Simple Confidence Building Tool For You and Your Horse

July 29, 2014

Confidence Building ClinicHere is a simple and inexpensive training tool to use in building confidence in your horse. A child’s wading pool filled with empty water and soda bottles. The sound when the horse steps into the pool is loud and crackly. The feel is strange to the horse as the bottom of the pool gives from the weight and the bottles slide underneath the hoof.

The pools are cheap to purchase, but you can often find them at the end of the Summer in the trash as you drive down the road. Of course, you want to look both ways before you grab one out of the trash. People may wonder what’s wrong with you; stealing a worn out pool from the neighbor. If you really want to get their attention, sort through their garbage to get the empty bottles as well.

Riding your horse through the pool is one more way to teach confidence and leadership. Many horses prefer to just go around the obstacle rather than cross it. As with any new and strange challenge, it may take a couple of attempts before your horse enters the pool. But, once he does, the exercise can be expanded for him to stand quietly in it. You can add water to make the bottles float and move even more. In short, it is an easy way to artificially create an obstacle in your own backyard.

Wanna Ride The Trail With Us?

July 24, 2014

Polly on the Trail We ride every weekend, it goes with the job. Often we ride here at the ranch or the surrounding area. Sometimes it’s nice to break the monotony and find some place new or revisit a trail we’ve ridden in the past. Many of our rides away from the ranch are made at the last-minute. We load the trailer and go. Because these spur of the moment decisions are usually made with little advance notice or warning, folks don’t get invited.

The rest of the week all we hear is, “Man, I wish I’d known you were going there. I wanted to go!” We especially hear it when Shawn rides.

People like to ride with him because they learn a lot. With years of training horses professionally and a lifetime of riding horses, he has the answers. More important, he honestly shares what he knows. But, you have to be ready for complete honesty. If you want to be told you’re a great horseman, then you have to be one. Otherwise, the advice and comments are straight-forward and intended to make you a better rider. Most people appreciate the tips and readily accept the benefits of his experience.

In any event, we decided to pick a date to ride and give everyone some notice. If you want to come ride with us, you are welcome. It’s not a trail riding club. There’s no fees or charges. No rule books or releases to sign. We are just going to tell you where we plan to ride and the date. If you ride with us, there’s only one rule. You ride with respect; respect for the horse and the other riders.

This ride is not an organized trail ride, but the opportunity for all of us to ride together and enjoy some pretty country from horse back. If you want to come, put September 20, 2014 on your calendar for the Will Rogers Centennial trail at Oologah Lake in Oklahoma. We intend to leave the main trail head at 9am. This time we’re telling everyone well in advance the place, the date, and the time. If you want to ride,  we’ll see you there!!

Bad Girls Confidence Building Clinic Was A Great Success

November 14, 2013

The Bad Girls Trail Riding Club held a rider confidence clinic to assist members and their spouses in gaining confidence in their horse handling and riding skills  this past Saturday, November 9, 2013. We were invited to observe and offer assistance during the clinic. It was wonderful to see the eyes of some of the new riders as they conquered some of the skill building obstacles set up in the arena. The riders were brought into the arena in groups of five at a time so individual guidance and tips could be offered to them. There was also a question and answer session after the lunch break for those attending to ask follow-up questions for how to improve. It was a wonderful day and we look forward to the next opportunity to attend one of these events. Take a look at some of the video taken during the day.

Helmet Requirements; What Comes Around Goes Around!

November 12, 2013

There always seems to be some group or other watching out for you and your “best interest”. Laws, regulations, standards, and  conduct becomes governed by someone else’s good idea and decision to protect you. It’s not that safety is a bad idea. We talk about horse safety all the time. The problem is society is infringing in areas formerly considered individual rights. The general public seems to just nod and say, “Well, it sounds reasonable to me” or “We have to protect the children” and accept the latest, greatest safety requirement. The last decade the horse industry has been bombarded with the notion that everyone should wear a helmet.

Our caution to all the do gooders encouraging the use of helmets or to those refusing to take a stand allowing individuals the right to make a few choices in life is, beware! The old adage of what comes around, goes around may come back and bite you. We see more and more blog posts, articles, and industry groups calling for helmets at equine events. Once it becomes an entrenched requirement, it will then move to individual riders. Think not, seat belts and bicycle helmet laws are everywhere. Mandatory requirements for their use subject to fines and penalties.

We issue the warning because horseback riding comes with certain risks, it’s always there. No one ever has complete control over a 1,000 -1,200 lb. animal. So no matter what you legislate, there will still be injuries. As long as there are injuries, there will be more people in the future wanting solve the problem. For example, we know a lot of experienced riders who will say a western saddle is safer than an English saddle. You sit lower in western tack and also have a saddle horn to grab. Safety advocates may one day decide your saddle is no longer safe and require you to stop using your preferred choice of equipment.

Just for grins, and tongue-in-cheek, may be we should prohibit bareback riding. After all, some may assert that no saddle is really dangerous. Since we generally ride western, may be we should promote regulation of all equipment that doesn’t have a saddle horn and stirrups that allow your legs to extend. Maybe we should just ban horseback riding altogether. No riding, no accidents, no injuries and we are all safe!

Wake up America! Every time you go along with the crowd and the current fad that takes away someone’s else’s rights in the name of protecting them, you move one step closer to the front of the line. Before you go jumping on the safety bandwagon, give it a little more thought. It’s still a free country, but things are changing fast. With the Federal government entering heavily into healthcare (regardless of whether you are for it or against it), the reality is the government will say it has a financial stake in everything you do that affects your health. If injuries from certain types of activities increase medical care costs, the easy solution is to ban it.

Think it can’t happen! If you told my grandfather, just two generations back from me, that he couldn’t wear a cowboy hat while riding a horse, he would died three years earlier from not being able to stop laughing.  From a cowboy’s perspective, it would have sounded so incredible that only a fool or a prankster would have said it.  Even as a child riding all the time in Oklahoma, the thought someone would wear a helmet never entered my mind, much less that a bunch of people worried for my well-being might try to make me.

A person’s individual decision as to equipment, dress, and safety should be left to them. End of story!

Horse Sense; No One Owns It

November 4, 2013

Horse Sense posted a blog recently we liked. The writer was trying to explain how “horse sense” is acquired from others who teach us, listening, and paying attention to your horse. It appeared to be posted in response to a comment someone made, but was said kindly. The main point is no one can lay claim to a body of knowledge that has passed down over many generations. Horsemen have debated and discussed proper training techniques for as long as horses have been ridden. No one knows it all and certainly no one can take credit for having come up with it.  Knowledge of horses and good horsemanship is acquired over a lifetime and never in a vacuum. We all learn from others who know more than we do.

Sirens & Car Alarms; Are You Ready?

August 15, 2013

We were pleased the other evening when one of those unexpected tests came. A couple of guests came to ride that didn’t have a lot of riding experience, beginner level riders. The horses were saddled, and of course we put the guests on two of our graduate horses to accommodate the experience level. Three of us were mounted on horses about 30 feet from the front of their truck waiting for the others. The truck alarm was accidentally set off when the remote control in the jeans pocket of one of our visitors was bumped. His truck has lights that flash, horns that honk, several different sirens that blare, and all of it very loud. It was one of those situations where we have seen wrecks happen with green broke horses and untrained riders. You may have seen some of those little rodeos where one of the horses goes to bucking that makes another suddenly jump sideways, while the next one takes off in a dead run. Riders go to falling off and everyone gets just a little excited.

We were pleased that nothing like it happened and not a single horse so much as lifted his head. They stood quietly and turned as to say, “Is this another one of those silly tests you do all the time”? Aside from all the horses successfully passing, the best part was we never expected it. The perfect test for your horse is one neither of you know is coming. It was really nice to see the hard work and effort that has been put into the training of  these animals pay off.  It’s the way a good trail horse should react.

Concrete Sounds Funny To Horses

November 9, 2012


Concrete scares some horses because of the sound and the change in texture. We have seen trail riders who could not take their horse across this simple concrete bridge. Jack is shown in the photograph walking towards the bridge and crossed it without so much as a second thought. When we first started riding this trail years ago, there wasn’t a bridge. Instead there was a mud hole and when it rained,  the horses were knee-deep in mud. One of the trail riding groups managed to get a concrete bridge so you don’t have to ride into the mud anymore. But, we still see people over to the side of the bridge going through the mud because the horse they are riding refuses to cross. A good trail horse needs to cross concrete and pavement slowly and quietly. You never know when you may have to ride across a road or in some places a parking lot that joins the trail.

Horses Have To Trust and Respect The Rider

October 28, 2012

In order to have success with your horse, there must be trust and confidence in the rider. If the horse doesn’t have full confidence in the person doing the driving, problems can arise. The more a horse is trained and ridden by the same person, the more the horse is likely to trust that person. It doesn’t necessarily mean the horse will accept direction from someone new to the horse. Part of our training is to develop horses for YOU. So training includes changing riders as much as possible in the later months of the program. We often  place a new person on the horse  to monitor additional training the horse and sometimes the rider may need. Here is our Summer intern working one of the horses to see how he will react to someone else.

Just recently, we had a situation with horse that had undergone extensive tarp training with the tarp placed over his head while under saddle. The tarp was  shaken, dragged, tossed in the air, and finally thrown over the horse’s head while being ridden. The point was  to work on desensitization. The horse passed with flying colors. However, a few weeks later with a completely different rider that the horse didn’t fully trust  resulted in him flinching when a jacket was removed while headed down the trail. He didn’t spook or panic, but he stepped away as the coat came towards his neck.

We already knew it had nothing to do with the object as he was used to tarps. The test was a good one as it showed he still needs some work learning to trust other people. It is one reason we look for interns from the veterinary and equine schools to help out and actually  test the training work we do. Just like the fire department, we use real life simulations to see how the horse handles a situation and to watch for areas of additional  training.

We also like to stress to people new to horses that just because the horse will respond to the trainer doesn’t mean the horse will act the same way for them. For the horse,  a new rider  is a lot like being the passenger in a car. Sometimes you don’t trust the driver until you have ridden with him for a while.  Horses don’t always have confidence in a new person and need time to decide if they should trust their judgment and decisions. Some  horses are naturally more trusting  than others and  some riders demonstrate  good leadership that instills confidence faster than some. Bottom line: success occurs when the rider inspires the horse to undertake a task or obstacle without fear or concern for rider’s judgment.
















Horses Need a Purpose

July 2, 2012

Have you ever noticed how a couple months of doing nothin’ can really mess up a horse’s attitude? While a well-trained horse should really be able to be left unworked for a quite a while without changing, almost every horse, whether they act like it or not, will be much happier when they have something to do. For example, we have a couple of “retired” trail horses that treated us well for many years until they couldn’t do the job anymore. Now all they do is stand in the paddock, eating and drinking. We felt kinda sorry for them the other day and decided to take them for a trip. Even though they can no longer be ridden, they did just fine being lead. They were thrilled to be “back on the trail” instead of being left at home.