My horse is tossing her head when I ask her to slow down or stop. What can I do?

“Hi Stacy! I have been following your blog for almost a year now and I love the knowlegde you share. I have a coming on 4 Year old filly who recently has gone to tossing her head lately when being ask to slow down or stop. Sometimes I almost feel hard on her mouth when she goes to jerking the reins when tossing her head as I am already applying some pressure. What could I do to stop this behavior? I wouldn’t like her to turn this into a habit everything I ask her to slow down or stop.”-Heather J. As I haven’t seen you or your horse I am going to tell you some of the more common reason I have seen for this behavior. You can then determine if any, or a combination of any, fit your situation. The first thing is the disclaimer on physical causes specifically teeth. Horse under the age of five are shedding baby teeth and all kinds of crazy things can be going on in their mouths. I have written several blogs about this topics so I won’t go into great detail here. Inconsistant hands: Developing great hands as a rider involves the ability to move smooth and fluid. My mom told me to pretend I had ‘a little birdie’ perched on my hand and I didn’t want it to fly away. If that image doesn’t work then try imaging your hands carrying water. When the weather isn’t freezing cold try actually carrying water, or try my Egg & Spoon game anytime.  When your mare pulls you can also imagine your arms...

What material would you use when building your own round pen for horses?

“I’m looking at building a round pen for starting and working my horses. I have seen ones with full wooden sides, some with boards, with shade cloth for sides and even some with electric tape. Which would you recommend? I’m not keen on the tape type incase the horse goes through it.”-Laura R.M.‎ As you have noticed there are quite a few options when it comes to building a round pen. Taking a look at how you are going to use the round pen as well as the climate might help you make your decision. While I was training in Ohio I had a round pen made from the metal panels. You can see this round pen in the Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac series. The reason I chose to use this type of round pen was because I knew I was going to need to use it in my indoor riding arena when the weather was bad outside. I dreamed of having a covered, enclosed round pen but it was never in the budget. The advantage of having the portable panels was that I could also move the round pen to my outdoor arena when the weather was good. The biggest advantage for me was that I could take the round pen down when I needed to drag the footing. I have had the opportunity to use a few enclosed round pens and the one issue that I have seen was when people don’t plan for how they are going to maintain the footing inside a small pen. Without proper maintenance the footing can get extremely packed and it...

In the round pen my horse just runs…how do I get her to pay attention to my cues?

“Hi Stacy! I have a question about engaging a young horse when working in the round pen. I notice that even in the first video with Jac, you were able to keep his attention and he responded nicely to you. I have a 20 month old filly that I just started with. When in the round pen she is so consumed with running in a circle that she does not respond to any cues. How do I get her to start paying attention to my cues?”-Christy I love using the round pen as a training tool and there are situations where it is an essential first step but for many horses it is a better second step.  When I competed in the Road to the Horse and was working with a three year old that had never been haltered, the round pen was essential. It gave me the ability to control a horse that was big, strong and not trained at all. In my years of ‘normal’ horse training at home I have used the round pen in a slightly different way, which is what you see in the Jac video below. This video is Episode 13 and if you look in the description you will see that I had worked Jac over the period of several weeks a total of almost six hours doing groundwork training on a long line. The advantage of having the young, halter-broke, horse online for several sessions is that I can ‘help’ them find the correct answer. In your case you are describing a horse that is running circles around you in the round...

Stacy Visits Jac at his New Home

I had the idea of doing a colt starting video series for years but the timing never worked. It was a huge time commitment requiring set up and tear down of camera equipment, synchronizing several peoples schedules and filming in all kinds of weather conditions…and that was just on the filming side. For every hour spent in the barn preparing, filming and tearing down there were 4-5 hours spent in editing and producing the videos. I am happy to say that in the end it was all worth it, although there were times in the moment when I wanted to quit. The reason I wanted to do it was easy to define: to show people the normal pace and steps of my training. It was important to me for people to see the ‘whole picture’ because I knew that it would help people understand the stage they were at with their horse. I truly believe that educating people so they understand horses is the best way to improve the lives of both horses and humans. I am also thankful to Weaver Leather for coming along with me on this journey. They went out on a limb with this crazy-never-been-done-before idea of mine despite the fact that I couldn’t answer many of their questions. How long will it last? What will you cover? How many episodes will there be? As a true horse person the only answer I could give was ‘the horse will tell us’….and still they came on board with their sponsorship which made the project possible. I especially want to thank all of you who faithfully watched and interacted...

Being on the road is hard for the horse, how do you keep your horse sane? What are some of your tips while traveling?

“Being on the road is hard for the horse and rider, how do you keep your horse sane?  What are some of your tips while traveling?  And how do you get over the speed bumps along the way?” -Melissa F. While it is true that being on the road can be hard on the horse and handler there are a number of things that can be done to make the experience much more enjoyable. Three things to keep in mind are: make it safe, make it comfortable and make it normal. Just like anything else in life, travel is something that can be practiced and learned. The more you travel the more experience you have and the more well equipped you are on your next trip. Our kids were born into a family that traveled and it was normal to drive 16 hours to visit family or 18 hours to go to a horse show. Because our kids traveled so much they didn’t start asking ‘are we there yet’ until four or five hours into the trip and they consider three hours or less to be a ‘short’ trip…it is all in perspective. Our horses have also been conditioned to think this way. The lessons that I teach during groundwork have physical and emotional elements and much of this carries over to the trailer. It is normal for me to haul an extra horse or two along to the vets or when picking up or dropping off another horse with no intention of ‘doing’ anything with that horse. They are just along for the ride. This way they can...

What was your favorite episode from Stacy's Video Diary: Jac?

This question was posted to me on Facebook: “Whats ur fave episode?”-Chelsey B. My favorite is probably Episode 26…the first three minutes. I love it because Jac is asking questions. That means that he is comfortable asking questions while at the same time he is still being respectful. To me this is a beautiful illustration of how the conversation between a horse and human can be. The interesting thing is that in this episode many people would have said that Jac was being ‘bad’. I knew the history and I knew what I had been rewarding Jac for doing in previous lessons. I was also willing to see the situation from Jac’s perspective. It is ok that Jac was making mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process. How people react to your mistakes says more about them than it says about the one who made the mistake.  ...