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23 March 2010 @ 08:48 pm
I could empathise a whole lot with Tom Moates' first book, Discovering Natural Horsemanship- A Beginners Journey - I could certainly see a lot of common ground between his initial cluelessness as a latecomer to the equestrian party and my own and if I cringed in places it was as much at memories of my own ineptness as his own honestly documented experiences.

This book sort of follows on from that and sort of doesn't, because although it quite directly picks up after the other one ended in terms of Tom's journey, that is because just after he finished the first book he went off to his first clinic with Harry Whitney and everything changed for him. This is really a book about what Harry teaches, which as he doesn't seem inclined to write too much on his own behalf and he is a very interesting trainer, is good news.

This is less of a narrative than a set of essays about what Harry teaches and how it is different from other trainers. A couple I had seen elsewhere ( this article changed my thinking on round pens and there's one on The Myth Of Natural Horsemanship that voices my feelings on the topic absolutely ) but they are well worth having in one place.

The essence of the book is the idea of working with the horse's thought, making sure they are with you the whole time. Of always offering the cue you would like to be your final cue before you do anything stronger and of working with the expectation that your horse will get things right. Each chapter covers one of these topics both in terms of how Harry teaches it and how Tom experienced learning about it as a student.

There is a lot here to enjoy - it certainly complements the teaching of people like Mark Rashid and if you aren't familiar with Harry Whitney or his way of working then I strongly recommend it. It also made me appreciate the good luck I have had in finding teachers who work in more or less the same way.

My only criticism is that at only just over a hundred pages it's pretty short. I didn't find myself feeling as though there was anything missing in particular but it was over rather quickly.
15 March 2010 @ 12:25 am
As many of you know, my mother and I recently rescued a 16hh Curly mule from slaughter.

'Josie' was used by the Amish to pull farm equipment before being sent to the auction house. She's roughly 9 years old but looks more like twenty. She has scars in different places on her body where harness straps would go.

Some possible trainer fail under hereCollapse )
26 June 2009 @ 09:23 pm
All of Parelli's videos and whatnot are overly expensive, so I was wondering if any of you can give me basic games to play with my horse? I look them up on the internet, but most of them are in poor quality.
So, I thought some practical advice from you guys would be great.
25 June 2009 @ 08:09 pm
I need some advice to just know if I'm doing this correctly. I'm riding an old mare that a lady rescued. She hadn't been ridden in awhile and since her owner hadn't known how to ride and didn't get lessons but still rode her, the mare thought she was in charge.
So of course, I did (and still do) the simple driving technique without halter and whatnot. Anyhow, things always go well, and when I ask her to ease down she does and promptly trots up to me, bumping my back/shoulder with her nose.
She does the things horses usually do, following me, following easy hand signals on whether to come closer or to pause. However, whenever we do the exercise she never licks and chews, she does duck her head though.
Almost always when she comes up to me she then just follows me around, undetered when I flick the rope. She turns where I turn and will stand still next to me, still playfully nudging me and refusing to move.
Am I doing something wrong?
No other horse I've known has done this, and I was wondering whether it's common especially in abused horses.
15 June 2009 @ 09:38 pm
A couple of weeks ago we went on the first of our regular Steve Halfpenny clinics for this year.
It was brilliant, we have many picturesCollapse )
x-post with glenatron
08 May 2009 @ 11:47 pm
Eclectic Horseman has a bunch of tributes to Ray Hunt which are full of stories about things people learned from Ray that I found interesting and thought provoking.
28 April 2009 @ 10:46 pm
Things sure have been busy at my barn.

Cynda, our now 23 year old Arabian mare was diagnosed with Lymes. We had initially suspected Cushings, but luckily it wasn't that. She was put on 4000mg of Doxycycline 2 times a day for 10 days and she improved! However, she was still walking very tender. The lymes had allows laminitis to set in. Our farrier came to the rescue and put nice padded shoes on her. Within 2 weeks she was trotting around again. She is scheduled May 8th to have xrays done of her feet to see if everything has resolved. Keep your fingers crossed, we love our old girl!

As for Storm, my 11 year old Arab gelding (Cynda's son), I have decided to once again compete in the B circuit. It has been 6 years since we stopped showing, only to ride around on the trails and it has been quite the challenge trying to get everything set right! It seems for me that my legs are the biggest problem. They keep sliding forwards. That's something I'll just have to focus on more. As for him, he refuses to keep his head down. He has most definitely improved, but I'm am so tired of reminding him, "head down" and left-righting. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I am planning on working on it at the canter. Ask him to canter (while reminding him head down) and if he pops his head up, return to the walk and try again. I did that a few times today, and he seemed to understand it. I just need to keep working on it. Once he is good with that, I'll continue that at the trot, and then walking should be a snap.

I have already preregistered at a show coming up on May 10th. It's an open show run by the local Appaloosa group. I was told today however, that this is a very crowded show. I'm unsure if I should wait until the following weekend, or the weekend after that to show. I would have more time to prepare, and I wouldn't be terribly strapped for cash. But I'm pretty excited about this show, it looks like a good time. Plus, I still have 2 more weeks in which to practice and in the 3 weeks we have been training (when we can, it's been raining buckets lately) we have improved leaps and bounds.

Here's the beauties last fall taking a drink.Collapse )
Current Mood: chipper
18 March 2009 @ 07:07 pm
Hey everyone,

My name is Chuck McDonald, I'm a professional trainer and horsemanship instructor based out of California. I'm just coming onto the clinic scene and thought I'd introduce myself. Primarily, I'm using LJ as a place to post about my mustang, Reba. I'd like to copy my primary entry here, it should explain what I'm all about. If you've a mind, check out my journal and my site. I hope you enjoy it! -Chuck

The Origin of Reba:

It was a dark and stormy November night. Cliché, perhaps, but it really was. I was hunched over the wheel of the big cargo van, concentrating. It was the first real rain of the season and the oil lifting off the surface of the road obscured the lines. At times it was hard to tell which lane I was in, and cars were zipping past me as if it were a clear and dry summer day. Typical of California drivers!

As I said, I was driving a cargo van. Not the most standard way of transporting a horse, to be sure. Yet there she was, in the hold behind me. I had been completely unable to find or hire a truck and horse trailer, no matter where I looked so this was my creative solution. Evan sat beside me, and he had been worrying all day about how this was going to work out. Truth be told, I was worried too. I just concealed it behind a confident façade. The van was one of those types that’s just slightly bigger than your average 15-passenger model, with a slightly higher ceiling inside. There was no ramp, and just a simple metal mesh between the driver’s seat and a young, unbroke wild filly. To say that we got a strange look when we showed up at the Wild Horse Sanctuary driving this thing is putting it mildly. It also had large windows on the back and side, which we had to cover with tarps for fear that she might get scared and try to jump through them on the freeway. This was a tricky operation.

Reba came into my life much the same as many other things, as a random inspiration one day. One which I initially brushed aside as impractical, but which quickly grew in my mind until it manifested as reality. She is my third mustang. The 2nd one, another filly named Fara, had been sold the previous summer. Because of my motorcycle accident, I had been unable to work with her at all and some nice people that I personally knew were looking to replace their aging cart pony. Reluctantly, the deal was made and Fara became theirs. Months passed, and I missed having a horse around. Then, one night as I was listening to Coast to Coast AM they featured a guest who talked about the plight of several thousand BLM mustangs. How they were lacking adoptable homes and in danger of being euthanized. I wished there was something I could do, but I didn’t know what. Still, a seed of an idea was planted.

The following day, I was driving up to a friend’s place in Eureka, CA and it hit me. I remembered the Wild Horse Sanctuary, and how they had an adoption auction every year. I decided that when I got to Eureka, I’d find out when the next auction was going to be, adopt another horse, and write a book about the experience of raising a mustang. It would be an advocacy piece for America’s Wild Horse, and hopefully raise awareness about the many positive traits of the breed and lead to more adoptions. As if by some providence, it happened that the annual auction was that very Saturday.

Even as this was all coming together as if by design, I knew that I didn’t want to rush headlong into a commitment with another horse without doing some serious thinking. I thought that maybe I would just go and check out the auction, and get a general idea of what was available. I told all of this to my friend Josh, who had decided to come with me. I asked him to try and talk me out of making a commitment to any one particular horse that day, if possible. I knew myself, and I knew I’d be sorely tempted to lay down money on the first thing I saw. He agreed to try and talk me out of it. Then I thought about it, and amended my request. He was to try to talk me out of buying, UNLESS I found the perfect horse. I had in my mind exactly what I wanted, which was a buckskin with a good solid build and a good solid mind. Anything else simply would not do.

Of course, when we arrived at the auction the first thing I saw was my ideal horse. There she stood in the holding pen, and it was as if a light penetrated the clouds and alighted upon this filly. Most of the weanlings in the pens were very nervous or withdrawn, with their noses in the corners wanting nothing to do with any of it. Not her. She was curious about everything, and seemed very interested in people. She walked around her pen, greeting passers-by and having little arguments with her neighbors. I was taken with her immediately. Then, something happened which sealed the deal for me. A woman happened by and stuck her hand through the panel and rubbed the filly between the ears. You must understand that this was a wild horse, and had just been caught from the range. I’d never seen anything like it. A wild horse that you could pet between the ears. Many horses, even tame ones, are bothered by having their ears touched. Certainly a wild one should’ve reacted with an explosion of panic, but she just stood there. That was all I needed to see. I laid down $500 and “Buckskin #4” became my horse. I named her Reba, after the Reba McEntire song “I’m Gonna Take That Mountain”. To me, she represented a great challenge and a great adventure.

Thankfully, despite my worry the trip home passed without significant incident. We got her to my stable and Evan led her to her stall as I was still on crutches at the time. The story of Reba is one years in the making, and I hope to chronicle it all here. Hopefully, this will one day become a book that will help to let America know that these wild horses are worth something. They may not have pedigrees, but they have sound feet and sound minds as well as that intangible quality that I like to call “The Wisdom of the Wild”. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the saga of this wild filly. I know I’ll enjoy writing it.

Jack Brainard is a trainer who specialised in reining but after sixty years at the top of the Quarter Horse industry his experience and knowledge are second to none. I've seen him ride and I can safely say that if at any point in my life I can ride half as well as he does at eighty-seven, I'll feel like I'm doing pretty well.

This is a very practical book, discussing collection, establishing control of the front end, control of the hind end and straightness and then using that to develop lead changes, stops and spins. Rather than talking about ideas, ways of thinking or feeling in the way many books on horsemanship do, this one clearly discusses techniques, how they operate and how best to apply them.

Although Jack is very much part of the western riding tradition, the people he references in the book are people such as Boucher, Racinet, De Carpentry and Seunic and his knowledge about horsemanship in general is very broad indeed. He's also very considerate of the horse - almost every chapter where he describes a technique ends with "don't drill this" and "know when to quit."

Clear, practical and very readable, this is a book that I can see myself coming back to time and again.
13 March 2009 @ 08:12 pm
For much of the last thirty years, it would be accurate to say that Ray Hunt was the best horseman in the world. It was his work that helped popularise the teaching of Tom and Bill Dorrance, focussing on seeing things from the horse's point of view. He was a teacher to a great number of top trainers now, the first modern clinician and an inspiration to many thousands of horsepeople around the world.

Ray passed away yesterday, he had been ill for some time but he was teaching right up until the end- I had the good luck to watch him teach a few weeks ago, and although he was having to work from the side of the arena with an oxygen supply and a microphone he clearly still knew exactly what he was looking at where the horses and riders were concerned.

He could be very abrupt as a teacher and he was very happy to let people get bucked off but he was absolutely in it for the horse and he was a truly great cowboy. I think his legacy will prove to be an enduring one, and there's no doubt we'll be quoting him for years to come:

"Recognize the smallest change, the slightest try."

"Believe in your horse so your horse can believe in you."

"Make your idea become the horse's idea."

"The horse can't run away faster than I can ride him."

"It is amazing what the horse can do in spite of the rider."

"Stay on the line."

"Don't try to go through something bad and come out good...stop and start over."

"The horse will teach you if you'll listen."

"Ninety percent of horse owners have no idea what their horse is capable of."

"What happened before what you wanted to have happen, happened."

x-posted with equestrian