Grazing Your Horse Without A Halter On The Trail

September 16, 2014

Grazing Your Horse On The TrailGrazing Horse On The TrailHow do I graze my horse on the trail if I don’t have a halter? It’s a good question. Sooner or later, we all ride off leaving our halter still tied to the trailer. Sometimes we leave it deliberately, but others times on accident. Lunch time rolls around and you want to let your horse graze without having to chew with the bits in his mouth, so here you go. These are photos of Speck on a recent trail ride. The halter was tied to the trailer and Speck was hungary. It was nearly 6:30pm and he had been ridden most of the day. We stopped for a break and let him have a snack at the same time. We simply slipped the bits out of his mouth and then replaced the headstall back over his ears. The reins were loosely wrapped around the saddle horn and so he could move about without breaking them.

Growing up riding, we rarely took a halter with us. Instead, we just slipped the headstall like shown in the photos. Keep in mind, you need to know your horse before you do this. With the wrong horse, you can find yourself hiking in boots and spurs!!!

Wooden Bridges Can Be Crossed Easily

July 8, 2013

Wooden bridges remain pretty common in the day and age of high technological gadgets, space travel, and modern construction. Some wooden bridges are used because it’s all the county or local community can afford. They keep the one they have. Others are maintained due to the desire to preserve the history associated with it. Regardless of the reason, trail horses need to be ready to cross a wooden bridge and not get excited in the process.

Like anything new, some horses don’t like the sound or the give underneath their feet. The bridge just doesn’t feel natural and solid. The practice and repetition of going across them makes it easier when the need arises.

The video shows a couple of our horses, Doc and Speck, crossing a small training bridge we use. The little bridge was built from logs with boards screwed into the logs to replicate a wooden bridge without the expense. You may notice it isn’t level and the boards have some slope and tilt to them. We aren’t carpenters or bridge builders, but even we have more ability than what you see in the video. The bridge was constructed deliberately uneven and the boards allowed to follow the natural curves in the logs laying on the ground. This was done to make it even less appealing to the horse with the uneven surface and because we are lazy. 

The bridge was built for training purposes and there was no reason to spend a lot of time and effort. It serves the purpose of giving the horse a wooden bridge that is narrow and gives a feeling of instability; a good way to see if the horse trusts you enough to cross it anyway.

Training tools don’t have to be expensive. It is nice to have them reasonably safe. Here the bridge isn’t very high off the ground in order for young horses to step off the side or do something silly without getting hurt. One of the youngsters walked across it the first time with his hind feet on the ground and his front feet on the bridge. It was an acceptable first attempt for a colt and he came back to it later in the week to do a real good job.

The training bridge is just one more tool we use with the horses in our training program for trail horses.


Speck On The Tractor Tires

June 7, 2013


This is a photograph of Speck during the competitive trail challenge in Hartman, Arkansas. Speck competed in the AQHA and the ACHA challenges with the attitude we hoped to see. Although he was uneasy with the arena during the thunder-storm and many of the strange contraptions such as the mechanical calf moving back and forth, he never displayed any inappropriate behavior. He remained calm, quiet, and pretty much willing.

Each new obstacle had a 30 second time limit for the horse to approach, investigate, and overcome. As soon as you finish one obstacle, you immediately go to the next one. Your horse is seeing 10 -12 new and unusual situations in a row. Many horses refuse some of the obstacles as did Speck. But overall we were satisfied with his demeanor and glad to see his training at work.

Speck ended in third place in the novice division and took home a cap, t-shirt, and a training log book. I guess he’s a bit put out over the fact the t-shirt won’t fit him and I wear the cap. Oh well, maybe next time they will have horse size t-shirts.

The  other obstacles shown in the photograph include the large rock on concrete blocks the horses were expected to climb and go over. It was a little slippery from all the rain and mud, but became increasingly slick after several horses had gone over. The giant spool was the next obstacle and the rider was required to dismount on the spool and then remount before continuing to the tunnel (not shown here). The tunnel was exactly what you would expect, a tunnel made from black plastic the horse was supposed to walk through while the wind was blowing.

If you haven’t gone to a competitive challenge, it is really a lot of fun if you have a quiet horse. You can learn a lot from watching other riders and working with your horse in a new environment. The Horsemen of Arkansas were great and made it a spectacular time. The tips, support, and willingness to help you and your horse succeed made it relaxing and enjoyable. The day was about every horse and rider doing their best with the combined help of all the participants. We highly recommend it.

Pete, Speck, Jack, and Doc Graduate The Two-Year Training

May 15, 2013

Four of the AQHA registered quarter horses successfully completed the  two-year training program this month. It’s a credit to them as others failed along the way or didn’t have the qualities and attributes necessary. Pete, Jack, Speck, and Doc all have fulfilled our requirements and met the expectations we set for those that finish the two-year trail horse program.

Does this mean their training ends? Nope! We believe horses like people should be life long learners. You never know it all and when you think you do it’s time to quit! Horses need to keep learning as well. If nothing else, the horse needs to better learn the rider’s needs, wants, and desires. Good communication with a horse and rider comes primarily from a good fit and practice. Even an experienced horse can suffer occasional miscues and an experienced rider can poorly signal what he or she wants to happen.

Does finishing the program mean these horses are absolutely bomb-proof [See 6/15/12 post for definition] and an accident can never happen? No, we don’t rule out rider inexperience as a catalyst for accidents. And anyone who guarantees what their horse will do tomorrow is lying to you. No one can honestly guarantee a horse will never spook depending on the circumstances. So what does completing the training really mean? First, the horse has seen “lots of wet blankets” meaning the horse has been ridden almost everyday by a trainer focused on developing calm, quiet, horses ready to work for two full years. They are taught to come quickly back to a relax state if excited. Second, the horse has been ridden by several different people with less experience to see how he reacts to different personalities and riders. Third, he has been exposed to livestock, semi-trucks along the highway, heavy equipment while it is operating, tarps, ropes, plastic bags, hikers, deer, coyotes, dogs, rolling balls, and all sorts of materials being dragged behind him to make loud noises.

He knows how to stand tied patiently, load and unload, lead, neck-rein, stop, lope, trot, side-pass, back, stand hobbled, cross water, go up and down hills at a walk, step over logs and obstacles, pony other horses, and do more ranch chores than we can list. The horse has been used extensively and knows what it means to work. He is sound in mind and body. His feet are good and have been tested by use on our hard, rocky ground.

What are these horses ready to do.  They are ready to immediately use for ranch work, trail riding, play days, search and rescue operations or move to focused training for rodeo, barrel racing, western dressage, and other events. With all the foundational work done, these horses can quickly be adapted to a number of specialized uses.

We are pleased with these geldings and proud to show them as graduates! They have all done really well and have the records to show their progress. If you have any questions or want to see what they can do, let us know. You don’t find this type of horse just anywhere.

Speck Is Sound, Gentle, and Calm

October 14, 2012


Speck is the perfect example of the quiet nature we like to see in one of our trail horses for sale. He doesn’t get excited about much of anything. The disposition comes from three things. Genetics surely plays a large part. The American Quarter Horse with the foundation blood lines produce nice horses. The training Speck was given used his good genetics and taught him to accept circumstances that would frighten a lot of horses. He has been required to drag tarps, ride with tarps covering him, walk across tarps, bridges, drag logs, pony colts, exposed to tractors, semi-trucks, motorcycles and everything we could throw at him. He has been exposed to sirens, barking dogs, and deer jumping up nearly underneath him. Third,we have been pulling wet blankets off his back for approaching 17 months. While Speck has a little more to complete before graduating the two-year program, he is well on his way. Not long ago he passed umbrella training where he stands still while an umbrella is opened and closed repeatedly and noisily with a rider on him.  Speck is going to make someone a really special horse with many, many years of fun and good times!

Speck Practicing A Little Tarp Training

September 12, 2012

Crossing a Tarp

Like a lot of trainers, we give our  future trail horses for sale at the end of our two-year training program  practice going over tarps on the ground. Here Speck is going back and forth over the tarp and doing a few drills with the tarp mixed into the exercises.

The tarp doesn’t have to be real big, just something that makes noise and feels unusual to the horse’s feet. These types of drills are used sporadically along with lots of long rides on the trails to build confidence.

Speck Likes Everyone

May 29, 2012


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