Training Horses Takes Patience

May 30, 2012

A good trainer will tell you training young horses requires  patience. Otherwise, a perfectly good horse can be ruined. An experienced trainer knows when to quit; a skill far more important than any other. If you push a horse too far or too fast, you simply set the stage for behavior problems and wrecks in the future. Patience is not just a lofty virtue in a trainer, it’s a prerequisite.

Horse trainers, like horses, learn from experience. Generally experience can be good or it can be bad. Pushing a horse to learn faster than he really comprehends means the horse doesn’t have a sound foundation.  Ever have a math teacher that kept going full tilt while you weren’t keeping up. It wasn’t any fun and you probably had a hard time trying to figure out what to do.

Training horses is no different than you in an advanced math class. With the teacher racing through the material, you end up lost, confused, and angry. The same with horses. You have to slow down! What is so simple to you is confusing to him. Experienced trainers know when the horse had a good day and stop just like good math teachers know when a student needs to quit for the day.

In training our horses, we believe in constant reinforcement of learned skills to build confidence while teaching new concepts slowly. For instance, let’s say we have a horse riding well, but not neck reining. We don’t teach neck reining in an all day session. It is developed one little piece at a time and in a way that can seem excruciatingly slow to some people. The end result speaks for itself. A horse that turns with wrist movement instead of plow reining or leg cues. We aren’t knocking leg cues and use them also. But a proper neck rein means the horse handles with a light touch of the reins, nothing more.

Patience in the trainer comes with practice and learning to accept hundreds of small successes over long periods while the horse is allowed to continually succeed by  performing what he already knows over and over. In this way, you wind up with a confident horse willing to learn instead of a horse soured on learning because an impatient teacher has created or caused unnecessary confusion and frustration.


Speck Likes Everyone

May 29, 2012

Speck

Speck is an excellent trail horse and always remains under control. He is an AQHA registered gelding and halfway through our two-year training program for trail horses. He likes people and enjoys being around everyone.  Speck is hard to beat in terms of reliability. A few weeks ago, we were riding when a much larger mare got startled. The mare who was behind Speck took off and ran right into the back of him and then started around him. Speck just looked at the mare as if to say, ” what’s your problem? ” Steady and calm Speck is a favorite. Click here to check out what Speck has been up to!

See Speck’s Bloodlines


We Would Like to Introduce You to Suzie

May 28, 2012

Suzie

If you haven’t met Suzie, you should make her acquaintance. An AQHA registered mare, Susie is a really pretty sorrel mare that is nicely built. She has good blood lines and a nice two-year old filly started in our training program. Suzie has a kind, gentle eye and loves to be petted. She does well on the trails and doesn’t let much of anything  ” create too much excitement. ”  Last Summer Suzie was used by the ranch to build fence.  She toted chains, come-a-longs, tools, wire stretchers, water, and pulled the barbed wire through the brushy places. The past few months has been spent with refining her trail skills including neck reining. Suzie is a really good  mare. Click here to check out what Suzie has been up to!

See Suzie’s Bloodlines


Great Ride and Horses Excelling

May 27, 2012

We had a great ride today and the horses are all doing well. Just like any job, there are ups and downs over the course of a month. Those days like today make it all worthwhile. It was a beautiful day in Oklahoma with enough wind to keep an otherwise hot day pleasant.  The horses were all given a ride and one colt worked all day.

A day in the saddle is therapeutic physically and mentally. You hit the shower tired, but happy. Riding a horse clears your mind of all the junk that builds up over the week. Many people report regular riding actually increases their everyday job performance because the come to work rejuvenated and relaxed.

Memorial Day Weekend is typically a great time to ride in Oklahoma. The weather is warm and the landscape is green. The sunshine, fresh air, and rocking chair horse ride watching the beautiful scenery as you go by is an excellent way to spend the holiday. You can’t beat it!


Lies or Just Poor Communication?

May 23, 2012

The agriculture industry is full of poor communication at best and downright lies at worst. The horse business has some of the best and the worst. We started our horse operation out of frustration over the horses we bought that didn’t meet our expectations or the promises made to us.

Probably some of you have been there also. The guy on the phone says the horse is so gentle even his wife can ride it. You put a foot in the stirrup and that bomb proof horse blows up. He really was bomb proof, but  you weren’t!  Then you find out later, the guy’s  wife was riding broncs at 4 years old.  

How about the kids ride him all the time. Ever heard that one? We have and far too many times it turned out to be slightly less than accurate. Sure the kids rode him, five years ago from the barn to the gate. Whether less than truthful or just bad communication, it is still  your hard-earned money for something you didn’t want.

Frankly, we decided a lot of the problems aren’t so much sellers trying to cheat folks as just plain, old lack of communication. What  ” gentle  ” means to one person is  not the same to the next. Broke is a term that can mean almost anything from ridden twice without bucking to ready for a noisy Christmas parade.  A ” good horse ” is equally valueless in terms of understanding what the seller means.

Communication is a two-way street and the buyer also plays a role. Don’t ask vague questions when  purchasing a horse. Ask detailed questions that get to the heart of what you want to know. Example: Does he load in the trailer easy? Sound like a detailed question?  It’s not. Are you talking about a four horse stock trailer or a one horse? Does it have a ramp or does the horse have to step up into the trailer? Does it have rubber mats or does it have a slick floor? See how just a few variables can really change the meaning of what everyone believes they said or heard.

A better approach is to ask the seller to simply tell you about the horse and then listen to what is said. ” How many times have you loaded the horse into a trailer? ” “How did you load him? ” ” Can you show me? ” These types of questions along with ” show and tell ” give the prospective buyer far more information. If the seller grabs his cell phone and starts calling the family to help ” load the horse “, you get a clear picture.

We used to say, ” Tell me about the horse’s bad habits. ”  With some people you get straight to the truth. With others, you don’t get what you want to know. Having been the owner of a proud cut gelding several years ago, I distinctly remember asking the seller  to tell me all the bad things about the horse several times. He clearly said there weren’t any. The horse was a dream in every way when saddled and a nightmare when not. The man said he owned the horse for 5 or 6 years. I noticed there were some brood mares just down the road and we talked about them. Really hard for me to believe he told me the truth. Now it’s water under the bridge, but an expensive lesson.

If you are looking for a horse, make a written list of everything you think your next horse should be able to do. Try to spend several hours and write down all the simple things  you can possibly can. Don’t assume a horse does anything other than cost you money! If you think the horse will stand tied, you better find out. Some stand tied better than others. The details are nearly endless and you should know more about what you want and expect than anyone.  These are the areas you want to go over with the seller in DETAIL.  Don’t assume because the last 5 horses you rode were easy to bridle that the one you are checking out will be.

I scratched the hood on a nice car one time getting out of the way when a guy tightened the cinch on a  ” well broke ” horse. It reared up and fell over backwards trying to grind the saddle into the ground. Notice I said the guy pulled the cinch! I already knew enough back then to make the seller do everything I wanted to do FIRST.  You may be surprised how many sellers would love to ride the horse for you if it wasn’t for that ” catch in their back “.

At the end of the day it is buyer beware. So questions, questions, and more questions!


Jack The Rescue Horse

May 22, 2012

Jack is a real American hero. He found a lost three-year old boy. News on 6 reported the story. The video gives the details with a happy ending. The boy, age 3, wandered away and got lost. Jack was being worked along the highway when fast-moving cars, helicoptors, and planes began filling up the area. A police car pulled  over and asked Shawn if he had seen the boy.

Typical of Shawn, he offered to help search the area using Jack. The horse is used to the rough terrain and made the perfect horse for the job. Jack is alert and attentive to his surrounding without being afraid. With all the noise from the planes and helicopters, it was really hard to hear. But Jack’s keen ears picked up the boy’s German Shepherd barking and growling.

Careful to pay attention to his horse, Shawn urged Jack to go toward whatever had caught his attention and found the boy in a ravine. Law enforcement were immediately notified and emergency crews took over. After more than four hours in the hot sun and working hard, Shawn headed Jack back towards the ranch for well deserved, long drink of cool water.

We’re  proud of Jack and thrilled Shawn was able to help out. Training horses is great fun, but getting to help others at the same time is icing on the cake.  We’ll show you a photo of Jack and tell you more about him in future posts.


Montana Going To Be A Nice Trail Horse

May 21, 2012
Photograph of Montana

Montana

Montana has been in a slow training program all her life. She was started with a halter and learned to lead about two months old. By 3 months she was wearing blankets and occasionally a kid saddle. We used to put flat rocks all over her back while she was eating and threw empty feed sacks under her feet. We wanted calm and were determined to get there. At a little over two years old now, Montana was started under saddle for real. She has never bucked or reared and always at ease during training. The rides are kept fairly slow and short. Usually only a few miles at a walk while she continues to grow. Montana’s blood lines are cowhorse and she will not be real large, probably 14 or 14.1 hands when she stops growing.She is very smart and learns quickly. Most important to our program is her good nature and willingness to readily accept new things without fear or becoming overly excited. We have high hopes for Montana and look forward to seeing her at the end of graduation in two more years. More about her progress  as time passes.


Trail Ride Sponsored By Oklahoma Equestrian Trail Riders

May 20, 2012

June 1-3 National Trails Day Trail Ride, Sponsored by Oklahoma Equestrian Trail Riders Association, Robbers Cave State Park, Wilburton, OK. Friday night, Meet and Greet social. Saturday night covered dish dinner. OETRA provides the meat, beverages and paper products. You bring a side dish or dessert to share. Saturday guided trail rides. Ride Chairs: Larry and Janet Newport jfigsnewport@gmail.com 918-617-2333


Two Year Trail Horse Training

May 19, 2012

We set out to develop a two full year training program for trail horses. The program is designed to expose two year old geldings to everything we can dream up. The horses are ridden nearly every day and taught to be patient, calm, and ready for anything. We start with young horses for several reasons. First, to avoid having to unfix problems someone else created for us. Second, so the next owner has a well broke horse with lots of life remaining and plenty of energy for all kinds of activities.

The program started like so many things in life do, pure frustration! It seemed the world was full of people with good trail horses for sale. You know the ones; can’t catch, can’t bridle, won’t stand while you mount, don’t neck rein, won’t back, and booger at every leaf blowing down the trail!  It really got old driving 40 miles to the next great prospect and finding another dud after wasting a lot of gas.

The goal is to turn out eight horses a year. The horses are worked initially with one trainer and slowly taught basic skills. Later, the horses are presented with numerous different riders to get used to the idea that more than just the trainer is going to be riding.  Detailed training logs are kept to monitor the progress of each horse and to allow potential buyers the opportunity to see the training.  As time passes, we hope to show you some of these horses in this blog and let you get to know them.


American Competitive Trail Horse Association Provides Fun

May 18, 2012

The American Competitive Trail Horse Association, ” ACTHA ” was founded by Karen VanGetson and Carrie Scrima. They  ” were tired of long drives to multi-day, timed competitions. . . and wanted a venue where they could enjoy their horses and the wonderful scenery around them. ” Of course they also needed a  challenge and a chance to learn as well as show off their horse’s talents. They set about to develop an organization to meet their needs plus a lot of  camaraderie and fun! ” Today ACTHA is a national phenomenon with rides all across the USA. ” If you need some good fun and a little competition, you ought to check them out!


Don’t Forget; You Get What You Pay For!

May 18, 2012

I was talking with a lady last week about the price of horses. She doesn’t own a horse, but heard people were practically giving them away. Apparently a friend of hers took a horse to the sale and it brought almost nothing. It is a pretty common occurrence in this economy. You can buy those four-legged animals that any four-year old child can tell you is a horse. But . . . . . . we see it a little differently than some folks.

The typical first time horse owner is concerned about the price paid for the horse and the color of the  halter. Once you have owned a number of horses, the price is viewed in a broader perspective. You still are concerned about how much you spend, but you remember the true price you pay. For instance, how much did that horse cost me when I add back in the emergency room visit, ambulance ride, and the missed week of work. How much did the horse cost me if the cost after I factor the repair to the truck door  where  he kicked in the side?  You get the point.

The value of a good, sound horse with manners and capable of being safely ridden is worth a lot more than just what you  gave the sale barn. I lost count over the years of the people I have known that stopped riding within a month of purchasing their first horse. Some rode for a couple of years riding well-trained horses of others or some stable. But when they took that deal too good to pass up, they unfortunately  “got what they paid for! ”

To our way of thinking, you either buy a horse to ride or you want it for a pasture ornament. Nothing wrong with decorating the pasture, but it’s  probably not  the reason you gave your spouse when you wrote  the check.

If you have never owned a horse and thinking about the first one, do your homework BEFORE you buy.  Find a reputable place to buy it. Make sure you can ride it. Go back several times, don’t buy on an impulse. Ignore the urge to find a pretty one. It is far less expensive and a lot safer to get right the first time!


Trail Riding Makes Great Training For Competition Horses

May 17, 2012

” Training outside the box is something AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm does with all her horses in training, especially competition horses. Trail riding is an opportunity to strengthen the bond with your horse by overcoming new obstacles together and encountering situations not found in an arena setting.”  She gives a list of 40 Trail Riding Tips at the American Quarter Horse Association webpage that all new riders should read. Palm says to always be prepared to expect the unexpected. We wholeheartedly agree! Part of the fun as well as the benefit to trail riding is overcoming situations that suddenly come up. These experiences make for better riders and more importantly better horses!