Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 84 - The Horse Forum
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post #831 of 1969 Old 05-22-2017, 08:06 PM
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I would ride any horse you gave me through that desert, that looks so awesome! Dang, wish our plans to retire to Arizona could have worked out, *sigh* but no, I get this crap or worse, ice, for 5 months:
004.jpg
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I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #832 of 1969 Old 05-23-2017, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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These are posts I made is response to a discussion on gottatrot's journal. Some NH trainers say the horse is never wrong. I think they are, and try to explain why, and why my approach with Bandit is evolving and not staying like my approach to Mia:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
...In communication, context is critical. I've had Mia behave that way, particularly at the beginning of a ride, and all she meant was:

"Gotta get out! Gotta get Going! Gotta Move! Shake the boogers out of my brain!" Then, looking back at the other horses, "Come OONNNNN, lardbuckets! We're burning daylight!"

But 45-60 minutes into the ride, and having ridden Bandit for 2 years now, I'm pretty sure he was saying, "I'm SOOO not in the mood. Mood for what? ANYTHING! Not in the mood. Not in the mood. NOT IN THE MOOD!" And when I cued him to turn off the road and into the wash, an unfamiliar section of wash, he decided it was time to chant, "Heck No! We won't go!"

Not fear. Oh, he might have been a little worried, but his worries weren't very strong. His worry was an excuse to make a stand there: "You aren't the boss of me!"

I'm not huge on dominating horses, but I'm also not big on letting them make critical decisions - like which route we take home! My wife was watching our grandson and needed to be relieved so she could go to work. We needed to get back and not spend the next 3 hours wandering aimlessly around under Bandit's control.

There were multiple ways of handling it. I could have turned him around, put him on the rear side of the other two horses, and let him follow or be left behind. I'm about 99% certain that would have worked. I could have dismounted, and maybe led him - although since this wasn't a fear issue, that might not have worked.

But I chose to make a stand too - that sometimes Bandit needs to accept my judgment and direction even if he doesn't feel like it. Why? Because I truly DO know more than my horse. Not about everything, but the map in my head and what route can get us home is much more accurate than what is in his head. At least when I can see and know where I am! And if that means crossing 100' of rocky terrain, or pushing between some bushes, or going somewhere he hasn't seen in a year (or ever)...so be it.

My horse isn't always right. Not even close to it. My horses - all of them - regularly misjudge things. Their sense of what is dangerous is USUALLY not nearly as good as mine. And they have no concept that spending the next hundred yards being uncomfortable will gain them an easy, smooth path home.

About 5-10 minutes earlier, we had to pass on a paved road going over drainage pipes. Bandit can sense them even when he cannot see them - and it truly worries him. At those two places, Trooper and Cowboy came up, and the three of us crossed over side by side. A year ago, Bandit would not have trusted Cowboy and Trooper enough for that to make any difference to him. Now he does. And he trusts my judgment more than he used to trust it.

Had I been solo, I would have dismounted at those spots and led him - even if it took 5-10 minutes. Genuine fear or deep concern is one thing. Telling me to take a direct route to Hades is another.

I don't remember Mia EVER balking out of stubbornness. She'd go until she couldn't, and THEN balk. She would RUN out of excitement and pleasure, and get really upset about needing to slow - and that was dangerous because she didn't REALLY care WHERE she ran, once she got going fast! We had some battles over slowing or stopping before a bunch of rocks or a paved road...but she never balked except for deep fear.

Bandit is different. He needs to be ridden differently and trained (taught) differently. He isn't Halla, Hondo, Mia, Lilly or Cowboy. Did I make the right decision? I think so. I don't think he would have actually walked - on alert, but WALKED - down the wash because I kicked him in the gut with my heels if he had been too afraid. He didn't spin, rear or buck, so he didn't feel it was impossible. I didn't use a whip, spurs or crop. I know Bandit. If he had been truly afraid, he'd have spun hard and refused no matter how much I kicked him. Like Mia, a whip or spurs or a crop or anything else would not make him move if he was deeply afraid. But his behavior when afraid is different too. And learning to READ my horse correctly is a huge part of learning to ride well.

It involves making mistakes. I'm allowed to make them, just as Bandit is and Mia was. My horses have never held my mistakes against me any more than I hold theirs against them. But I may differ from some because I DO believe my horse is sometimes wrong. He isn't a mystical being descended from heaven. He's fallible - like me. He made a bad choice yesterday. And we worked thru it. I may make a bad one today - but I don't think I did yesterday. I think Mia and Bandit share this: Neither would respect a push-over.

Mia's current owner is a Clinton Anderson fan. He's also a big, strong guy with depths of endurance my 59 year old body cannot match. He went 4 hours working Mia from the ground once. I was exhausted watching, but he was smiling (and his smile got BIGGER with each hour!) - and at the end, Mia was happy too. His approach to riding is much more dominating than mine, but I really believed Mia was going to be content with him. I wouldn't have made the trade otherwise.

I don't like all that he did with Bandit because I think Bandit was too often pushed thru things when Bandit needed an explanation instead. But I want to be honest. Much of Bandit's improvement has been simple acclimatization - getting used to his new surroundings. Some of it IS trust - growing trust for me, and growing trust in Cowboy and Trooper. Cowboy and Trooper are now allies who can help me teach Bandit, unlike a year ago when Bandit didn't care WHAT they thought. But Bandit is also capable of giving his rider The Middle Hood Salute. When he does, like Mia, I think he needs someone to go toe to hoof with him.

Maybe I'm wrong. Time will tell.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I think horses can very a lot, and I've gotten very careful about saying "Never" or "Always".

I'm 100% certain that many people have never dealt with a horse like Mia. So they would tell me it was MY nervousness that made her spooky, or that I just needed to "push her past things" - to include the advice "Get a bigger whip!" People like SueC & gottatrot would share what they had seen or done, and I could replicate it with Mia. What many others said to do - move her feet, circle her, act confident, etc - it just didn't work. But that doesn't mean it doesn't work with SOME horses. I may not care for Clinton Anderson, but I've read a lot of posts on HF saying "His method turned my horse around..." - and who am I to deny them?

Mia was a bit of an extreme, but it probably took an extreme horse to teach me how many experts are wrong.

Bandit is not a nervous horse. He is cautious, but he is NOT high-strung, super-sensitive, etc. He is also not always willing. He can be pig-headed. That doesn't bother me. I'm pig-headed too.

Some of what I learned with Mia has been very helpful with Bandit. But some of what I learned I need to store in the attic, until I find myself dealing (if ever) with another high-strung horse. And at 59, Bandit could be my last horse. So I need to learn to train and ride the horse I've got, not the horse I had.

Mia, for whatever issues she had, was a genuine sweetheart compared to Bandit. A more dangerous ride. Not as trustworthy as Bandit. Bandit has many qualities, though. He is often willing, often in a good mood, likes to get out, feels responsible for the herd and accepts challenges. If we were in a tight spot, I'd trust Bandit to give his best. I'm regularly riding him in spots I never came close to daring with Mia. I need to appreciate him for who he is. And the truth is...he is NOT the most sensitive of souls.
https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...1/#post9977433

I learned a lot about riding and training - because you cannot do one regularly without also doing the other - nervous, high-strung horses from Mia. Many of the things people said worked for them I tried - and they didn't work with Mia. Doesn't mean anyone was lying to me. But there are certainly people with many years of experience who never rode a horse like Mia.

Bandit is unique, as all horses are, but he's a more common type. He isn't an extreme horse in any sense. I want him to enjoy our rides, and I think he often does. We get along well, mostly. But he is NOT the arch-typical Arabian mare. He is more of what you would expect from a Mustang/Arabian mix gelding. By the time we leave the pavement and enter the desert, I usually know which half I'm riding that day. And I appreciate both halves. But there are days he needs my understanding, and days more like this:


Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #833 of 1969 Old 05-23-2017, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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A couple of old videos (April 2014) my youngest found on her computer. The first is just Mia & her herd helping to clean the backyard. The second is just 15 seconds...Trooper and Cowboy are cleaning weeds in the backyard. At the end, you can see Mia following me in the corral as I clean up the poop. Don't know if that qualifies as "Join-up" or not...



Since it was very hot, I hosed the horses down this afternoon. Trooper may not like me, but even he stuck around to get cold water sprayed on him. Then I let them out to roam in the extended back yard. Naturally, they went to the place with dried poop and rolled. Bandit managed to cover himself from ear to tail in old poop. Nirvana...

About an hour later, I brought the garbage cans in from the street. Cowboy was back in the corral, and he and Trooper were playing Bitey Face at the north end of the corral - with the corral panel separating them. Bandit was standing there, but they refuse to play with Bandit most of the time. Like today.

As I brought the garbage can to the south side of the corral, Bandit made his way from the far end, past the narrow spot, between two small trees, and joined me. Not sure if that is "Join-up" either, but he didn't seem too traumatized by our argument yesterday. I couldn't find a clean spot to scratch. I asked him if he wanted some hay. He blew snot on my arm.

Studies of wild horses show blowing snot on the forearm is incredibly disrespectful and a sign of failed leadership by the snottee.

OK, I just made that up. Sometimes snot is just snot.

So I got a flake of alfalfa, and Bandit followed me into the corral. I guess he "Hooked on" to the hay, because he stayed by the bucket and ate. The second flake got Cowboy's attention, and Trooper wandered around from the far end as I brought in a third flake. He may not like me, but he's not going to let that get in the way of eating!

So another low-key day and low-key ending. No riding. I didn't do anything to improve my standing with the horses. Wasn't a strong leader or anything. But they didn't seem to mind.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #834 of 1969 Old 05-23-2017, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
The first thing I notice is what an incredible blue the sky is. And all I can think of is how horribly sunburned I'd be if I rode there :)

Thanks for the tour though! It's fun that your family is so into riding together.
The bane of my existence... I have very fair skin that burns from sun exposure faster and more easily than most people. So I get to be miserable in long sleeve shirts that button at the neck and be covered everywhere except face and hands. Even then, my face is usually slathered in sunscreen and covered by a hat or helmet.

That and the half hour ride on the roads is all worth it though when I finally get to my rock free trail and just let go for a bit...
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post #835 of 1969 Old 05-26-2017, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Started this on another thread, got part of it typed out, and then wondered if I wasn't really sidetracking someone else's journal. Since it is a rambling, I'll place it here:

Hmmmm...Mia was a fundamentally willing horse. And she was pretty light in an arena, where slowing meant saying "Easy". But get her out in the open, and slowing her might mean a Pulley Rein stop, or strong insisting with a curb bit.

I'd like to think that I could have trained her to slow better if I had a place where I could run her consistently. But since I didn't, that would always have been a challenge. And since she was competitive, slowing while another horse was still running would have been very hard for her.

Philosophically, if a horse trained for lightness consistently obeys light cues...is that a horse who shares in the decision-making process? Or is that a horse who is expected to lightly yield to his rider's wishes? If you lightly suggest it is time to trot, and the horse consistently yields, then how does he tell you his feet are tired and the ground a little rocky, and I'd rather not trot right now?

In some contexts, the horse cannot afford to have an opinion, or at least cannot afford to express it. When it was time for the cavalry to charge, it was NOT time for a horse to say he was tired and would rather charge tomorrow, preferably after a good meal and a rub down! And neither sheepherder nor horse can be to thrilled at saddling up and moving out when it is 20 below - and the sheep still need tending!

I don't know if there is a right answer. It might be one of those things that each rider and each horse needs to explore on their own. One of the ladies I took lessons from came from a Western Pleasure background. You don't win much in WP if, in mid-competition, your horse says, "I spent 8 hours standing in a trailer, I'm hot, tired and we can save the cantering for tomorrow!" And since she was used to being judged, teaching "Seat, leg, reins if needed" made sense.

I get in trouble posting on a lot of threads because my goals are so out of touch with much of the riding world. Littauer recommended 3 levels on control (cues), but his levels were completely based on Dressage - which he claimed to reject. My own interests lie in Craigslist horses ridden by week-end riders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
......On a separate but related issue: "soft cues"

I've come to view Cowboy as being about 4 inches shorter than my ideal horse. He's a bit too small for me, as a rule. But I REALLY like him. He has attitude, but the sort that says "Work with me". He's level-headed, knows what needs to be done, will listen to his rider if he gets scared, accepts a "Give & Take" approach to riding ("Let me grab a bite now and I'll cheerfully haul your butt across the spots everyone else dismounts for in 5 minutes"), cheerful, cautious but not cowardly. He proving himself to be a great horse with beginning level riders - if they will work with him. If they won't, he'll make them wish they had.

Cowboy takes larger cues than Bandit. That is fine by me. I don't value a high degree of subtlety with my cues. No one is watching. No one is judging. And my long-term goal with Bandit is to make him a good BEGINNER'S trail horse.

Neck reining, to me, means "Move the reins forward 6" so the horse will know the next thing is a request to turn. Them move my hand left or right 6 inches." I want my horse to respond well to an obvious request to turn - because I want him to be a horse just about anyone can ride...

...I've actually regressed in my riding, deliberately. I almost never use my legs to cue a turn. I used to and Mia would do it very well. But I'm the only rider in my family who did it. And one day I asked myself: "If my horse will turn fine when I move my hand forward and to the right, WHY do I also need to be cueing with my leg?" If I regularly want my horse to continue straight ahead while I twist back and forth looking for a way to enter a wash, why would I want him to listen to "seat cues"? If he turns just fine combining his judgment with my hand motion, why worry?

I want a horse who can be ridden by a new rider with 5 minutes of instruction, and who will do so...well, like Cowboy does. So my goals in what cues to teach are Clear, Consistent and Simple...

...My goal is for them to be trained to be ridden simply, by simple riders. And then to use THEIR judgment to get the rest of the job done.

Not objecting to anyone training [horse differently]. I just want Bandit to turn into Cowboy, only younger and 8 inches taller...
Littauer tried to strip jumping down to its bare essentials. He believed - and he kept track, so I guess it was more than just a belief - he could train 75% or more of his new students to jump 2.5-3 feet in 20 lessons. Provided they were the right lessons, and he had the right horses.

I guess my goal is stripped down far more: What does it take for a horse to be ridden safely in the desert in a small group? On the right horse?

And my idea for what to teach a horse comes from that goal. About all a horse can do is go forward, go back, go left or go right, or some variation on those. The rider needs to stay on, try to stay out of the way, and negotiate a mutually acceptable plan of action.
Quote:
You can also go online to find a web site that promises to teach you to ride in 4 days; that is IF you’re an adult and IF you spend from 9 AM to 5-6 PM in the saddle for those 4 days, on the trainer’s well trained horses. After 40 hours, an average adult should be able to ride a reliable horse on a trail. They might not be able to walk the day after, but they will be able to ride a horse!! Seriously, can you imagine anyone who has never ridden putting in about 10 hours a day on a horse for 4 days in a row? Oh, the pain of it!

The length of time it takes to learn to ride boils down to who you are, what you want to do, and how much time you’re willing to invest. Learning to ride a quiet horse on trails can be achieved in 6 months, opening the door for a lifetime of enjoyable rides.

- How Long Does It Take To Learn To Ride A Horse? |
I've had guys ride Trooper after about 5 minutes of instruction. On the trail, and off trail. With other riders who can give advice if needed.

My rancher friend sends new sheepherders out with two horses, needing to ride them alone in rough country, based on talking and showing them things for part of a day.

If it takes someone 6 months of instruction, just WHAT is that instructor teaching?

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #836 of 1969 Old 05-27-2017, 12:50 PM
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@bsms , Izzy thought Bandit would appreciate this virtual Memorial Day postcard from our neighborhood ride this morning- so.many.trash.cans (and trash day's Wednesday!) and flags galore!

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post #837 of 1969 Old 05-27-2017, 05:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Philosophically, if a horse trained for lightness consistently obeys light cues...is that a horse who shares in the decision-making process? Or is that a horse who is expected to lightly yield to his rider's wishes? If you lightly suggest it is time to trot, and the horse consistently yields, then how does he tell you his feet are tired and the ground a little rocky, and I'd rather not trot right now?

It is neither and it is both. It is a horse who willingly listens to his rider. This is the horse who is “with” you, as you are with him as Tom Dorrance would say.

As to how do they tell you that maybe they are not up to the challenge? That is part of feel.

Some riders are better at finding feel than others.

You can feel it through the reins, you can feel it in the way they move, where their head is, the look in their eye, where their ears are… the whole package.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #838 of 1969 Old 05-27-2017, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
...As to how do they tell you that maybe they are not up to the challenge? That is part of feel...You can feel it through the reins, you can feel it in the way they move, where their head is, the look in their eye, where their ears are… the whole package.
The problem I have with this is that many questions are not yes/no. If I ask for a trot with a kissing sound, and the horse declines my request...does that always mean no trotting? But if it is a good time to trot for a variety of reasons the horse may not appreciate, then do I repeat the kissing sound? Or do I kiss and squeeze?

When Mia was in the mood to slow down - like in an arena, where she quickly decided there was little to get excited about if running merely meant literally running in circles - then you could slow her with a whispered "Easy". On a trail stretching to the horizon? Forget it.

If there is a give and take between horse and rider, then I don't think highly consistent agreement in response to very soft (think of "whisper" instead of physically soft) cues is plausible. I don't see the mechanism, unless it is repeatedly offering the whispered cue - a whisper the horse has already said "No thank you" to. At some point, I think the rider needs to be able to say, "I don't think you understand - this is important to me even if you aren't in the mood!"

For example, per the other day, I needed to get home and relieve my wife of grandson-sitting duties so she could get to work on time. Bandit didn't know about that and probably wouldn't care. So told it was time to take a shortcut, he said, "See no value in it, not interested."

Nice, but the clock was ticking and we NEEDED to get back - for purely human reasons. Didn't matter if he felt like it, wanted to, was happy or reluctant - I needed to get back, and I didn't have time or interest in hearing the answer no. So it was time to up the ante.

Quote:
This is the horse who is “with” you, as you are with him as Tom Dorrance would say.
And in some settings, that is wonderful. If we are about to tackle a challenging bit of terrain, I really WANT my horse and I to be of one mind. But I also have something of the rancher in me...because sometimes my horse DOES need to just shut up and do the job.

In my concept of give and take, it is time to act like Bandit acts when he REALLY wants to be the first horse to eat the pellets. When that happens, #3 of 3 in the pecking order Bandit sends the other two horses running for cover. Most of the time, if told to move away from food, Bandit yields. But there is nothing soft about it when Bandit decides it is important to him!

I find 'softness' in the arena easy, because my horse rarely gives a rat's rear end about what we do next - in the arena. When my horse doesn't care, I don't need to shout. The shouting comes when my horse disagrees with me - as a partner is allowed to do, although a subordinate may not.

Then we have a debate, or heated discussion, while we settle on who wants what the most. If my horse cannot respond with, "Just who in the [expletive deleted] died and left YOU King of the World?"...then is he a partner? Or a subordinate? A marriage, or the military?

If my wife always said yes when I whispered a request, I'd wonder what space alien had taken over my wife's body! I wouldn't want her, or my horse, to be any other way. From our ride this morning:



Bandit already was getting unhappy about standing still, waiting for my daughter to take a posed picture. He doesn't believe in standing still, patiently, while we are out. Another picture, taken just a moment later, shows Bandit moving ahead, and the slack is gone as I try to keep him from surging towards Trooper.



Notice the difference in my leg, too. Not much softness going on! I didn't blame Bandit. I wasn't thrilled to pose there either. But my WIFE wanted it, and it was time for me to shut up and color. And for my horse too.

About a half-second after the second picture, I said "Aww Hellll..." and Bandit and I - at oneness, utterly "with" each other as I suppose the Dorrance brothers might say - turned around again and started covering ground. As one! Bandit may have heard what I muttered under my breath. And agreed. But it was best my wife didn't hear!

And my wife, who had gotten most of what she wanted there, didn't get upset. Bandit & I both gave her a good faith effort. But not softly. Neither of us.

It was one of those times where Bandit and I were truly a lot alike...



Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #839 of 1969 Old 05-27-2017, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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One more picture from today. My wife trying to use her phone to take a picture of my daughter who was taking a picture of us:



Cowboy being Cowboy, my wife didn't mind dropping the reins to concentrate on picture taking. It is one of those times where a wonderfully sensible pony demonstrates how to be a good trail horse. There is a reason why our grandkids will learn to ride on Cowboy...

PS - Probably the first time in 2 months or more that my wife has been on a horse. She will NEVER get to where she needs to ride refined - provided we have the right horses. She may ride 10 times in 2 weeks, then not again for 3 months. That is part of why I'm interested in horses who are simple rides.

PSS - Bandit is a simple ride too. Except for when he isn't. But he's becoming a good, ORDINARY horse.

It's taken me 9 years to experience "normal"!

PSSS - Bandit behaved like a champ, overall. Unlike our last ride, we were very much in tune with each other today. And mostly relaxed. As long as we weren't being asked to pose for some blankety-blank pictures!

PSSSS - I have no idea how my wife was weighting her seat-bones. Good thing Cowboy didn't care!


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

Last edited by bsms; 05-27-2017 at 06:54 PM.
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post #840 of 1969 Old 05-27-2017, 09:55 PM
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Is that your wife in the last picture? Nice red boots!

Shan does the same thing. Standing still for longer than the two seconds it takes to consider how best to get down a hill or over some rocks makes her far too impatient. She won't even stand completely still for me to get on. I've kinda just accepted that and let her get away with it, so long as she swings in towards my body while I'm getting up and not away from it! She's good for DH to get on, so long as I stand at her head and hold her

Yet the same horse who doesn't like standing still while you are mounted will also stand quiet and steady for you on the ground when you dismount. She had no problem chilling and keeping me company in a very cowboyesque style while I picked up rocks along our galloping trail, even though she was out there alone, just her and me, and there were strange horses out trail riding (remember that horse phobia she used to have?).

I agree that while you can get a horse quiet and light in the arena, it may not always be that way on the trail. I wish I could watch those Olympic level horses out on a trail ride! I am ever so curious how those top level horses compare to 'hobby' horses.
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