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Hey Stacy, I was wondering, is 21 too old to teach some of the stuff in your videos?

“Hey Stacy, I was wondering, is 21 too old to teach some of the stuff in your videos? As I have a 21 year-old I’d love to do more work with. Thanks.” -Lydia S.

One of my refrigerator magnets.

One of my refrigerator magnets.

I was asked this question years ago by a young girl around the age of 13. She owned a  20+ year old horse. I told her that how much she accomplish would depend on her persistence and consistency and some on her horses willingness. She watched my demos at the expo and before it was over she bought my Bridleless riding DVD.

Several months later I received an email from her.  She sent me a link to a video where she was riding her horse bridleless! The horse was clearly a 4H type horse so her pattern looked more like a horsemanship pattern and her ‘rollbacks’ were simple pivots…but it was AWESOME! One young persistent girl and one older horse. I wish I still had that video link but all of this happened back in 2006 and the computer it was on died. I didn’t have anything backed up so it took all the info with it 😦

I can’t say exactly how far the stuff will take you…but I will tell you that it IS VERY POSSIBLE!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Members Question, Training

 

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Asking my horse, Newt, to lie down while I’m riding him.

Here is another video where you get to watch Newt think. It should remind you of watching Newt learn how to stand on the box. The more things I teach a horse the more I can learn about how they think and process what I am doing. Can you see the consistency in Newt’s thought patterns?

I forgot to mention that I was cueing him by tapping his belly with the lead rope. If you watch for it you can see it. If your curious about how that works you can read my previous blog about teaching a horse to lie down.  When you watch the video of Jac learning to lie down, can you see the similarities to watching Newt learn how to step up on the box? Can you see how allowing them time to think gives them the opportunity to participate in the training by making choices?

Below is a copy of Newt’s previous diary entry from March 21, 2014

I also made an interesting discovery this week.

My mom has been riding me on a very loose rein…she even took the bridle off once.

That made it really easy to play in the dirt. I like digging in dirt with my nose.

Newt bow

Well, I had my head down to push dirt and a thought occurred to me.

I don’t have thoughts often…so I decided to go with it.

You see, mom has been teaching me to lay down sometimes.

I like it.

It is easy.

She doesn’t have me do it while we are riding.

She should.

It would be easier.

So I decided to lay down.

This is a bit embarrassing to admit…I got stuck half-way down.

It happened like this; mom asked me to move my hip, I did and I put my head down too, I had the idea to lay down, I buckled my legs and went down on my knees…and then mom started kicking me.

I guess she didn’t want me to lay down…but I couldn’t get up either (I fell over once trying and with her on me I didn’t want to do that)…so I just knelt there. She got off and got me up.

Newt 1st lay down

I wasn’t sure if she was happy I had the idea…or not.

Later, at the end of the ride she showed me a cue to lay down. I was so excited! She must have liked my earlier idea.

The next few days I tried laying down but I guess I’m only supposed to do it when she asks me to.

Newt, the horse, signature

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in A Horse's View, Video

 

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Looking for great trail riding and horses to rent…where would you recommend?

“Keep your adventures coming. I enjoy watching the videos of places you have been. I would like to go horseback riding SOMEWHERE??? I have not decided which state would be the best place. I would not bring my horses, I would have to use theirs. Do you have or does anyone have any ideas where my husband and I could stay and ride for a few days?”-Martina B.

Looking for great trail riding and horses to rent...where would you recommend?I actually haven’t done this! We are traveling with our own horses so we haven’t needed to look for horse rentals. We are going to need to look for advice from everyone who reads this either here or on Facebook. If you have ever traveled and rented horses, please leave a comment written as a review of your total experience.

Were the horses well trained? Was the equipment safe? Did you go with a guide or self-guided? What were the trails like: beautiful, challenging, boring? Were they as advertised? What state and what time of year? Would you recommend it to a friend? How much did it cost? How many days did you ride? Did you rent a cabin and stay? How was the housing?  Give as much info as you are comfortable with.

Also feel free to post names of the companies that you loved, links to their sites, photos or links to videos!

I did a quick Google search and I found a website called Horse Rentals.com. I’m not in love with the lay out of the site and I suspect that a robot may be populating the pages BUT many of the links do work.

If you have ever rented horses for trail riding please tell us about it!

 

 

 
29 Comments

Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Video

 

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Do you start your training sessions with lunging your horse?

“Hi Stacy! Question for you. Do you start your training sessions with lunging? I lunge my horse every time I ride and also any horse I’m going to ride. Lately I have been talking with other friends who think lunging is not necessary and one who says it makes her horse more naughty and hot. Just wondering what you think about it. Thanks:)” -Melissa T.

What is the purpose of lunging a horse? Is it to physically wear him out? Is it to change his mental state of mind? Is it to teach him a new concept? Lunging has been used with all of these goals in mind at some point…the question is ‘why are you lunging your horse?’I don't always lunge, but I do always evaluate how the horse is behaving on the ground.
Early on in a horses training I use lunging, or groundwork, as a big part of my training. My goal is to begin to change his state of mind, which is a new concept to the horse at that time. Part of this often involves physical exertion because we often work the body to influence the mind. If you go back and watch the early episodes of Stacy’s Video Diary you can see a huge change in the horse’s behavior in a few days. This is because I am doing more than just running the horse around me…I am using a variety of groundwork cues to train him.
As the training progressed and the horses mental state of mind was changed, I began riding more and I gradually reduced the amount of groundwork.
Many people use lunging in an attempt to wear the horse out. If the horse’s mind is not engaged but instead they are only asked to physically exert themselves this should be considered an attempt to wear the horse out. The problem with this is that the horses get more and more fit, requiring longer and longer lunging times. Engaging the mind is far more effective than only trying to wear out the body.
If lunging is making the horse more naughty or hot I would evaluate what methods are being used. This is most common if the horse thinks the only point is to run wildly around the human. If instead of lunging the handler instead uses groundwork to engage the mind then the horse should respond more favorably. If not, then the pair should look at taking some lessons.
I don’t always lunge…but I do always evaluate how they are behaving on the ground. With a horse I know this ‘evaluation’ may take place as I lead them to the area where I groom and saddle and then out to mount up. If I know the horse I can evaluate their mental state in this short amount of time, much like you can evaluate a friends state of mind during a short ‘hello.’ If I detect that they are feeling fresh or seem distracted then I may choose to do some groundwork.
To decide if you should lunge you should be able to identify your purpose for lunging. You may lunge a horse that is new to you for an evaluation, or a horse you know because you detected his behavior was a bit odd, or yet another horse because you would like to improve your communication on the ground.
 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Members Question, Training

 

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Why not skip the bridle and just start with a halter if you want to ride bridleless in the end? Jac Review Week

“Hi Stacy! In Episode 13 you start Jac in a bridle, I’m curious to why you start in a bridle instead if a rope halter, I remember something about how Jac isn’t your personal horse, so I’m wondering if you were starting a horse with the intent to do tackles riding, would you still start with a bit and bridle or just a rope halter and why? A rope halter makes sense to me because there would be less steps to tackles. What do you think?”-Jessica C

I can see where the idea of ‘less’ would appear to be a quicker transition to completely bridleless. There are several ways to view this question. First I will start with what I have done in the past. All of my bridleless reining horses have been very well trained in bits. As the horses have progressed through the stages of training I have always used the tools that helped make the ‘correct answer’ the easiest for the horse to find. For example, snaffle bits are excellent for teaching a horse to bend side to side and shanked bits tend to encourage breaking at the poll. These statements may sound like my opinions, and they are, but they have been built on observing many horses.

Your question has one huge variable; ‘starting a horse with the intent to do tackles riding.’ This could mean riding around in a round pen, or pasture, or competing in reining…and those more specific end goals change the answer.

My goals have been to show at the highest levels of reining without a bridle. A variety of bits, as referenced above, are part of the training process I use with my reining horses. This is one of the reasons I started Jac with a bit.

Having said that, I am also sure that there are horses that could be trained in a rope halter and reach a safe level of general riding…possibly even tackless. I just haven’t tried this route because I have always started with reining in mind and general riding naturally came with it.

I believe that bits can be comfortable for horses as well as an asset to many training programs. You may also be interested in reading these other blogs I have written on using bits.

What bit should I use with my horse? Why don’t you always use a snaffle bit? Doesn’t a bit hurt a horse?

Teaching a horse to accept contact with the bit, teaching collection and headset; Jac Review week

Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac Review – Teaching a horse to accept the bit

 

In this episode I show all of the things a horse must know before I switch to a bit with a shank.

 

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My barefoot horse has sore feet on gravel…shoes, rubber boots, suggestions?

“Hi Stacy. I have a question for you. I am a reasonably new horse owner and my 18 year old quarter horse has flat feet. At this point she is bare foot. We have her on a good nutrition routine and regular farrier visits. But I noticed that she avoids gravel at every chance and I took her out trail riding last week and it was a struggle to keep her on the path and off of the grassy area on the side where she was running me into the trees. Of course the suggestion is put shoes on her. But I am reading that shoes are not that great full time on a horse. So I am considering rubber boots that I would put on her when she is out in the pasture. I am interested in your opinion boots or shoes?” -Laurie A.My barefoot horse has sore feet on gravel…shoes, rubber boots, suggestions?

From your description it seems fair to say that your horse is trying to tell you that the gravel hurts. It also sounds like this was an issue for you when you were trail riding…but then you also add considering boots for her when she is in the pasture also. Is there gravel or hard ground in your pasture? Or do you have a reason to believe that she is sore in the pasture also?

I mention this because it may change some of the comments or the way that you make your decision. For example, I have owned horses that I kept barefoot. Some of them were sensitive going across gravel, but gravel wasn’t part of their normal routine so it was easy to work around it. They were fine in the pastures, arenas and dirt trails. As long as I avoided blacktop with loose gravel on top or rough gravel they were fine.

There are many options out there and many opinions of what works and what doesn’t. I think that it is wise to consider that each horse is unique as are the situations that they will be put in. Those are questions you need to answer. For example, I show in reining and to slide the horses need sliding shoes. I leave all my horses barefoot in the front as long as I can…some of my horses stay barefoot in the front year-round…others end up with front shoes on. It depends on the horse. I do pull shoes off and leave horses barefoot during any downtimes that we have, for example if we are not showing over the winter then they are often barefoot and turned out.

I know that EZ Boots for horses have come a long way over the years. I met a woman who rides competitive endurance rides wearing EZ Boots…which means that they can work well in tough conditions. She did tell me that they worked best on horses with a very ‘normal’ shaped hoof. Horses with longer, narrow shapes for example were more likely to throw the boot off (from what I was told). I haven’t heard of someone leaving these boots on in the pasture. I would be concerned with holding moisture against the hoof, plus most of mine would probably try chewing them off for fun. I am hoping that some people who use them will leave comments. If I were looking to mostly trail ride and my horse was fine barefoot in the pasture then I would probably try the EZ boots and skip shoeing.

If you wanted to try shoes you could do that also. It is completely possible to put shoes on for a few months and then change your mind. When I was a kid we kept the horses barefoot almost all the time. The exception was around August when the ground got dry and hard, we were riding a lot and the horses would get a little foot sore. We were riding the same trails we had been from April until then but they still got tender. We would put shoes on to finish the summer and fall and then when the weather got rainy, school started and we rode less…we would pull the shoes off. The two or three times we would ride a week didn’t bother them and they usually didn’t see shoes again until late the next summer.

I think this question will depend mostly on you and your horse. Is keeping her barefoot and avoiding the stones possible? If so then consider it. If she is even getting sore in the pasture then you may need to consider something else. If she is only ‘ouchy’ on gravel when you ride…consider trying the boots. Or if you have a good farrier don’t be afraid to try shoes also.

 

 

 
49 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Members Question

 

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What is the best age to start a horse? Does light exercise benefit or harm growing horses?

“Hi Stacy!
I have a question that has been subject to many arguments between my mom and I. I have a 2.5 yr old QH filly that I recently started under saddle. She had all ground work done when I started her and she is a very mellow minded girl. My mom believes 2 is too early to start them and is concerned about her joints and I was wondering about your opinion on the best age to start a horse since I have never started a horse or raised a young horse? At the moment I am just doing light trail rides, no longer than 15 minutes on flat ground, with her twice a week. And note that she is around 14.3hh and is a brick house, weighing close to 1000#s. 🙂

Thank you so much in advance for an advice you can give.” H. H.

Ugh-oh…I don’t think I should get in the middle of a mother daughter thing, lol.Does light exercise benefit growing horses? How do you define light exercise?

The easiest and best way to be comfortable with it is to ask your vet when he/she is out for another call; shots, etc. They can give you the best advice because they can see and touch the horse.

I have asked this question to many vets over the years and the following points have been made:

  • there are studies that suggest that some stress is good for healthy bone and muscle growth
  • it is possible to overwork a horse of any age
  • listen to the horse, stay slow and steady, if in doubt ask a vet

The problem comes in defining what ‘some’ stress or ‘light’ work is, as each human will have a different opinion on it. I have known young horses that were raised on 17,000 acres and others that were raised in five acre pastures and it is easy to see that the amount of ‘normal’ daily activity varied greatly. Especially in smaller settings another question could be, ‘Are we raising equine couch potatoes?’

Jac was two when I started him in the videos and I am watchful when I work with any horse. I look at it very much like my own children. I want  my kids to be active because they need some stress for muscle and bone growth too…but I’m not drilling them for hours every night either.

As for settling the argument, I don’t think you will find one clear answer out there and….remember, ask your vet:)

 
14 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Members Question, Video

 

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