Monday, March 31, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Used Up- Form or Function?

Recently a client of mine has been shopping for a stallion for her mare and throughout her search I have been helping her look at each individual's conformation.

One stud in particular had a pretty extensive work history but also some pretty bowed hind legs, and the question came up as to whether it was his conformation or his work history that made him that way.

Questions like this always make me think of a old cowboy I've always admired growing up named Weldon.

You see Weldon was one of the last true cowboys (He is still living but finally stepped out of the saddle just south of 90 years old a few years ago).  He worked cattle almost everyday for over 65 years.  He rode his horses miles and miles everyday, hours and hours at a time, and did anything the job required.

I have never known anyone who has ridden more or ridden harder than Weldon.  And despite his demanding schedule his horses were often still doing a full day's work up until their early-mid twenties and 9 times out of 10 they were still sound when he chose to retire them.

He had a type.  Short (under 15h), huge hip, short back, short loin, big bone, good feet, good shoulder angle (for those 1,000's of trotted miles), and straight legs.

He knew that a well built horse could hold up to his line of work and do so fairly easily, and that poor conformation would lead to premature aging and injury.

At the end of the day most every horse can do most every job/discipline, but the right conformation will allow a horse to excel, age gracefully, and stay sound in that job/discipline for a lifetime.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Simple Observations and Personal Ramblings

I may hurt a few feelings but the below thoughts have been floating around in my head for quite some time.

I will never forget being 13 or so at the tack shop and meeting another kid who was bragging to me about having 57 horses.

The girl was very proud to have so many horses to her name but all I could think was "How do you find time to work with 57 horses?"

Over my time training I've noticed a direct correlation to the number of horses a person has and their level of activity with those horses.

You see Equestrians as a whole are a "do more" kind of bunch.  If you ask us what our goals are we will usually say that we want to ride more, show more, and generally just do more.  In all my years I have never heard a horse person say that they wish they had another stall to clean.

A person with 1-2 horses is usually doing quite a bit more (riding, competing, etc), and are pretty satisfied in their "horse life".

A person with 3-4 horses is about 1/4 to 1/2 as active as a person with just 1-2 horses.  They usually want to do more but they have a hard time finding enough time to do so, and often struggle to juggle the training needs of their horses.  

And a person with more than 5+ doesn't usually (in my experience) do much more than care for their horses.  They often have the same wants and goals of the other two groups but very rarely do they get the chance to do them.  They usually have several unbroke and green horses, and may or may not have a reliable horse to ride (one they could trail ride, show, etc).

Forget different disciplines and sports you can really just divide the horse world into two separate groups.

Those who do things with their horses, and those feed them.

How many horses do you have?  Are you doing as much as you would like to with your horses?  Have you made similar observations?  Why do you think this is?

(Please note- All observations are based on a single individual (not family).  I am not against people having lots of horses.  I am against people not fulfilling their equestrian dreams.)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Hitting the Reset Button

One of the neat aspects of the herd environment is the fluid nature of leadership.

Leaders can emerge in a matter of seconds and can be knocked back down just as quickly.

And those who are leaders are to be tested regularly.

In this dynamic environment you have a chance, every single day to effectively hit the reset button in your equine relationship.

Every day you head to the barn you are walking up to a new relationship.

How you present yourself and what you allow sets the tone for your relationship that day.

Every day is the right day to take a stand and reclaim your horse life.

If you are looking for a chance to hit the reset button in your own horse life this spring please consider attending one of our horsemanship clinics.  Please visit KnP Training for dates and more information.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

The 80/20 Rule- Handling Foals

At nearly 11 months of age Mozzie is one of the nicest mannered horses I know.

He isn't pushy, nippy, or obnoxious.  He is easy to handle and down right respectful, and I have the 80/20 rule to thank for it.

You see I am indifferent, correcting his behavior, or making him do something about 80% of the time and am affectionate and for lack of a better term nice to him (butt scratches, grooming etc) about 20% of the time give or take a few percent.

If you observe young horses in a herd setting you will notice that their dams and mature herd mates naturally follow this same pattern.

The herd does not tolerate pushy, nippy, and obnoxious behavior.  Youngsters are told what to do and where to do it all day long.  

The creation and enforcement of boundaries and rules by the herd is paramount to raising a solid citizen.

And the creation and enforcement of these same boundaries and rules are equally important in your own daily interactions with any horse.

Remember you do not have a foal, you have a grown horse in a pint size body and they should be treated accordingly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Right Place, Right Time

Mozzie was gelded last Thursday.

It may have been the surgery or the drugs but he was less than eager to load up to go home afterwords.  It took us about 10 minutes to get him loaded.  A triumphant time for some but 10 minutes too long in my book.

Normally when a horse doesn't do something as well as they should I make the time to fix it immediately.  He would have been loaded and unloaded until he did it several times to my satisfaction.

I drill until it is right.  I work until I fix it.  I don't stop until it is done.

But that day I chose to let it go.

He had just had major surgery.  He was drugged up.  He was on pavement.

It just was not the right time to pick that fight.

He only needed to get home and that is what we did.  .

I effectively paused the game by not asking for more than what I needed at that moment.  Allowing me to later pick the right time to tackle his lack of enthusiasm over loading.

Sometimes the best training is waiting for the right place and time to do what you need to do.