Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 87 - The Horse Forum
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post #861 of 1970 Old 06-01-2017, 10:57 AM
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I'm with you @bsms . I look at some of these pictures and wonder how Isabel is even still standing because her feet look nothing like what's shown in the "good" pictures. But then every farrier- whether "traditional" or "barefoot trimmer"- that's ever looked at her says they wish every horse had feet like hers. When I ask why her bars look like the pictures of "overgrown" and her frog is small and narrow, they say not to worry about it, her feet are great. But then BO points out some "uneven wearing" that for the life of me I truly do not see at all and "can't believe no farrier ever told me to watch for that."

I can admit when I don't know something. But I can't seem to educate myself because I just don't see the difference between good and bad. Then I'm in a downward spiral of questioning whether I should even own a horse so I sort of make myself stop. Sigh.
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post #862 of 1970 Old 06-01-2017, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
...I can admit when I don't know something. But I can't seem to educate myself because I just don't see the difference between good and bad. Then I'm in a downward spiral of questioning whether I should even own a horse so I sort of make myself stop. Sigh.
I find myself looking at pictures of "good" and thinking, "I've never seen a horse hoof like THAT before!"

Bandit's feet today:







I like his rear feet better than his front.

For today, the wind was picking up & I told my DIL I wanted to stick to the ATV trails mostly to see how Bandit did. I walked him the 1/4 mile of pavement to the desert. Garbage pickup was delayed due to the holiday, so lots of overloaded trash cans, jaws gaping and plastic carcasses still sticking out. I figured Bandit would be a bundle of nerves and I didn't want to try any spooks with shoes on pavement today.

So I led him and he stayed pretty calm. Even paused to sniff one of the monsters. Mounted up when we got to the desert.

He stumbled a little with an "OW!" at the very beginning, but quickly adjusted. I took us on the rockiest ATV trails within an hour's ride of the house, and that initial "OW!" was also the last one. He didn't slap his front feet down like he did in June 2015. He showed care...but going where we went today, I would have expected 8-10 flinching "ow!"s and a couple of stumbles. But after the first one...none.

After a little bit, he started walking a little faster on the ATV trails, although still slowing for the rockier spots. At the rockiest spots, I'd give him a bump of the reins and say, "Easy! Pick your way..." - and he did. Halfway thru the ride, my DIL commented on how calm he was staying, even though the winds were gusting. And he was.

The only downside was when I took him down a very short (4') but steep and bare spot I used to teach him to carefully take baby steps down. I think the slickness of the shoes made it harder for him there, and he rushed the last foot. So if we are facing a steep spot that might be slippery, I probably need to dismount. He seems to find that tougher.

But he had no trouble with deep sand, and he started acting and feeling noticeably more relaxed on the ATV trails. Visible even to my DIL. I could feel it in my butt, even with my 30 lb western saddle.

Of course, there may be more drawbacks or he might have other problems as we gain more experience. I definitely need to take my "equestrian knife" with me - I can see how a hoof pick might be needed more often. But the first trail ride went much better than I was expecting!



PS - Cowboy has been getting a little fussy about stopping with my 100 lb DIL, so I switched him to a Billy Allen curb. My DIL said he rode MUCH easier - easy enough that she started dropping back and then practicing her trotting behind us. She was confident he would slow when asked. Said it just took one quick bump and he'd slow, unlike when he'd try fighting her in the snaffle.

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

Last edited by bsms; 06-01-2017 at 01:41 PM.
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post #863 of 1970 Old 06-01-2017, 06:48 PM
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The bars can and do push the heel forward, seen it happen.

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 #864 of 1970 Old 06-01-2017, 06:54 PM
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Bandit's hooves look pretty good from the side, and I doubt there is no concavity in your horses' hooves. You wouldn't be riding them around where you live without noticing they had thin soles. They'd be limping a lot.

In the photo of Bandit's hind hoof, the frog does not look like it's sitting on top of the sole at the tip, it's buried in there and the picture of Mia's hoof shows concavity also.

I rode horses for many years while knowing nothing about their hooves. We always did OK, and it's mostly important to know the very bad things rather than striving for perfection. That is why we have farriers to keep the hooves near some form of normal. However, I've seen quite a few farriers that do things like carve out sole. Ramey said he was taught to trim sole until he saw small drops of blood. So any knowledge we can have about whether a trimmer is doing a good job or a poor one will help.

It's true that there is conflicting advice, but there are good sources and bad sources. For me, knowing normal anatomy and how the hoof grows can help separate out the good information from the bad. There is a range of healthy, and that is the same no matter where horses live. Eating bacon and drinking coffee will generally be within a range of healthy, unless you're eating pounds of bacon and getting ulcers from too much coffee. Some will strive for "perfection" but that's within an unknown range. No one knows what perfect is, whether it relates to a diet or to a horse hoof. But we can all avoid extremes that are obviously unhealthy.

For example, I can't know if learning that Amore's hind toes were too long and pointy before she was age 20 might have saved her from arthritis. What I can know is that trimming her club hoof differently than all the farriers I'd had trim her over the years helped her feel much better, evidenced by how easily she began to pick up leads on that side and how she no longer had difficulty turning to the left.
Her hind hooves were in an OK range, just could have been better. The club hoof was outside of healthy, and I wish I'd known about it sooner.

So don't just accept what farriers say...even one piece of information can help.
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post #865 of 1970 Old 06-05-2017, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Got in about a 2 hour ride this morning. My DIL volunteered to ride with me, so my youngest got to watch the grandkids.

Went out on to state land, where Bandit has only been ridden once before. The trail there DID get rocky enough that he had a few problems, even with shoes. And the cactus was too dense to go off-trail. But he still acted less tender on that section than he used to act on good sections of ATV trails. He had one small stumble all day on a section that was all jagged rock. No flinching. He did start to understand that when I said, "Easy, boy. We've got all day." that it meant be cautious. Shoes don't make him invincible.


But they helped.

Went Australian today. If I keep it up, I may need to buy some good chaps. An inch of leather on an English stirrup doesn't offer much protection from cactus. But Bandit's back has filled out. His shoulders are bigger. And the Aussie saddle now fits him similar to Mia. I've ordered a wool felt Australian saddle shaped pad, 1/2" thick. Along with a Wintec 3/8" thick closed cell foam pad, it might make a good option.

Still, it might be a sight that would turn a few heads. An old guy wearing a Tilley hat, T-shirt and heavy chaps in an English-looking saddle with Mickey Mouse ears on the front.
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post #866 of 1970 Old 06-08-2017, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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On a thread posted by @MyTyPony ( https://www.horseforum.com/dressage/h...ndness-761170/ ), this comment was made:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
...yes, drive her forward when she barges down on the rein, or, if she curls up behind the bit. but, if you use the reins to sort of 'pop' her a bit in the mouth to say, "Hey!, lift your head!" , do it with one rein much more than the other.

really, all snaffle work should be done with one rein being much more dominant than the other. never with both reins equal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
yes. I agree. but, very likely one rein is 'speaking' at a time.
or, at least the hrose is 'listening to' one rein at a time. and when both reins are pulled hard, the horse's likely reaction will be to just push back, freeze , tighten up. dialogue over.
The thread is in the dressage sub-forum, and my goals and purposes are too remote to dressage for it to be of any value for me to discuss things there. Heck, I view the reins as the communication line of last resort, rather than a constant.

However...

In some situations, I agree that a snaffle is best used side to side. For example, if slowing a strong horse in a snaffle, it is often more effective to wiggle the bit side-to-side rather than pull back on both reins because A) a steady pull back allows the horse to brace, and B) if the horse has the bit in his teeth, then the side to side motion may break it free.

And it may be that for DRESSAGE, or for English riding where constant contact is desired, then a side to side motion - which is what using one rein stronger than the other creates - is needed. Don't ride that way normally, so don't know.

However, I often ride a snaffle one-handed. If neck reining, as I was taught by the Cavalry manual, then it would create uneven pressure on the bit as well, although one handed.

However, for a stop, I often do light bumps straight back - the dreaded Two Rein Stop. As I explained it to my DIL the other day, you 'annoy the horse into stopping' - just keep a bump-bump-bump going, not too hard, until the horse slows. Then stop the bumps, but start them up again if further slowing is needed. Before long, a lot of horses will slow and stop based on rotating your wrist to generate the 'bump'.

Now, the question raised on the thread was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyTyPony View Post
...Anyways, she'll go round in trot but then she'll shove her head down pulling at my hands as if she thinks I want her to stretch or something?!

Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can keep her head and neck up more and stop her pulling her head down?...
Bandit and Mia would both do that. I think it is often quite different from 'rounding' and from 'seeking contact', particularly since I've had them both do it bitless. So as a non-dressage rider, here is my theory on what I've seen with Mia and Bandit:

First, how does the horse's back REALLY work?

As a lever.



The spring in the front are the muscles of the thoracic sling, which can lift the front of a horse higher. They cannot ROUND the back. Nothing can, really. But they can lift the front.

I ride Bandit and Mia at around 25% of their body weight, and I notice the behavior MyTyPony discusses most frequently when they are tired. My THEORY is the motion forward and down represents the horse trying to stretch and relax the muscles of the thoracic sling - releasing tension from the spring in the diagram.

It is tiring enough to move a rider forward. If you need to LIFT the rider, and the rider weighs 25% of your weight, that is a lot more work to do. And a horse who isn't used to it will tire. And do what I do with tired muscles - stretch them.

What has worked well with Mia and Bandit - both ridden without constant contact, and thus it may not apply to dressage - is to ask them to keep the work up a little longer. How? By urging forward, but then using my one hand to lift the reins, bring the head up and back some. Both reins, an even pull up and back. As the head lifts, ease pressure on the reins and urge the horse's body to move underneath its head. Do that for a minute. Maybe two.

Then quit. Let the horse stretch out however he or she wants, walking. "Relax. You've earned it!" Find something else to do for 5 minutes, then maybe ask for another good effort. For a minute. Then End of Lesson.

When my back gets tired doing pull-ups, trying to do more risks injury and destroys my balance. Not to mention discourages me when I fail.

If it comes near the end of a trail ride, I may dismount and walk my horse home. If we are too far away, then dismount, walk, and try to find a little grass somewhere in the desert so my horse can chill and eat, head down, with a loose saddle and no rider.

As I get back into running and doing pull-ups, I limit myself. I get too discouraged if I spend the night to sore to sleep. I mentioned on yet another thread that much horse misbehavior isn't the horse disrespecting us, but rooted in our disrespect for the horse. If my horse is getting tired and sore, my asking for still more is going to discourage him. It might "...culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness..."

If we understand the horse is an animal and not a machine, and if we value his mind as much as his body, and his willing spirit maybe even MORE, then our respect for his efforts requires us to sometimes ask for a LITTLE more, then quit. With lots of praise for how hard he has worked for us.

I think we too often discount a horse's fear. And discount his weariness at hauling our butts. And in Bandit's case, I'm thinking I've discounted how sore his feet sometimes got on our trails. And then we blame the horse for not "respecting us", when we first failed to show respect to the horse!

OK. Rant off. At least in the riding I do, an even pull using one hand on the reins works fine. Of course, I also don't worry about a horse being 'straight' while turning. My goal is for my horse to move under me the way he moves without me. I view myself as a hindrance to be removed from the equation, not a teacher to explain how my incredibly graceful and agile horse could move even better. Because I haven't seen any horses move more athletically, more balanced and more powerfully under a rider than without.

Certainly someone like myself, who also wants to simplify his riding, is best off freeing up my horses movement rather than correcting it...because I've seen him move without me! If I could restore that, I'd be a genius.
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post #867 of 1970 Old 06-08-2017, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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BTW - Tried an Australian saddle shaped saddle pad under my Australian saddle today. Bad, bad idea!

First, the pad was too slick. It left my horse encased in wool felt. A few thousand ants had invaded my arena yesterday, so I was trying it out on our trails. Rocks and cactus all around, and I felt like the bottom of my saddle was covered in ball bearings. Or grease. I had tightened it until Bandit protested, and it still slipped around.

Also very bad, I couldn't give leg cues with my calves. My calves now had an inch of wool felt between them and my horse. He may be able to feel a fly on his back, but I'm not sure he can feel a fly land on his back when there is an inch of wool between them! I was reduced to using my heels. Kick instead of squeeze.

That wasn't helping, and on a solo trip out into the desert - well, it wasn't 15 minutes before I dismounted from my increasing nervous and worried horse and walked him all the way home. He was getting upset. Justifiably, IMHO. And I was in a saddle that felt like it was going to roll. That would suck in a sandy arena. Alone, and surrounded by rocks?

I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I may be, as my wife has claimed, a spoon in the knife drawer! But even this SPOON figured out bad things were on the way!

The pad is being returned. I'll never try THAT again!

BTW - all my saddles tilt forward when Bandit is leaning down to eat...but not THAT much. Can't say I noticed just how far it went until I saw the picture - and that is with the front half of a Wintec foam pad under it:



This arrangement works MUCH better:


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post #868 of 1970 Old 06-08-2017, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I ride Bandit and Mia at around 25% of their body weight, and I notice the behavior MyTyPony discusses most frequently when they are tired. My THEORY is the motion forward and down represents the horse trying to stretch and relax the muscles of the thoracic sling - releasing tension from the spring in the diagram.

It is tiring enough to move a rider forward. If you need to LIFT the rider, and the rider weighs 25% of your weight, that is a lot more work to do. And a horse who isn't used to it will tire. And do what I do with tired muscles - stretch them.
Some horses learn that if they stretch their neck out far, it makes it more difficult for the rider to pull on the reins. For example, I've ridden several horses that would stretch their neck out quickly, and as the rider is adjusting the reins, put on a burst of speed while they have the advantage of leverage. Halla knows how to do this.

I don't think that's what is being described in the thread, or by you. I agree the stretching down is often from muscle fatigue. In my past, I've used rein pressure or side reins, and worked a horse until their neck muscles grew too tired and they finally drooped their neck over the way I wanted them to. With a lunge whip or leg pressure, I'd drive them forward to supposedly achieve the drive from the rear, and the proper "collection" or "engagement." This is common and popular.

From what I've seen in horses displaying to each other when excited, holding the neck up in an arch is a fast twitch muscle/anaerobic activity. It involves holding the muscles in contraction, and horses on their own do it for short periods of time.

We think it looks pretty, or feel somehow it is related to them using their muscles properly, and so try to get horses to do it for long periods of time. This is very fatiguing, like lifting heavy weights or sprinting. You can get more endurance for the activity over time, but will never be able to sustain it as long as aerobic exercise, and dressage horses that train regularly at this have large, weight lifter type muscles developed in their necks and shoulders.

I feel really bad about all the times I basically forced a horse to "lift weights" with their necks until they were too sore to keep muscle tension in their neck anymore. It's pretty common to make a horse hold this position for fifteen or thirty minutes without any slow build up training, adding a couple minutes at a time.

When I've used a thick wool felt pad under a saddle that fit with a thinner pad, I've had the same experience. The saddle wanted to slide and felt super slick underneath.
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post #869 of 1970 Old 06-08-2017, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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I've use a 1" Diamond endurance pad under the Aussie saddle. It worked fine. Maybe the wool felt is better quality. Maybe it ends far enough up the sides that the saddle has some grip. Maybe it allows the girth to fit more closely. Not sure which, but that slick pad felt scary.

I think it scared Bandit too.

And having effectively no leg, only heels, bothered us both. Even if I don't consciously cue him with leg, my moving my leg based on what I anticipate undoubtedly communicates my expectations to him. With an inch of wool felt between my leg and him...the communication was gone.

When I first was riding Mia in a bit, I'd try to hold her back. That constant pressure on her mouth resulted in her seeking relief by jerking her face forward and down, then bringing it up to enjoy relief I didn't give her. She also learned to 'get the bit in her teeth', and stretch her nose out and let me pull as much as I wanted. She no longer cared.

It was that bad training - errors on my part - that I needed a curb bit to correct.

When Bandit gets faster than a medium trot, he needs some contact. Not a lot, and it can be one-handed contact. But he considers slack in the reins at a canter to be either permission or direction to go as fast as he can.

In a way, the neck reining I learned is counter-intuitive. If you move the reins up and over to the right, the left rein pushes on the neck toward the right, but the left side of the snaffle gets pulled back - which is normally a left turn cue, not right. But I almost never pull back on the left rein for a turn, but instead use an opening rein to the left.

In any case, Bandit quickly figured out that the totality of the cue and responds to it in context. Even if scared, he usually honors that sort of highly directive neck rein. That is good because when he is scared, I like to hold on to the horn with one hand. That helps keep my shoulders centered above his back during a spin or sideways movement, and if my hips and shoulders stay centered, then I stay on. I seem to value staying on more than a lot of folks. Maybe it is my age...

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post #870 of 1970 Old 06-11-2017, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Only got one picture today, with Bandit standing still - against his will, obviously, but he tolerated it for about 5 seconds. Just long enough for me to grab a picture, then put my camera away on the go (as usual, click on the picture to enlarge):



The housing area I live in is visible on the horizon. We're less than a mile away. We angled right from here, couldn't find a way thru, so turned left and went parallel to the vegetation until we found a spot to press through. Bandit used to resist pushing thru brush but is quite good about it now.

Before the picture, we had climbed out at a spot Bandit found acceptable, but my daughter protested, "Trooper is following Bandit, but he says to tell you you're a jerk for expecting him to push thru all this stuff!" But he DID follow.

Still, my daughter dismounted before we got to the spot where we went through the line of vegetation ahead of us. I told her that was fine - that she should never worry about dismounting and leading versus riding! But Bandit looked at where I was asking him to go and decided it was doable, so we did. It wasn't really that thick except for horses used to the open ground of deserts. Still, it was nice to see Bandit accept responsibility and press on.

I don't think we ever even trotted today. I'm reminded of a passage I read a while back, from the 1880s, saying folks in southern Arizona could see a landmark 50 miles away. But if they pushed their pony faster, he'd give out...so Arizonans got used to squinting patiently at the distance while their pony covered the ground slowly and carefully.

Bandit was super relaxed today. He kept his eyes open, but he just FELT like a horse totally comfortable with what we were doing. I've probably ruined him from ever being a race horse again. I think he is happier just picking his way while I...squint.

But I'll also admit riding a horse thru all the twists and turns, and sometimes needing to back out, and going across gullies and up and down - maybe I'm getting old, but it is more work that I'd have guessed. I'm sure as heck not just picking my nose and admiring the scenery! It is totally unlike a stroll thru a neighborhood.

But I love it when I point Bandit somewhere, and I can feel him processing the route ahead, and then accepting responsibility for it! "So...whadda ya think?" Processing. Processing. "I've got it. Chill." And I can relax, because when Bandit accepts it, I don't have to worry about him quitting, spooking, acting stupid, etc.

I'll get some pictures of his feet in another week or so. I think Bandit approves of his shoes. I also am noticing the "bars" are getting more vertical and not pulled across the foot. If and when he does return to barefoot for a while, I think I will trim the bars myself. Maybe it is an optical illusion, but I could imagine the bars flattening across the foot and pulling the heels forward. In any case, I don't think it would harm anything to try trimming the bars. I think I'll get some nippers and try it on Trooper.

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