Tag Archives: say

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

When I was young I belonged to a contesting club. We ran all kinds of speed events including barrel racing, pole bending and more. It was common, back then, for horses to refuse to go into the show pen. Maybe even more interesting…it was not only common, it was also accepted.

red flagOver all the years that I have trained horses, I have noticed that horses often go through many of the stages that children do when learning. With a human child we understand that there is a stage where ‘no’ is their favorite word. We also understand that as teenagers develop they will often push and test authority as they develop a stronger sense of who they are.

I think horses go through many of these stages too.

The biggest difference that I see is that we adults would not trust a defiant and testy child with things of high value. Yet, through a lack of knowledge or ability to recognize the issue many adults climb onto horses who are defiant and testy….trusting them with our lives.

No person, or horse, or dog is perfect but we should be aware that a willingness to defiantly say ‘NO’ should be considered a red flag.

What does the red flag point to? It could be many things; immaturity, lack of understanding, a questioning of authority, soreness or more. The first step in figuring out what is going on is to acknowledge the red flag.



Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Life


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Is it true when people say “you will ruin your first horse?”

“Stacy, is it true when people say “you will ruin your first horse?”-Lindsay H.

My first equine was a very well trained pony.

My first equine was a very well trained pony.

I guess it depends on how you look at it. I know from experience that you will make more mistakes with your first horse because you are learning…but that is also true with your first dog and your first child. Does that mean that the horse will be ruined? Not necessarily. Safety should be the primary goal for both horse and owner in all situations. When I think of a horse being ‘ruined’ I think of a dangerous horse. A horse can learn to be dangerous either on the ground or when being ridden and it is easier for a new horse owner to miss the warning signs. Horses that learn they can bully humans usually don’t have a great future. The question might be: Is it hard for a new horse owner to avoid creating a dangerous horse?

Let’s go back to the first dog or the first child idea. How do those people handle the ‘first time’ part? People with similar interests tend to hang out together and they learn from each other. They read books, watch YouTube videos and join clubs. Many people take lessons before becoming first time horse owners and then they continue taking lessons after purchasing their horse. Barns that offer this type of lesson program often build an entire culture that supports the new horse owner. Getting involved with a professional is a great way to prevent major mistakes from going unnoticed.

It is also true that if your first horse is an old pro then it is less likely that you will ‘untrain’ with your mistakes as quickly as you would with a more impressionable young horse. Older horses with experience may seem more expensive in the beginning but if well trained they should contain valuable information that makes them more solid and often less expensive in the long run.

I know that when I look back at the first ten or so horses I trained, I have no doubt that if I had them again now I could do a much better job. Does that mean they were ruined? No. Did they reach their maximum potential? No. Were they dangerous? No. Can I live with that? Yes.




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


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