Good Horse Gone Bad

April 25, 2014

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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 webpage:www.majesticrider.com


Chex Is Doing Well; Half-way Through the Two-Year Training Program

August 22, 2013

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.


Dog Tired On The Trail

September 28, 2012

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At the end of a long day, it’s hard to tell who is more tired; the dog or the horse. Long days and wet blankets make well broke horses. These guys had a good day, but they’ ll  sleep well tonight!


30 Days and I’ll Make Em’ A Trail Horse!

July 8, 2012

We met a horse trainer a few years ago that still  stands out in my mind. He had a horse for sale that we went to see, but it wasn’t what we needed. Unable to convince us  to buy the horse, he went to work selling us on letting him train a horse for us. Full of great promises, I vividly recall his committment to break, train, and have any horse we wanted to bring him  ready for the trail in 30 days.

His self-confidence and bold assurances, would have been convincing if I hadn’t already owned a number of horses over the years.  At 30 days, a horse is green broke, I don’t care who trained him. Training takes time and anyone who tells you otherwise is giving you stuff that makes the grass grow green! And I don’t mean brown sugar!

A few months later, we saw the man’s name surface in a blog a woman wrote. She was angry having almost been injured when her well-trained in 30 days trail horse apparently forgot some of what he learned. The wreck almost got her badly hurt and left her scared. 

I ran across the guy again recently and he is still training horses. Sad because he still has big promises than can’t be kept. The charm and charisma let him sell folks on the idea that 30 days is all it takes.

Use your common sense when you go to buy a horse and listen to those little warnings in the back of your mind. If something doesn’t make sense, there is probably a reason. Good horses are the product of lots of wet blankets and hard work! It doesn’t come in 30 days! I will guarantee it!