Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I am not starting my 2 year old this year

Spring is just around the corner and the sale ads are up with 2013 horses already started, and many with several months of riding already under their belt.

Mozzie Man will officially be two in April.

It is amazing how the time flies, and even though I can't wait to get on him I am waiting until he 3.  And even then he will be started very lightly and not ridden a lot until his 4th year.

I am waiting because of research like this:

Timing and Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses

Looking at Moz and the horses offered for sale I see gangly awkward tweenagers.  

And that is what they are.  

Starting a 2 year old is like expecting a 12 year old to play college level football.    

At 2 years of age very little of a horse's skeleton is mature and by waiting 1 extra year over 50% of the skeleton and joints will be mature.  

Considering that I've already spent 3 years growing him up (in the womb, and on the ground) it seems silly to not wait just a little while longer for a horse that I hope to have, enjoy, and be physically sound the next 25+ years. 

If more people were willing to take the time and just wait one extra year I think the world would have a lot more sound (without supplementation and medical intervention) horses at 6, 12, 20, and 25 years of age.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Problem With Pride

Last week I took the 22 month old Mozzie to be branded while over 8 months pregnant.

I cheated and used a bucket of feed to load him.  

Could I have loaded him without feed?  


Should I have tried to load him without feed?

No, Not home alone with a belly 16ft in front of me, less than stellar balance, and the agility of a sloth.  Especially when I knew I could get him in the trailer like dream with a little belly persuasion.

Horse people are often described as stubborn and with the title of "horse trainer" I am no exception, but there are just times when a person shouldn't pick a potential battle with their horse.

Sometimes to go ahead to put your pride aside include:

When you are seriously physically compromised.

When you are seriously exhausted physically or mentally.

When you have a serious timeline that must be followed.

When your horse is injured or otherwise unfit for a potentially long lesson.

Of course ideally you should not "cheat" if the battle has already begun.

If you start it one way, you must finish it that way (as long as it can be done safely, and even then it is better to cheat and win than not win at all).

Which is why some days it is better to never start it (the potentially hard way) at all.    

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cookie Power (Gotta Get Paid)- Don't Be A Bill Lumbergh

You go to work everyday because you get compensated for your effort.  

If at some point you didn't get paid appropriately for your time and effort you'd quit.  

Your horse feels exactly the same way.  

Halters, saddles, and trailers all signal one thing to our horses. 


I give cookies for being caught, at times for being saddled, and for loading in the trailer in addition to almost always having a few extra to be used as reward for whatever is hard for that individual horse.

Just imagine your disappointment of being told that you have to work on Saturday.  It would be just a little bit more bearable if right after the announcement you were told that they would be bringing in lunch.

Quitting (see a ton of other posts here) is good, but that physical compensation for doing something unpleasant at the right time means even more.  

Can I catch, saddle, and load my horses without a cookie?


But that little reward keeps them willing, and helps to keep them from getting a case of the Mondays.

And can help avoid a total equine meltdown.

For those not familiar the images from today's blog came from the cult classic movie Office Space.

Please note that I use cookies as a training tool.  I do not (except on very rare occasion) give cookies other than as a reward for effort/good behavior.  Any nosiness or expectation of a cookie is corrected immediately.