Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Ice

Winter rain, sleet, and ice! Lovely! This is what we woke up to today. Ice is everywhere. 20 degrees and misty rain. Roads were slick, but by noon, they were wet and manageable.

The only good thing about ice is seeing the trees all frosted!

But by afternoon, small branches were falling off. I sure hope large branches don't break during the night. I've heard branches snapping and breaking when they have been covered with ice. It sure makes a loud noise! By late afternoon, the temp dropped to 11 degrees. The wind picked up and it was brisk to do chores.

And I love the pines. They look so feathery and are very pretty. Tomorrow, I'll stay home and enjoy the winter wonderland that I'm sure I will wake up to. We are expecting snow tonight and tomorrow.

The "Wild Horse Model"

My Horse Lot

Anyone hear about The Wild Horse Model before. Joe Camp in his book, “The Soul of a Horse” talks about a natural pasture. One with rocks and stones and steep up and down hills. This is an imitation of how the wild horses live. Joe states that the horses in the wild are healthier and more sound, on the average.

Horses in the wild would travel 15-20 miles a day. They would stay as a herd, with safety in numbers. They would spend 16-18 hours a day eating. They would control their own internal body temperature. They would walk on firm ground, and not be standing in their own manure. And wild horses would get REM sleep, unstressed sleep, where they would lay down, surrounded by the herd for safety.
He states that a horse should eat from the ground. A horse should have a wild horse trim. A horse should have plenty of movement on rough, uneven ground.

The horse’s instinct is to have food, water, safety, and to reproduce. Survival includes a life of instincts. This includes how to be part of the herd, understanding the herd language, and understanding the social order of the herd.

The horse’s instinct kicks in all the time. When to move and how fast. When to try to see something in the distance and decide to run now or stay. Why horses do what they do.
Pete Ramey uses the “wild horse trim”. The horse’s hoof is suppose to flex. The flexing provides shock absorption and acts to pump the blood through the leg. The hoof can’t flex with shoes on. A hoof that can’t flex becomes unhealthy due to lack of circulation to the hoof wall and sole.
But our modern day horses aren’t all wild mustangs, or descendants of mustangs. We don’t have horses with rock-hard hooves. We have horses that are stalled or need to be in lots. We all don’t have acres and acres to make a natural pasture.

So we need to shoe some of our horses. And when we don’t shoe, we keep our horse’s hooves as healthy as we can.

If you had the chance to develop a “wild horse model” now, how would you do it or what can you do now? I don’t have any steep hills. And I’m not sure I want to put boulders in my horse lots. This will take some thinking.

We are to do what is best for the horse. Sometimes, that is hard to do when you have limitations.
Maybe we have to do the best we can for the horse, with what we have! But we can change what we do or how we do something, for the benefit for the horse.

Once again, this will take some thinking to figure out what changes I can make. I have kept my horses barefoot as much as I can to strengthen their hooves. I do feed them on the ground, since they like to pull the hay out of the round bale feeder and onto the ground. I feed them grain in low feeders.

I do keep them living as natural as I can outside. They don’t have winter blankets. Some of them have to go to a tree lined area to get out of the wind. The horses know how to turn their butts to the wind.

What I can do is to look for as different of terrain, as I can find, to ride. I can try to keep their lots as clean as I can so they don’t have to stand in muck. I can try to toughen up their feet by riding the ones, that I ride the most, on the soft gravel areas and sides of the road.

I’ll have to keep thinking of ways to change, as change can be good.

Any other ideas?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Change and Rewards

"Change is for the better. How can people ignore what seems so obvious because it would mean change." The book, "The Soul of the Horse", talks about doing what is best for the horse, and our relationship with them. Use logic and knowledge wherever found, searching and finding out what works for you. Ray Hunt would say that he is here for the horse.

“Just as a rainmaker doesn't quit until it rains, don't quit until you have what you want”. Continue working with your horse until you get the desired results. As you build a confident horse, the horse will change for the better. You will change into the herd leader.

“Some people think they will hurt the horse’s feelings. This is simply leadership in action. You would actually be building respect as the leader.” How true! Horses aren’t people and don’t need what people need. Horses aren’t dogs and don’t need what dogs need. Horses need what horses need. And that is a leader. One that they can trust to lead them to safety.

All horses need a good sleep, and in the wild, they will go to the center of the herd and lay down, where they feel safe. It makes me think that we need a good sleep too, somewhere where you aren't thinking about the day or what to do, somewhere where you can fall into a deep sleep, waking up refreshed.

Communicate with your horse. Be safe while doing that. Move your horse around, gaining the respect of the horse. Begin to speak the language of the horse. Like Joe says in his book, "who moves who".

Horses will never be dishonest with you. I have always said horses are black and white, they will always let you know where they stand.

Are you black and white with your horse? Where are the gray areas? What will you do, specifically and not in a general way, to change the gray into black and white?

Change is necessary as we grow in our communication with the horse.

I guess I will work on the general area of patience, but more specifically work on slowing down when asking for each step of maneuver.

What about you? Change how you handle the horse, change how you ride, change how you communicate with the horse?

Change is good. We learn to be better horsewomen and leaders.

Just as rewards are good. Horses need to be rewarded when they try or when they accomplish something. And I think horses need to be rewarded a little, maybe in the form of backing off some, when they are bad, as you can’t keep the “punishment” going on forever. The horse’s reward is “release of pressure”. When the horse does something you want, has some try with what you want, doesn’t understand what you want, may be getting a little worse than what you want, THEN release the pressure. Go back to where the horse understands and start over. Slower.

Have you ever watch horses in a herd. Even a herd of 2 or 3. Sometimes they are not kind teachers. They bite and they kick. They can look really nasty. But they get the point across. Move or I will move you. Now, there is no gray in that look.

Then have you ever seen that horse, that gets nasty with another horse, stand beside that horse and swish flies or let them eat hay with him? What happens when the nasty horse walks away? The other horses follow. They know who is the leader.

Continue to learn as much as you can. With learning comes understanding. You’ll learn what works for you and your horse and what doesn’t.

But the learning may take time. Getting the respect from your horse may take time. Be patient and take the time that is necessary. If you rush yourself, you will get flustered. If you rush the horse, you will go back 2 steps.

“Are you a person of action?” If you make the decision or suggest a choice when you are in a group, people start looking to you to make the next decision or choice. Making a decision is acting on your thoughts. When you work with your horse, you need to decide what you want the horse to do. It’s ok if it’s not quite the right decision, because the next time you ask, you will change how you ask or what you ask for, and that is how to get to the right decision for you.

How should we act around our horse? How should we act when we ride? How should we act when we approach to catch or just to rub some? We should be confident and act the same way in all that we do. Act like you know what you want to accomplish, even if you are unsure. Don’t act unsure, act confident. Maybe, in the same way we take the pressure off the horse when the horse doesn’t understand what we want, take some pressure off yourself. Go back a step to where you know what you want and where you are confident. Remember, respect from the horse goes to the confident leader. Whether the leader is on the ground or on the horse.

Now we are full circle and it come down to communicating with the horse, in the horse’s language. No gray and white areas. Be the leader. The horse will respect you for it. And not only respect you, but want you to be the leader.

And the horse will chose you!

“Embrace the Journey!”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Start with a Blank Sheet

First, I have to say, I can't believe it's been a week since I blogged! Geez, where does the time go? I've been gone for a week and time is flying by.

anyways... to continue the Book post....

"Start with a blank sheet and fill it up." Another quote from the Book, "The Soul of a Horse". Joe Camp wants a relationship with his horses. He wants his horses to chose him. He wants himself and his horse to work together to build a relationship.

How would we start our blank sheet? How would you start now to build a relationship with your horse? Where would you start?

My blank sheet is in front of me (that would be the blank page of the computer screen with the title "Building a relationship with my horse".

I'm starting with a blank sheet, a clean slate, a new beginning to how I think and how I train. I want the horse to chose me. That only comes from the horse seeing you as a leader (and not a predator.)

Number 1, start in the round pen, building that trust and that leadership, having the horse chose me.
#1. Becoming a better leader.

what is your #1 and how will you get there. Think ahead to HOW you will fill up your blank page.
Right now, my last number, and maybe yours, could be doing that endurance ride, or that intense trail ride, or that day long trail ride, or that day in the arena playing games with your horse. Because what better way to know you have a true partner is when you do something together, and you move together, and you work towards your dream together.

For me, # 1 was to start in the round pen, building that trust and thatleadership,having the horse chose me.

#1. Becoming a better leader.

#2 After the horse chooses me and bonds with me, then I'll work on the horse"walking" with me in all directions. Front, back, sideways, etc.I think I will get the horse to do more manuevers by thinking of it as "fun"time and not "work" time.

#3 Saddling, Bridling, Ground Driving - everything I do, I'll continue, but onceagain, I'll think fun maneuvers. Keep the horse thinking. Do many smallermaneuvers, circles, serpentines, etc and keep it fun and interesting for thehorse.

I'll take the pressure off by doing less collection work in the beginning tomore "just riding" work/fun time.

By the time I leave #3, I should have a horse that is riding well, ridingforward, eagerly looking for the next thing, ready for the trail and the realworld. I'm heading to the bottom of the Blank Sheet.

As I am that confident leader for that horse, I want to develop that confidenthorse underneath me.

What are your #3 and #4? How will you get to the end of your Blank Sheet?
Start with 1, think of a plan, and fill in #2 and #3, and even to the end.

What do you want to start with and where do you want to go?

What is your #1 and how will you work on it, your #2 and #3?B

"Embrace the Journey!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book and Article Reviews

Click here to join the Horses Are Our Lives Chat Group. We'll talk about Centered Riding and exercises, horsemanship and training tips, and book and article reviews.

I'm going to start a book review every week or so. By spring or summer, it may turn into an article review when I don't have enough time to read.
This week, I finished the Book, "Chosen Forever" by Susan Richards, who also wrote "Chosen by a Horse". I'll wait and talk about these 2 books after I read Chosen by a Horse again. I read it 2 years ago, and I want to read it again and talk about it before talking about Chosen Forever. If you get the chance in the next week or 2, get one or both of these books if you would like to add some input about them.

Yesterday, I started the book, "The Soul of a Horse" by Joe Camp. He is a dog trainer and worked on the Benji movie sets. He met Monty Roberts and learned Monty's way of "Join-Up".
I think that is what I'll start with, the Monty's concept of Join-Up, as this is the foundation of Joe Camp's thinking. Later in the book, Joe talks about what he is learning from horses. With only a short time with horses, Joe's animal perception and what makes them why they are, is what his book is about.

Monty talks about 3 stages:
First: Grow yourself big, like a predator, then "chase" the horse by tossing a rope behind it to keep it running, not letting it stop running until the horse shows you some signs. This is Flight.
Signs that the horse wants to "communicate" with you"
1) The horse cocks an ear at you, turns his eye to you.

2) Licking and chewing
3) Head drops, almost to the ground, and the horse circles closer and closer to you.

You stop what you are doing, turn your back to the horse, and lower your shoulders. You are no longer the predator.

You have talked to the horse in "horse language".The horse does not look at you as the predator anymore.The horse is looking for you as a herd member and leader.

The horse needs to chose to come to you. With your back turn, the horse "joins-up" when the horse comes close enough to you to touch you with his muzzle and breath in. Now, the horse will follow you and treat you as his/her leader.

I've been doing this ever since I started round penning my colts. I round pen to let the horse know that I am boss. I move them until they turn and come to me. As I think about this, when I act as the "boss", I was the predator. When they turned to me, I lowered my arm/hand/rope, all my defenses, and they understood that they could trust me as I no longer acted as the predator. When they came to me and I rubbed their forehead, I was now part of their herd, friend and leader. I could be trusted. Now is the time to not break that trust. Now is the time to stop acting like the predator and continue to act as the herd leader.
and that is the Matriarch of the herd. More on that tomorrow.

For now, are you your horse's leader?
What do you do to become it's leader?

How will you change your thinking about being the herd member/leader without being the predator?
If you would like to join my chat group, to discuss or just to read the discussion, not just about a book or article review, but about Centered Riding and the exercises, horsemanship and training tips and ideas, or general health questions and concerns, click below to join at:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunrise From an Airplane

The whole horizon is seen, from as far east as you can see to as far west,
After the dark night sky begins to lighten
From deep dark blue, with a few stars shining through
To royal blue, bright and brilliant, my favorite color
Turning to light blue, the color of my grandbabies eyes
On to the lightest blue, that of baby blue,
Then to mint green, and odd color that I wouldn’t have thought I would see in a sunrise,
Changing to a very pale yellow, softly mixing with the orange, turning to a yellow orange
Which is florescent orange, brilliant and so pretty against the night sky.
Orange-red to red-orange,
The red is almost a magenta color, with a hint of purple.
But there is only a dark purple line on the horizon,
Framing the dark earth.

The layers of the orange just astound me with their colors. So brilliant, the orange is making up almost ¾ of the sunrise.
The bright blue sky is getting larger as the black night sky is disappearing.
The stars are gone as the sky lightens.

The sunrise lasted a long time as I’m flying south. I’m glad to have had a window seat facing east. I really need to make myself get up earlier to see more sunrises.

This one is spectacular.
And so inspirational.

The light is reflecting off the clouds as the lowest layers of clouds are taking on the orange hue. The sky is lightening as the orange lessons and the yellow color widens. Royal blue is becoming lighter until it reaches the lighter blue of the morning sky.

As I take a deep breath, I feel relaxed.
I had started to daydream, enjoying the peace.
I had just been thinking of Finny and I know he is at peace.

Among the clouds, God is talking to me.
I need to listen to what He is saying.
I hear, “enjoy the horse/s you have and enjoy them to the fullest. When they leave you, they are with me.
And they are safe.”

And the sky lightens and the sun starts to shine.
Morning is here.
A new day begins.
And the mourning is over,
With a new resolution and understanding begins.

Thank you, God, for my morning inspirational devotion.

With the clouds below me, I feel like I am in the heavens.
If I close my eyes, maybe I can feel Finny beneath me.
my galloping friend.
The clouds below seem like they would make a very soft bedding.
But I can’t sit here and reflect and remember too long,
As it still makes me sad.

And the sun suddenly appears very bright and obvious, sending it’s glow along the horizon.
Maybe there is something obvious in front of me that I just need to be able to see.
There is a sun that will spread its sunshine around me, warming me, and making me smile at its beauty.

That thought makes my heart not so sad anymore.
When I think of Finny, maybe I need to think about the sun.
Always there every day, whether we see it or not.
Always warming my heart.
Always brightening my emotions and soul.

The sunrise colors are gone and the sun is here.
A new day is in front of me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Sunset

The horses are standing quietly today, in the very brisk 10 degree morning temp.

The outside arena is covered with snow.

The pine trees are standing quiet, laden with snow. Without a breeze, the snow lays heavy in the brough.

The view from the deck is very pretty. Everything so white and clean.

The measuring stick only showed a little under 7 "

But as I was walking through the snow, it seemed a lot more than 7". More like 9". What a workout.
Yesterday, the morning temp was in the 20's.

But today we woke to 4 degrees, and it's to be in the minuses tonight. Brrr

The sun sets, while all is quiet.

While I walk back to the house, through the treeline after taking pics of the sunset last night, I snap this picture.

And as I view the pic through the viewfinder, I realize how pretty it is out here. Looking at the house and part of the barn through the trees, I'm seeing this through different eyes. I sure love the trees, and wooded areas, even though I only have a tree lined acreage. This makes me appreciate what I have and makes me remember what I grew up with.
I find the peaceful quiet of the snow very relaxing. I hope you do, too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day

By Sunday afternoon, we had at least 4" of snow. I think it seemed like more than what the weather stations were saying.
The horses weren't too covered with snow though.
The cars were barely covered, and we had a light layer in the driveway.
The pines up front don't have too much snow in them... yet.

The pine tree to the side of the house was layered in snow.
I just love how pine trees look with layers of snow.

Then we woke to another 4" of snow this morning.
There has to be a total of 6-8" of snow on this railing.
I wished I had taken a pictures of the car and truck. They had a thick layer of snow on them, but before I thought about taking a pic of them, hubby had backed them out of the driveway and broomed all the snow off of them.

The horses are huddled around the round bale.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

More Tractor Pics

Caden and Makenzie got riding tractors for Christmas. Here is Caden supervising his tractor being put together. The previous post was about Makenzie's tractor.

Let's get this tractor put together! Where's the seat?

Studying the decals and figuring out where everything goes.

Putting the decals on just right.

There are a lot of parts laying on the table yet.

ok, this is how you will want to do this!
Hey, don't you need the steering wheel to ride this tractor?

Aren't you guys done yet?

YEA! The guys got my tractor done!
Caden, Dad Jacob, Grandpa "Pop" and Uncle Micah

Thanks Pop and Grandma!

I'm a pretty happy guy right now!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tractors for Christmas

Makenzie's JD tractor for Christmas. Check back soon to see Caden's.

Are you getting it together? Can I ride my tractor yet?

I can help!

What is taking you guys so long?

Loader is going on.

My seat is getting on.

Pop, get off the phone and get my seat on!

Finally, the seat is on!

I have my baby, my sippy and my phone. I'm ready to go!

I don't want to go to bed yet, I can ride it with my jammies on too!


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