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!!!

Rescue Horse Badly Injures A Young Girl

August 31, 2014

We were very sorry to hear about a young girl who ended up in the hospital last week with cracked ribs and crushed vertebrae. Her parents, first-time horse owners, adopted the horse from a rescue. The horse had been purchased from a kill buyer who was taking it to slaughter. The rescue group saved the horse, but didn’t bother to find out why the pretty horse had been taken to the auction.Typical for an auction, the horse was sold “as is” to the highest bidder, in this case the rescue outfit.

The parents, not knowing the importance of asking about the horse, its temperament, and its background took the horse from the rescue and gave it a home. The kill buyer knew why the horse was headed to the slaughter, it was because the horse was prone to suddenly and unexpected rear up and fall over backwards. He might not rear for 2-3 rides, then do it again without warning. The parents put their child on the horse thinking they had done a good deed in rescuing the horse and giving their daughter a new friend. It’s a sad story! Unfortunately, a story that is repeated all too often.

A beautiful horse headed for slaughter may be a great horse just a little down on his luck. Humans want to believe in the epic and rush to rescue the horse with everyone living happily ever after. No doubt a noble reaction. The problem is not every horse headed for slaughter is just misunderstood or just needs a little tender loving care to be rehabilitated. Some of these horses have deep scars and emotional issues that seasoned trainers can’t resolve. Newbie horse owners have no business handling them or riding them like they’re broke.

No rational parent would put their child in the hands of a hardened convict with emotional problems simply because the convict had been rescued from his place in life and given some counseling and therapy. Regardless of the cause (and it doesn’t matter why if you are the one who gets hurt), there are bad people in the world and there are bad horses. It may not be a happy, positive thought that is politically correct with a lot of folks, but it doesn’t change the facts.

Our thoughts and prayers to the girl and her parents and hopefully this post will protect another innocent victim from a trusting a horse they know nothing about.

We’re Inviting You To Come Ride With Us

August 27, 2014

Oklahoma Trail HorseWe are inviting anyone who wants to ride with us September 20, 2014 to go. The ride is leaving the Will Rogers Centennial Trail Head at 9:00am at Oologah Lake. There are no fees or charges. It’s not an organized trail ride, just a chance to meet some people and have a great day on the trails. Who might enjoy the ride? Anyone interested in dressage, mounted patrol, mounted search and rescue, trail riding in Oklahoma, or just wanting a fun group ride.

We see the opportunity to blend and combine several riding disciplines in one get together so everyone can learn more about horses, riding, and community involvement. For example, a dressage rider can illustrate how precise movements enable trail riders to navigate obstacles on the trail. Mounted patrol members can show dressage riders how their skills might be put to use in real life rescue operations to help save a life or rescue someone in danger. New riders would be able to observe  and talk with professional horsemen to gain new insights into all riding disciplines. There will likely be several riding instructors and trainers present. So pack a lunch and join us for a great day on the trail and meet some new friends.

Rider Confidence: The Chicken or The Egg?

June 28, 2014

PollyWe see a lot of riders who lack confidence in their horse. You can see it on their face, in their posture, and often hear it in their voice. It doesn’t take long for the story to unfold about how the horse bucked them off or reared up or did something that really scared them. Sure they are back in the saddle, but with considerable apprehension or even downright fear.

If they had more confidence, it’s likely the horse they are riding would probably settle down to an extent. As a general rule, the more confident the rider, the less trouble with the horse. But, confidence is built on trust and without faith in the horse to react properly, the trust level drops. It’s a vicious cycle. The more confidence and leadership the rider demonstrates, the more the horse will accept the rider as the one who is in charge. The more the horse will relax and the better the experience will be. The more times the horse has bucked, reared, or thrown a fit, the less confident the rider feels.

So how do you build the trust in your horse so you can ride confidently? Good question, not always a simple answer.  If you are asking the question, the chances are you can’t. If you could overcome the lack of confidence in your horse by riding more, you probably would have already done it. Sometimes the best solution is to start over again with a new horse, but one suited for you and your level of riding. The confidence grows quickly on a horse that has been trained and that you are able to handle. As it grows, your riding pleasure will expand exponentially.

Every case is different, but you must be very honest with yourself. Are you ever really going to trust the horse? Will there always be just a little bit of doubt? If so, we suggest making a change to a horse worthy of your faith and one you can trust.



The “Magic Halter”

June 20, 2014

Once in a while, we give a talk or presentation about horses and horse training. One of our consistent goals is to educate people about horses. The “magic halter” is sometimes part of the discussion. We sometimes bring a “magic halter” with us to demonstrate the magic power contained in the woven strands. The benefit of a “magic halter” is you can use it when you have a horse that won’t lead,  won’t load in the trailer, sets back, and a host of other vices and instantly fix the problem. These halters retail for $79.95, pricey for a halter. But, it’s the magic you pay for.

Of course we are always happy to sell one of these grand devices. We want to help people fix their horse problems. Here’s the way it works, a “magic halter” is placed on the problem horse by one of our expert horse trainers and within 5 – 10 minutes the problem horse is leading, loading in the trailer, and “magically cured”. At least cured until the owner takes hold of the end of the rope. Those doggone batteries in a “magic halter” don’t last as long as they used to. Maybe we should sell some extra batteries to go with the “magic halters”?

Horse Trainer For Sure!

May 26, 2014

We have been doing quite a few day rides for the past several weeks. In fact, we have been to several that haven’t even been mentioned on the blog. This comment is made so we don’t embarrass anyone. It’s been interesting and some of the people you meet have some fascinating stories.

On one ride, we met a horse trainer that will be kept anonymous. We will just call this person “Trainer”. So Trainer arrives at the ride with a horse under training. As we ride along, conversation begins and we learn the horse has about a year of training, but it has been a while back. The ride is being used as a refresher. Trainer likes to start colts and says to have done 8 – 10 colts over the years.The first creek we reach is about a foot deep and maybe 6 feet across. It has a little mud, but basically solid footing. As we ride up, probably 50 horses have already crossed.

Trainer’s horse won’t cross water, won’t step into the water, and doesn’t respond well to the situation. We observe Trainer climb off the horse and proceed to lead the horse across the creek. Unfortunately we see similar episodes played out all the time. Everyone has their own way of training and their own tools to do so. But watching a self-described “trainer” lead a horse across a tiny water crossing isn’t our picture of training. Yet, we see the scenario over and over where a “trainer” has a horse they can’t handle.

Honesty is a virtue. Just because you have ridden a few colts, doesn’t make you a horse trainer any more than welding a few pipes makes you a welder. Horse training means you teach the horse to do a job. It isn’t about working around solutions like leading a horse thru the creek. We may not have much of a training operation, but at least our boots are dry. Have a good one!

Good Horse Gone Bad

April 25, 2014


Ever wonder why the nice, sweet, gentle, well-trained horse you bought, is all of a sudden acting badly?

You are not alone. Years ago horses had a purpose, we rode them for transportation, and they worked daily and hard. Some also plowed the fields and gave the little ones a thrill on their back. They were bred to do a job, they were not fancy horses, and they were hardy, even-tempered and willing. They were great horses, because they were bred well and they were worked daily.

Nowadays, we do not ride for transportation; we ride for a competitive sport with the horse, or just for fun, with really no purpose at all. We breed for sport but many breed just because their horse is not a good riding horse.

So what horses used to be and what they are today is completely different. We have bred them to have more energy but do not give them things to do with it. We have also bred them poorly to have bad unwilling and ill temperaments and we do not give them structure or rules to improve their attitude.

Each horse needs a purpose and it should not be to take up space, eat and look pretty.

In nature horses can walk up to 30 miles looking for food and water. Nowadays, they just stand there and it is given to them. No wonder they are acting up, they are kept in a box or in a paddock with nothing to do all day long. You feel bad because they are locked up, so you feed them more, which gives them more energy but you do not give them anything to do with it.

So they come up with their own jobs, such as scare my owner, guard my stall, kick at my neighbor, break the halter, break the tie up post, run from the trailer, there are so many jobs they have given themselves, I can’t even name them all.

When your horse was trained, he had a job. He was probably worked in a round pen or turned out daily, or possibly both, he was groomed and tied up until the rider was ready and then worked with a purpose. This could have been a ranch horse where the rider worked cows, fixed fences, rode the perimeter of the land. It could have been worked in an arena on being soft in the bridle, backing, doing rollbacks, canter departures. Each rider gave the horse a job. Even a trail trainer would have picked certain trails with challenges and given the horse jobs as they rode the trail. Maybe go over a log, up and down steep hills, over rocks or logs, circle around a tree and then tied up at lunch and ridden some more.

So now your gentle horse is bucking, bolting, rearing, striking out, pinning its ears, not letting you catch him, biting at the girth. Can you hear what he is saying? GIVE ME A JOB! He is acting up, because he has to do something to get your attention, and walking around the barn or down a flat trail once a week is just not doing anything for him.

I train many horses, and all the bad horses turn good. They are given rules; jobs and they are not rewarded when they are bad. Rides always end on a good note. I round pen them to get rid of extra energy and get them thinking. I ride them with a plan, I pick trails depending on their energy level, if they are spunky I pick the steepest ones I can find, if they are not energetic I pick an easier trail. I ride over logs, move cows, follow squirrels, follow bikers, separate from the other riders, stop and back, even go off trail and ride over rocks, in creeks, whatever I can find. In the arena, I have a plan of what the horse needs to work on. Once the horse is good at his job, I vary what I work on or do it a little differently. The smart horses need challenges, the athletic horses need challenges. If you don’t give them any, this horse will out think you and possible dump you on the ground.

The lazy quiet horse also needs challenges. These horses get stubborn and may refuse to go away from the barn and get quick coming home. They may also turn their back on you or kick out.

The best advice I have is, learn what kind of horse you bought. What was the previous owner doing that made the horse so good? Ask them. If you know his breeding, what was he bred to do? Is he smart? If you know you bought a cutting or reining horse, research what their job was. A horse that previously was quiet but the owner use to canter 30 minutes a day, may not do well with your once a week workout. Too many horses go bad because the owners do not want to put in the work. Your bad horse can be good again, but the real question is, can you change?

Gaye DeRusso -The Majestic Rider is a professional horse trainer in California and guest writer. Ms. DeRusso is an accomplished rider and trainer that spends her time training gaited horses. For more information about her, check out her

How Can I Tell If My Horse Is Testing Me or Really Scared?

April 14, 2014

It’s a good question and one we were asked recently. There is no quick, simple test. It’s really knowing the horse and level of training it has received. With a horse new to you, there isn’t enough information to always be able to tell if the reluctance to perform a task is fear or just a test to see who’s in charge. But, here’s a few questions you can ask if you aren’t sure that might give the answer.

1.   If you get off the horse and someone else mounts, does the problem go away?

2.   Has the horse been quietly going past the scary place until now?

3.   Is this a young and inexperienced horse or a seasoned mount with a lot of experience?

4.   If you can see the horse’s face and eyes, do you see fear and concern or do you see a bit of a mean look?

5.   Is the horse afraid of just one object or is he suddenly uncomfortable with everything? One object sounds more like fear while an unwillingness to do anything is most likely a test.

A horse that usually crosses water that develops an unexpected fear of a small creek is most likely not afraid. It’s more likely he decided to see who is in charge. The same for a horse that loads well in a trailer that one morning refuses to load in the very trailer he has ridden in a dozen times before.

A horse that is genuinely scared needs to be handled differently than one that is acting stubborn. Fear needs to be overcome with some patience and hopefully gaining trust in your choices and leadership. A horse that is testing you needs to find out really fast exactly who is in charge. While you want to use the least amount of force necessary, it needs to be addressed promptly and in a way that firmly leaves no doubt.

A quick spur or slap of the reins may be all it takes. We had a gelding many years ago that you only needed to break off a small limb from a tree. Even a small child could take him anywhere just holding a small branch. You never had to touch him with it, he understood. Although spurs or reins could convince him, nothing was as effective as twirling a small limb.

With many horses, making them work is a good reminder. Trotting in a small circle, riding on the slope of a pond, heading into the rocks, or nearly anything that makes the horse focus on the placement of his feet. It gives less time to think over who is the leader and when the work stops, he is ready for a break doing something with you that doesn’t take quite as much effort.

Lastly, if you don’t know the horse, don’t exceed your limitations. Get someone who knows how to handle the horse to help you. Learning how to gain respect with a horse is not the same thing as adjusting the attitude of a rogue or mean-spirited one.

Why Does A Well-Trained Horse Cost So Much?

March 11, 2014

The horse business is just like any other, you tend to get what you pay for. A properly trained, broke horse costs more than one that isn’t ready. Gaye DeRusso, a horse trainer in Walnut Creek, California has a wonderful article about the finer points of looking for a horse and why some horses are worth more than others. With many years of experience, she makes a number of points a person or family new to horses should consider before purchasing. We liked the article well enough to link to it. If you are looking for a good horse, give some thought and consideration to her advice.

Gentle Dove Farm Announces A Versatile Horse Obstacle Clinic

February 18, 2014

Joann Long notified us Gentle Dove Farm has scheduled an obstacle clinic to be held Saturday, July 19, 2014, with an emphasis on mounted police training techniques. Designed to teach and instill confidence in both horse and rider, Ms. Long is a certified instructor who believes strongly in the benefits the training provides. Police mounts obviously require calm natures, discipline, and sound physical and mental health. For more information, contact Joann at 585-738-7477.

North American Trail Ride Conference In Oklahoma City

February 15, 2014

The National Convention for the North American Trail Ride Conference (“NATRC”) will be held in Oklahoma City this year, February 20 – 23, 2014. The Friday and Saturday sessions are filled with recognized speakers in the equine industry ready to discuss issues important to trail riders. The key-note speaker, Nancy Loving, DVM will discuss topics including colic, evaluating the equine athlete, and how to deal with equine emergencies. Both members and non-members are welcome. You can register at the NATRC website. For more details, contact

Western Dressage Isn’t For Dummies

February 12, 2014

Western dressage is a complicated, mentally challenging discipline. It’s not for dummies! It has only been recently that I learned just how difficult it is to grasp. I was told you use two hands on the reins in western dressage or you lose points. To my backward way of ‘thinkin’, if you can do exactly the same thing with one hand on the reins, it means you’re even better. Like when I was small and the older kids rode their bicycles with one hand while I used two hands. Wrong! Not in western dressage, two hands are required.

Confused, I started sending e-mails and asking western dressage experts why two hands are better than one hand. The first answer I got was safety. It is for the safety and welfare of the rider and fellow participants. For a dumb red-neck from Oklahoma, this was a little hard to follow. If my horse does everything your horse does, where’s the safety? Is it because holding the reins with two hands will help keep me from falling off? Wouldn’t it be better just to grab hold of the saddle horn?????

The next reply was because that’s what the rules say. Slow on the uptake, I asked, who made the rule? This is not a proper question to ask. Once “He Who Shall Not Be Named” has SPOKEN, all will follow the rules. All violators will be PENALIZED!  I tried to point out that in battle, warriors probably carried weapons (swords and stuff), but was informed the correctness of the point would not be debated. The judges had been “trained” in the “old ways”.

At least, these individuals were courteous enough to respond. The silence of others seemed to say, “mere mortals” who would ask such questions could never be capable of understanding the depth and wisdom behind the “rule”.

The experts made it clear that “dressage” is a life-long journey that never ends. You never actually get there. You continue and never stop learning. Well, I may have just started the trip, but for the life of me can’t figure out how those guys swung a sword while holding a rein in each hand.  Hey, can any of you “western dressage experts” out there explain to a dumb country boy why two hands on the reins are better than one?