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When your horse refuses to lead do you switch to driving him forward?

does your horse truly lead?

If your horse is willing to say ‘NO’ somewhere it should be a red flag.

You can’t out pull a horse. This seems like an obvious statement but there is a good chance, if you stop and think about it, you have probably tried to at some point during your interaction with horses.

Ponies are practically famous for having moments when they say ‘no’ and refuse to go forward. Is this a coincidence or is this because their ‘trainers’ tend to be small children who don’t fully understand the ideas of pressure and release?

Can you picture a time where you have seen a human trying to out pull a horse? Maybe the person was trying to lead the horse from one surface to another, for example from gravel to black top. Or maybe they were trying to lead the horse from outdoors into a building. When I was a kid I had a mare that refused to walk into a big old barn with a wooden floor that housed cattle beneath it. Or maybe you have seen someone trying to out pull a horse when loading into a trailer.

One popular answer to this issue is to stop trying to lead the horse forward and ‘drive’ the horse forward instead. It is a popular choice for good reason. It is a great training tool and should be used by everyone. But does this mean we must give up on leading also?

Leading is closely related to tying. If you find your horse having moments where he says ‘No’ during leading and you must switch to driving you should be a little concerned that this refusal will eventually pop up in the area of tying.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Thought provoking, Training

 

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Starbucks Pony Espresso: Riding My Horse, Newt, Thru the Drive Thru

In Norco, California we found horse trails that lead us right up to the drive thru! Norco is considered ‘Horse Town USA’ and horses are given a wide range of privileges that other cities may not allow. Many of the shops have pens, like the one shown in the video, to tie your horse…but we opted for the ‘ride-thru’ instead.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Life, Video

 

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McDonalds: ‘drive-thru’ vs ‘ride-thru’ with a horse!

Upon arriving in Norco, California I announced, “I want to do all the tourist things I can with a horse!”

Riding through the McDonalds drive through was just one of the things I had to do. We have already ridden to several tack stores, took a package to FedEx, and ridden by some unusual things…including a potbelly pig! I hear there is an ostrich just south of me….I wonder what Newt will think about that?

My only problem now is…so many drive throughs in Norco…and so little time! I’m going to have to eat and drink every hour just to fit all of my tourist adventures in. I wonder if I can get a latte? Pony Expresso?

 

 

 
27 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Life, Video

 

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I love the idea of a big open barn or run in for shelter but how do you feed if they chase each other?

During the huge response to yesterdays blog titled Where do you live and what shelter do your horses have? Cindy asked the following question.

“I love the idea of a big open barn or run in for shelter but how do you feed? I have a piggie who will chase the others off if I try to feed together. Having the stalls lets me separate them.”-Cindy

I have done several things in this situation but I would also love to hear how others have handled this.

When I have had horses turned out I tried to put them in similar groups. I often had two pastures, one for the ‘easy’ keepers and one for the young and growing who required more calories. In those pastures I often fed different types of hay due to the calorie needs and also different amounts of ration balancer (a type of grain) or fat supplement if needed.Feeding horses with similar needs together makes things easier.

I fed the horses far enough apart that it was not very effective for the horses to move each other. If fed too close together one horse could ‘guard’ more than one feed pile but with more distance they would maybe switch once or twice but frequent switching wasn’t worth it. On the occasion that one horse was a real trouble maker we have also stood and guarded the horses that were being pushed during the grain feeding time, which is the only time this was an issue. I feed a low volume ration balancer so standing guard doesn’t take that long.

Another thing I have done is to tie the horse that pushed the others during feeding time. While tied I could then do other chores such as cleaning and then untie them when the feeding time is over. Most of our horses have free choice hay and share it well. The few easy keepers we have had were feed together and if they tried to guard the hay we just spread it out further…and they got more exercise moving around.

Unfortunately, I have seen horses in situations where people have ‘let them work it out’ and the ‘low’ horse in the pecking order didn’t get enough to eat. It is especially easy for people to over look this during the winter when the horses are very fuzzy and the human doesn’t realize how much weight the horse may be losing. Be sure to run your hands over the horses frequently to feel, rather than see, what their weight is under all that hair.

How would you answer Cindy’s question? Do you have one horse that will chase others? How did you handle it?

 
34 Comments

Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Life, Members Question

 

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Starting a pony under saddle

“I have an 18 mo old colt and hope he’ll make a great kid pony in a few years. He’s currently 12.2 hh and 500lbs, so I don’t expect him to get very big. What can I do with him on the ground over the next few years to get him ready to ride? When the time comes to saddle and ride him, how do I go about that, with him being so small?”-Ariella G.

training a small pony to ride

My son Joshua, this pony was also trained to drive.

Great kids ponies can be worth their weight in gold…but not quite as easy to find. The challenge comes in training such a small steed. I like that you are already thinking about groundwork because so much can be accomplished there.

My first recommendation would be to do all the ‘standard’ groundwork that you saw me do in the Jac series plus any extra that occurs to you. Keep in mind that your goal is to have this pony trained for kids…so try to think like a kid. Kids do things that adults just don’t think of, like climbing the front of the stalls or riding a bike down the isle way. Your challenge is to think like a kid but correct like an adult. This means that you might think of something crazy a kid might do, but then break the training process down into steps.

Another thing I would highly recommend is training the pony to drive. Many great lessons happen during the cart training process that can directly carry over to riding. If you watch the Jac series you will see that I normally ground drive my colts. Breaking your colt to drive will have the same benefits, only better. One of the biggest drawbacks to ground driving is all the running around the handler has to do. Once your colt is trained to drive you will be more likely to continue the ‘driving’ lessons because riding in the cart is more fun than running behind him. A well trained driving horse, or pony, is soft and responsive to the bridle reins and the advantage for you is that it doesn’t require putting any weight on his back.

Groundwork, ground driving, ponying, and teaching him to pull a cart are all great things for creating a well trained pony without even mounting up. All of this preparation will make the transition to riding easier when he is grown and ready. The last challenge will be finding a small but experienced rider. Just because I say small doesn’t mean this needs to be a young person. I have met many ladies that were small enough to ride the pony you are describing.

It takes years of training to create a nice horse and it should take the same to create a great pony. The advantage of training your own will be that you will know him very well and will be able to prevent many of the problems that are common in ponies.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Members Question, Training

 

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Mini horses find their purpose in life.

“What happened to your minis? I know you took them from Ohio to Texas,

but you haven’t mentioned them since.”-Robin B

Thanks for reminding me! I have been working on a video that tells the story of the minis…but I kept forgetting to finish it. The minis learned a lot while they were with us including how to drive single and as a team…and we loved every minute of it.

Training horses is my passion and what I love even more is finding them great homes and purpose in life and the minis found theirs.

Check out the video:

 
7 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Inspiring, Members Question, Video

 

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Stops with Stacy: traveling with horses; horse motels brought to you by Tekonsha

We frequently travel with our horses to far off places. We have trailered horses from Maine to California, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, several times into Canada to name a few.

To keep both horses and humans safe, on long trips we stop for the night. Recently, I have made several trips between Texas and Ohio. The drive takes about 20 hours which I break into a two day trip.

The nice thing about traveling the same route is that it is possible to become familiar with certain amenities…including the horse motels along the way.

If we are traveling an unfamiliar route and need to find a place to stop we go to www.horsemotel.com. The website features a map that gives an idea of where the stable is located so I can quickly see if there is one on my route.

My favorite feature of the website is the comment area. It is a section of the website where people who have stayed at each horse motel can rate the stay and leave comments. We have been using the site for years and have stayed at dozens of the stops. By reading the descriptions and the comments all have been what was described.

Some places can handle a large number of horses and other might only take two or three. We try to call in advance to let people know we are traveling through the area and to ask if they will have room. There have been time, however, when we have hit bad weather and could not make it to our original horse motel. The original hotel has always been understanding and the new hotel, with as short as one hour for notice, has also been accommodating.

Some offer lodging for the humans also in the form of cabins, apartments or RV hook ups. If they don’t they can give valuable advice as to how far human hotels are and what they recommend; much of this is already listed at horsemotel.com.

Cindy Ruprecht and Circle R Horse Lodge has been my go-to stop between Texas and Ohio. Her place is close to the highway and her stalls are big, sturdy and clean. Like most horse motels Cindy checks the horses health papers and coggins, which I like. Stopping at Cindy’s place already has the feeling of visiting with a friend and I like knowing that she checks on the horses while I am headed to my human hotel and again in the morning before I arrive.

Many of these places could be destination trips. Some have miles of trails or easy access to other horse activities and others can offer invaluable information for things that might occur on the road. For example Cindy has a local horse trailer shop and RV store nearby if you need repairs as well as a feed dealer and tack store.

Traveling with horses is extra work but it is also a great way to get to know other horse people around the country.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Stops with Stacy, Video

 

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