The Horse Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

1,154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started up lessons a couple of months ago after some years of not being involved with horses. I found a local place that does lessons for English.

My instructor is great. Very patient, explains things so succinctly and she's helped me get my horse legs back very quickly to where I feel confident being in the saddle doing things again.

I'll probably be documenting my lesson experiences here, too, as I really enjoy them and the horses I interact with. From a teddy bear of a Clydesdale named Charlie, to a sweet saddlebred mare named Lakota, to the sassy 9 year old Picasso (a gelding with wry mouth).

With my instructor's help, she's been able to help me find a horse I can work with outside of our lessons that has been worked with intermittently throughout the years. A sweet, but stubborn paint x qh mix, Dandy.

We're still trialing each other out as I've only seen him twice. The first day I met him he was very squirrely, very forward but overall listened very well... Until bridling.

We (the owner and I) probably spent about an hour trying to get a bridle on him. He would lift his head to where you couldn't reach, and if you grabbed his halter or anything to hold him still, he'd shake his head. When the bit wad in his mouth he'd play with it a lot, but he's also a very mouthy horse (likes to chew on the lead rope sometimes and has been known to chew on halters left too close to the stall door) so he could have been playing with it.

Under saddle he's was very sensitive, very light. We mostly walked and trotted due to the aforementioned work we did before and the fact that he's very much out of shape.

A little stiff on his right side i think it is, so my hope is to work on strengthening that side and doing a lot of stretch work. He's also just stiff in general.

Today was better and worse in some respects when I saw him today.
Definitely recognized me as the damnedable lady who made him work so hard last week.

We got into the arena and began our ground work.

I worked on disengaging his hind quarters, his front quarters, attempted some side passing but he was a little touchy around the girth area and gave me some nibbles /nips. Not outright bites but... More like : I'm tender or that is uncomfortable. My failure to correct this nips me (pun intended) in the butt later on.

He was definitely more mouthy this time than before. Wanted my shirt or my hands or the lead rope in his mouth a lot.

I did a warm up lunge and focused on trying to engage his brain and work on relaxing and taking it easy.

Gave him a stretch in his front legs which he took a bit to figure out what I was asking with lifting his leg in the front. I'll have to figure out how to stretch his back legs.

His neck was a little harder to tuck in for a stretch; a lot of trying to shrug off my hand or moving around. Did get him to settle and relax enough to do both sides.

I had bought a nice used English saddle to try him on and was attempting to see if it would fit him. I'm concerned that it doesn't because even just having it rest on him he was very squirrely and just didn't want to settle. As we were trying to figure out a girth for him as I hadn't gotten one yet, he ends up biting my arm. Similar thing as what happened before, not an outright bite, but like a nibble that ended up hurting a bit.

He got corrected firmly for that. Quick disengagement of his quarters, made to back quite a bit. His owner joked that I scared the poop out of him because he ended up doing so and he normally doesn't in the arena at all.

Determined that we weren't going to use the saddle today because the girths were all to small for his fat belly and that he needs a 56“.

Pulled out the western saddle with a different pad and didn't seem to have any problems with this one like we did the other in terms of slippage, however, he wasn't as sweaty.

Little squiggly at the initial cinching but no problems at the tightening.

And then came the moment of truth...

I purchased a side pull for him because of the problems we got last time. My thought process was that he's either got something going on in his mouth or he's got something else going on from past handling that makes him refuse the bit.

I did initially have problems getting it on but he ended up dropping his head way down which allowed me to get the side pull on with help of the owner (I forgot to undo the chin strap). Got on with minimal issues and let him figure out the sidepull.

He did shake his head a lot- but that ended the more I did a lot of bending and circles with him to get him to flex more.

Dandy is almost a little too smart for his own good because once I stopped bending around the comes and barrels placed, he kept trying to think he could do more to cut corners.

In our transitions, I wanted to keep everything slow and relaxed. Partly because I don't want him to think that every time he gets brought out he's going to get worked to death. And also so he doesn't get the idea that if he just goes super fast, he can get out of work sooner.

It was very much a different feeling than the first ride. He felt relaxed, responsive and even almost a little lazy. Did have to coax him to move up in transition a bit more but I think I would rather that than have him be so wired that the slightest pressure pushes him into a canter. But, I could also be very wrong in that mindset.

Post ride I walked him on foot around the arena. He was very impatient in trying to get the bridle off so until he stopped trying to push into me to get it off, we just walked. Stretched his neck and legs again at the end of the walk then headed to the arena opening to remove the tack.

Made him wait to take off the side pull every time he raised his head when I'd go to grab the headstall. He would have to lower his head and keep it there before I would remove it.

There was a quick hosing after and he got some grass and treats for a job well done.

His owner, her daughter and husband were all very pleased with how responsive he was with him going bitless. I wouldn't trust him yet on a trail ride without one as of right now but once I get one that fits a little better, that might help with some of the signals I muddied up.

I'm potentially going to come out again on Sunday if it isn't storming.

1,154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Had double duty lesson and Dandy time today.

The ombre Weatherbeeta pads I ordered came in this week so I got to try them out. They're absolutely great. Still waiting on my horse sized side pull, but that is OK.

During my lesson I got to ride Picasso, the gelding with wry mouth.

It was definitely very interesting at first. Because he had wry mouth, he has a harder time eating than the other horses do so he doesn't have a lot of extra padding on him. I also misremembered his age. Instead of 9, he's actually 7. So still just a baby.

Compared to the other horses I've ridden lately of whom had large, round barrels... I felt like I had nothing between my legs.

He used to do cart racing in his younger years before he was rescued and then rehomed to the place he's at now.

The start of the lesson we ensured that his brakes were good. Took a bit of practice as he would walk through the cues. Did some one rein stops and after that, he had no problem being more responsive. I found that I do need to have a bit more contact on his mouth for the stop compared to other horses in which normally seat and light pressure worked. It'll be something we work towards -- getting him softer over time and working on consistent cues.

Once that was established we moved forward into the trot. We started counter clockwise, but found that was probably his worse side. Going clockwise, he had a much easier time picking up the cues.

Out trot was more a.. Walk, pace, canter transition. We tried a half halt on him and actually managed to get a couple decent trots out of him! The half halt also helped in getting his balance sorted because I could feel he was also strung out in trying to figure out what I was asking.

Towards the end of the lesson, he gave me a little crow hop. Trainer and I weren't sure if it was out of feeling good or frustration, but she thinks more that it was because he was warmed up and got excited.

Ended on a really good trot at that point after the crow hop, so all is well.

Stuck around after the lesson a little bit and got some kitten snuggles. They were so small they could fit in my tiny hands. One, named Buttons, followed me around a little bit and took a catnap on my hand and tried using my head as a perch.

After the lesson, I swung out to Dandy's place; a quick 15 minutes out. My trainer let me borrow her 58" girth because 50" wasn't going to cut it for the chunky monkey.

I tied him to a post this time because for the most part it was just me. His mom had other stuff going on. Had him sit there for a little while as I got everything sorted out.

Checked the saddle fit on him from this new to me English saddle I purchased. Still squirmy, but he settled down after he got a firm correction and some ground work done. There was no fussing, no excessive evasion (a little squirming but he settled), or even offers to lip or nip.

I'm not entirely convinced on the fit. It has decent contact where it needs to, but he also doesn't have a lot of muscle on his back yet. The sides under the flaps where the girth goes (I forgot what they're called) has a pocket of air there.

The pommel also looks to be super high up, giving excessive clearance above the withers.

I don't think this saddle has been used much, or at all, as there's really no signs of use on it, which makes me wonder if that's why there's those gaps.

Got the ol boy tacked up with the saddle and did more ground work. He seems to really like his stretches and offered his rear left leg for me without asking.

When came to bridling with the side pull, he did his usual fuss. I just kind of kept it held up and patiently waited until he offered his head in his "oh fine, hurry up and get on with it" way. Didn't have to hold his head down, or work him, just wanted to let him make the right choice.

I goofed and put the nose band behind him because I was afraid I only had a small window to put it on and missed. But he kept his head down while it was adjusted and no issues. He got all the praise and lots of head and wither scratches.

Mounting was... Interesting.

I had to stretch a lot more for my little leg to get in the stirrup and it had been a long time since having to do that. Got my leg swung over and immediately he walked off as soon as my butt hit the saddle. Thankfully his mom was there to kind of hold him in place in case it got weird.

We walked, did some circles, and asked for a trot.

There seems to be a downward trend in our sessions in that the first he was ready forward. Almost too forward. Second session, seemed to be a happy medium, but more focused on working the brain and relaxing. Third... He did not want to do anything.

Granted, I did not lunge him on more than a walk as I wanted to be sure that should I have to work him more on the ground, he wasn't hot and sweaty from before I even got on.

He's definitely not as comfortable going counter clockwise, which checks out with something my instructor told me about him.

He did end up having issues with his right stifle and had gone lame in the past but recovered. So him not being as strong on that side just means having to figure out how to best work with it and or strengthen it.

He had a very hard time even trotting and cantering on that side which does have me a bit concerned. I don't work him very hard, and I give him a week to rest. Clockwise, he's great. Out of shape and a little lazy and so I have to do a lot of work to keep him in gait.

We did end on a good note with him cantering at least one full lap without breaking into a trot.

Cool down included him doing some circles, neck flexing, and practicing our side passing. The side passkng he's actually getting better at and we had some great steps. I was conflicting him with trying to maneuver his nose while asking for the pass. But if I just tapped his side, he's golden.

I wanted to take some pictures of the saddle on him post ride but uh... That plan fell through.

I found out that this boy bloats. A lot.

It's not a tack problem, it's not a material problem... He's literally puffing so much that by the time he's tired and sweaty he doesn't hold it any more and the girth is miraculously looser.

So when I dismounted, I was able to get my foot out before it completely slipped to the side of him.

He was such a good boy for that, too. Not even a flinch or a spook or anything. Just let me try to get the girth off so I could get the saddle off of him.

So I settled for a picture of his chub on one side as the other got hosed.


1,154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@knightrider thats me!
I used to volunteer at a Renaissance festival doing games on horseback.

As for the stirrups, I kept them longish with something like a dressage leg. They look short because we're wrapping around the stansion so the angle makes it look shorter.

1,154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had double duty lesson and Dandy time today.

I took last week off because I was out of spoons for lack of a better term and just didn't have the energy for it.

Today's lesson was with a new horse and I had a lot of fun! I was on a fell (?) pony. Which is amusing because I usually end up with these huge, 16 hand or higher horses and I get an adorable, sassy 13 hand high pony lady. Her name is Duchess and it sure does fit.

She looks and moves like a miniature fresian, so she's very flashy. A little cresty, as she's got potentially a metabolic issue so she has something like an extra fat deposit on her neck that wobbles.

Rising her was definitely interesting. She needs to be floated (she was donated because the owner can't take care of her any longer) so she was placed in a side pull.

Rising her was... Interesting. In a good way! I'm so used to these big movers and larger horses that it was a little unnerving to not feel anything under me (I am 5 feet tall). So going from that to these little, slightly shorter steps was definitely going to take some getting used to.

She's very light under saddle. Very responsive, very flexible and my instructor and I think she has more training than they were told about because she is very light.

We practiced a lot of stopping and starting to get her used to the concept of standing and waiting. She threw little pony tantrums (head shaking, pawing etc) but.. That was the extent of it. We worked on our turns a little bit more, and found out she has a habit of bracing against the reins. So to counteract that, we just did a circle every time she braces. Duchess responded very well to it and very quickly she was able to flex away from my leg instead of against it.

Overall, that pony is adorable and I think would make for a great children's lesson horse. Definitely needs someone a little firmer when she gets a 'tude, but we had a lot of fun.

Gave her a hosing after because she was dripping with sweat and she hardly did any work.

Found out she really likes getting her behind hosed because she would stand there and let me rinse her down and would even present her bum so she'd get more.

As for Dandy...

My instructor came with me to help me sort some stuff out.

She confirmed that he was definitely very stiff. I was shown how to properly stretch him and where his threshold is at currently, and he even got a small body massage which he enjoyed so much he hung.

The saddling is where we uncovered a lot of what I had concerns about.

I bought a used ergonomic bates 56" girth for him to try and resolve the saddle sliding issue.

As we were cynching, we found he was puffing up so much that we had to really struggle to get it tightened. It didn't help either that the leather was stiff from not being used much.

He reared a couple times on the ground. Would not sit still. This was typical behavior of him and he's done it to other people as well.

As soon as he did, Holly mentioned that he's got some dangerous habits going on and that's what clicked for me that the reason I enjoy my time at rhe ranch and lessons so much despite some of the things I work through with the horses, is because their habits aren't going to potentially kill me.

A horse is a horse regardless of how broke or bomb proof they are. I can understand and handle that. But a rearing horse is something different.

We thought we worked it out of him on the ground (he had a couple come to Jesus moments for his behavior) enough to hop on.

I get on and we find that the girth is still dangerously loose from his bloating. So we try tightening it.

In the end, he reared three times with me on him, once getting about two feet of lift off the ground. The last rear we weren't even tightening it, we were trying to see if he'd react even with pressure applied in that area.

Suprisingly, I didn't fall off. I'm glad I instinctively grabbed chunks of main and leaner forward because otherwise I'd have toppled. It was the first time that I've ever ridden a rear so it's nice to know I have some velcro on my butt.

But regardless, we called it quits after that. My instructor told me that she does not recommended riding him until that girth issue is fixed.

I agreed. We're thinking he's got pain going on because of everything that he's done prior to today, and the rearing. We don't think it's behavioral at all because even on the ground with pressure applied by hand, he acts like he's in pain.

Holly also caught that he was trying to pee, but instead of urinating like normal, he just dripped.

I'll have to call and notify his owner of what's going on and see if she can get him checked out. But, this might be quits for Dandy and I.

Premium Member
4,658 Posts
this might be quits for Dandy and I.
Yes, I would think so! Why be risking your safety for someone else's horse?

Since this is a journal, I can go off-topic. Which festival did you work? Were you using your own horse? If so, where is he now? If not, whose horse and how did you get invited to participate? Did you make your costume? Your weapons? I am asking all these questions because I like to talk and hear about other jousters who worked Ren Fairs.

I worked the Maryland Ren Fair for 17 years. I worked for about 4 different troupes over the years and then formed my own troupe and did the festival on my own for about 4 years. I did a couple of weekends at the York, PA festival and one weekend at Sterling NY.

A lot of people would come up to me after the show and ask to be in the show or get started with their own show. From time to time, we would invite people we knew would add to the show to be in it for one or two weekends. We knew a family who had Fresians who came almost every season for a weekend and brought their lovely Fresians to make the show more fun.

My last question: why did you stop doing it? I quit when we moved to Florida. My kids were little and I didn't want to be away from them all weekend. Plus, kinda been there, done that. The Gainesville Medieval Fair is close and I could have auditioned and probably gotten to do my own show. Or the people doing the joust are good friends and would have let me ride with them. i worked for them for a couple of years. But I thought, "Do I really want to get back into that?" Well, kinda yes, and kinda no, so I went with the kinda no.

Horse Working animal Bridle Pack animal Horse tack
Horse Working animal Horse tack Horse supplies Bridle
Tree Shorts Working animal Landscape Recreation

This was my troupe the first year I had my own show. After that I cut way back on the performers (too much drama!!!!)

Premium Member
7,306 Posts
This will be dumb, and google would obviously answer my question, but what is wry mouth?

Maybe a chiropractor could help the cinchy horse. My big horse had a big cinch issue when he came, because being started in prison, his rider didn’t understand the term “make a horse tight,” as far as I can figure. His ribs were completely wrenched backwards, and he tried to kill my chiropractor on the days she worked on him. Yet, it made such a dramatic difference that I fully believe in it!

His cinch had to be loosened ten inches! It never went back either. Eventually he quit falling, and the cinchy behavior ended almost immediately. I saw him act a little cinchy again here recently, so I probably need another appointment, but my girl moved away…

Now, none of this is your problem of course, but it is an avenue his owner could possibly try.
1 - 8 of 8 Posts