My 2 Mares were stars on Trail today! - Page 59 - The Horse Forum
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post #581 of 2523 Old 09-12-2016, 01:42 AM
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Sorry you has such an awful ride. For whatever reason, Isabel clearly didn't want to go out, and when you insisted that we ARE going out then she gave you a miserable time. It helps to remind yourself that her misbehaviour was nothing personal, just that she wanted to be in her field and she was letting you know that in no uncertain way.

I guess some people might see a lack of respect in this kind of behaviour and say she needs more training (not saying you're one of them), but I prefer a horse that feels free to communicate about how they feel, not one that just knuckles down and does it because they've had their ability or their desire to communicate 'trained' out of them. Obviously you don't want them complaining about every twig they step on and every bush that looks odd, but when they have something important to say - like "I can't go out today mum, one of my friends has gone missing in the field" - then it's fair enough they make their point. And if we choose to ignore their message, then the ride will be complicated. I did this with Macarena once - ignored her explicit warnings - and had an interesting time getting us both home.

This is starting to sound like bsms' and Reiningcatsanddogs' great posts on bsms' journal, about how much we want our horses to tell us things, and whether this communication should be considered as a bothersome hole in training or a plus.
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post #582 of 2523 Old 09-12-2016, 04:51 PM
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I think this post came over as a bit judgemental - not my intention at all I just find very interesting the whole business of how much we should listen to our horses. When should we let them make decisions? And when should we not? There's no right answer but everyone has their own ideas on this and I find it a thought-provoking subject.
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post #583 of 2523 Old 09-12-2016, 08:11 PM
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I second @bsms .. as frustrating as today's ride was, it doesn't take away from the overall great progress you are making with your mare. Sometimes there is an off day.. and you just do the best you can with what you are given. Sounds to me like you did exactly that.

Hopefully the next ride will be much less exciting!
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post #584 of 2523 Old 09-12-2016, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the encouragement everyone! It's just in my nature to be analytical and critique. But I know that every now and then, we'll throw in a clunker of a ride- those are the best learning opportunities, right?!

I had a perfectly lovely visit with Izzy this morning. The chiro came for her regular 3-month visit, and since she is always at least 30 minutes late, Izzy enjoyed getting a 45 minute grooming session while we were waiting. Why I don't learn and just stop going to the barn as though she'll be on time, I don't know! But anyway, I went over Izzy head to toe and she was super shiny by the time I was done- I even picked through her tail for the first time in a couple of months, and it was silky smooth by the end. Her chiro visit was good, as usual a bit tight in her right pelvic area but not really sore anywhere else. She did have a rib out on the left side (my summary report is getting emailed to me so I can't remember which one) but I've been feeling for awhile now that saddle fit is a little off right now, as Izzy has grown a little...ahem...round through the belly. So I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but I will have to keep an eye on that. She clearly felt great when she was done, when I turned her back out she went energetically trotting across the field to rejoin her friends, tail flagging.

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Originally Posted by Bondre View Post
I think this post came over as a bit judgemental - not my intention at all I just find very interesting the whole business of how much we should listen to our horses. When should we let them make decisions? And when should we not? There's no right answer but everyone has their own ideas on this and I find it a thought-provoking subject.
Oh- I didn't take it that way at all, no worries! I too find these conversations interesting, and find myself thinking about these threads sometimes while I'm riding.

I have a couple of thoughts about your questions, in light of my last ride. In retrospect, I definitely started the ride wanting a casual stroll vs. a more energetic ride. The reason I have that little video clip from my last post is because as we started our ride, the wind was blowing really beautiful patterns in the tall grass, and I was hoping to record it (unfortunately the cell phone camera isn't that great so you can't really tell how neat it looked). But, in retrospect, it was a bad idea. One commonality in many of my bad rides with Izzy is that I've stopped right at the beginning of the ride to snap a picture (stupid cell phone!! ). I definitely think she sees that as a moment of indecision on my part- if my human isn't committed to going on, then I'm definitely going to decide for us, and of course we're going home. So when I interrupt the decision she's made, she gets really irritated with me and fights it- so in that case, I do think it's important that I make the decision, not her. Though I do see why that would be confusing to her and need to just keep the silly phone zipped up in my pocket and focus on riding away from the barn!

Another moment on the last ride- I know some people will think this is anthropomorphizing, but I swear to you that she pretended to have to scratch her nose to try to snatch the reins and turn for home. She is not a horse that has a problem with an itchy face (e.g., the Gypsy Vanner gelding I ride every now and then at the barn has a massive, hairy face and needs itch breaks when he starts sweating under his bridle). But she tried it a couple of times- she would act like she was in distress and just had to reach down to scratch, so when I took pity on her, she'd give her nose one swipe across the knee and then quickly try to snatch the reins. To me- that is thinking. It didn't work- and I think it's important it doesn't- but she had plans in that little horsey brain of hers!!

But I don't want to give the impression I only think horses are thinking when they're being "disobedient." A lot of times on our rides, I give her the option of what speed to take. There are a few parts of our ride where she's been conditioned that we might move out and have a good canter. When we get to those spots, I usually ask her "what do you want to do?" and she answers- either she steps out faster and gets ready to launch into a canter (a beautiful walk-canter transition, no trouble with the correct lead :)) or she just stretches her head down and continues walking. I'm happy to go along with either. And we seem to have an agreement that we will go to a certain point and then go back to walking. I think that's why I got irritated with her the other day, because she wasn't willing to stop at our "agreed upon" spot, she was super tense and kept trying to jump ahead.

Ultimately, I am not a brave enough rider to enjoy a horse that gets that coiled up feeling underneath you- and that's definitely how she felt this weekend. I love reading about gottatrot's or phantomhorse's rides so much because I know that I wouldn't be able to ride those kinds of horses. It sounds like so much fun, if you have the stomach for it. But I literally feel butterflies in my stomach when Isabel hits the verge of "out of control." I do all the techniques you're supposed to do- I sing, I talk to her, I exhale deeply, I take my knees and calves off the saddle so I'm not gripping and inadvertently asking to go faster when I don't mean it...but the butterflies in my stomach don't lie, I know she can still feel and feed off my nerves. And, I have the terrible habit of not trusting her enough to let her keep a long rein. I know, intellectually, that it's counterproductive to tighten the reins on her when she gets tense- @Bondre , I was even thinking of something you wrote awhile back, which was that you can teach a horse that a tighter rein actually means "go faster," when that's the exact opposite of what you want in that situation. But I am telling myself (sometimes, literally out loud!) "don't shorten the reins, figure out another way to slow her down" but those butterflies in my stomach won't let me trust that it will work. So that's why on Sunday, I decided to just point her for home, because I knew she would walk once she was assured we were going back. And once she stopped that tense prancing, I could trust her enough to lengthen the reins, which helped calm us both.

A year ago, I often went out on our trail loop totally focused on me- what would it take to safely execute the ride and get back to the barn still astride the horse? But now, I head out on our ride thinking about both of us- what messages is she sending me, how is she moving and how do I influence that, where can we test our limits and be braver than we were last time (e.g., galloping on the wide, grassy road shoulder, riding a trail that cuts close to a house with scary outdoor patio furniture, being a steady teacher for nervous younger horses). I can complete relate to what @bsms writes about wanting to have a horse to ride out in partnership. So that makes it even less fun when you have a day where your partner has tuned you out and is just focused on getting back home as quickly as possible.
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post #585 of 2523 Old 09-12-2016, 10:15 PM
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"but the butterflies in my stomach don't lie"

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
...One commonality in many of my bad rides with Izzy is that I've stopped right at the beginning of the ride to snap a picture (stupid cell phone!! ). I definitely think she sees that as a moment of indecision on my part- if my human isn't committed to going on, then I'm definitely going to decide for us, and of course we're going home. So when I interrupt the decision she's made, she gets really irritated with me and fights it...
That sounds like what Bandit did yesterday, and maybe it was the same thing. He was doing good. I was feeling uncommonly confident (for me), stopped to take a picture of my wife...and Bandit did NOT want to stand still. He doesn't like it, which helps to get him past things. He doesn't WANT to stand and look at the scary thing for 60 seconds.

But giving me 15 seconds to get a picture of my wife riding? Not too much to ask, it seemed to me. When I reached into my shirt pocket, he started turning and was ready to move on down the trail. So we had an argument. Which I won. But the picture opportunity was gone, and Bandit got pissy and we spent the next few minutes grumpy.

Oh well. I'll do things he wants sometimes, but I cannot afford to give him total control. Sometimes HE needs to do things for ME...and if he doesn't like it...too bad! It isn't ALL about me, but SOME of it is about me!

We had another unhappy moment when I asked him to canter up the paved road to the house. Three little dogs (combined weight maybe 25 lbs) started yapping in a neighbor's backyard, and the canter turned into a sideways canter/trot/hopping mix. We were already past, so I pulled him around none to gently and we went back past the neighbor's yard. Then turned around and cantered up the road another 100 yards to the little arena.

But yesterday was one of those days where I felt nervous until I mounted, and then felt very confident. I have a lot of days where I can get twisted up inside even when my horse is calm.

"but the butterflies in my stomach don't lie"

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
...Ultimately, I am not a brave enough rider to enjoy a horse that gets that coiled up feeling underneath you- and that's definitely how she felt this weekend. I love reading about gottatrot's or phantomhorse's rides so much because I know that I wouldn't be able to ride those kinds of horses. It sounds like so much fun, if you have the stomach for it. But I literally feel butterflies in my stomach when Isabel hits the verge of "out of control." I do all the techniques you're supposed to do- I sing, I talk to her, I exhale deeply, I take my knees and calves off the saddle so I'm not gripping and inadvertently asking to go faster when I don't mean it...but the butterflies in my stomach don't lie, I know she can still feel and feed off my nerves. And, I have the terrible habit of not trusting her enough to let her keep a long rein...
Been there, done that. I think I'm slowly gaining confidence in Bandit. I'm also realizing I can ride out his crow hops, can ride out his spins (which he hasn't even tried since April), and with some help from the sheepskin...it doesn't matter if he goes from a slow walk to a gallop - I'm going with him, automatically. In all seriousness, that sheepskin IS like butt velcro and has taught me a lot about moving with the horse AND giving me confidence that I will do so even if caught by surprise!

But there are days where I'm able to drawl, "I'm Your Huckleberry"


And there are days I cannot. That is why Bandit sometimes has a "Johnny Ringo Moment" - "Why Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave..." - and realizes he may have picked the wrong day to tell me no...and other days when I back away. And that is why I have to focus on the journey, and not the individual ride.

BTW - I'm convinced that was Val Kilmer's greatest role:

"I was just foolin' about..."

"I wasn't..."

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

Last edited by bsms; 09-12-2016 at 10:24 PM.
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post #586 of 2523 Old 09-13-2016, 12:56 AM
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Got to thinking about it, and thought I ought to add some more.

There is a balance, and I struggle to achieve it. With Mia, I was actually too pushy. I didn't understand how deep seated her fears were and just assumed I ought to be able to push her on. Looking back, the best thing I could have done with her is teach her that when things got scary, I would dismount and take care of her. If I could have taught her that - and I think I could have if I tried - then I would always need to dismount with her far more than a regular horse. But in return, I think she would have gained confidence in me.

With Bandit, at least now, after 15 months of riding, I sometimes ought to push him harder. He is not as sensitive as Mia, nor as timid - although Mia always tried to act very tough! Bandit is more likely to give me The Middle Hoof Salute. Mia almost never did. Bandit sometimes needs me to be tougher. Yet much of what I've been successful at with him is rooted in being willing to dismount.

I always feel like a failure when I dismount and lead my horse. I feel like an incompetent buffoon. But when I think about it, I don't know why I feel that way. Maybe it is because I spent 7 years with Mia hearing about my training holes, and others (particularly on the Internet) always have flawless horses. And I look at mine and me, and we are not flawless on either side!

When Bandit is just a little reluctant, pushing him harder may be good. When he is acting rebellious - telling me to go to heck - then pushing back can be right. But when we need to go past an area where my neighbors are spraying insecticide or herbicide, and he is genuinely uncomfortable, then why is it wrong to make the extra effort to turn his fear into confidence? Why is it wrong to teach a horse that humans care and will take care of you?

And when he externally is not putting a hoof wrong, but I can feel a lot of tension in his back, why is it wrong to teach him I care and want him to not just be ridden, but to enjoy the ride?

From gottatrot's journal, post 427:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo View Post
...

If something is requiring a lot of nerve to try, maybe try a little less?

...
If either Bandit or Bob is having a problem on a given day, then why not follow Hondo's advice? If something is genuinely bothering one member of the team, then "maybe try a little less?" And when a little less is OK, and one has built a "little less" as a firm foundation, try more when both are ready? Why do we, as riders and horse people, seem to insist on placing guilt on either our horse or ourselves? Yet I do it all the time...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #587 of 2523 Old 09-13-2016, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
Another moment on the last ride- I know some people will think this is anthropomorphizing, but I swear to you that she pretended to have to scratch her nose to try to snatch the reins and turn for home. She is not a horse that has a problem with an itchy face (e.g., the Gypsy Vanner gelding I ride every now and then at the barn has a massive, hairy face and needs itch breaks when he starts sweating under his bridle). But she tried it a couple of times- she would act like she was in distress and just had to reach down to scratch, so when I took pity on her, she'd give her nose one swipe across the knee and then quickly try to snatch the reins. To me- that is thinking. It didn't work- and I think it's important it doesn't- but she had plans in that little horsey brain of hers!!
Some great posts!!
What devious plans your mare had...Halla also will "ask" me very nicely if she can stretch out her neck very low and long to loosen the muscles. I let her, and then every once in awhile she'll ask as usual, then snatch the reins and run, sometimes throwing a little hop at the beginning for good measure.
Quote:
BSMS - There is a balance, and I struggle to achieve it. With Mia, I was actually too pushy. I didn't understand how deep seated her fears were and just assumed I ought to be able to push her on. Looking back, the best thing I could have done with her is teach her that when things got scary, I would dismount and take care of her. If I could have taught her that - and I think I could have if I tried - then I would always need to dismount with her far more than a regular horse. But in return, I think she would have gained confidence in me.
I think a big part of being a horseman is always struggling to achieve that balance. It seems to me I will always face the challenge of figuring out what is the best approach for this horse at this time.

My personal opinion is that if you had dismounted more initially with Mia, it may not have translated into needing to dismount more than on a regular horse, after a time. Starting with Amore, the first couple of years I had to jump off so regularly I got very swift at it. It didn't seem like there was a choice, and it wasn't a question of boldness since when I did try to be bold I ate dirt. Yet this was the right approach for her, and over time it was not more common to dismount off her than other horses. She grew more bold. But Halla does not get more bold if I get off. Instead, I end up with a horse that is more difficult and dangerous to control, since I can't give her the speed, release and direction she needs to grow more calm.

There is another thread going on about a horse that bucks. Although I know very little about the situation, when the poster says the horse's behavior is worsening despite efforts to push the horse on and make the horse work harder if he bucks, then I have to believe that is the wrong approach. We do science experiments, and what makes the horse worse is wrong. There must be some other approach that will improve the horse, even if it is a slight improvement at first.

Quote:
BSMS - If either Bandit or Bob is having a problem on a given day, then why not follow Hondo's advice? If something is genuinely bothering one member of the team, then "maybe try a little less?" And when a little less is OK, and one has built a "little less" as a firm foundation, try more when both are ready? Why do we, as riders and horse people, seem to insist on placing guilt on either our horse or ourselves? Yet I do it all the time...
Something I learned from some riders who are very excellent and bold is that we should all give ourselves permission to have a "bad seat day," as my friend calls it. You understand that while normally you might gallop and jump over this or that, or face a noisy truck rumbling by on your horse, today is a "bad seat day." So you don't. You go slow, or walk around the obstacle, or hop off the horse. What I really believe is that sometimes our subconscious can pick up on something that is wrong, although we can't put a finger on it. It might just be that we are too tired to give proper focus and attention to safety. Or we might sense an undetectable odor that means our horse is stressed. Whatever it is, it can be prudent to take it easy or not ride on a "bad seat day."
Is it better to prove something - how tough you are or how brave, or is it better to escape injury and have a wonderful ride later in the week? And if we gives ourselves permission to have a "bad seat day," then our horses can have permission to have an off day sometimes as well.
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post #588 of 2523 Old 09-13-2016, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I always feel like a failure when I dismount and lead my horse. I feel like an incompetent buffoon. But when I think about it, I don't know why I feel that way. Maybe it is because I spent 7 years with Mia hearing about my training holes, and others (particularly on the Internet) always have flawless horses. And I look at mine and me, and we are not flawless on either side!
IMO, it's MUCH better/smarter/safer to dismount and have both parties intact at the end of the situation than to try to fake it to make it. There is a world of difference between a situation that perhaps makes you a tad uncomfortable and you push through it, versus one where you think 'holy shiitake!' When in doubt, get the heck off. I think anybody who is going to look down on you for that is either a liar, an idiot, or has never actually done much with a horse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I know some people will think this is anthropomorphizing, but I swear to you that she pretended to have to scratch her nose to try to snatch the reins and turn for home. But she tried it a couple of times- she would act like she was in distress and just had to reach down to scratch, so when I took pity on her, she'd give her nose one swipe across the knee and then quickly try to snatch the reins. To me- that is thinking. It didn't work- and I think it's important it doesn't- but she had plans in that little horsey brain of hers!!

...but the butterflies in my stomach don't lie
Our arabs do stuff like that all the time.. especially if bored. Normally ours are more likely to be looking for something to spook at as an excuse to scoot, but the concept is the same. I was always taught horses have the same intelligence as a 2 year old child - think of all the crazy things kids can do!

Love the butterflies comment and couldn't agree more. Listen to them, your gut is there to keep you safe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot View Post
Something I learned from some riders who are very excellent and bold is that we should all give ourselves permission to have a "bad seat day," as my friend calls it. You understand that while normally you might gallop and jump over this or that, or face a noisy truck rumbling by on your horse, today is a "bad seat day." So you don't. You go slow, or walk around the obstacle, or hop off the horse. What I really believe is that sometimes our subconscious can pick up on something that is wrong, although we can't put a finger on it. It might just be that we are too tired to give proper focus and attention to safety. Or we might sense an undetectable odor that means our horse is stressed. Whatever it is, it can be prudent to take it easy or not ride on a "bad seat day."
Is it better to prove something - how tough you are or how brave, or is it better to escape injury and have a wonderful ride later in the week? And if we gives ourselves permission to have a "bad seat day," then our horses can have permission to have an off day sometimes as well.
This!! I wish I could 'love' this post.

Again I think it goes back to listening to your gut, and so many people are taught that thinking should prevail over feeling. And while I think that is a very good strategy for some things, dealing with horses (or animals in general) is not one of them. When I was still working (I am a licensed vet tech), if I ever even got an inkling the animal I was working with needed a muzzle, I put one on. It was not uncommon for the animal in question to have not done anything aggressive yet.. but just something about their bearing I didn't like. And many times (though no, not every time), the animal would erupt at some point. Some might argue the muzzle 'made' that behavior happen or point out the poor animal who was just fine but still had to wear it.. but ya know what? Better safe than sorry!
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post #589 of 2523 Old 09-13-2016, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
One commonality in many of my bad rides with Izzy is that I've stopped right at the beginning of the ride to snap a picture (stupid cell phone!! ). I definitely think she sees that as a moment of indecision on my part- if my human isn't committed to going on, then I'm definitely going to decide for us, and of course we're going home.
Interesting idea and totally reasonable. This is just the sort of thing I love reading: when someone has a potential problem with their horse, but they think around the issue, try and understand it from their horse's point of view, and end up modifying their own behaviour lol. So Isabel is training you not to snap cute photos of her busy and attentive ears while riding - or at least not at the start of the outing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
Another moment on the last ride- I know some people will think this is anthropomorphizing, but I swear to you that she pretended to have to scratch her nose to try to snatch the reins and turn for home.
Isabel isn't the only one who does this. Macarena often has to stop and itch her belly where a fly has bitten her - but only when we're riding away from home. And of course to scratch her belly she needs to turn her head and neck right round, so completing the turn and heading for home would be the logical continuation of the movement. She doesn't actually try to turn round any more now, but she still has to have itchy stops occasionally. I've always thought it's amusing that the flies only bite her on the outward leg of our rides.

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
Ultimately, I am not a brave enough rider to enjoy a horse that gets that coiled up feeling underneath you- and that's definitely how she felt this weekend... But I literally feel butterflies in my stomach when Isabel hits the verge of "out of control."
It's not a fun feeling for me either. Macarena has had her moments of coiling and although she does beautiful movements like that, I'd honestly rather she didn't. I'm like you, I'm happy with speed but I like my horse to be reasonably relaxed and predictable. And when they coil, I'm worrying in case it all culminates in an explosion that I can't cope with. It never has yet, but.... So I spend a lot of my riding time promoting relaxation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I was even thinking of something you wrote awhile back, which was that you can teach a horse that a tighter rein actually means "go faster,".... and once she stopped that tense prancing, I could trust her enough to lengthen the reins, which helped calm us both.
In my experience, a long rein always aids relaxation and a tight rein promotes tension. Perhaps a well-trained (English) horse learns to relax into contact, but Macarena is not (well)trained in that way and she doesn't find contact relaxing. Nor does Flamenca, and after two weeks working almost daily with Duna I can say that she doesn't either. Every day we work on relaxing and walking on a long rein (rather than jogging on a tight rein), as Duna didn't have a clue about this. The first time she understood what I wanted it was sooo cute. She stretched her neck out long and kept blowing through her nose out of pure pleasure. "Wow, freedom! (snort) this is so comfortable (snort) I can move my head wherever I want (snort) and no-one tugs on my mouth (snort)"

Quote:
Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
A year ago, I often went out on our trail loop totally focused on me- what would it take to safely execute the ride and get back to the barn still astride the horse? But now, I head out on our ride thinking about both of us- what messages is she sending me, how is she moving and how do I influence that, where can we test our limits and be braver than we were last time.
You guys have come such a long way together! That is a huge achievement. I bet when you started out with Isabel you had no inkling the relationship that you have developed over time and of the things that you can now do as a team.

There is nothing more peaceful than watching a horse eat.
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post #590 of 2523 Old 09-15-2016, 08:17 AM
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I just have to comment on how refreshing and encouraging it was to read about dismounting and the opinions on dismounting. I have been counseled to stay on the horse no matter what, it teaches the horse bad things to dismount plus it's safer on the horse.

Well, sometimes I just don't listen well. Just a few days ago I was riding Hondo ponying Rimmey when Hondo came to an abrupt halt, head erect and staring. I let him stare a bit, didn't see anything, and urged him on. He absolutely shook his head NO! almost violently while glancing back at me. I dismounted, led them both a ways until Hondo seemed settled, mounted and rode on.

Don't know what it was, but it was something. There are lions in the area. And I agree that Hondo learned from the dismount, but good stuff rather than bad. He learned, as he has previously, that his concerns will be recognized and addressed.

Rest of the ride went well as usual.

I think it important to always be mindful that the horse actually owes us nothing at all and it is we who owe the horse. "It's a goal"
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Were we young and foolish or were horses better back then? corinowalk Horse Training 100 06-20-2010 01:55 PM
1 carrots were stolen from you while you were offline! Jehanzeb Horse Forum Support Help Desk 10 03-19-2009 12:08 AM

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