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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Context: Casual Trail riding.
Horse: Trigger
Previous Issues: Go go go, no whoa whoa whoa. None. Straight up trying to run off with whoever is in the saddle.

Current thought for discussion:

Okay. Since he's a 'traveling' horse - we cover a LOT of ground at a speedy pace, and out walk people on quarter horses. A lot of times I kick him into a trot and we wait up ahead on the trail for others to catch up. He seems to enjoy a change of pace and then, the rest.

He's getting better about whoa. I've been cheating... when he listens and stops at my first request, I pull a horse treat out of a horn bag or my hoodie pouch, and tap him on the shoulder. He flexes back, I give him the snack and high praise. Then do likewise on the opposite side. If he ignores my request, he has to walk in circles until he chooses to stop and wait. He's figured out snack for stopping when asked > five or six circles, walking at his brisk pace + no snack. This makes his way the hard way, my way the easy one with a snack. We stop, we wait, and we wait patiently most of the time these days. The reaching back for the snack means he has to tap my shin to get it... so we're getting some flexions out of it too.

Here's the meat of it:

When the others have caught up... he always seems to be a split second ahead of my actual conscious cue to move out. I've not, to my knowledge, actually asked for it in any way... unless he's picking up the faintest change in my body position and body language, in my legs and seat (Possible).

I don't want to draw him up for this - because he's just doing what I was thinking and hadn't gotten from my brain to my hands.

I've had other people tell me oh hell no. He wouldn't move an INCH until I specifically told him to, that's disrespectful, etc.

Is he being disrespectful... or just anticipating my next move?

For little insight... My friend I ride with said she's never seen a horse that will react to the mood of their rider, the tone of their rider's voice or body language so quickly. It is immediate. Not a second lag. Immediate. He seems to be very finely tuned to human body language, and as a very low horse, I'm guessing that's how he's 'stayed alive'... being a quick study of body language, human, equine, or otherwise and reacting immediately.

I DO check him if I wasn't ready to move out and he does it anyway. That's when he gets to do some circles at his chosen pace and as mannnny as he wants. Once he settles down and stops, we wait a few seconds, and then I ask him to move out.


Let's discuss this - do you draw a horse up for being a split second ahead of you in a casual setting, or nah?
 

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This new mare I have anticipates my moves. I've worked on quieting myself and doing what Avna suggested you try. I am a quiet rider anyway, but this mare and I have bonded so well that it's crazy. She is go go go as well, but we've quieted down A LOT. I don't punish her or anything for moving out before I give an official cue because I don't want her to be less sensitive or less responsive. I think as long as they do respond to actual cues along with reacting to our thoughts that I'm not that picky about it. I also don't do any type of showing that would make those casual allowances crucial.
 

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When the others have caught up... he always seems to be a split second ahead of my actual conscious cue to move out. I've not, to my knowledge, actually asked for it in any way... unless he's picking up the faintest change in my body position and body language, in my legs and seat (Possible).

Most of the time, when you THINK about doing something, your body is already making miniscule changes in order to carry out that thought. It's very possible that you might not be aware you are doing anything, but he is picking up on it.



The same way that if you simply turn your head only to the left to look to your left, often times your horse will start moving to the left. You didn't change anything about your body ...... or so you think. But a simple turn of the head actually causes weight distribution changes and body language changes that a sensitive horse will easily pick up on.



So if you are thinking to ask him to walk in the next 5 seconds .... your body is already preparing to do that if though you haven't mentally told it to do anything yet!
 

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Reiterating the above. If he's responding to your thoughts (that most likely DO have very minor physical changes that he picks up on), just use that! I love having a horse that can respond to such minor changes. Punishing him would just confuse him, make him upset, and possibly deaden him to your little cues. "I thought you said move, so I moved, and now you're upset??"

I used to ride a pony who was very much how you described. Think it, don't cue for it, and she would do it. She'd pick up the canter from the walk before I even had a chance to gather my reins, but I was thinking it, so no sense in punishing her for it. Instead, I'd ride with my thoughts - clear and intentional, or else scattered thoughts create a scattered horse - and it made us one of the best teams at shows, because I would never (consciously) move a muscle and we'd do amazing in our equitation classes. At one show, I had tied in an equitation over fences class with someone else on an equally cute pony, so they had us do a tie-breaker by doing a unique jumping pattern. Clear a jump on the quarter line, then roll back about 270 degrees, clear another jump on the diagonal, and come to a halt immediately after. I didn't have to move my arms at all - I just looked where I wanted to go, then thought "stop" as we were clearing the second jump, and she came to a complete stop exactly one stride after landing with looped reins. Meanwhile, my opponent threw her arm all the way out to get her pony to roll back, nearly missed the jump, then fought her pony's mouth for a good ten strides while it held its head up in the air until it finally stopped. Needless to say, I won the class, and I don't think I've ever seen my trainer so proud!
 

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Context: Casual Trail riding.
Horse: Trigger
Previous Issues: Go go go, no whoa whoa whoa. None. Straight up trying to run off with whoever is in the saddle.

Current thought for discussion:

Okay. Since he's a 'traveling' horse - we cover a LOT of ground at a speedy pace, and out walk people on quarter horses. A lot of times I kick him into a trot and we wait up ahead on the trail for others to catch up. He seems to enjoy a change of pace and then, the rest.

He's getting better about whoa. I've been cheating... when he listens and stops at my first request, I pull a horse treat out of a horn bag or my hoodie pouch, and tap him on the shoulder. He flexes back, I give him the snack and high praise. Then do likewise on the opposite side. If he ignores my request, he has to walk in circles until he chooses to stop and wait. He's figured out snack for stopping when asked > five or six circles, walking at his brisk pace + no snack. This makes his way the hard way, my way the easy one with a snack. We stop, we wait, and we wait patiently most of the time these days. The reaching back for the snack means he has to tap my shin to get it... so we're getting some flexions out of it too.

Here's the meat of it:

When the others have caught up... he always seems to be a split second ahead of my actual conscious cue to move out. I've not, to my knowledge, actually asked for it in any way... unless he's picking up the faintest change in my body position and body language, in my legs and seat (Possible).

I don't want to draw him up for this - because he's just doing what I was thinking and hadn't gotten from my brain to my hands.

I've had other people tell me oh hell no. He wouldn't move an INCH until I specifically told him to, that's disrespectful, etc.

Is he being disrespectful... or just anticipating my next move?

For little insight... My friend I ride with said she's never seen a horse that will react to the mood of their rider, the tone of their rider's voice or body language so quickly. It is immediate. Not a second lag. Immediate. He seems to be very finely tuned to human body language, and as a very low horse, I'm guessing that's how he's 'stayed alive'... being a quick study of body language, human, equine, or otherwise and reacting immediately.

I DO check him if I wasn't ready to move out and he does it anyway. That's when he gets to do some circles at his chosen pace and as mannnny as he wants. Once he settles down and stops, we wait a few seconds, and then I ask him to move out.


Let's discuss this - do you draw a horse up for being a split second ahead of you in a casual setting, or nah?
I don't see it as disrespect but rather as an extension of his go go go tendency. IMO, he hasn't learned to wait for your obvious cue. I'm going to say he's reading your body language (slight tightening of seat and/or legs, sitting up straighter, raising of a hand, that kind of thing) and using it as an excuse to get out ahead of the pack. How's he do if you ride him drag?

And NO, I would not be real hard on him, I would just put him back where he was before he started off and let him stand while everyone goes by him and then make an obvious ask for hi m to go forward. The idea being, you need to give him an obvious ask or tell to go forward. That will get both of you thinking about your body language and make sure that you aren't tightening up in anticipation and he's reading that as the go go go cue.

***ETA*** An obvious ask doesn't need to be a kick or big squeeze of the legs. It can just be rather than you unconsciously tightening your butt muscles, you think "I want to go forward now" and give a conscious tightening of your butt muscles, one he can 'hear' clearly.
 

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He's sensitive. Stop trying to physically cue him and just think at him instead.

My horse, I bet, is not as sensitive as yours, but she generally knows what I'm thinking, if it is about her. And fairly often knows it before I do.
^^^THIS:)

I could tell stories about Duke (RIP), starting with the first time I rode him, that would have some people thinking I need to be locked away:faceshot:

There was once a serious discussion on this subject on a now defunct forum.

Some horses are much more in tune to human thought than others.

The bottom line to that old discussion is that people who think in pictures have a much better chance of silent communication with their horse than someone who thinks in abstract; especially as it applies to training:)
 

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I think he's just sensitive. :) They can sense everything, you may not even realize you're doing it like you said. You could just be 'thinking' it...& they will sense that.

For example, my mare knows what I'm thinking, before I even ask her to do something. :lol: I don't have to really 'physically' cue her, she just knows. If I think 'trot'...bam, she trots. LOL. It's pretty cool...how in tune they are with us!

I agree with the above - just use your thoughts!!!
 

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Bandit does the same thing. He sees no reason to wait forever for lollygagging horses. When they get close, he's ready to move out again. I consider it a plus. If I want Bandit to stay still, I've got to tell him - notice the reins:

The moment he got slack, he turned 180 and continued down the trail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
He's sensitive. Stop trying to physically cue him and just think at him instead.

My horse, I bet, is not as sensitive as yours, but she generally knows what I'm thinking, if it is about her. And fairly often knows it before I do.
Oh I rarely need to consciously cue him. And I tend to not do so at all. He's 98% of the time on the ball with what I'm thinking. I just brought this up to see what other opinions were. I'm to the stage now that I do me, and you do you... and most comments go right over my head... but I still get the occasional cluck of the tongue and how disrespectful, he didn't even wait for you types of comments, or: you're too soft on him, if he were my horse he'd by gawd wait till I told him to move out, blahblahblah.

More than anything I thought we could just discuss it and debate it if need be and hopefully help anyone else that wonders the same thing and is being told the same thing.

He IS very sensitive to my body language, moods, tone of voice and yes, more than likely he's just reading my split second in the future intentions through my change of position in the saddle, maybe even what I'm saying... because:

Trigger and I will turn to face folks that are catching up - he seems to be less inclined to press forward if we turn to face the way we came. Me to folks catching up on the trail as we're facing them: All caught up?

Reply from folks: Yeah! We're good!

Me: Alright... *Annnnd he's already turning around and moving out...and I've not knowingly, consciously asked for it.*

I'm glad to see everyone else is in agreement - he's just reading me better than I read myself, which is what I'd come to suspect over the years, not that he's spoiled or ignoring my authori-tye (Cartman voice).

It's nice to have confirmation of this, and hopefully we can discuss the difference between reading us and reading us quickly and accurately... and just being disrespectful and hasty.
 

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I love the quick-witted horses. Missy was like that. One thing I learned from her (and I had many things to learn from her, or because of her) was that I had to be tuned in to her as well. These horses are the most fun to go down a trail with although at times it can be a challenge.

Sassy, on the other hand (horse in avatar)...Well, I could sit on her all day and "think" about what I wanted her to do and we'd never get anywhere.

Enjoy the fun ones!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't see it as disrespect but rather as an extension of his go go go tendency. IMO, he hasn't learned to wait for your obvious cue. I'm going to say he's reading your body language (slight tightening of seat and/or legs, sitting up straighter, raising of a hand, that kind of thing) and using it as an excuse to get out ahead of the pack. How's he do if you ride him drag?

And NO, I would not be real hard on him, I would just put him back where he was before he started off and let him stand while everyone goes by him and then make an obvious ask for hi m to go forward. The idea being, you need to give him an obvious ask or tell to go forward. That will get both of you thinking about your body language and make sure that you aren't tightening up in anticipation and he's reading that as the go go go cue.

***ETA*** An obvious ask doesn't need to be a kick or big squeeze of the legs. It can just be rather than you unconsciously tightening your butt muscles, you think "I want to go forward now" and give a conscious tightening of your butt muscles, one he can 'hear' clearly.

He used to have a TERRIBLE time bringing up the rear or being in the middle. He would crowd other horses... I assume in case a mountain lion jumped out he'd have a better chance of survival/low confidence. Holding him back to give them room would lead to him getting more and more emotionally strung out and upset. He's done much better over the years - he's learning that he's not with the other horses... he's with me. He seems to be building up confidence on the trail. Mentally, he usually feels very 'close' to me these days. NOW we can ride in the back just fine... but he has a face that says kick me to other horses for some reason and no matter how well someone else rides their horse, there's always a chance of an impulse kick. It happens often with him... even when we're out of striking range. Most other horses will try to nail him.... and he's an expert at juking out of the way and I've become an expert at staying in the saddle when he does.


I don't know what it is with him.... I have a non-horse friend who laughed and said maybe he's talking ish about their moms when you're not around?... but he gets picked on.



I do like the suggestion on working on the cues, etc, while others go by - He still 'gets further away from me' when we pull off the trail for another group of riders we don't know. He wants to get caught up in their 'draw' and go right along with them, especially if they're going back to camp and we are going away from it. That's when we work hard on the not moving until I cue him to do so and a lot of circles that end right back in the same spot, get done. He's not nearly so insistent when we're pulling up the rear with our own group... only with a new group and the draw they create. That's when we have to have a 'moment' to get his head back around who he's with - me. (Lotsss of circles with an opportunity to move forward in the desired direction... and until he chooses to move forward in the right direction, he gets to walk circles at whatever pace he wants... but no forward progress gets made. Sometimes he just almost decides to knock it off and go the right way, away from the other stranger group, and he balks, starts to take a step to the side, not forward, and I give him a tiny bit of the ball spurs... and that usually gets him going the right way - like poking someone in the back when they stall in line).



While pulled of the trail... he has recently started looking back to me and tapping my shin... the snack thing I've been doing when he stands still for mounting has been cut back (praise and scritches remain at high levels), but snacks, praise and scritches are lavishly applied to when he stops without a lot of drama and fuss when asked. He'll do this now... tap my shin for a treat... when we pull off trail to let others pass. It's like he says: See? I'm doing good. Got any more of them... horse treats?


I've started saving the snacks for that sort of thing, the more advanced issues we've been working on, not the basics like mounting (now that he's got the I Need to Stand Still When She's Mounting thing down).


TBH? Most of the time the people I ride with want us out in front... (Sudden Wild Hogs don't freak him out, spider webs don't freak me out) so that suits him and me both just fine. The bigger issue is keeping him from thinking We Go with Them (Even if we don't know them). We're working on that one pretty heavy.


Very rambling, I know. Work is nuts today and I'm having a hard time keeping my thoughts collected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I love the quick-witted horses. Missy was like that. One thing I learned from her (and I had many things to learn from her, or because of her) was that I had to be tuned in to her as well. These horses are the most fun to go down a trail with although at times it can be a challenge.

Sassy, on the other hand (horse in avatar)...Well, I could sit on her all day and "think" about what I wanted her to do and we'd never get anywhere.

Enjoy the fun ones!!!!!!

LOL That's how Superman is. I guess it's the retired roping/kids rodeo horse thing. He was conditioned to NOT anticipate but rely on the rider's more affirmative cues. Seat and leg pressure have to be more 'there' than with Trigger.



It's really fun to ride Trigger, then Superman... and experiment with the differences in how they were taught to do a thing. It's kind of like learning the differences between a manual and an automatic transmission. Supes wants to be 'shifted into gears' whereas Trigger is an automatic... he just anticipates and 99% of the time, he's right.


Even the way to cue them from one gait to another is different and it's been a lot of fun learning how to ride the two different horses, and Gina is different from those two. Very fascinating stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Just another thought: Keep the discussion going. Doesn't have to be about Mr. Trigger though. I know there have to be other people out there in a casual setting (As opposed to showing or events where precision is crucial) who are second guessing their horse and their 'control' of the horse and are being told they're being too lenient when letting the horse anticipate the next move.


It's great to see I'm not the only one with a horse like this, and in our 'event' - ******* equitation - I'm honestly fine with his anticipation. I just started to wonder if I was indeed being too 'easy' on him when he does it.


Er... trying to peel off and follow other groups of horses we're not with - that's a whole other issue that we're working on now. That's an absolute no and we do have to have our moments over that.
 

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I think it shows you have a better connection with your horse, honestly...I like being able to just 'think' TROT, and my horse starts trotting. I don't have to kick, let alone squeeze really. In my lessons, I'm learning about the biomechanics & balance aspect of the horse, & I'm also learning how if you just 'think' about it, you can make it happen. Your mind & body go together. Really fascinating how sensitive these creatures are & how little things can go a long way. They are very smart.

Nothing wrong with it at all. People assume you always have to be physical with your cues, when honestly most riding is in fact, mental. They go hand in hand though. When I think 'woah', my body follows along/my seat & my horse slows down, & stops. It's not easy though. Took me months to really focus on my balance (at the walk, then eventually at the trot), & my mindset. It's like pretending there's a tennis ball in front of you, & you have to make sure you don't let it fall. Really made me get a sense of balance. My horse slowed down as soon as I found my center. As soon as I got off balance, her speed changed. Sorry to ramble, but it's really interesting how in tune they are with us. Even with our THOUGHTS!

I also like verbal cues. I can just tell my mare 'woah' and she stops. On the ground & in the saddle. Took awhile for us to get there, but she associated the word 'woah' with stopping, so...there we go!

It's not like Trigger is just doing whatever he wants, he just knows what you're thinking. They can feel our body language fairly quickly, it doesn't take much for some. I don't think he's being disrespectful at all. Now, if he was just like 'screw what you're thinking/asking, I'm gonna canter off!!!!' then yes, he's not listening but that isn't the case here. He is very in tune with you! :)

As for following other horses, that can take some time. He will learn soon enough to be 'independent'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@PoptartShop - I confess... I just figured out the shift in the seat (don't let the imaginary tennis ball hit you in the face) thing for whoa... this summer. I was watching the kids I ride with - the ones that have been on a horse since before they could walk... and noticed along with the verbal whoa and a rein cue they would shift their weight back a little in the seat (or a lot, depending on the horse) and lean back just a hair... maybe even put their legs (in the stirrups) forward a little.


I've starting doing that with Trigger and IDK if it's his rider that's improved or him. LOL But it really helps send a very clear signal as to what I'm really asking for and he listens to it.... and yeah he still gets snacks for it. He doesn't LIKE listening to me, but that's okay. He doesn't have to like it. If I'm asking to stop, there's a good reason for it.


Just so everyone knows - he really didn't have any brakes when he came to me. One of the same kids I picked this up from, G, rode him very early on when I had him. She let his brakes off, let him run, and was able to shut him down but... after some choice words that would make a salty sailor blush, she said: This blankety blank ain't got no blankety blank brakes! So it wasn't entirely all me just not knowing about seat and leg cues, etc. He and I are teaching one another and finding an equilibrium I guess ([email protected] told me would happen).



I'm so, so glad I didn't give up on him. Would I do it again? For him... yes. IDK about for any other horse... at least at my age. I'm not getting any younger. I'd rather Outback turn out to be an awesome trail horse.
 

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I get a lot of flack with my mare as well. Actually with all three of them. But one is a baby (she's 4) who nearly had her mind blown by nothing but roping practice. The other is a rescue with major trust issues who has been sensitized to the MAX. And the other is a horse who has gotten away with tons and has multiple minor issues because of her lack of proper or adequate care over the years. For some reason I tend to gravitate towards the horses that need me as much as I need them.

With my 4 year old she never got ridden to just ride and enjoy it. She only had the job. I have noticed a TON of baby-ish behaviors coming out in her as since I've gotten her she's been able to trail ride and have time with other horses and be turned out to be a baby. Overall, I think her mind will be better because of it and eventually she will be an incredible barrel horse, but also one that is well rounded and able to go on trails. Nearly everyone I know in the competitive barrel racing world says I am taking it too slow with her, blah blah blah. But I've worked so hard on letting her relax some that I don't want to just immediately hype her back up. We are in no hurry. They also say I need to make her do many things that I have basically accepted she is not good at currently. Sure I'll continue to work on them but honestly these things are not dangerous (like she noses at everything in curiosity including all over me when I am doing things like cleaning her feet) but she is not nipping or being rude. Just curious. She was never allowed to just be a horse, and I've seen this happen to tons of futurity horses in the wrong hands where they revert to foal behavior later in life because they were in such intense training/competing regimes. She does not always stand to be mounted, so yeah we work on that and we work on verbal whoas because those behaviors can be dangerous. But her wanting to look at and sniff things before I put them on her....I don't really think that's a big deal, and if tacking up takes me an extra minute or so then I'm cool with that. She will start moving out before I have officially asked her to but I have begun thinking it so I'm sure my body is reacting and she is reacting to that. I actually have been working on riding her in the round pen with only first the thinking then body cues like shifting weight to increase and decrease her pace. She responds to marvelously I cannot think of why I'd want to hinder that! Perhaps those that want blind obedience from every horse should rethink their ideas! I think as long as the horse is not being dangerous then we often have to pick and choose what we will accept in the form of perfection.

The rescue mare is another story. The people who comment on her say we are "ruining" her by basically starting over with just getting her to accept handling. They keep saying we should just start working her hard until she learns to accept it. We feel as though that would ruin her. And she has come so far. A horse that would tremble as you touched her will now meet us at the gate, eat treats from our hands, and follow us around in the round pen or her stall. It may be small progress but it's amazing to us!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@therhondamarie

"The rescue mare is another story. The people who comment on her say we are "ruining" her by basically starting over with just getting her to accept handling. They keep saying we should just start working her hard until she learns to accept it. We feel as though that would ruin her. And she has come so far. A horse that would tremble as you touched her will now meet us at the gate, eat treats from our hands, and follow us around in the round pen or her stall. It may be small progress but it's amazing to us!"

This was Trigger and that was the advice I got for him. After trying that for almost a year, he was untouchable and didn't trust anyone. It literally melted his brain. When my husband says: "I know what *insert name of any of his cowboy friends he trusts* said, and I know I agreed with him... but it's making him worse. You're going to have to 'take him back the other way'" you know something ain't right.

IDK... it seems letting Trigger have some autonomy to move off before I actually ask it (by reading my body language) and do things like go look at the scenery like he did this weekend when we were camping, or to even let him pick his pace on the trail sometimes (Well, okay. Today we're long trotting! A lot!) seems to have helped him gain confidence and even more trust in me (And me in him). His head seems to be getting in the right place. I think trail riding on him has been the best thing that I could possibly do for him.
 

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I get a lot of flack with my mare as well. Actually with all three of them. But one is a baby (she's 4) who nearly had her mind blown by nothing but roping practice. The other is a rescue with major trust issues who has been sensitized to the MAX. And the other is a horse who has gotten away with tons and has multiple minor issues because of her lack of proper or adequate care over the years. For some reason I tend to gravitate towards the horses that need me as much as I need them.

I think we heal them and they heal us.

With my 4 year old she never got ridden to just ride and enjoy it. She only had the job. I have noticed a TON of baby-ish behaviors coming out in her as since I've gotten her she's been able to trail ride and have time with other horses and be turned out to be a baby. Overall, I think her mind will be better because of it and eventually she will be an incredible barrel horse, but also one that is well rounded and able to go on trails. Nearly everyone I know in the competitive barrel racing world says I am taking it too slow with her, blah blah blah. But I've worked so hard on letting her relax some that I don't want to just immediately hype her back up. We are in no hurry. They also say I need to make her do many things that I have basically accepted she is not good at currently. Sure I'll continue to work on them but honestly these things are not dangerous (like she noses at everything in curiosity including all over me when I am doing things like cleaning her feet) but she is not nipping or being rude. Just curious. She was never allowed to just be a horse, and I've seen this happen to tons of futurity horses in the wrong hands where they revert to foal behavior later in life because they were in such intense training/competing regimes. She does not always stand to be mounted, so yeah we work on that and we work on verbal whoas because those behaviors can be dangerous. But her wanting to look at and sniff things before I put them on her....I don't really think that's a big deal, and if tacking up takes me an extra minute or so then I'm cool with that. She will start moving out before I have officially asked her to but I have begun thinking it so I'm sure my body is reacting and she is reacting to that. I actually have been working on riding her in the round pen with only first the thinking then body cues like shifting weight to increase and decrease her pace. She responds to marvelously I cannot think of why I'd want to hinder that! Perhaps those that want blind obedience from every horse should rethink their ideas! I think as long as the horse is not being dangerous then we often have to pick and choose what we will accept in the form of perfection.

Take your time with her. You don't need to ride a nutball. If she's responding how you like, keep doing it. I've learned to turn a very deaf ear to those who want me to train their way,
most of the time it doesn't work for my horses nor me.


The rescue mare is another story. The people who comment on her say we are "ruining" her by basically starting over with just getting her to accept handling. They keep saying we should just start working her hard until she learns to accept it. We feel as though that would ruin her. And she has come so far. A horse that would tremble as you touched her will now meet us at the gate, eat treats from our hands, and follow us around in the round pen or her stall. It may be small progress but it's amazing to us!
That IS actually amazing progress. She is learning trust. She's not a motorcycle to be ridden and put up in the garage until the next time.

AtokaGhosthorse;1970803019[/QUOTE said:
This was Trigger and that was the advice I got for him. After trying that for almost a year, he was untouchable and didn't trust anyone. It literally melted his brain. When my husband says: "I know what *insert name of any of his cowboy friends he trusts* said, and I know I agreed with him... but it's making him worse. You're going to have to 'take him back the other way'" you know something ain't right.

IDK... it seems letting Trigger have some autonomy to move off before I actually ask it (by reading my body language) and do things like go look at the scenery like he did this weekend when we were camping, or to even let him pick his pace on the trail sometimes (Well, okay. Today we're long trotting! A lot!) seems to have helped him gain confidence and even more trust in me (And me in him). His head seems to be getting in the right place. I think trail riding on him has been the best thing that I could possibly do for him.
Trigger has come a very long way in a pretty short span of time. He's had to learn trust, whoa and a whole lot of other things. That you both are growing into each other is AWESOME.

The only reason I mention having him learn to move off only if you give a cue is, if you get in a bind where he absolutely needs to keep his feet still, you need to be able to tell him, "Whoa, Stand Still" and be sure he can do it. I'm thinking in terms of gets a foot wrapped in barbed wire, don't want him to move until you get it off his leg because it will shred him, kind of things. Had that happen to a buddy of mine. Where did the barb wire come from? Who knows but if that horse hadn't stood like a rock and been patient, he'd have had hamburger for a leg. Otherwise, just because he decides to take the lead on a trail ride, so what? It's not hurting anyone.

As for letting go and letting him "smell the roses", why not? Again, not hurting anyone and lets him know that curious is a good thing. A curious horse learns things and becomes a confident horse. I've always had a tendency to let the horse pick the pace, as long as there wasn't a good reason not to. Again, who or what is it hurting? Trail riding with no real end goal (not gotta get around those barrels, gotta get around that jump pattern, etc etc) is a major cure all for a LOT of horses who have developed idiosyncrasies and have become nervous and fearful. For me, if a horse hasn't got the mind to go out on trail, he hasn't got the mind to do anything. He doesn't necessarily need to be the BEST trail horse ever ridden, he just needs to be able to go out and see new things and have new experiences without having a total brain melt.
 

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Trigger has come a very long way in a pretty short span of time. He's had to learn trust, whoa and a whole lot of other things. That you both are growing into each other is AWESOME.

The only reason I mention having him learn to move off only if you give a cue is, if you get in a bind where he absolutely needs to keep his feet still, you need to be able to tell him, "Whoa, Stand Still" and be sure he can do it. I'm thinking in terms of gets a foot wrapped in barbed wire, don't want him to move until you get it off his leg because it will shred him, kind of things. Had that happen to a buddy of mine. Where did the barb wire come from? Who knows but if that horse hadn't stood like a rock and been patient, he'd have had hamburger for a leg. Otherwise, just because he decides to take the lead on a trail ride, so what? It's not hurting anyone.

As for letting go and letting him "smell the roses", why not? Again, not hurting anyone and lets him know that curious is a good thing. A curious horse learns things and becomes a confident horse. I've always had a tendency to let the horse pick the pace, as long as there wasn't a good reason not to. Again, who or what is it hurting? Trail riding with no real end goal (not gotta get around those barrels, gotta get around that jump pattern, etc etc) is a major cure all for a LOT of horses who have developed idiosyncrasies and have become nervous and fearful. For me, if a horse hasn't got the mind to go out on trail, he hasn't got the mind to do anything. He doesn't necessarily need to be the BEST trail horse ever ridden, he just needs to be able to go out and see new things and have new experiences without having a total brain melt.

This is exactly why T, my trail riding buddy, takes her barrel horses... every one of them... trail riding and camping. She wants them to have new things to look at, their brain to have to work in other ways, she wants them to encounter things that require thought, not just a pattern around barrels. She catches flak from a lot of younger barrel racers: OH EM GEE... HOW can you handle a fire breathing barrel horse IN THE WILD? What if they get hurt? and her favorite: What kind of a work out is THAT for a horse? *Derisive snorting*



I can preach the gospel of trail riding horses - it is certainly a work out for the horse, especially if you're on more challenging terrain, it's a mental break from work work work, it teaches you to rely on each other and trust one another.


On getting him to whoa and stay whoaed... you know... He's never done something dumb that got him in a pickle. I honestly don't know how he'd react. He HAS gotten me hung up under a tree and raked off... that was my stupid fault and it was very early on in our misadventures. I'll obviously keep working with him on the whoa and stand... he's figured out there are snacks to be had, so it's been helpful finding his currency... hopefully he'll get ironed out even more.



The fact that he stands at all compared to what he was like before (pulling the bit, tucking his head and going just exactly the direction he wanted, no matter what I asked for, that sort of thing) is incredible. But again, I think getting to the point he feels he has some autonomy when we're riding, that he's not just a machine to be ordered around, has really helped his mind and spirit settle. Just letting him pick his pace and 'play' a little when the trail conditions permit it seem to make him so much happier. He seems to listen more to me as I've quit trying to control every little thing he does, and actually behaves BETTER than when I tried to control him to get better behavior - I hope that makes sense.
 
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