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post #191 of 270 Old 12-07-2016, 08:21 PM
Green Broke
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Originally Posted by sarahfromsc View Post
You are still giving the Arab a bad rap, gotta.

...I still say Arabs are given a bad rap. I still say they are no different than riding any other horse. I do not think one needs to make sure saddle and stirrups and bits are just 'right' to ride an Arab. With any breed, training, and the ability to hold that training is everything.
It seems like being truthful in evaluation is not giving a horse a "bad rap." It would seem irresponsible of me to tell someone that getting on a hot little Arab is the same as riding their mellow QH that can hardly be prodded out of a sleepy jog. I say this as a person who owns two Arabs of the hotter variety, and I don't find their personalities off-putting. It's just that I understand it is not for everyone. As @Cammey has said, not everyone wants to be alert and working throughout each ride. Some people just want to relax and rely on their horse to be steady regardless.

It's not all about training, it's also about reactiveness and sensitivity. I've seen a person put a bit on a stock horse that was far too large, adjusted wrong and it rattled around and jangled against the horse's teeth. The horse wasn't entirely happy but his reactions were minor - facial expressions, didn't go forward easily. I've also seen a similar situation happen to an Arab trainer at my barn (the bit fit, but it was not adjusted quite right). That horse reacted by rearing, pulling away, throwing her head violently around. Both horses were at the similar stage of training. Reactive horses are less forgiving of mistakes by nature.

@Avna has good points about how the rider affects the horse with their seat. Of course, that goes within the horse's personality as well; it's going to be a variation of how the horse is and not something out of their character. Dragon isn't going to become a sleepy old nag just because someone different rides her. Which is why I describe riding horses that are mellow or hot. If it were all up to me and my seat, they would all behave similarly and go out the way I prefer. I might give a a little more zest to a dull horse than a cold seated rider. But he will still be quite dull compared to Halla.
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post #192 of 270 Old 12-07-2016, 08:42 PM
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As I said ALL breeds have lines that are hotly contested amount that breed's devotees. Arabs are no different than any other breed. There a good, bad, and ugly. There are lines that are hotly discussed amoung us devotees.

I have a Bey Shah Grandson. I have been told his get are kooky. I haven't found that to be. I have worked with Khemo foals, some were wonderful, others would spook at a bucket because it was in a different spot by three inches. One would not cross tie. Ground tie him, or just lope the lead role over a rail, and he was an angel. Cross just because Khemo was great doesn't mean his foals will be as he was.q

Any breed with a beginner can be hot, spooky, difficult, untrained, retrained badly, etc.

Arabs are quick with their feet, nimble with their bodies and minds, have memories like an elephant, and like to move out. Keep them in ' check' or bore them, and a rider will have issues.

And I have seen a stock horse run its rider into a wall due to bit issues. So what is your point exactly?
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post #193 of 270 Old 12-07-2016, 08:58 PM
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Trooper is our Steady Eddie. He is 3/4 Arabian, 1/4 Appy. Bandit is 1/2 Arabian, 1/2 Mustang. He is far more independent and involved. Not so much spooky as very suspicious. Mia was purebred Arabian and a spook monster, but I still think she had a few wires not connected right in her noggin. She could spin violently 720 degrees, then look at me as if to ask what I had done to her. Lilly was a purebred Arabian mare and not at all spooky - but VERY much a "Please & Thank You" horse. Get harsh with her and she'd fight you to the death. Be polite and she'd give everything she had to offer.

My neighbors used to ask my why my horses spent so much time racing around the corral when everyone else had horses who just stood there, hours on end, with their fly-mask covered heads halfway to the ground. I'd reply, "Arabians. They aren't like most horses." The true answer was and is more complex, but there is some truth in my shorthand reply.

Working with hot horses of any breed isn't like working average horses. I received a lot of well-meaning and totally wrong advice on Mia from people who had never ridden or touched a horse like her. "Get a bigger whip!" wasn't going to work with Mia. I tried and I know. "Just push him past things" might work somewhat with Bandit, but he was pretty darn spooky when he got here. It has taken a LOT of explaining to get Bandit past his "I defend myself" reactions and into a mostly calm discussion instead. But Bandit is and always will be independent to an unusual degree. He might bite my butt someday, but he'll never kiss it!

"...did I say quick? and smart....usually smarter than most people. You can't bully them or fight them..." - @sarahfromsc

I agree, and this is why they ARE more challenging to ride well than a lot of other horses. The folks who told me to "Get a bigger whip" were telling me the truth - as they had experienced it with colder types of horses. I honestly think the techniques that work with Arabians work well with most horses, but many riders never bother to learn them because they can get away with a bigger whip.

My farrier loves mules. He says a lot of horse riders get their butts handed to them by a mule because a mule will not tolerate what many horses will. He said a good mule was a fantastic friend, but a rider had to choose - make mutually acceptable compromises or fight. He also thinks mustangs and Arabians are closer to the mule side of the spectrum than most stock horses.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #194 of 270 Old 12-08-2016, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post
It's also a phenomenon that some people innately slow horses down and others speed them up. I learned there is a term for this: having a "hot seat" or a "cold seat".
This is a really interesting concept that I've never heard of before! I'm definitely a "hot seat" kind of person, which is probably why I tend to favor lazy horses over energetic ones. It's a lot easier for me to ask for more enthusiasm than it is for me to tell a horse to settle down. (Plus over reactive horses tend to make me nervous, which just makes them more nervous.)

Excited to hear about how your first lease ride goes, Cammey!
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post #195 of 270 Old 12-09-2016, 11:46 AM Thread Starter
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@gottatrot , @sarahfromsc , and @bsms - Thank you for all the interesting discussion on Arabs temperament. It's good to see a lot of points of view on this one, as it seems controversial all over.

In a bit of humor, when I mentioned to Jill that I had a friend who was looking at an Arabian and an Arabian/Mustang mix she mentioned that I've got bold friends as she finds the breed hard to handle... then she sort of caught herself and said "Then again, they'd probably say that about my OTTBs". I just thought it was funny.

I will say this whole discussion has me thinking I want to meet and ride a lot of horses. I'm hoping Jill will soon decide it's time to try putting me on a few new guys - especially as I settle into riding Dragon frequently. These will all be OTTBs selected for sport jumping most likely - but at least I will get to see some diversity within that narrow range. I will say all this has definitely piqued my curiosity.
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post #196 of 270 Old 12-09-2016, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2016
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Post First Solo Ride

The moon was bright, and I have pretty good night vision. These will be relevant to the story.

I cut out of work about five minutes early, having ordered and scarfed pizza while technically still on the clock (the benefits of work-from-home). As I headed out I was faced with roughly equal amounts of trepidation regarding the drive out there and actually riding. The weather had dropped firmly into Ďcoldí and we had our first light snow of the season that actually stuck. I was worried the twisting roads in the dark would be slick and possibly treacherous.

When I got there everything was dark - the stable, the arena. The only light on was a single floodlight which glared onto the walkway between the two and unfortunately wrecked night-vision if it was in line of sight. Heading over into the barn I realized somewhat to my dismay that there were no horses in there. Heading out to the normal paddocks which act as the mare pen I realized those too were empty.

Well ****.

So by this point I was flat-out-confused.

Now, I mentioned in a prior post that the internal paddock areas are divided up with electric wire rather than full fencing. The first thing I realized is that this is not the easiest thing to see in the dark when cast against a dark background of paddock. I could see the posts, but ended up moving incredibly carefully and slowly to be sure there were no T-intersections coming up. I have no desire to figure out what electric wire feels like, and to be honest this felt more than a little treacherous.

I spent 15 minutes wandering around in the bitter cold like an idiot before I headed back to the barn, grabbed my cell-phone, and texted Jill and ask her if she happens to know where Dragon has gotten to. She responds promptly that she should either be inside or out with the mares/ponies and tells me I can contact the barn owner if I get totally lost. By this point I take my cell phone back out to the paddocks with me, and discover that its flashlight feature provides just enough light to allow me to see the wire fencing pretty clearly even with my floodlight-wrecked vision, and proceed to continue wandering back a bit farther afield.

About three minutes later I see my first horse - who I recognize as Bronze due to his incredibly flashy (zebra-striped) blanket. Heís off in one of the really large paddock areas that I had never seen used before (I might even call it Ďpastureí) and the only reason I spot him is because he and a friend are heading over to the water closer to his gate. With a renewed confidence that there must be horses out here somewhere I begin carefully and slowly navigating through the unknown paddock structure, cursing myself for not having thought to scope the layout one of the times I was here during the day. Eventually as I get farther out from the night-vision-ruining floodlight realize I actually can see moderately well, even sans cell phone - though my color vision still isnít great.

Eventually, I find the mare herd in an unfamiliar but larger paddock. I donít see Dragon in there, but Iím reasonably confident Iíve found the right herd. It takes me another five minutes to find the actual gate (itís all the way back at the other end - this is a large paddock and theyíre all clustered on the opposite side of it).

I debate for a minute if I seriously am going to try to herd catch a horse in the dark, alone in the freezing cold, out of a group of horses I donít know much about other than that they pick on my horse, while surrounded by an electric fence. I take couple minutes to really analyze and make a judgement call regarding the risk I am considering taking before deciding to go forward with this plan.

The one thing I do have on my side here is time - and I take full advantage of it. I walk around the paddock area twice until Iím very confident where all the electric wire is, where the gates are, and Iíve memorized the internal layout - the shelter, the water-bins, etc. I let my eyes fully adjust to the darkness, since I wonít be able to play with my phone while Iím out there (though I do bring it for safetyís sake to call for help if need be). I also think (but am not certain) that I spot Dragon in this process - hanging out at the far edge of the herd. While I feel a little bad for her exile, this is super convenient for me.

The horses here were turned out with halters, which isnít Jillís usual practice but seems to happen at this barn, so I just make sure I have a lead rope and I carefully make my way out, staying well away from the fence line. The ground is sort of miserable - uneven and just starting to really freeze - but after about thirty feet I figure out how to walk on it without too much trouble. Thereís a lot of paddock here and I get quite a bit of time to accumulate to my surroundings.

Dragon, bless her amazing heart, sees me a little ways out and takes several steps towards me - making herself easy to spot. I am about 90% confident I have identified the right horse at this point, mostly based on personality. Understand, Dragon is one of several chestnut horses here, and I know from conversation that there are 3 horses with the exact same blanket she has. Jill actually complimented me Saturday on having been able to distinguish her on sight in broad daylight. Worst case I figure I grab the wrong (very friendly) horse, realize my mistake once I get back to the light in the barn, give the horse a treat or two and then release her back into the herd.

Another pony - who I recognize as one of the horses chasing off Dragon on Sunday - also heads over. Honestly, Iím possibly a little more assertive/aggressive than I need to be in keeping her back. She doesnít respond to verbal commands, rope twirling, or gently hitting her with the rope, so I thwack her fairly firmly and make her backup several steps, then make her back up again for good measure. I might have just hit a pony genuinely trying to be friendly, but I just had no interest/patience in arguing with a horse I donít know in the dark. I was also getting a bit of stink-eye from the horse I believe is lead-mare (though she didnít come over) and I wasnít wanting to give anyone an inch. If I was going to be taking a risk being out here I was going to do it in the safest way possible - even if not optimal in other fashions.

Fortunately, we leave without any trouble, Dragon seeming quite happy to be led out (though she does request a bit more rope to deal with the footing - but I feel thatís kind of fair, since this footing is probably even worse for a horse than it is for me).

As soon as we step foot outside the paddock things start going exactly as planned. Grooming her up I can tell her nerves are somewhere between Sunday and Tuesday - a little more sensitive than her truly calm self, but generally happy to see me and be in the grooming stall. Sheís overreacting a touch in the cross-ties, but not that wild swinging I saw before. I take Jillís advice and donít let her overstep, showing her exactly where I want her to stand - really trying to play leader, which Jill tells me is reassuring. She seems content with that and settles down. I take my sweet time in grooming her, but sheís remarkably clean all considered - at this point Iím mostly just doing things for the routine of them. We tack up and I double-check everything since I am alone out here, and we head out.

Once in the arena I basically run an even easier version of Tuesdayís lesson minus the leg yeilds. I skip those simply because thereís no good line to do them on with the current jump-setup and I want lots of space to work with. Internally, I am mostly focusing on trying to find my real balance in each gait. In Western Jog Iím focused on letting my weight sway with the seat, not bouncing at all, and trying to keep even pressure on her back. In Posting Trot I have gotten to the point where I can really feel when I am either ahead of or behind Dragonís motion while posting - but I still frequently fall subtly in either direction. Iím not sure how visible this is from the ground - but I can really feel it. Usually weíre too busy focusing on my legs and steering for me to take the time to work on it, but once I get out on my own I let myself really pay attention to that shifting and try to find the sweet spot. We take frequent walk and Western Jog breaks. I do make her halt a few times just to make sure Iím solidly in control.

Dragon decides one of the lines through the jumps is the tiniest bit spooky - so we ride it a bunch of times. But for the most part, sheís a good girl. Not the sort of Ďworryingly goodí she was when sheís extremely sensitive - but just good. Itís a pleasant and uneventful ride lasting about 45 minutes - so almost exactly a normal lesson worth of riding - though I only realize that when I check my phone after I get back. (Thereís no clock in the arena. Note to self: buy a watch).

I take her back, untack, groom her until sheís completely dry (though to be honest, she barely broke a sweat during all this - this was a very light workout for her), put her blanket back on, spoil her a little with treats, and go to take her back.

My only problem? She is not happy to go back outside to the paddock. She goes outside just fine, but at the paddock gate I end up having to be assertive to get her to follow me in. Objectively I realize itís probably the footing she doesnít like (sheís always a bit particular about it) but itís hard not to project and think about how Iím leading her out into the cold and a herd that picks on her. When I walk her in a ways and let her go, she just stands there, not heading back towards the herd. I feel guilty.

I head back into the arena, clean up some droppings (not from Dragon, but from someone else who didnít do it), sweep out the grooming area, turn off all the lights, and head back towards my car. Dragon is still standing there on the other end of the paddock from the herd and I feel even a little guiltier, but donít see a good way to rectify my guilt so I head home.

So, I survived my first solo-ride. Honestly, the ride itself was the least concerning part of the whole experience. If I need to do that night-catching again I suspect it will go much easier now that I know the layout and where the horses will be, but I probably should do some more prep while itís actually light out so I understand what Iím doing a bit better.

Dragonís hesitation out in the paddock had me worried - Iím leaving her out there in the dark and cold. So I end up doing a bit of research on things like how horses tolerate weather.

So, for the record, it was in the low/mid twenties last night with fairly calm winds and occasional snow flurries. Dragon is unclipped (her winter coat is so ridiculously softÖ) and not at all underweight (in fact, for a Thoroughbred sport-horse, sheís gotten a little heavier than the ideal - Jill says she could lose a few pounds). Thereís a shelter out in paddock area that the horses werenít bothering to use. She wasnít shivering, and she was in a very nice and fairly heavy-weight blanket for the night. Sheís taken in to be groomed and exercised literally every single day, as well as brought in twice a day for individual concentrate meals (which also includes some privately-fed hay for her right now - I actually saw a meal was waiting out pre-measured in her stall when I went to find her. Iím not sure if itís for a late meal tonight or tomorrowís breakfast).

So basically, given that even blanketing shouldnít be anywhere near necessary under these conditions, and she has a really nice and warm blanket... I am totally fussing for no good reason. That helped me feel a lot better as I went to bed.
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post #197 of 270 Old 12-09-2016, 05:39 PM
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You are brave to go out on your first solo ride in the dark and at a somewhat new place - very safe and conscientious too though it sounded like! Glad it went well for you :)
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post #198 of 270 Old 12-09-2016, 11:19 PM
Green Broke
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Again I am impressed by your ability to assess a situation, try to stay safe, and yet not be deterred by daunting circumstances. Great job riding Dragon, it sounds like a productive time. It really is amazing you are barely "green broke" and yet are out there gathering up a horse from a herd in the dark and riding alone.

New people often have difficulty remembering how to put on saddles, blankets and bridles for months, based on my experience trying to teach others.

It would be concerning for even very experienced people to go out in a strange herd in the dark. It is always good to err on the side of being more assertive with a loose horse that seems too interested in coming up to you rather than being too passive and ending up with them running over you.

I am guessing Dragon's reluctance to go back to the field had less to do with physical comfort and more to do with current herd dynamics. Hopefully she will find a place where she fits in soon. Someone is bound to befriend her.
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post #199 of 270 Old 12-10-2016, 02:01 AM
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I am impressed, too, but also worried. I would not like it if I owned that barn and you were riding alone at night there. if something were to happen, there'd be no one there to know and to help you. and, you ARE still new. this whole thing makes me quesy to think about .

you just can't believe how fast things can go from "isn't this fun?" to "oh no!" sorry, but I don't want to rain on your parade. you'll do what seems ok to you, and more power to you, but were it my barn, I'd never allow a client to ride alone , totally alone, at night. only if she/he were very experienced.
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post #200 of 270 Old 12-10-2016, 12:15 PM
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Meant to add this in my other post, but since you are going to start riding alone more you should really make sure you have a way to carry your phone with you while you ride. It's not going to do much good for you if it waits in the barn or your car! I find arm bands (like for working out) can work well, and are cheaper than the equestrian specific phone holsters. Of course in winter you can put it in a coat pocket. It's good to have on you though.

I think about when I started riding and would just get dropped off at the barn to ride with nothing but a phone in the barn. Seems crazy now! But it was just a different time. Now I always text my boyfriend whenever I'm about to get on and give him an estimation of when I'll be done, and then another once horse is back in the pasture and I'm heading home. It's good to have someone who knows where you are and when you should be done when you are alone with horses, just too much that could go wrong!

That's not to scare you off of course, just want you to be safe :)
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