Hi Stacy! Jac is doing amazingly well. Seriously, my jaw drops when I watch him perform. I have to ask, do you believe that his reactions to everything are a result of your training, his innate personality, or both? I can only think back to some of my horses, and going down that empty aisle of curtains would have been daunting. As would walking into a new, empty arena. I had some seasoned, 12-year old horses that would be fine in competition, wonderful in the warm-up arena, but going into the big ring alone to just warm up was one spook after another. They also would have panicked being entirely alone in a stall like Jac’s – especially after hauling for so long next to their friends in the trailer. I mean, heck, some would get upset if they were tied to the opposite side of the trailer, or couldn’t see their buddy in the adjacent stall. Sometimes I am convinced it could only be training, but then again, I started a colt a couple years ago whose third time being ridden was at a horse show and he was calmer and paid better attention to me than my mare of 3 years!.
Do you have ways of building up confidence in horses that are less sure of themselves? Or do you believe that for the flightier horses, the best thing you can do is simply exposure?
I think both the training and the innate personality play a part. Jac is naturally very confident but the tricky part with him is getting him to view me as the leader. He has a tendency to think he is the leader.
Roxy was very timid. She would ‘attach’ to a strange horse in the length of one trailer ride. She stressed out so much at her first few shows that she lost her tail hair!
The answer with both horses was to get them to view me as the leader. Going about that process changes because the confident horse needs to know I am strong enough to lead him and the scared horse needs to know I will lead…but won’t scare him.
Both horses will benefit from exposure. If you look back at Jac in Episode 28 when I ponied him into the same arena he tried to climb on top of Newt when the clapping started. I chose not to ride him at that time because I knew he didn’t view me as a leader strong enough to trust me under that pressure. As I have worked to train him to a higher level he is also viewing me more as a leader.
Even if you look back to Episode 14 you will see Jac questioning my leadership. When he thought the ‘ball’ was the answer he almost ran me over to get there…which was disrespecting me directly. I had to be more firm with Jac’s personality type pushing through my space than I would have been with Roxy even though they both would have required correction.
I hope this helps shed some light on the subject. It really could be an entire book to answer the question! I suggest you keep looking for this ‘thread of thought’ through the blogs and videos. Once you find it you will have the key to understanding how to be a true leader for your horses.
Stacy’s Video Diary Jac-Episode 33- Behind the scenes look at horse training at an expo
Total training time-139 hours 30 minutes
When traveling with horses to shows, trail rides, clinics or expos it is often the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that seasons them more that the event itself.
Before the event even began I was riding in the arena where I would be speaking. This is also the same arena that the freestyle reining is held in during the Quarter Horse Congress which is why I said, “Jac’s pretending we’re getting ready to go in the freestyle.”
There is a quote that says, “Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.”-Robert H. Schuller
I explain that there are often times when riding horses that the horse will anticipate things; for example a reining horse anticipating the lead change when coming through the middle of the show pen….because a lead change always happens in the middle during a show.
Many people think that avoiding the problem area is a solution. The problem with this thinking is that the lead changes cannot be avoided during showing…so by ‘avoiding’ the problem area during training you are actually highlighting the fact that the ONLY time you deal with that area is when showing.
I explain that I do patterns like the 4 leaf clover pattern (shown on the DVD Basic Body Control and Bridleless Riding: How Does She Do That?) at home so that I can ‘open the can of worms’ and work on the issue at home. By using a repetitive pattern, such as the 4 leaf clover, the opportunity to train through the anticipation phase become possible. When the horse knows that a left turn is coming and the rider corrects the problems such as ducking and diving, the horse become aware that although there are repetitive things coming-they should still wait for and respect the rider.
The video also shows a ‘behind the scenes’ of Jac’s celebrity life including getting into Jac’s ‘celebrity’ stall, lunch on the go (PB &J) with Stacy and Jac, saddling up, and warming up for a demo.
The chaos of traveling with horses is what gets them ‘seasoned’; trucks, people, other horses, flags, carts, etc.
Jac encountered his first ‘scared’ moment of the expo when a small driving team entered the warm up pen. Listen as I explain how I used the distraction as a ‘test’ for Jac.
Jac handled this whole experience quite well. I show a closing video of Jac in his ‘celebrity’ stall as the expo is closing (I try sneaking up on him) and we see that Jac is relaxed and confident…exactly what we want to see in our horses.
My favorite part is when I ‘sneak’ up on Jac and he stops chewing…I don’t know why but I always laugh when horses stop chewing to focus…it makes me think of a human freezing ‘mid-chew’ and I can’t help but laugh!
The mini’s finally made the trip to Texas! They went to Maine last summer so this wasn’t their first long ride in the trailer. I postponed bringing them when we moved down in February because I knew they would need to be body clipped as soon as we got here. They grew winter coats for temperatures -24 degrees Fahrenheit and Texas was significantly warmer. We had blanketed the horses in Ohio to prepare them for the sudden temperature change but the minis had to wait.
I got the message from them that they wanted to be clipped….
Texas has been about 30-40 degrees warmer than Ohio so I had the clippers ready to help them remove their coats. These mini’s grow hair coats that are NOT like horses. They remind me more of a Husky dog with an undercoat that is incredibly thick.
They have never been body clipped before but were pretty tolerant of it. It was taking me on average, three passes with the clippers; one to remove the outer layer, another to remove the undercoat, and a final pass to clean up the remaining fuzz.
I used a pair of regular clipper and a pair of body clipper, alternating them to allow each pair to cool. Even so I had to stop after clipping for several hours straight. I’m headed out to finish the job now as it is headed up to 81 degrees today.
Some people consider blanketing, body clipping, etc. to be ‘unnatural’ for horses. In a way they are correct because horses in nature are not body clipped or blanketed. However, they are not telling the whole story when they make these statements. Horses in the wild don’t have their feet trimmed, or their wounds doctored, or many other things that we routinely do for our horses to improve their lives. A horse moving from Ohio to Texas in two days is also not natural…so we step in and help out.
My husband, Jesse, was giving a lesson one day and I heard him say, “People have problems with horses because they either don’t know or don’t pay attention.” I quickly wrote it down and made a mental note to find a photo that would match it. There is so much truth in the statement. I don’t know anyone who chooses to have problems with horse. Most problems are caused because the human didn’t know;
- didn’t know that running home every day would cause a horse who would run away
- didn’t know that catching horses only to work them often ends in a horse who avoids being caught
- didn’t know that rides either add to or subtract from the horses training…and a horse can be ‘untrained’ as well as trained
Sometimes ‘not knowing’ also is a lack of seeing the ’cause and effect’ which is part of the learning process. Someone paying attention would begin to notice when:
- the horse begins to anticipate running home
- the horse begins to avoid being caught
- the horse is declining in training
Many things like rearing can be prevented or stopped if you can see the beginning…the head tossing, the refusal to go forward. Inexperience often causes people to miss these smaller signs. People who succeed with horses often:
- ride with other experts-take a lesson, etc
- watch videos of themselves riding to improve themselves
- reflect on mistakes they have made and make a plan to improve
Everyone makes mistakes…but not everyone learns from them. Be one who learns.
If you want to bring life back into focus, to feel more grounded, to know what is important and help someone else, I highly suggest volunteering at Last Chance Corral in Athens, Ohio.
In a barn on a hill you can surround yourself with life and death challenges that will remind you that life is truly a gift. There is work for anyone from mixing milk or cleaning stalls to washing foal bottoms or simply sitting and giving much needed love.
And that may have been the biggest take away I got from my recent visit to Last Chance Corral; food and care are needed but LOVE should not be underestimated. Many of the foals are sad or depressed…something that cannot be explained but must be felt.
All the foals I have been around before Last Chance Corral have been secure in their knowledge of who they were because of their mothers. At Last Chance Corral this knowledge of security and love must come from the humans and amazingly the foals respond.
This video is only a glimpse into my stay at Last Chance Corral. Spread the word…it might just help to save a life.