Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 134 - The Horse Forum
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post #1331 of 1969 Old 05-08-2018, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Riding Mia & Bandit has convinced me that with SOME horses, you need to be willing to give up control in order to gain control. I eventually concluded what Mia needed to become a reasonably calm horse was to get out and MOVE, regularly. But I didn't have many places to safely try it. She had proven herself challenged by rough ground and very excitable when allowed to run. Looking back, trading her to someone who lived in a more open area was truly best for her.

If I still owned her, given what I've now learned from Bandit, I would try walking her off-trail and slowly introducing her to rougher ground. She had lived most of her life in a corral. She needed to learn the balance that would allow her to be safe when running on uneven trails or down a wash. She actually liked being led by a human, so I could have started with leading her across rougher and rougher terrain, then gone back and added my weight to increase the challenge.

I was never going to get the spook out of her while she had a lot of pent up energy needing release. My lack of riding experience and lack of good places to let her run made that difficult. It wasn't impossible, but it may have been impossible for ME at THAT time. I simply didn't have the experience. But...I was all she had.

Bandit had the experience, but I think he needs to run sometimes as well. Not nearly as much as Mia did, and his experience makes it safer to give up control. A rider does need some sort of ultimate veto. I think learning to deal with that conflict, learning how to persist in asserting your will without totally freaking out a horse, is an important part of learning to ride.

I used to get so frustrated when people would tell me to just teach Mia to stop well in an arena and then it would all be OK. I was told hundreds of times that if she was trained right, I would always be able to slow her with subtle seat cues. I'd swear some threads were like a ridiculous competition:

I can stop my horse with light rein.

Oh yeah? Well I can stop my horse with my seat.

Oh yeah? Well I can stop my horse by looking at him from across the arena.

Oh yeah? I can be on vacation, get a phone call, and stop MY horse by staring at the phone and thinking slow, from 2000 miles away!

10 years after I got Mia, when I hear someone say they can stop their horse reliably by just stopping their own motion, I think, "What a lazy horse you must own!" Maybe I'm being unfair, but no more so than those who told me Mia just needed to practice stopping in an arena until I could stop her from racing another horse by just stopping my seat!

A strong-minded horse who is enjoying her strength may take a while to slow down. If I really need to slow down in 200 yards (road coming up, for example), I may need to start the process of working him/her down now. That doesn't make me a bad rider or him a bad horse. It just means your approach to riding is rooted in negotiation rather than instant and total surrender of the horse's will.

SOME horses simply will NOT surrender their will to the human. It isn't a matter of training. It is a matter of who they are. Most, like Bandit, fall somewhere in between. But I feel safer on a horse who talks to me and negotiates than on one trained for unquestioning obedience.

And a horse like Cowboy is pretty special - one who can shake his head, "No, no, NO!" without scaring a newer rider because you know that Cowboy will keep himself safe and thus keep his rider safe.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #1332 of 1969 Old 05-08-2018, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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This comment on @gottatrot 's journal summarizes what I tried to say, but in just two sentences:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasingDreams View Post
...Sometimes the battle isnít worth the fight. Lose the battle, win the war...


Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #1333 of 1969 Old 05-08-2018, 01:22 PM
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Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together

I know some people talk about interacting with horses in a way that mimics the herd hierarchy. Now, my horse is currently in an all-gelding herd which is pretty much just a huge smooch-fest.

But before we moved, he was in a herd with 4 mares and one other gelding. Most of the mares had been together for YEARS, so there was a very definite hierarchy. But, the lead mare was not the one who was always flashing teeth and pinning ears and making a show of dominance. The second and third in command were the ones always pushing the boys and each other around. But, none provoked the lead mare. And all it took was a look or step in their direction and they would yield to her. She wouldnít hesitate to kick them in the butt if they needed it, but I think Iíd seen her enforce herself maybe once or twice the whole time we were there. It was pure respect and trust that drove them to obey her.

I feel like I want to be that kind of leader with my horse. I donít want to be a bully that constantly has to throw their weight around to get noticed. I want my horse to trust my decisions and react out of respect. Power struggles donít build trust or respect IMO


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Last edited by ChasingDreams; 05-08-2018 at 01:32 PM.
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post #1334 of 1969 Old 05-09-2018, 08:53 AM
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I'm still playing catchup with your journal, but I remembered a saying today that was often cited when I was beginning to ride as a kid: "A horse descends steeply to the right and left and is after the life of the rider." I just wanted to congratulate you on being someone who managed to take up riding after leaving behind the elastic stage of childhood and its accompanying delusions of immortality. It gets a lot harder to do a few things if you weren't used to it as a kid - such as horse-riding and eating deep-fried tarantulas (an actual delicacy in parts of South America). High five!

SueC is time travelling.
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post #1335 of 1969 Old 05-09-2018, 09:04 AM
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@SueC I am so glad you have reappeared. Your posts often make me smile.
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post #1336 of 1969 Old 05-09-2018, 09:34 AM
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Thank you, @weedlady , you're very kind. It's a good thing if we can bring smiles to other people's faces. It's sort of the antithesis of the 24 hour news cycle (which we avoid engaging with, because there is more to real life than natural disasters, war, car crashes, train crashes, plane crashes and inane political soundbites...)

Very best wishes to you and to all reading.

SueC is time travelling.
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post #1337 of 1969 Old 05-10-2018, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Had a relaxing ride with Bandit & Cowboy & my DIL. Heading out, Bandit felt very stressed at needing to pass a truck parked on the side of the road. I suppose I could have dismounted, but I decided he wasn't THAT worried. When he got to where we were 5 feet off the pavement on the far side & he was still tense, I asked him to trot quickly past. That was acceptable to him and we squirted past. Then we stopped and looked back as Cowboy strolled by. Later, coming back, Bandit strolled on by with barely a glance.

We did some fast trotting in deep sand, but mostly walked. Climbed out of and dropped into the washes at some spots more challenging than normal and both horses did fine.

I was experimenting with using more knee and less stirrup than I have in the past. It wouldn't work well with my slick saddle, nor with my Australian saddle, but seemed OK with the grippy Abetta.

A few years ago, I reviewed a book by Piero Santini and criticized it for its heavy emphasis on use of the knee. After playing around with how things felt today, I ordered a copy of Santini's "Learning to Ride". At $30, it is overpriced. But OTOH, it is cheaper than a single lesson with an instructor. And since I plan to be playing around with his idea using a western saddle...well, where could I find a jumping instructor in southern Arizona who would allow me to try it in a western saddle? And a couple hundred pages by a very influential rider/writer versus the often dismal instruction available locally.

There is an interesting article here (plus a sample):

Together with those themes, also not surprisingly, Santini declares any school of dressage comprising “exercises based on avowedly artificial balance’’ as irrelevant, indeed antithetical, to “a system”—forward riding—“devised solely for cross-country purposes.” Insistent on that purpose, Santini regards “any training not directly and continuously aimed at open air activities of some kind not only useless but deleterious to both horse and rider,” and so cautions instructors, archly, that there is “not much sense . . . in imparting even the most elementary instruction under any roof but that of the sky.”

Santini’s archness, in general, can be harsh: here, he disparages grooms who “shorten cheek pieces until the poor animal’s facial expression is one of grinning idiocy,” and advises course designers that a ditch should not “resemble the handiwork of grave diggers.”

Revisiting Piero Santini, Apostle of Forward Riding ? Part 1 | Eventing Nation - Three-Day Eventing News, Results, Videos, and Commentary

Another interesting article is here:

Caprilli in the Words of His Students - U.S. Horsemanship

Another, by Jim Wofford, here:

"Remember, Caprilli was interested in getting men and horses safely across country, which meant security was a prime concern. The lower-leg position that developed due to his influence was a very strong and secure position, but it was fixed rather than supple. Caprilli did not view this as a defect because of his attitude toward what he referred to as “school” or dressage, as opposed to his own system of “natural” equitation. At one point in his Notes, he states that the rider’s “calves and heels should never touch the horse except by the rider’s deliberate desire.” The contrast between Caprilli’s system and present-day usage is stark because such a position is not suitable for more sophisticated communication between the rider and his horse.”

https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/training/cro-30296

However, he is incorrect in this statement: "Under Chamberlin’s influence, the foot was no longer home in the stirrup; instead, the stirrup rested beneath the arch of the rider’s foot." That is 180 out from what Chamberlin taught.

"The increased competitive demands for control of the horse’s speed and length of stride required a very supple, sophisticated lower-leg position." That is actually something Chamberlin, Littauer and Santini would all have disagreed with, since THEIR concern was average riders riding across country and not show jumping. The artificiality of competitive show jumping was harmful to good riding, IF THE GOAL WAS "GOOD FOR AVERAGE RIDERS ON AVERAGE HORSES". Littauer, in particular, was adamant that great athletes riding horses at the extremes could do what they found best, but his teaching was geared to normal people safely riding normal horses.
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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 05-10-2018 at 01:40 PM.
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post #1338 of 1969 Old 05-13-2018, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Weird ride today!

Had an odd ride on Bandit today. Short, too. I was riding alone and stayed in our little arena. After a couple short trots, I mostly just relaxed and was thinking about other things. Wasn't paying attention to Bandit other than 'go left', 'go right', 'go straight'. He does that without any effort either, so just walking around for 15 minutes or so while I was thinking about other things in my life. Sometimes it is easier to think when on a horse.

Then he stumbled. Well, not really stumbled. Didn't feel like a stumble and there was nothing to stumble on, and his tracks didn't indicate a stumble. He just...went down on his knees. May have caught himself in time to avoid putting his nose in the dirt, but if so, barely. We were just strolling along...and he dropped to his knees.

Startled us both. Maybe this is weird, but it seemed to me like he just fell asleep while walking forward. I've no idea if horses ever do that. I was on autopilot. He was on autopilot. And suddenly, "What the HECK?!"

He got up quickly. I asked him to move forward and he started cantering. Slowed him, got him to walk a few steps, then he cantered again. Loped, actually. SLOW lope. Cantering with plenty of back movement, but at a walking speed. Stopped him. He didn't want to walk and it took a little work to get him to trot - with a big trot. Did a few more short canters and finally got him walking again.

After 5 minutes, I dismounted. No sign of cuts. Didn't flicker when I moved my hand over his knees. No sign of a limp. But I called it quits.

Honestly, it felt like he fell asleep at a walk. And the fall startled him, so he wanted to move after that...except his canter involved lots of back motion but not much forward motion.

Two thoughts:

1 - The Abetta and I work well together. I could not have been caught more off-guard. But I didn't go anywhere, either. It fits my body well enough and is grippy enough that my seat just stayed where it was with no conscious thought on my part. That is good.

2 - I think Bandit's background makes cantering his "comfort" gait. When in doubt, canter. Trotting with very heavy guys on him probably taught him trotting can hurt. And he wasn't allowed to do a lot of walking. So...when in doubt, canter.

I would love to have had a video. Would a canter like that, with lots of movement but very little forward motion be a collected canter? I sure as heck can't say based on feel, since collection and I are strangers.

I saw no signs of injury while walking him back to the corral. And while untacking him, he seemed almost affectionate, as if he was pretty shocked and glad I didn't make a fuss about it. He acted like he wanted some reassurance, so he got face rubs. Then he put his head against my chest and sighed, which he never does. I told him it was my fault for not paying attention. He didn't disagree, but he seemed...reassured. Mouthed my shirt with his lips, which I never allow. But did this time. Then took him back to his corral.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 05-13-2018 at 01:01 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #1339 of 1969 Old 05-13-2018, 02:40 PM
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it's another examply of how being relaxed (limp) can keep you from being catepulted, which is what happens when you are braced (stiff).

I've had hroses go down on their knees under me , maybe 5 or 6 times. Twice at the canter, where I was lawn darted into the ground. HARD falls! scary, too. the other times, I went forward a bit, and bounced off the neck with my hands, (I don't have a horn/ large pommel like a western saddle). or, just sort of rolled off the neck if the horse couldn't right himself immediately.

in all the cases where I didn't actually lawn dart, it was the 'whiplash' to my neck from going down, and then quickly back up, that was the most disconcerting.

and , the concern for their knees.
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post #1340 of 1969 Old 05-14-2018, 09:11 AM
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Sounds like he was embarrassed, and asking forgiveness!

No, really...they don't have human emotions exactly, but...
Since he is a part of your herd of two at that time, and screwed up, he needs reassurance from the herd boss. He likely expected a reprimand. A kick or a bite would have been delivered, were you a normal equine. I think the canter was nervousness anticipating a kick or bite from you. That he knows he just earned.

Now, why did he stumble? Has something made him go longer than normal without sleep, like wind, storms or pestering bugs? Tuned too much to your state of mind (dreaming_)?
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