Friday, May 29, 2009

A Trainers Nightmare

I was working my for a trainer in small Texas town in the early 80s. I was hired as the assistant trainer, and my job at the time was mostly to start colts and get 60 days on them. There were a lot of 3 year olds to start. Not only did they the trainer have a lot of 3 year olds, but he had a lot of young horses that belonged to his clients.

One of his clients was a really fat guy who owned a large trucking company, but the guy was a real tight wad and he owned a really old pick up and a really old straight load 2 horse trailer.

One day he brought in a 3 year old mare that had never been handled and they had to run through a chute to get her loaded into this shitty trailer.

I hate to be judgemental here, but this guy was an idiot! But he paid on time and that was what was important.

When the horse arrived at the facility, I was told to go help unload the mare, get her in the barn. So I walked my happy ass out to the drive way and fat trucker told me that he did not have a but chain on the horse and that the mare was not tied in the trailer. He told me to that he would go get the lead rope and hook it to the halter and let me know when I could unlatch and open the door.

Fat trucker fucker opened the feed door, hooked the lead rope and told me to unlatch the door. As soon as he heard me unlatch the door, he waved his arms at the mare and yelled HA!

The door was not open yet, and as soon as the mare heard HA she came running backwards and the corner of the trailer door whacked me in the nose breaking it. There was blood everywhere!

I was stunned but somehow managed to hang onto the lead rope and get the mare into the barn.

I was told to go to the doctor so I did. All they could do was tape my nose and give me some Tylenol.

I went back to work the 2 days later and was told that the mare that broke my nose was waiting to be started by me. Shit! But since I had a nose job, I could wait a few weeks.

Two weeks I was feeling well enough to get this mare started. I got her going and was well into a 14Th day on this mare when Fat trucker came by to see her progress. I got on the mare in the arena and walked her around, loped her some and stopped her and did a few turns on her. Fat Trucker was impressed and came out to pet the mare while I was on her. When her reached for her face, she through her head in the air and whacked me in the nose re breaking it.......

I have become somewhat cynical over the years about horse people, not just owners, but trainers as well. I have seen some of the dumbest mistakes get made and have made a few of my own. I have learned that the horse business is no place for egos, though there are plenty out there. It only takes one idiot to get someone hurt.

I have also come to realize that the last thing I want to hear from any prospective client is "He never did that at home".


Cut-N-Jump said...

ROFL! I just posted those exact words on the blog about Cathy's VLC!

He neevveer did that at home... Suuuure!

The best line ever was when you told someone-

"Well he's doin' it now! What do you think of that?"

joanna said...

Yay! JR has a blog!

As a farrier I can tell you my favorite words are "He stands well" and "He doesn't bite". Yeah, right.

(Maybe I should start writing in my own blog?)

JohnieRotten said...

I know what ya mean Joanna, I told my farrier a few years ago that my colt would not bite him.

Things were going well for a little while and then my colt bit him on the ass!

joanna said...

I charge extra for damaging the merchandise. ;P

fernvalley01 said...

Glad you started this , now give me a couple weeks to get my nerve up to ride my , "hotter than a pistol " Badger horse , and be ready to be an online coach (lol) Seriously I am glad you have stared this and I suspect we will gian a lot of insights and get a few laughs. Do you now have a small fear of fat truckers?

JohnieRotten said...

I only fear fat truckers when they wheeze.

Dena said...

JR it took you YEARS to get a little cynical with horse people?
Here is my training question. What do you think of the whole rubber coated snaffle thing?
I think a properly bitted horse doesn't need it.
What is your opinion?
I like the name of your blog.
As for very large truckers? I would be more scared when they fart than when they wheeze.

JohnieRotten said...

As far as rubber snaffles go, I do not feel that they allow the horse to lubricate their mouths sufficiantly enough. I prefer sweeet iron>

I agree about trucker farts, but they can be caused by all of the wheezing as the trucker is trying to suck in enough air to really rip one!

JediMom said...

Oh man, I groaned and laughed. I also sympathize, due to a poorly thought out goose I gave my hubs, he broke my nose. The back of a human head, when jerking backwards off a bed is harder and faster than the nose that was just standing there giggling over the goose. Sigh. Hopefully no more broken noses.

Dena said...

pssssssst JR over here. You probably shouldn't tell CNJ that I have another grey posted on my blog
Yep, a 13.3 sport pony.
The thread is called "Wish I had a pony like this as a kid".
The one right after the gorgeous Baroque mare.
Man am I subtle or what?

I totally agree with you on the sweet iron...
I have been to 3 blogs today that look like mine.
One of these days I am going to get confused and forget where I

JohnieRotten said...


No more ponies!

I know what you mean about being confused!

Dena said...

JR You are sooooooo screwed when she sees him under an english saddle.
I am motivated to do it. CCC wants to see him that way too.
He is just the cutest thing. And OMG the way he moves!!!
I remembered that CNJ liked my TB mare. Who is also grey. And that she wanted to breed sport ponies for the girls.
I figured hell why not cut out the middle man?
Oh and JR if you worried because there is only one grey pony and several little girls?
I haz more...:)

Dena said...

2 more greys you all have not seen. 1 14.1 smoke grey mare. And one steel grey appendix filly.
Give it up JR sometimes it is just easier to go with the flow.
And if, CNJ is happy everyone will be happy.

PrairieFarmer said...

JR -
This blog reminds me of a story about my grandfather who was in many ways a great horseman but did some pretty stupid things with this one...(and yes, it's pretty "old school" - this was probably about 45 years ago - but the horse gets even in the end!).
Grandfather brought up to the home arena a new horse to break. Probably around 4, completely wild from about 100 acre pasture, only touched for shots, geld, brand, etc...(that was how he did it back then...). Horse is wild as hell, huge hassle getting out of truck. Finally get them into pen, he ties it to a lead to a big tire to teach him to give to the halter (again, yes, real bad idea, keep following story). Next day, grandpa goes out, horse freaks when he sees him takes off running, has enough purchase on lead to get the tire rolling, which of course REALLY freaks him out, horse runs down this pasture (which, even better, is on a downhill slope), hits the fence, turns to come back, tire goes through fence, wraps around a post, horse hits end of rope and wham - complete head over heels. Horse just lays there, stunned. Grandpa walks down and says, real firmly in horses ear "whoa."
Leave horse a few days (who amazingly isn't injured). Goes out, works horse, saddles horse, horse looses it and dumps grandpa then proceeds to trample him in the groin area for an extended period (perhaps making up for that "whoa" comment!). Grandfather limps home goes to bed. Next morning over coffee says to grandmother - "Honey, ya know, I think I'm descended from royal blood." Why's that? "Because I've got BLUE balls!"

Dena said...

There are no words. There just aren't. That is beyond funny...

JohnieRotten said...

Broken bones suck in general, broken noses really suck.

You are having fun with this pony thing aren't you?

CNJ and I are laughing our asses off

Dena said...

I am. They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
Never fully understood what that meant til now.
By the time it is cold it is perfect.
Because it is just simple fun. No harm intended and no spite involved.
Seriously though, what were the chances that you would have a wife with a passion for grey sport ponies and I would just happen to have a bunch?
That is irony.
I always say God has a wicked sense of humor.:)

Hayley said...

great blog! i love it!
interesting note on the rubber snaffle. my horse was started and now 5 years later is still in a rubber snaffle, even in the hunter ring.

the other one, we are still trying bits.
she was in a western bit when we saw her being tried and she was very unhappy. we got her from a divorce, she didn't remember what bit she used to wear.

we downsized her or upsized, as i haven't the faintest clue about what the western bit was to a reg snaffle. she tossed her head constantly, even after getting her teeth floated, so we tried a rubber snaffle as one of those what the hell why not, and shes been great even since. she gets on the bit, ect. i don't like the sides of it, im more used to looking at D-ring.

she does chew the rubber down a bit, so am still searching.. she has a great mouth, goes more by leg and seat. ill def look for "sweet iron" at the tack shop today..

JohnieRotten said...


Let me know how the sweet iron works.

Hayley said...

the search continues! stopped by tack shop, of course forgetting the bridle at home.. tack shop owner is total stuck up ** and goes what, you like um. don't know like the size of like your horses mouth? ordering from dover is much easier... ps. speaking of bit size, any true test to know what size bit to get?

JohnieRotten said...


Size depends on the horse. Usual QH size is 5 1/2 inch

What I usually do is adjust the bridal so there is one wrinkle in the corner of the horses mouth. I like to adjust the bridal so the horse carries the bit himself. That helps make them a lot softer. And as long as I can get my index finger between the ring of the snaffle and the corner of the horses mouth. I know it won't pinch and it is fitting properly. From there measurethe mouthpiece. I prefer the Offset D snaffle and with the Iron moth piece with the copper inlay. You can usually get them through Schneiders catalog for about $20 to $25.

Sometimes when I feel really special, I will buy a Greg Darnall snaffle for about $65. But I have not done that in a while. The Schneiders catalog bits work fine.

PrairieFarmer said...

JR -
Thanks for this! Been working on bitting my new mare very HOT (but old) TB mare who despite being played polo her entire life seems to have a very soft mouth (but doesn't know AT ALL how to put her head down, she's been ridden in a standing martingale pretty much her entire life, I think).. I started with one wrinkle, then somebody told me 2, egads! Hard to know what to do sometimes when there are so many opinions!!!

JohnieRotten said...


As far a one wrinkle vs two wrinkles, I prefer one. Like I said I like the horse to pick the bit up.

If I have a horse that wont drop their head, generally it is because the horse has not learned to move their shoulders laterally.

We always want to keep their mouths soft, we want to keep their shoulders soft as well.

As far as this blog goes. Please feel free to email me any topics that you would like me to discuss here and I will be happy to post accordingly. That is why I started this!

I will try to post twice a week.

kestrel said...

Hey JR! Glad to see you've started a blog, and whY did I keep seeing an f instead of a tr in trucker...! ;)
Hah, when I was a kid (yeah,was one once but long ago!)I rode a mare that would throw her head back and break your nose. She'd had bottles broken over her head, tiedowns, you name it. She'd figured out how to get people good. I got stuck with her, no saddle and had to go chase cows that day...kid solution was: braid the leadrope through her tail, run it under her belly and between her front legs, and tie it to her halter. Threatened to get on, she throws her head back, and yanked her own tail. The look on her face was priceless! She and I got on together pretty good after that go around, but she still would whack whoever she didn't like.

kestrel said...

On the one wrinkle or two, I have to look in the side of the horse's mouth to really tell. A horse's teeth can be really different than the lips would suggest. One QH I've got has a short lip, so to keep the bit from banging on his canines I have to go 3 wrinkles, another horse has a long lip, but his teeth placement calls for no wrinkles. To measure a bit width easy, just slide a soda straw through their mouth and bend it over at the edges of their mouth. If they'll let ya of course.

JohnieRotten said...


That is true about the teeth. We use the one wrinkle as a rule of thumb. We sometimes have to make a few adjustments.

kestrel said...

I love rule of thumb, I just keep getting the weird ones. My old gelding is probably the only horse in the universe that hates molasses. Will NOT eat sweet feed. There goes the senior feed plan...and beet pulp? Hell no! Why me?!

Dena said...

Ummm...JR? Now I will think I am at Fern Valleys or Nicely Duns.

And this page for posts gives me flashbacks to fhotd.LOL

This was informative. I agree with both you and Kestrel about bitting.
The funny thiing is, I also prefer to hang the bit a little that the horse may pick it up and engage.
And completely agree that it has the makings for a softer mouth done properly.(soft hands included).
Stop scaring me JR. I am beginning to believe you are a trainer.
And just maybe, a good one.
"And that is all the warm fuzzy you will ever get from me".
That is the right quote isn't it?

Kestrel the straw. Brilliant. Takes the guess work right out.
Never ever thought of that one myself.

Hayley, I agree the small strips of copper with the sweet iron act like those Starburst Sour candy.
Works up saliva and causes them to suck at he same time.
That sounds kind of bad. But when you think about it it encourages the horse to pick up the bit.

Oh God, I am learning things again.
Completely shattering the myth that I know everything.

Anonymous said...

I like the fact the I can email you topics. I have a few for you!

Cut-N-Jump said...

For those left wondering, this is the bit JR is refering to that we use. If you look closely, there are little copper inlays visible in the mouthpeice. The webpage won't let me 'view larger' for some reason...

Not the tapered mouthpeices and not the twisted wire. The only horse we are using anything different on is my TB mare who wears a french link.

As posted by others- the hands holding the reins are just as important.

As Hayley noted though, whatever works best for the horse.

I have a string girth, similar to the one pictured- mine is black, that I absolutely can't stand the looks of. For some reason they always seemed 'cheap' to me. I also have a nice contoured leather girth which I would prefer to use. However on the same TB mare, the leather girth rubs raw spots on her right behind the elbow, while the string girth never has. As long as she is comfortable, that's the important part.

Besides, I don't have to look at her girth if I am on her back. At least not as long as I stay on...

Cut-N-Jump said...

JR and I were discussing the blog last night and I told him it would help to add confo critiqes and what disciplines might be easier for the horses taking into consideration the horses build.

Maybe these in between everyones questions? From the sounds of things though, there's going to be plenty of questions...

kestrel said...

Cool idea to do conformation based on what the horse is going to be doing. Perfect horse for one discipline is worst horse for another...kinda like the difference between human distance runners and gymnasts. Conditioning can be so different, too.

Hayley said...

thanks for the info!
loved the straw idea.

we have various bits on order, hopefully one will work!

we also have a saddle fitter coming to adjust the saddle to her, she seems to be between a wide and an extra wide and although I have my MA in education, I really can't follow the 13 page saddle fitting guide they sent me..

CharlesCityCat said...

Hey JR and CNJ.

Liking the blog and really like the idea of confo stuff, that has always been interesting to me. Would you be willing to critique pics we send you?

JR, remember way back (Planning Fail I think) I asked if you had any advice on how to get rid of groundhogs? I think I found it, her name is Gatordog, she has recently killed 2. LOL!

JohnieRotten said...


We would be happy to critique pics.

we would also like to know what you want as topics as well. We are alwys looking for inmput!

Planning Fail...wasn't like 20000 posts that went on 4 3 weeks:)

Cut-N-Jump said...

CCC- On RFD there was an ad for a gopher extermination product. You put it in their hole, hooked it up, pushed the button and it sent a 'charge' through their whole network of tunnels- exploding them, caving everything in, in one push of the button. It looked easy and effective, but I imagine it would leave a bunch of ruts in the ground needing to be filled in. At least you could see them and knew where they were though.

When sending the pic, I think if you add the horse's age, breed (if known) and what you plan to do with them... Or maybe just leave that last part open for the comments and everyones interpretation, maybe?

I am still learning these things too, some of the finer points if you will, even after all these years in the horse biz, so it is helpful to all of us...

Dena- I am refusing to look. Don't take it personally or anything, but if I do not look I cannot be tempted. Right? LOL!

Next thing I know you will go and put them in the avitar so I can't help but see... and no that is not a hint or a direct order to do so.

CharlesCityCat said...


That sounds like what happened in that old Bill Murray movie Caddy Shack.

I could have a cookout at the same time, talk about entertainment.


It was over 3000 comments and was pretty hysterical.

Putting vital stats with the pics is a good idea.

I will have to get some confo pics of mine though.

Hey Dena, maybe CNJ should look at the pic of Whinnie on my blog.

JohnieRotten said...


Thankfully I did not see a Whinnie anywhere on your blog.

I am safe!

CharlesCityCat said...


You have to look in the March 2009 posts. But you can rest easy, she is not for sale.

CharlesCityCat said...

Oops, she is probably on the blog as Madame X.

Cut-N-Jump said...

CCC- I am hearing Kenny Loggins "I'm All Right" playing in my head now.


CharlesCityCat said...

CNJ, it could be worse, I always liked that song. LOL!

Dena said...

Because I am bad I changed my avatar.
Because I am not past redemption there is a cutter prospect on my blog for JR to peruse.
Which gives you the excuse to follow.
So, you can keep him out of trouble.
*and see bigger pictures*

JR I just gotta know where are you seeing Irish Draughts as stylized as Madame X?
I wanna see em too.

CCC there is an order in the waiting list for Whinnie.
It involves me being first remember?

Andalusians of Grandeur said...

Hey, JR. I agree with you about being honest about your horse, but the trouble is noone believes that my horse has issues when I make it very clear. I told the first barn owner not to mess with her and not to turn his back on her. So, 2 days later I get a call saying she has tried to kill him. It frustrated me, because I had warned him and it did no good. I am moving her while we ar still on good terms. However, the new BO says she'll be no problem. I emphatically told him that she will charge up behind and strike people who aren't me, and he just blew me off. I know she should be more tractable, but she was owned by a guy who loved to play chase with her and thought it was cute when she struck out at him. I can work with her, but she is horrible to others who go in the pasture. Both barn owners didn't listen to me, and neither feels it necessary to carry something if they have to go in with her. It's like the kid who won't believe the stove is hot till he touches it then bawls when he gets burned. I don't care if everyone has to throw a bucket or something at her. I just don't want them to get hurt, but everyone thinks they can deal with a problem horse and noone wants to take my warnings seriously.
Have you known a horse like this? Are they worth saving or would the needle be best?

Andalusians of Grandeur said...

Oh ya, and what is it about telling someone you have a dangerous horse that makes that person go right over and try to mess with it?

JohnieRotten said...

Andalusians of Grandeur said...
Oh ya, and what is it about telling someone you have a dangerous horse that makes that person go right over and try to mess with it?

I have know idea. There is just no telling what goes through the minds of morons!

Dena said...

JR get your butt over there and start doing some critique.
Now move it.
These nice ponies but I would like to hear you and CNJs opinions.
Soo move it.
I don't know how to post links. sorry.
There is a bunch of Bays too.

JohnieRotten said...

I will head over there in the morning Dena. I promise.

Dena said...

JR Thanks for looking. I will get you some more pictures soon.
I have a couple of days off coming up here.
She is a little hotty isn't she?
It is all part of my master plan to have the entire Rotten family riding greys that of course came from me.
Now how many are in your family again?LOL

SFTS said...

Hey JR, thanks for the invite. :)

I have heard that SO much it's not funny ~ "But he NEVER did that before!" Sure. And I'm Peter Pan.

Congrats on the blog. Job well done!