Friday, July 24, 2009

Moving Forward

After putting the two ponies down that have been a big part of our lives for so long, I thought a post about moving forward would be good. We all encounter things in our lives that require we find a way to move forward and push past. How do you get past the unpleasant things in life?

How this relates to horse training is not really much different. There will be things that come up that also require us to push past and keep moving forward.

The first ride or two, you may need to gently tug the reins one direction or the other to get them to move. One or two steps, whatever you get, be sure to praise them for their efforts. Let them know that’s what you want. Ask again for a few steps or whatever the horse is comfortable with giving you. You may get a few steps or a few circles, but you are moving forward. Sit still, ask for a stop and praise them some more.

This time when you ask them to go forward gently squeeze with your legs. When they respond and move off, relax your leg, but don’t take it completely off their side. You don’t want the horse to only associate any touch from your leg with flying off in a different direction. As long as they are moving forward, any contact from the reins and bit should be soft and following.

When you ask them to stop sit down, quit riding and say whoa. Don’t shout it at them; don’t whisper it in their ear, just a firm gentle ‘whoa’. If they don’t stop right away, ask again a little more firmly. If you have to pull on the reins a little to reinforce the command of ‘whoa’ then do so, but release when the horse stops.

A young horse needs to learn to go forward comfortably and relaxed. It might be a bit awkward for them at first, but your job is to help them find balance. That may come from just sitting still and not interfering with their momentum. The horse might go a little fast, but they will slow down, just give them a minute or two. Don’t pull on the reins, just let them go forward. If you have asked for the increase in speed or the upward transition, you got what you asked for. Take it and move on. You can work on the speed later.

An older horse may have become an opportunist. Stopping to look at something is a chance to spook, dump the rider and get out of work. When you find them focusing on something else, a circle or asking for a slight bend are ways of shifting their focus back to you. When you have regained their attention, then you can confidently push them forward and likely right on past the big scary object with little to no fuss.

So although we are moving forward, we will remember the past and think to the future.

We will make plans and carry on.

Personally, I am going to now concentrate on my youngsters and get them ready for the futurities, and I am going to get CNJ's jumpers ready for her. Maybe I will do a clinic as many have asked me to do...

One step at a time!

What are your plans?

On a separate note, we still need story comments so that I can get this thing finished and hopefully help a good cause!


rosesr4evr said...

Plans huh??

Well, mine consist of trying to get everything packed up and ready for the big move-we just bought our FIRST home!! OH and trying to plan the babe's first B-day party! We get to start moving on the 1st and his party is goign to be at the new house on the 9th! Talk about pressure HEE HE.

Packing will commence in the very near future! I really hate moving. You can't pack everything up too early (cause you still need some of it LOL) and you don't want to leace it until the last minute either. At least this will be the last move for the next 10-30years!

rosesr4evr said...

holy typing errors Batman!!

*going* *leave*

JohnieRotten said...

Congrats on the house Roses.

That is always a good thing buying a house especially your first.

I remember when we bought our first place.It almost rivals the the birth of the twins!

rosesr4evr said...


I'm kinda nervous! What if's are driving me mad.

We'll have to wait until spring to bring the witchy redhead out. There's no barn or fencing yet. Financing those will have to wait till then. For now, she's comfortable where she is, has buddies, and no one is making her work for a living. LOL She might not WANT to come live with me :-(

Anonymous said...

My primary plan for moving forward is to go faster than a walk!

As I've briefly posted elsewhere, I had a somewhat bad fall off a lesson horse last year (nothing broke, but I landed on my back/tailbone and was in bed for a week), and wanted to get my own horse to build confidence on.

I got just about the perfect horse for confidence building (and I totally lucked out in this regard as he was a free horse that had not been worked in a long time), but I have had a really hard time getting my confidence back! I was a beginner before the fall, but I was at least learning to post and sit the trot. Now, I don't want to go any faster than a walk, even though my boy has a lovely running walk which is very smooth and apparently the greatest canter ever (according to those who have ridden his canter-I would not not know!).

An extended/fast walk is fine, but every time we change gaits to the running walk, I stop him after a few strides. I've been taking lessons 2-3 times per week for 4 months and I'm still walking!

I have made SOME progress. I went from 5-10 minutes on the horse shouting "What is he doing? What is he doing?" to actually riding the FULL arena along the rail for the first time this morning for almost the whole hour! And I can mount from the ground, almost gracefully, something I thought would never happen. Also, he used to back up a lot, which terrified me, until one day I just snapped and said "Fine! Let's back up then!" That pretty much put a stop to it.

I really want to go faster, because I can tell he's getting bored just walking around in circles (he actually yawns and sighs.) I try to work on turns, and my balance, and some flexbility work to keep him interested, but this horse is really meant to be a trail horse!

Anyways, I tend to go on and on, but that's my goal. At least a running walk (which is almost as fast as his canter). Maybe tomorrow! And I know a lot of people don't like voice cues, but I do because it helps ME keep focused on what I am asking him to do, and he responds well to them. So I have decided that the cue for the running walk will be "fancy walk."

fernvalley01 said...

Well ,if I can stop whining about the heat I have 2 that need some steady work and a 3 yr old that needs some focused attention. I have been hit and miss this summer so far its either work weather or the plague that I am finally recovering from , plus I would love to just get on my horse and go for a decent ride , no one with me and no responsibilities...Ok , maybe take the hubby with me. Seems at times like aI have time for everyone and their horses ,but me and mine. Oh well maybe we will have a long fall

windingwinds said...

Moving on, it's painful but one of those things that happen. We are mainly focused on driving training here. Probably the thing that feels the best is upgrading needy colts and gelding them and giving them a j o b.

Anonymous said...

Well...I've been riding/training a Hanoverian/QH mare named Hannah since last July. When we first started, all we could do was walk and trot. Well, I got her in shape, we started jumping and last fall we actually went to her first horse show...a one day Event-Dressage, Cross-country, and Stadium. She was spectacular(despite her reply to the resident donkey during our stadium round!) We've been showing her in the Jumpers ever since, the higest being Level 0. We had a bit of a setback at the Garden State Horse Show, scheduling only allowed us the 2'9" division...we eventually made it around an entire course...So that leaves us with some confidence building. We had a show last weekend and she was amazing, no hesitation at all. :) We're planning to go to a couple more local shows and I'm hoping to push the fences up at home since she has plenty of go on the property. I'd like to get her schooling 3' soon and eventually showing at that. Her record high jump was 3'6" and while I'm sure she could jump a higher single fence, I think she will be a solid 3'-3'3" horse in time. :)

And as 'resident crazy horse rider' I'm also riding a horse for a friend while she's on vacation, a 20 year old OTTB named Hodgey with a spooking/bucking issue. So far he's been mostly good, a few spaz moments, but with the immediate correction, he is figuring out that bolting and bucking are the wrong answers. I'm looking forward to jumping him, that's apparently where the problem intensifies. We did some pole work today and he was very good, we got 4, 5, and 6 strides in between the rails.

Sorry for the novel ^^; I do love the horses I don't actually own. XD

CharlesCityCat said...

My goal is to quit letting my freakin job get in the way of my riding. I have three that need way more work than I am giving them. There will be a come to Jesus meeting with my bosses here soon.


Don't beat yourself up about this, take all of the time you need to get comfortable. Even though your horse might be bored, that is far better than pushing yourself too far and creating problems you will have to fix later. I am no trainer, but I do understand human dynamics.

I am sure that JR can give you some exercises and advice on how to deal with this so that you can move onward.

CharlesCityCat said...


I just wanted to say how special your last topic was. It meant alot to hear you talk about that.

horspoor said...

I'm trying to get my young ones going. Re-tred Top. And I have two coming in for training either Sunday or next weekend.

Okay, I'm thinking I've totally buried myself. The two coming are just tune-ups. Very nice horses I worked with before.

The girl is getting out of horses, and they need new homes. Great horses. If I didn't think JR would kill me I'd be talking to CNJ. These two are keepers. Very nice horses. Mare is Jesse James bred, and the gelding is Reminic. The gelding is great beginner horse. Has reining training, and is so kind. He's 8 now. Dark chestnut.

A couple Halloweens ago the girl dressed him as a unicorn with a horn on his head, and she was a fairy. They went trick or treating. So, horses both CNJ and JR could play with, that could then be the twins horses. lol Hey...just saying.

Uhm...I could get some pics. lol

Catherine said...

NewHorseMommy- my speciality was always adult riders getting back in the saddle or just starting out and there was always the 'fear factor' of whose gonna pay the mortgage if I get hurt! I always said fear was a good thing because it kept them from doing anything stupid. So, how to get peopleover it? I had people tell me their favorite number between 1 and 10. And then whatever we did, we did it in that many strides. So, say you're favorite number is three. Trot three steps. Then walk. Trot three steps. Then walk. You get the idea. It lets people feel like the fear will end in a definitive amount of time. And it does. Then go up one number....just a thought. Worked for dozens of my students. Thought it might work for you.

Moving on....well, in the middle of a quandry about retiring my current boy and getting another....because I'm crazy and stupid. I love my boy but am really bored at his level and would like to move forward but I'm also older now and need to pay the mortgage but continue to look at two year olds..... so the moving forward is slow.

JR- thanks for the recent topic that brought us all to tears, brought back wonderful memories of those we have loved and lost and reminded us to hug and appreciate the ones currently in our pastures and stalls. I've been handing out extra peppermints and nose smooches for the past few days. Thanks for the reminder that we are truly blessed and enriched daily by these wonderful creatures!

SFTS said...

Plans...include keep moving forward with our growing show string, next show is August 1st and a whole new adventure for me, Yearling Longeline! I did a post on my new blog about that a couple of days ago and it really is a whole new world.

Then we have shows upcoming on September 20th and October 3rd, with a few more planned, too. Plus two Year End High Point awards banquets where many of the little kiddies will be winning big prizes and having a ball. That is a highlight of my year, seeing all the kids who worked so hard all year honored for their achievements.

Spending more time enjoying my own horses in on the plate, too, and more trail rides with my honey. :)

Like I told you elsewhere roses, congrats! It's so exciting to be getting into your own house!

NewHorseMommy, the best thing you can do is teach yourself to relax and most importantly, trust your horse! Breathing exercises are also a great help, because they help you concentrate on something other than every little bit of minutiae in your horse's actions. You should be doing more than walking by now, unless you have such a trauma/fear issue that your instructor thinks you should remain at a walk. If there is anything I can do to help with any suggestions, please feel free to let me know. :)

horspoor said...

Go at your pace. Nothing worse than overfacing yourself, or the horse.

Is there an issue that needs to be addressed before you move on to trot and canter? I have students that just take some time. It may not be a fear issue, or a naughty horse issue. Sometimes it is comfort, skill or balance. Nothing worse than pounding the crap out of yourself, and/or your horse. lol

Are you comfortable with your trainer? Do you like and trust them?

JohnieRotten said...


Just ride the horse and let happen when it happens it happens.

I always tell my more timid riders, don't think, let it happen. And it will.

I also saw on the Gloves that you are in the hotter climates. What part of the country are you in?

Also. Toadstool Bob, sorry to hear you neededore surgery on your back. Let me know the outcome!

charlienchico said...

JR- Are you really moving?

LizBeth said...

Wow what a kismet type topic.

Moving on - this is exactly what I am doing this week.

I had been working for a woman that I spent the better part of my teenage years working for, and came back to work for her last year. The main reason I came back to work for her is because she had an older quarter horse mare that was up for lease, that I wanted to lease. I did, and 7 months later, I bought her outright.

Well, in the meantime, back in April, I went form being her housekeeper to being the ranch trainers' assistant. I both loved it and loved working for him, as we just clicked amazingly well. Was never a romantic thing, but I quite often would be watching him work a horse, and see / understand what ever problem he was working through, and go get a certain piece of equipment for him that I knew he'd be needing. He'd turn around to ask me for whatever it would be and I would already be carrying it to him. That kind of thing.

Well, unfortunately, things went south just this month with not my trainer, but the woman. The details are not worth repeating, but It got rather messy for a week or so. I quit my position with Steven over it, (which he wasn't happy about at all, but he did understand why), but was still feeding the horses every evening.

Things got worse and worse, until just two weeks ago, I received an email from her saying that If I were to keep my horse there past the first of august, the board would be $200. I had no intention of keeping her there past the first anyways, but I hadn't yet found a new barn. Then, 4 days ago, she upps the $200 to $300, because she felt that I wasn't responsible enough to keep mama, and a whole bunch of other junk. The email even went so far as her making a subtle threat to 'take the horse back'.

Anyways, the next day I went and paid for August's board at a facility that I was on the fence about moving to, but they had a few stalls open still, and the price was right for me. Told my former boss that I would be moving my horse on the 31st. She threw a bit of a fit over it, but I was only doing what was best for me.

So, I am literally in the middle of trying to move on from what was the most pivotal job of my life, and one that I swore I wouldn't leave. Things changed so rapidly though, and before I knew it I was making the decision I never thought I'd be making.

But, the barn that I'm going to is literally a 3 minute drive from my house, and I worked out a deal with the BO where I get a very discounted rate If I purchase my own feed, and feed/clean myself. And though I'm sure there will be some days where I don't want to get out of bed to go feed, having her less than 5 minutes away, and knowing that I can run up there, throw a flake, fill water, and be home in 20 minutes is a good thing.

Not to mention not having the former owner hovering over my shoulder every time I try to do something she wouldn't agree with!

LizBeth said...

And this is for Newhorsemommy:

I am in a very similar situation as you right now, with the same mare as I was talking about in my prior comment.

3 years ago I took a spill off of a Irish Sport Horse that almost broke my back/neck. I went over his shoulder in the middle of a full gallop and landed upsideown against a solid wood wall back against the wood. I was lucky it was wood, and plywood at that, because it had some 'give' to it, and thats what saved me. Had it been brick ... I don't think that way very often.

But, I didn't ride hardly at all after that until I started leasing the mare I have now.

She's not big big, but she's big enough, a good 15.2, and about 1000 pounds of solid quarter horse. And even though she's one of those horses that come to you without papers, and a very unknown background, I'm pretty certain that she's a former barrel horse because of the way she acted when I first started riding her.

For 3 months, all I did was walk with her. If I asked for anything faster, I got FAST. And she's got the biggest stride of any animal I've ever ridden, aside from that Irish Sport guy. I had no lessons, it was just me and her in an arena figuring each other out. When I did ask for a trot, I almost fell off because it is the most jarring, bouncy trot, and It was the last thing I was expecting.

I have spent the better part of the last year now just trotting with her. I still haven't learned to sit it correctly yet. I've seen her canter, when lunging her or at liberty, and I know already I can expect the same type of bounce from that too, and quite frankly, I'm just not ready to go there with her yet.

I know that most of my hesitancy to canter on her is because of my fall off the big guy. I haven't yet had to face it yet, but I know when I do canter on her the first time, I'm going to be terrified. So I keep putting it off, and right now I'm happy just trying to trot.

We are working on our circles (which are still more eggs than anything else), bending and flexing, I've been working with her a lot on backing up (she had NO back) and on stopping, (none of that either). She was all go and no stop, and its taking a long time, but we are taking it slow, and baby steps.

So I guess, after this long ramble, is simply do whats comfortable to you, and when you get to the point where you start to get bored with what you are doing, then maybe its time for a challenge. In the same token though, if you DON'T challenge yourself, you won't ever advance at all. You might a bit more, but you'll hit that plateau, and get 'stuck'. I knew I was ready for the trot when I simply couldn't stand another hour of walking around in circles on my horse LOL. Thats when I knew I was ready.

So, don't follow anyone else's time frame of when you should start trotting, or loping, or whenever. If you aren't ready, then you aren't ready. too many accidents have happened with riders and trainers that were pushing them beyond what they were able to do.

Best of luck to you, and big hugs to your guy, who sounds absolutely wonderful!

Anonymous said...


I think I'm getting close, just because he is starting to test me and it's getting annoying.

He used to back up, because it scared me and got me off him, and I got sick of it one day and just backed him.

During this morning's lesson he just kept stopping. This is his new way of trying to get me off, because it makes me nervous. He stops in one place every time, like he's afraid of something, but he's clearly not. He becomes very resistant and does not want to go forward, and I'm to wussy to make him (which he is well aware of). Plus, one of those giant bumble bees was following us around. So I got off, recovered, and then got back on and made him go past the spot, walk around a little more, and then I got off again (after I stopped him).

He does not pull this with my instructor (who always rides him at the beginning of the lesson to make sure he actually gets a workout), because he knows she will make him work!

So, one of these days, I suspect I will be going faster, just to demonstrate to him that I am, in fact, the one in charge.

Luckily, this is about the worst he does, along with some minor head tossing if he's in a grumpy mood. And he has a great "whoa." If stopped from a canter it's practically a sliding stop it's so instantaneous!

Cut-N-Jump said...

New horse mommy- sing. Singing to your horse makes you breathe, helps you relax and let's him hear your voice and know there's nothing wrong.

It doesn't matter the lyrics or song or even if it's Christmas tunes in the middle of summer.

Whatever comes to mind, just let it out. Loud or quiet or somewhere in between.

One horse I was singing Sara McLaughlins, "Trainwreck" while riding. Always came to mind when I was on him. One of the laziest horses ever, so where that came from? Who knows?

You can choose to speed up or slow down the pace as it relates to the tempo of the chosen song.

Think happy thoughts, choose a song and ride your horse. The rest will come. Enjoy your horse and yourself. He wants you to have fun too.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about singing. Maybe I should give it a try!

Actually, when I got back on him this morning, I talked to him the rest of the ride and he seemed more cooperative!

I have another lesson Wednesday, so I'll try it. I'm a terrible singer though, so I feel for my instructor. Tomorrow is a day off, and I will just walk him to the park or fields and let him munch grass for a while.

Monday and Tuesday will be too hot for much more than a quick visit.


horspoor said...

Ha! I used to sing 'She's my Little Deuce Coupe' to Cat.

SFTS said...

LizBeth, I am very sorry to hear what you have been going through. Believe me, I feel your pain as I have been there, too. Hang in there and take care of yourself! What you are doing is for the best, for you and your horse. Thinking good thoughts for you!!

JohnieRotten said...


yes. We are planning to move as soon as we can sell our place here. More than likely we will put it on the market in the spring.

Then we will build a facility whereever we move or enen buy an existing one.

DillanDVillan said...

Hey JR

How about moving to CA. We need good trainers out here.

My husband is in Real Estate and could find you a great place

horspoor said...

JR...I'm in CA...and it is the Pacific Northwest. lol

Cut-N-Jump said...

We just mainly want cooler weather and grass for the horses. Seasons- more than two, hot and miserably f#cking hot. Trees without thorns and a color other than dry dust & dirt.

horspoor said...

Here's a web address for info on Humboldt.

trailblazer said...

Boy, do I have a state for you, CNJ! Maine! I remember trying to talk you into it last year. You would need an indoor for the winter, but it's reasonable weather in the Spring, Summer and Fall. And I would be able to take some lessons with Johnie Rotten!

I will admit that winter is a PITA with frozen water buckets and shoveling a path to the barn. But you get creative and get a snowblower to make these great paths, have water piped to the barn underground, and use a heated water bucket for the month of January. Voila! You get to bundle up the chicklets like little snowmen and they can go out to make snow angels in the snow, or sliding.

The rest of the year is much easier. Fall is probably the best riding you can get. The air is crisp and the leaves turn colors from yellow to bright red. It's our prize for surviving the tourists taking over in the summer.

CharlesCityCat said...


I love fall riding as well. Comfortable days with no humidity, crystal blue skies, the leaves turning beautiful colors.

I am lucky in that our winters are pretty mild. Very rarely interferes with riding even without an indoor.

We do have some heat and humidity in the summer but it doesn't last that long and can be avoided by riding at 8:00 am or after 6:00pm most of the time.

trailblazer said...


Fall is the best time of the year. Your description is right on the mark. You must have some gorgeous trails down there. We are close to Acadia National Park which has wonderful carriage trails. Unless you go off-season, you have to deal with the yahoos on bikes that have no concept of any manners around horses. I figure about the time they get a hoof in the head, they will catch on. Kind of takes the fun out of it. But the views are fantastic. We don't have many organized places to go, but there are some pretty trails that are in people's backyards. If you have a bunch of friends, it's fun to check out each others trails.

I only mentioned about JR having an indoor because he would be training. We had so much snow last year that you would have to have one in order to be able to ride. I took baling twine and wrapped it around the tops of my fence posts to make it look higher so my horse wouldn't feel like he could just walk over the tops. Normally, if you have snow, but no ice, you can still ride in the winter.

I agree about riding in the morning or the evening. It's much more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this topic on moving forward, as I'm just starting our 3 year old lightly.

We in KY often fantasize about the "dry heat" of the southwest. If you don't mind humidity and bugs in summer, and weather that often changes 40-50 degrees over a 24 hour period at any time of the year, and mild winters with enough snow to play in but usually not to cause any issues... check out south central KY. (I guess I should mention the "small thing" of the devastating ice storm we had early this year, that put us out of power for 12 days, but that was a rare thing. And well, then there was the tornado in early May that wiped out about 10 houses and barns... hm... well, maybe we should just move to a "dry heat".)

That being said, you get 4 seasons, and the scenery is breathtaking. Feel free to google Wannabea Farm if you want more info about this area.

horspoor said...

Very interesting. For the last week I've been looking at properties in the Lexington and Louisville areas. I like Versailles.

Any ideas of good places to look?

Anonymous said...

horspoor - I sent you an email.