Proper placement of your horse’s feet is just as important as placement of your own feet going down the stairs. Missed steps due to poorly positioned feet can cause a fall. A trail horse should always know where his feet are. He needs to keep them under himself and maintain his balance while you ride. The video shows Chex, one of our registered AQHA quarter horses. Chex does a nice job of putting his feet where they need to be so you can enjoy the ride.
This is a photograph showing Chex learning to play soccer at the trail challenge held by the Horsemen of Arkansas. He had a ball (pun intended). Actually the first time he approached the ball, he didn’t like it. Having never been to a trail challenge, he really didn’t think the soccer ball was interesting enough to want to touch it.
This particular obstacle required the rider to approach the ball and push it with the horse in a circle around some of the other obstacles on the ground. The wind was blowing and gusting quite a bit so the ball didn’t always roll straight. Depending on the direction, it would blow back against the horse.
We really like this little AQHA gelding because he learns really fast. By the time he had been over the course twice, he was willing to push the soccer ball. He just needed once or twice to understand what was expected. The rules don’t allow any horse on the obstacle course before the competition begins so the objects are new to the horse. The riders on the other hand are allowed to walk the course prior to the start and look over the course.
Here’s some more video of our AQHA gelding, Chex, that will be for sale next year when he completes the two-year training program.
The photo shows Chex ground tied. When you drop the reins, he stands with his head down and waits for you to do your stuff. He’s an AQHA registered gelding about halfway through the two-years of training we give. The patience you see is what we try to foster. It comes from his genetics, natural disposition, and many hours spent in training. We promise you that he didn’t learn to do this by himself. It was taught. With hard work, you can promote patience in a horse. The willingness to stand quietly is refined and produced by practice and repetition. In a trail horse, patience is more than a virtue, it’s a requirement.
This video shows Chex helping with some yard work. We had some small trees that died from the drought and needed to be removed. The green in the video is poison ivy. Funny, no one wanted to be the one dragging it off. Work around the place can be a great way to train your horse and get the chores done. But, I gotta find a camera man who doesn’t editorialize! LOL! See for yourself.
Labor Day Weekend is a great time for trail riding in Oklahoma. This year didn’t go as planned. There was a trail ride we planned to attend, but life came along. Oh well, it gave me a chance to give Chex a pop quiz. Monday morning, Chex was saddled just after dawn and we took a tour off the ranch. He did pretty well with a new rider, brush and weeds head high, and in new territory without any other horses.
The brush and weeds were a good opportunity to observe him riding without much vision. You could see the ground as we rode, but not much else. A snake or two wiggled underneath his feet, but nothing more for about 20 -30 minutes. Suddenly, a big doe jumped out and Chex jumped as well. Not far, and he shut down as the reins were pulled just enough to take up the slack. He went right “back to calm,” a term we use to describe when the horse returns to a relaxed mode and rides quiet. We continued until we found a road. Some cars went past. No worries for Chex, cars weren’t a bother.
Our little excursion went for three hours before we ended up back at the gate. Chex would have been okay stopping, but we still had our chores to get done. The fence has to be ridden every day. It’s a familiar 3 mile trek for Chex, but the horse flies are heavy this time of year. Some young horses get a little dancey and jittery when attacked. Not Chex, just part of the job. With several trees limbs placing pressure on the fence, it was a good time to test Chex’s willingness to ground tie. Each time the reins were dropped, he patiently waited even when limbs were tossed at his feet. If you haven’t given your horse this little quiz, you can find yourself enjoying a stroll back to the barn. Chex didn’t do that.
Until recently, Chex has been ridden by only one person. Part of our training program is designed to make the horse calm and responsive. Too many riders/trainers on a young horse can really frustrate the process. No two people use exactly the same cues or use them the same way. For a young horse, this can be extremely frustrating to be trying really hard to do what is expected, but confused about what is wanted.
You see the results when people take a horse to the trainer for 60 days and decide they aren’t satisfied. The horse goes to the next trainer for 30 – 60 days and spends most of it trying to figure out the new cues. The owner then gets the horse home and rides for 30 days with a new set of cues. Not happy, the owner goes to trainer #3 and starts all over again. It’s no surprise the horse doesn’t handle well and gets jumpy from all the different riders. In our program, there is only one rider until the horse has a chance to understand what is expected of him.
Typically, the second year other riders spend more time in the saddle with the horse learning that people speak with different dialects (slightly different cues). A new rider is like a new teacher at the beginning of the school year. The horse isn’t completely sure about it. Taking the horse away from what is familiar is like changing schools. Chex did well with a new rider and a new school at the same time. But, his test wasn’t quite finished.
An empty feed sack was grabbed from the barn and the next 20 minutes used to see if he would get excited while riding while waving the bag in his face and all around his body. It didn’t faze him.
The last part of the test was dragging some brush off. We had a few small trees that died and fell over. Chex got to drag them off. He patiently did the work without complaint. It was a relaxing time with Chex and a real pleasure seeing him developing into a wonderful trail horse.
Chex, one of our AQHA quarter horse geldings in the two-year training program, is really coming along well. We have taken Chex for granted just a little and probably haven’t said enough about him. Chex is super quiet and relaxed. Although he has the “giddy up” if you want or need it, he takes everything in stride. He keeps his feet under him well in the rocks as well as in the mud. He has a good mind and willing attitude. At the mid-point in the training program, Chex is being ridden by several different people. He is a real pleasure to trail ride. You can just set the auto-pilot and watch the scenery or enjoy some good conversation while Chex does the driving. If you want to steer, he neck reins and backs really well. Chex is a lot of fun right now and will be a spectacular trail horse upon his completion of his education.
Some folks may ask, if he is doing so well, why not just graduate him now. We believe the second half of the training program at the ranch is the refining and testing that can only come over an extended period of time and a lot of hours in the saddle. Our customers are generally looking for horses that can do (and will do) nearly anything. The second year is devoted to reinforcing all the lessons with as giving as many experiences as we can create, imagine, or dream up. For instance, the we rode past a couple of trucks hauling hay along a dirt road with those hay trailers that hold 8 or 9 round bales. The old road was rough and full of holes. The trailers were empty so they banged and clanged loudly. A great experience for a trail horse just to ride about five feet from the trailer going down the road for a few minutes.
These are the kinds of situations we use throughout the training. But, the second year is where you see the horse really began to use the confidence inspired in the first year and build up on it to the point that virtually nothing causes panic. The second year is also the time the horse is ridden much more extensively by multiple riders teaching him to accept cues that may not exactly replicate the initial training he received. A huge benefit for riders who haven’t spent the last 30 years in the saddle. Chex is headed for graduation in August, 2014, and receiving high marks so far.
Chex, one of our AQHA quarter horses participating in the two-year training program had one of those lessons this week. He dropped his back legs into a sink hole and got stuck while being ridden. It would be doggone hard to replicate a hole suddenly opening in the ground and the back-end dropping in it.
We’ve been blessed with quite a bit of rain and much of it has started to soak into the ground. Having been so dry the last two years, some of the earth apparently fell away underneath. Chex’s back legs dropped down up to the hock. He handled it pretty well and didn’t get real excited. It turned out his calm, laid back personality paid off for him because his left leg was stuck. Unable to climb out by himself, it was necessary to dismount and help pull him out.
Part of what makes a good horse is experience. It doesn’t come from running around in circles in a ring. It comes from day in and day out work. It’s life. Chex did well and learned once again to keep his head, not get too excited, and it all works out. Just another day on the job for Chex. He’s making one fine horse!
Chex is another AQHA registered quarter horse in our two-year training program. He looks a lot like Jack and Speck. If you don’t look close, you can find yourself riding Chex when you thought you saddled Jack. He’s nicely put together and well-muscled. Chex is a quiet horse and doing really well, although he hasn’t been under saddle for long. As you can see, he stands patiently and waits to move until asked to go forward. He is easy to load in the trailer and started dragging logs and 55 gallon barrels. With a smooth gait and a pace covering walk, Chex is good for the trail. He has all the wonderful attributes of a foundation bred quarter horse and will be able to do nearly anything when he graduates. We will give you updates on Chex as his training continues. He is set to graduate August, 2014. Click here to check out what Chex has been up to!