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Are all 2 year old horses jerks?

“Dear Stacy, Are all 2 year olds jerks? My young boy is 2 1/2 and he’s just a brat. He’s so smart and will be great one day but he really has our number and doesn’t hesitate to pin his ears and even threaten to kick us from time to time. He’s also a nibbler…aka…acts like he wants to bite. We haven’t done too much with him because its takes such commitment to make sure we don’t let him win. I don’t know if he needs a new owner or time to mature. Help.”-Apryl B.

two year oldThe things that you are describing are not things that tend to go away simply with age. While wine may ‘mature’ when left alone in barrels horses mature with training.  Imagine a six year old child that acts disrespectful or even threatening, leaving them alone until they are fourteen is not likely to improve the situation. The same is true with horses…only they are much bigger.

Horses come with a variety of temperaments and some are more difficult or challenging than others. These horses do require more of a commitment just to keep them respectful which seems to be what you are describing.  You did not mention if he was a stallion or a gelding but if he hasn’t been gelded yet I would highly recommend doing so.

No, they are not all jerks. If you go back and look at Jac in this episode he was two and a half and well behaved, but if you go back and look at Episode 3 he was a handful. He matured because of the training. If you have the time to invest as well as the desire then he still might be a good fit. If, however, you don’t have the time to commit or find that he is more than you can handle you should probably look at other options.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 21, 2014 in Life, Members Question

 

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How much motivation does a horse need?

How much motivation does a horse need? foal ignored subtle cues

That depends on the horse.

I was sure Maggie was a bad mother. Maggie was gentle with Newt at first but by the time he was a month old Maggie was removing small clumps of hair with her ‘corrections’. By the time Newt was three months old he had scabs from her constant reminders to respect her space. I questioned Maggie’s motherly instincts…but after he was weaned the same treatment was continued by the other horses. If a dominant horse wanted to move Newt it often took repeated bites or kicks to move him. Newt wasn’t aggressive…he just didn’t seem to perceive pain at the same level as other horses. He would stand and take the kicks with a pleasant, slightly confused, look on his face. Motivating Newt was clearly going to be a challenge…as evidenced from birth. some horses ignore subtle cues

Just as each person, dog, cat and horse is unique in personality-they are also unique in their perception of pressure. Newt showed from birth that he was willing to handle more physical pressure than the average horse. Does that mean that his mother was mean? Or that she used as much pressure as was necessary? I think only Newt could accurately answer that question.

One horse may respond to the subtle squeeze of a riders leg, while another may choose to ignore it.

How do we know how much pressure is correct for each horse?

By asking each horse.

Because by learning to read their body language the horse will tell you whether a bit is too big or if he will happily ignore it, or if the hand was too quick, or if he needs the lesson repeated again because he isn’t clear.

A horse will tell you a lot if you know how to listen….or you could also ask their mother.

Mustang stallion displays his battle scars...scars he thought were worth fighting for.

Mustang stallion displays his battle scars…scars that, in his opinion,  were worth fighting for.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Thought provoking, Training

 

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Video of horse kicking girl in head; it looks like the horse aimed for her and intended to hurt her.

Hi Stacy; I wanted to pass this on to you. You may have already seen it. I’d like your thoughts on this. It looks to me like that horse aimed for her and really intended to hurt her.- Cindy

Cindy-I had not seen this video before you posted it here. I agree with you that it looks like the horse aimed for her. However, if I were to take an educated guess about why the horse appeared to try to hurt her it would be this:

When horses are scared or emotionally worked up they rarely make good decisions. Often they are reactive and rely on instinct….sound familiar? Have you ever been emotionally worked up or scared and made a bad decision? I know I have. It is natural.

It is also the reason why I don’t want a doctor or paramedic who hasn’t been properly trained to work on me in an emergency situation. When things get scary; blood loss, emergency surgery, etc. I want someone who knows how to stay emotionally level…even under pressure.

If you read the story that goes with the video it says that, “Video footage shows Luke refusing a jump and Rosie, who had been riding bareback, slipping off and hitting the ground next to her horse. He then thrashed out his back leg, catching his owner’s face.”

My guess would be that Luke got a little bit worked up for some reason at the fence. I don’t know why but we know he refused. If you can imagine that he was emotionally ‘up’ when that happened and then was ‘surprised’ by the sudden flying object near him…then it isn’t much of a leap to see why he may have struck out at it.

Do you remember Episode 15 of Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac, when I was pulling the saddle off and letting it hit the ground? I have seen many horses kick out the same way Luke did the first few times I did the exercise; some just barely kicked the saddle, other sent it flying. With training these reactive horses can learn to think under pressure, which increases the odds of them thinking clearly in a spontaneous situation.

Do I believe the horse aimed for her? Yes. Do I think it was a decision that reflected his thoughts on his rider? No. I think he was being reactive and a terrible thing happened.

 
60 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2014 in Members Question, Video

 

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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 22-When a horse goes lame or gets sore

At this point Jac has been in training with me for about two months. During this time I have been gradually building up the amount of work he does. When Jac went lame he was on a plateau; I had been maintaining a level amount of work. I was actually counting the number of times I went around the arena.

To put the amount of work Jac was doing into perspective, lets compare it to my sons who run cross county.

Footage of Jac going lame

Stacy shows footage of Jac lame

When the kids practice for a 3 mile race, their ‘long day’ practices have them running five to six miles. I rode Jac a total of 3 miles the day he got sore.

Deciding what to do when a horse gets sore depends on what might have happened and how comfortable you are with making the decision. I knew Jac had been very sound and I could eliminate the possibility that he had been kicked by another horse, cast in the stall, etc.

Jac had no heat or swelling. My guess was that he had either stepped on something and bruised his foot or somehow stepped wrong.

The farrier came out and did find a spot on his heel that was very sensitive. You can see in the video that Jac would jerk his hoof away. Maybe this was the problem?

For now Jac is getting time off and rest, either in a stall or a small turn out pen.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Training, Video

 

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‘Natural’ horsemanship…from one horse to another

Horse correcting Horse

Jac after being corrected by Popcorn, he was never even sore from it.

This is what Popcorn saying, “No” to Jac looks like.

Here is a version of a question I get all the time;

One of my friends says do NOT “strike” them for biting/kicking because a horse “doesn’t understand that.” I beg to differ, since he’s a 1200-lb animal that could put me in the hospital if he so chose…I realize timing is everything — so the “strike” has to seem as if the horse caused it/ran into it on his own. Can you give any other “pointers” on how to deal with this? Especially a kick — my first reaction is to move, of course…which is submitting.

My response: The easiest way to make the decisions quickly when biting, kicking, etc is happening is to think, “How would the dominant horse react to this?” Pretend you are the dominant horse. Would that horse duck the blow?…very likely. Would they come back swinging?….also likely. (I know this lacks detail but you get my point)
My dominant horse, Popcorn, even ‘holds a grudge’ for days or weeks and keeps ‘the offender’ on his toes during that time. Kinda like once the kids push you past the end….then you stay tough for days.
Horses will respond well to tough love…and terrible to abuse. Amazingly they know the difference. They don’t hold grudges for tough love.

Will someone tell me I am being to harsh? ………………Or that I am condoning abuse?

Probably.

Do I? No.

I find that horses are much harder on each other than I am.

What is natural horsemanship? Is studying the relationship of one horse to another the ultimate in understanding horses? Jac was warned many times before this, for weeks, but he chose to keep pushing. The good news is that it hasn’t been repeated since!

Below is a video of the first time Popcorn and Jac met. At the end it shows Popcorn a month later getting harder on Jac (Popcorn is the one in the back doing the biting). The photo of Jac’s leg happened another time after these videos….Jac just wouldn’t back off.

 
32 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Thought provoking, Training, Video

 

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