making the horse do it in spite of you.

So is your horse handy or useful and do you care?

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 67 Old 11-16-2009, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: ontario, canada
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My horse is Handy. Yesterday i went to clear trail, carried a machette in a holder on the horse and when I got to the places that needed cutting I just dropped the reins, grabbed the machette and went to town. At times I was more then 100 feet from him and he acts as if he is rooted to the ground, never a move from him. Gates he has down to a science and he never makes me let go of the gate nor stretch.
If I meet strangers in the bush he stands perfectly still, not even attempting to touch noses with a strange horse.
Everything he does he does quietly and efficiently. In the farm yard with big equipment working, honey wagons running past he doesn't care.
Yes he is handy, all my horses in the past have been handy
I believe strongly in hobbling and teethering by a single hind foot. I demand a horse that can be tied anywhere for any length of time without fuss. I attend the market on horseback and tie in the sheds with all the other amish horse and again I demand a quiet horse.
I beleive in handy horses.
This one has not been trained to the harness and driven but in the past I have broke my saddle horses to pull a buggy. I sold my harness so I will not be driving any horse in the future.
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post #3 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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My horse is useful, but he is on the road to becoming handy. He stands quietly for me to dismount and open and close gates, and is learning to sidepass and otherwise manuever himself to work gaits with me aboard. He stands tied like a gem at home, and the only difference away from home is some whinnying and looking at other horses, which I expect will be remedied with more exposure to strange places and atmospheres. He is learning that cows are not horse-eating monsters, but on my family's little farm we have no need for horses with great "cow handiness," but simply "cow fearlessnes/toleration." He is very rope safe, from dragging a rope along the ground behind him to spinning the rope over his head, to ropes on and around his legs. I have future plans to add a tire or other load for him to pull, as a matter of being well broke. He comes flying to the sound of my whistle, I have never chased him. He is very traffic safe, even tractor-trailers speeding past hold little interest for him beyond acknowledgement. He loads into trailers without batting an eye, and unloads sanely, his cheekbone at my shoulder the entire time. He crosses bridges and water on the trail without any more difficulty than entering his own stall.

Yes, I think I would call Scout useful. At 8 years old, he has a good way to go before he is handy, especially in the more western riding style sense of the term, but even hunter/dressage/trail/companion ponies like my fellow can learn a lot and be a better horse for crossing the line from useful to handy.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #4 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Stiles Jct, WI
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I expect every horse I ride to be handy. If they don't start out that way, they learn real quick. I'm lazy & I prefer that my horse do most of the work rather than me have to get off and do things afoot.

Home of:
Perfect Jin N Scotch - 2004 APHA Palomino Overo Gelding - Western Pleasure and Showmanship

Hanks Rainy Sky - 1998 Black and White Tobiano Paint Gelding - relaxing rides and blazing trails
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post #5 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Alberta, Canada
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My horse is ... um ... cute!

The lovely images above provided by CVLC Photography
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post #6 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: SouthEastern PA
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my horse is soo handy she feeds herself. (more like helps herself to the grain lol.)

I dont think my horse is really either. Shes still green undersaddle, going on 11, but because I cant really ride her anymore. She goesnt understand we have to stop to open the gate. She genunily require alot of effort to ride. Although she does follow me around the ring on foot, and stop when I stop. I guess shes handy in that way.
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post #7 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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My first horse came to me handy. Since then I refuse to have just a "useful" horse.
Even though my horse is trained in dressage, mainly arena ridden and too valuable to do much adventurous stuff with, when I take him out "on the trail" he does gates, walks over stuff quietly and never makes a fuss (unless there's a coyote upwind or a motorcycle lol) even though he can be high strung.
He ground ties, leads properly (pet peeve, lol) and stands for mounting, equipment adjusting and if I need him to move I simply use my body language and he scoots.
I don't put up with less than impeccable ground manners/riding manners.
PS. my horse is 6 and I've owned him for 18 months.

Last edited by ~*~anebel~*~; 11-16-2009 at 01:48 PM.
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post #8 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 02:27 PM
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I also expect my horses to be handy. All will sidepass up to a gate and allow me to open the gate from thier back. They know how to bend their shoulder into the corner of the gate so that I can reach the chain on a gate in the middle of a fence. I thoroughly dislike having to sort cattle on my own feet because I have been run over too many times by cattle that outweigh my by several hundred pounds. They tend to respect a horse that is bigger than them better than a human that isn't. Plus, my horse is more agile and faster footed than me. LOL. If there is something that can be done from the back of a horse, at my house, it is done from the back of a horse. My Dad can even open and close wire gates from Pokey's back. I can't do it on Dobe cause he has a phobia about wire.

One thing that I do like about my horses is that I can bend over completely to get under the top poles of a cattle crowding tub and leg them over to open the gate. For those of you who don't know what that is, here is a pic. The gate is on the left and will pivot all the way around inside the circle.
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post #9 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 02:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Watertown, MN
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Soda isn't either unfortunately, but he is pretty . Ha, but the goal is for him to be handy. We're getting good with gates and the ground tie is getting more solid. Side pass is getting better too. He just needs lots of wet saddle blankets and he'll get there.
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post #10 of 67 Old 11-16-2009, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Australia
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I'm with Smrobs - All my horses become handy quick smart. I have no use for a horse I can't do gates on - I regularly do up to 10 gates on a ride and i'm not gonna get off every time. They will all stand while I hang off them to pick something up from the ground - They will all sort cattle quietly and calmy but will also pick up the pace if one makes a break for it or a bull challenges us. I can crack a whip off them, carry a polocrosse racquet and throw and catch a ball around their head. I have no use for a horse that isn't handy - Most of my riding is on the farm and you need a handy horse to get jobs done.

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