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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.

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

 

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The problem of loading a horse in a trailer, when they would rather not.

Have you ever met a horse like this? I have abbreviated the question but have left enough for you to see the main idea.
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“Dear Stacy, I have encountered a big problem with the horse I ride and I would really like to hear your opinion about it. The problem is trailer loading (2 horse size trailer).  He is an 8 year old gelding. He is very calm, does not freak, does not get scared really. I have been riding him for about 4 years. He is a horse at a stable I go to, so he is not mine. Many people have been riding him. …
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From horseback we can “control” him, no problem, and his ground work is also good. Truth be told we like him very much so we may have spoiled him some. So, 3 years in a row now every summer we have been attending western competitions in Hungary. That meant a competition every month or every 3 weeks, but we rarely needed a trailer as the competitions were close to home, so we rode over. The large trailer (for 6 horses) was usually no problem for him. When it was hot inside, it took him some time to go in.
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The last time he was in a trailer for 2 horses it was 2 years ago. He resisted that time as well and he got punished, but eventually got into the trailer. 1 week ago we wanted to go to a competition and we assumed that Jack will get in without problem, but we were wrong. He absolutely did not want to go in. Of course it is the worst we could do as there was a time limit, and we needed to get going. We tried punishment, we tried food, we tried a towel on the head, but nothing worked. Eventually after he reared 2x, we gave up because it was clear that he did not care about his safety (and he is very accident prone). For a week now we practiced on another trailer and we managed to get him in with food. First it took me 20 minutes (work outside the trailer did not mean anything to him, what triggered that he got in was that I started eating his carrots…). This was in the morning, in the afternoon he needed only 5 seconds to grasp that the food was inside, so he went in no problem. After eating though he backed out right away. Today we tried again and after he got in, I touched his butt with the closing metal rod, so he backed out. After that I tried to get him in from the ground using a stick (driving him forward as I saw from you), but it turned out that he had no problem running over me instead. This was a big disappointment and surprise for me. I thought he respected me, but it turns out he does not. Or what do you think? We tried again and again, but he just kept running over us, so we started using punishment again, to have him back off and give us our space. Then I worked again from the ground with him, to calm him, get his mind off the trailer and he worked no problem. But the trailer was a no-no. In the end we got a guy to get him in, but Jack rather threw himself out then got in. We gave up in the end because it was past his dinner time and it was dark, and the owner of the stables came to Jack’s rescue and told us to stop, to leave him alone.
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So this is my dilemma. … I thought he trusted me and respected me. And now I feel cheated. From your experience what do you think is the problem? We jump to punishment to soon? We should take it even slower? We need to stop with food soon, as it is not the best way I think.. when we go to a competition we cannot feed him to get him in.. What would you suggest we do? How can we make this better? … He is not a scared horse, just stubborn. Or what do you think? Sorry for such a long letter but I guess to be able to reply you need to know some background to this. I hope you can give a bit of hope, that this is not a lost cause. Thanks and best regards,” Judit
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There are several challenges here but none of them are so big that they cannot be overcome.
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The first issue is the fact that Jack is not your horse and that he is being ‘shared’ by many. This is not a deal breaker but can make things take a bit longer in some cases. Horses can easily learn to ‘play’ people and the more people they have to practice with…the faster and better they can get at it. Really, it is no different than a kid that learns some teachers hold them accountable and some teachers don’t. Once a kid, who is prone to playing this type of game, figures this out…they often ‘test’ all the teachers or authorities in their life. The teachers that hold strong will be questioned less often and the teachers that give in will be tested more often.
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When I was a teen I worked at a riding stable. There were horses at the stable that would ride perfect for me and as soon as an inexperienced rider mounted up the horse would refuse to move. The horse was ‘testing’ the new rider because he had learned that many new riders just aren’t willing to make things happen. The new rider felt guilty for kicking the horse, so they wouldn’t do it….and the horse happily stood still and refused to move. If I mounted up, I didn’t even have to kick…because the horse had learned long ago that I WOULD kick if needed…and so I didn’t need to.
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It sounds like Jack either;
1) is lacking the training to consistently load with someone he does respect
or
2) he knows to load but doesn’t respect you enough to do it for you
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Either way, if you want to be able to load him you will need to earn Jack’s respect. If you watch the video below, at 1 minute 30 seconds into the video the horse is threatening to run me over, just like you described your horse Jack doing. The video below is only one of a full series that I suggest you watch in full, they can all be found here; https://www.youtube.com/user/stopoften
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Using food to bribe the horse is not the best option. It isn’t reliable because if the horse isn’t hungry or interested you are left with no way to back up your request. It is no different than bribing a kid with food or toys. It may work a few times but often it will eventually create a bigger problem than you had to begin with as they realize you have no way to reinforce your request.
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Take a look at the videos, study them and I hope they help.
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Ride with Faith,

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Members Question, Training, 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.

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

 

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Stops with Stacy: The Waggoner Ranch brought to you by Tekonsha

Here it is…the first ‘Stops with Stacy’ featuring our visit to the historic Waggoner Ranch in Vernon, Texas. We actually went to Electra, Texas to the horse headquarters…you know you are on a BIG ranch when it overlaps different towns!

The ranch was established in 1849 and is approximately 535,000 acres which makes it the largest ranch in Texas under one fence. We went over for the day to ride and spend time with the head trainer, Ben Baldus and his crew.  We knew Ben years ago but this is the first time we visited him at the Waggoner.

Touring the ranch is like walking straight into a history lesson. Back in 1945 E. Paul Waggoner bought Poco Bueno for the outrageous price of $5,700 for a yearling. People thought he was crazy to pay that much but Poco Bueno is now an American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame Inductee, Champion and Sire of Champions. Looks like Waggoner had a good eye. Poco Bueno is buried on another section of the ranch and many of the horses carry on his bloodline.

Jesse and Stacy visit the Waggoner Ranch

Jesse and Stacy visit the Waggoner Ranch

The guys offered to take us on a tour, take us to lunch or start some colts…I hesitated for about 10 seconds because I want to see the rest of the ranch but watching them START COLTS jumped out of my mouth even faster. Thankfully they invited us back so maybe I can still get that tour. Did you know? When Poco Bueno died he was buried in an upright position. There has to be a story there. I will have to go find out more details on that.

For those who are wondering those shots in the beginning are of the ranch, Major Cattle Company, where we are currently living. Maybe one of the ‘Stops with Stacy’ should be a tour of the Majors ranch. I’m open to suggestions, if you have an idea for a ‘Stops with Stacy’ feel free to post it in the comments.

Thanks again to my sponsor Tekonsha, the leader in electronic trailer brake controllers, for coming up with the concept and the name ‘Stops with Stacy’, I think this is going to be fun!

 

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Life, Stops with Stacy, Video

 

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Have you seen this trailer?

Jesse Westfall watering horses in horse trailer

Have you seen this trailer? If you do…stop by and say ‘hi’.

One of my sponsors Tekonsha, the leader in electronic trailer brake controllers, put a wrap on our horse trailer. There are times that it is fun to have a wrap on the trailer and there are times it is a bit awkward.

The only time it really isn’t fun is when I’m doing something silly…like wearing sweatpants and cowboy boots into a gas station when someone recognizes me…lol.

…otherwise it can be fun. It is a great conversation starter while fueling up or if people want to come over to visit the horses. Even when people don’t have a clue who we are they will often ask if they can pet the horses or take pictures of them. It is always fun to see people who are in awe of these big animals but don’t have as much access to them. Watching a child squeal in delight at touching a soft  horse nose is always fun.

So if you see us driving down the road, like this man did, stop by and say hi. Take a photo or be prepared…I just might ask YOU to be in a photo or video.

Recognized at truck stop

Stacy Westfall recognized at truck stop, man calling his friend to tell her ‘you won’t believe who I’m standing with”

Tekonsha thought it would be interesting to do some videos called “Stops with Stacy” where I show you even more about the interesting things that go on in our travels. Pretty neat idea, right?

Watch for the first ‘Stops with Stacy’ in my blog on Monday. If you have time leave a comment with ideas on what you would like to see featured in a ‘Stops with Stacy’ episode.

Most importantly, stop by and say ‘hi’…and be prepared to be on camera!

 

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Life

 

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How much weight should a horse trailer haul?

My husband left today. I blame it on Winter Storm Nika.

He wasn’t supposed to leave until Wednesday but this morning he said he wanted to beat the storm, “I want to leave today.”

“Today…today? In a few hours?”

“Yes.”

Let the frantic trailer loading begin. And the math. How much weight can the truck and trailer safely hold?

Q- Doesn’t the tag on the trailer tell us?

A- The tag said 14,500 lbs.horset railer

Q- How much does the trailer weigh empty?

A- The trailer weighs around 6,500 lbs empty.

My first lesson was on axle weight. Our six horse trailer has two 7,000 lbs axles. 7,000 lbs x 2= 14, 000 lbs

The tag on the trailer says it carries- 14,500 lbs

This is not a good time for a math mystery. Why is it rated for more than the axles should carry?

A call to the trailer dealer confirmed why my math doesn’t add up. The gooseneck of the trailer distributes 25% of the weight onto the truck which is why the tag rates the trailer higher than the straight up math.

Mystery solved. Back to the other math.

The six horses weigh around 6,000…the lean ones balancing out the chubby ones.

In the end the six horses were loaded, the hay, the grain…kids possessions…2 papasan chair…all my Charlie 1 Horse hats (my husband says I have too many…), school books for the end of the year (I kept a months worth)…

“Will this table fit?”

“How about this lamp”

Without a set of scales how am I supposed to hit the magic number?

In the end I threw out the math and relied completely on my husband. He’s the math guy anyway….and it is official. He is on the road to Texas with our first load of horses and stuff!

 
26 Comments

Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Life

 

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Have you ever needed to have your horse trailer towed?

In all the years we have hauled a horse trailer we have never carried roadside assistance. I have considered it several times but with our new adventure I am really looking into it.

Do you carry coverage (AAA, USRider, etc)?

Do you have any experience you would be willing to share? Have you ever broken down while hauling horses?  Did you have coverage or did you pay out of pocket?

tow  horse trailer

 
68 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Life

 

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