First Blog for 2021

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Happy New Year to everyone and to think that it is now February and it is nearly a year since I was on a plane. While being in Australia appears to have been a great country to be locked down in, we all trust that we are closer to the end of this pandemic. Until then stay safe and healthy.

While travel has been limited, we do have some courses coming up, a 3 day course at Anstead Acres in Brisbane at the beginning of March and a then a weeks course in Western Australia in April. There is also a Horsemanship / Cow Working home course in May. More information can be found at www.davidstuart.com.au

At home we have had a lot of horses in for starting and are thankful that they keep coming. As mentioned in earlier blogs we have done a lot of upgrading of facilities over the last 18 months. They certainly make a difference for everyone.

The links below are some of the articles that I have written for Horse Deals Australia over the years

DAVID STUART cop

Serpentine-Exercise

David-Stuart

 

 

 

 

Below is also a Horsemanship Article. Happy Reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To go slow too go fast, it is hard to get your head around those words. When it comes to developing your horse they are quite profound. At the first Ray Hunt course that I attended in April 1989. In the horsemanship course, he would ask you to walk your horse as slow as you could and then to walk them out. Pick up a soft feel, back them 6 strides, to count cadence with your horses feet or to back an 1/8 of a circle. The fastest the whole class got, was a trot. I don’t think I had ever tried to ride a horse with such accuracy and discipline before. All I had done before was try to go fast, I did not know there was so much to riding a horse. I did not know there was so much to the walk , as I heard it said some time ago; The walk is the Mother of all Gaits. 

Going slow too go fast, riding with accuracy and discipline did help my horses and horsemanship. It helped my horses to understand more, it prepared my horses, it gave me time to understand and improve my feel and timing, my horses stayed sound longer, they are more mentally and emotionally stable.  I could get along with more horses. Then when I did speed things up, my horses were there for me and not running out or running off.   One of Ray’s quotes was; It is the preparation to the position for the transition. As my friend Mike says if you want to find the holes in your “programme” add speed.  Every now and then Ray would say, now see how fast you can bring the forequarters through, but don’t loose the softness.

By slowing down and developing my horses over time they developed better impulsion, balance and engagement you can feel the power coming through them and the lightness to signal from your seat and leg aids.

In a book that was gifted to me a long time ago, the author wrote that as these principles had been true for them. They were happy to see these same principles coming true for myself. I would also like to offer those words of encouragement to many others

While many may look for a technique as a means of accomplishment, our attitude towards our horse and behind what we do has such an impact.

Everyone has to adjust to fit their own situation and to the horse that they are riding.  Enjoy your horses.

December’s Blog

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At the beginning of the year, if you had spoken of travel bans, lockdowns etc no one would have believed you, 2020 has tested the resilience of us all.

It has been busy here at home with a great many things accomplished, from the upgrading of the toilet and shower block to the completion of the stables. The cover over the round pen has made a big difference, particularly for this time of year, making it cooler when starting horses and for the home courses as well.

We have been involved in a couple of online horse fairs, one having finished in September and the other “Because of the Horse” due to run on January 18 & 19 / 2021 Visit; www.BecauseOfTheHorse.net , www.TheArtOfTheHorseman.com  We have also had editorials for different magazines; Equestrian Life, the link is on my facebook page, and recently in the December edition of horse deals magazine.

We have have been very fortunate to have had a lot of horses in for starting and for Foundation Training and our home courses have been well attended. I have put together a horsemanship article below that many may find interesting.

We would also like to wish everyone a very healthy and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We value and appreciate the support that has been shown to us every year, but certainly this one.

Ray Hunt was the first person I ever heard speak about, ” Having your horse started, ” that was back in the late eighties in Australia. In those days we often spoke about sending your horse to broken in, in the U.K. starting is often referred to as backing. I am sure other countries have similar or different terminology.  The words that we use often reflect our attitude.

When horses were sent away to be broken in they were often older and they were often given 4 – 6 rides maybe a couple more and then sent home. On stations there were not many “horse programs “, it was more a volume approach, some horses made it, some did not. In todays world when horses are sent away to be started they are often better prepared and the horse has a better deal, both during and on arrival home.

As I spoke of above the words we use often reflect our attitude. Having your horse started is like going to kindergarten to start your education, it is not university, it is a start. When they get home they may still be prone to bucking, shying etc as they are still very much a green horse.

In France, a good many years ago now, I heard Ray speak of ” If you could ride your horse well for the first 6 years of his life.” I believe that this is more the foundation aspect of a horse life. To have a foundation to build on you need to have a good start. For some horses this aspect is really important, otherwise you or they are not going to make it. Over time I have found that you do not really need to be working that much on the university curriculum. If you have the foundation solid the horse’s talent starts to come through and the fancy stuff just seems to happen.

The fancy stuff is not happening by luck, it is by preparation. knowing what happens before what happens happens. In the foundation aspect, I find myself staying more at the walk and trot. I am not avoiding the canter/ lope, I am just not out there for “hours” cantering / loping my horse. I find that this really helps to settle my horses both mentally and emotionally.  It is also better on their bodies and mine, and when I do canter or lope there is more quality.

With a horse that I was riding this year, the walk was not there. The horse was either reluctant to walk or would want to jog. As I worked on both the flexions, rhythm and tempo during the hind and forequarter yields and serpentines, the length of stride increased. This then set it up for the trot and canter as well.

While the above is more about the  horses, I also believe that you can apply the same to ourselves as well. When we are better educated, that then reflects in our conversations and abilities.

I trust that the above is helpful and again we would like to thank you all for your support and wish everyone a healthy and Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Blog News

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It has been a while since I last put pen to paper and since then we have been busy. With horses continuing to arrive for starting,  we have had courses as well. One last weekend in Brisbane at Anstead Acres, thank you to Pam Andrews and all involved,  it was a great 3 days and a great venue. In September we had a home course that involved some local cattle stations and was a follow up to a course a couple of months earlier. It was great seeing the improvement in everyone.

We also had an interview with the online Equestrian Life Magazine, a link to the article is below.

http://www.equestrianlife.com.au/articles/From-Nebo-to-the-world

There is is also a new Horse Deals article coming out in the next month or so.

The cover over the the round pen works well and will be much appreciated during summer for not only when starting horses but also courses as well. While the year is not over yet, we feel that there has been a lot accomplished during some quite challenging times. To all our friends and family wherever you are, stay safe and healthy.

Below is a horsemanship article that we trust you all enjoy.

Having not been able to travel for the last 6 months or so has given me an opportunity to start more horses here at home. There has been a wide selection of horses coming through and all are different. Some horses are more friendly and others not so, so have bucked and others not etc.

Reading the horse that you have in front of you and where they are at today and working at their level is important. Many times we are all guilty of saying that our horse was not like that at home or yesterday our horse was perfect.  Developing that dependable riding horse takes time and consistency on our part. Over time that then transfers into a dependable saddle horse that you can take anywhere.

When you on the ground with your horse or in the saddle, look at your horse’s expression, when you change the flag from one side to the other, does the expression change. Paying attention to the expression in different situations can really help in reading your horse.

I have spoken quite a bit about flexion and balance at times this year. Recently I was watching a horse who was prone to bucking. I had a rope around the girth and you could really see the horse would brace against the rope, in a couple of different ways. The flexion and balance was not there and in the initial few rides this was the same. When I rode this horse the first few times I would only sit there quietly, standing still and bending and doing a lot of rubbing. As the horse started to let down more and become more accepting you could feel the flexion starting to change from the withers back. It is not just the outside that you need to be able to see it is what do you feel on the inside of the horse.

 

 

 

An Australian Spring Blog

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The world is currently a very different place to what it was earlier in the year, and we are all adapting to current situations. I have not seen a spring in Australia for over 20 years due to global travel schedules.

In October, I am to be a part of an online horse fair, details have been posted on my social media. There are also other planned events of this nature as well.

Presently we have a yard full of horses in for starting, with some horses coming in for Foundation Training as well. There is also a home course coming up at the end of the month and a course in Brisbane in October. I have added a horsemanship article below, that I trust all find useful.

My Horse Won’t Go; (This is almost as common as my horse won’t stop.)

Fear, may be one of the reasons your horse does not want to go, often when a horse gets scared the natural reaction or response is for a horse to want to run. This is not always the case, some horses will get to where instead of running they will stand still. If their feet do come unstuck then those horses may get to bucking or running.

Having the feet freed up on the ground and noticing how freely your horse moves out on the ground is preparation for riding. Noticing how well your horse leads, does he drag on the end of the halter? How light on the end of the halter is your horse in their overall ground work? These are all good questions to ask yourself.

Both in the saddle and on the ground, keeping both the hind and forequarters freed up is important to how well your horse moves forward. Notice your horse’s flexion or his arc balance on the circle. Looking at the overall picture is part of being able to read your horse. As your eyes become more educated you will see a different picture.

Some exercises I do on the ground, using my stirrup, I create energy to get my horse to move forward and bend around my stirrup drifting the hind quarters to the outside. This way I am helping my horse to move forward off my inside leg when I am riding. I will also pick up my lead rope and bend my horse’s head around, lifting on the lead to move the hindquarters or my horse’s inside leg. If I can get that inside hind leg stepping forward then I am initiating forward movement from the hind end. I do this in the saddle as well.

When I am moving the hind or fore quarters I look to see what the quality of the yields are; is my horse escaping or yielding, is there a nice tempo and rhythm to the movement. If my hind and forequarter movements are good, then how does my horse back up and come forward out of the backup.

In the saddle I am going to be really trying to develop that connection down to the feet, as I have been on the ground. I am going to be trying to feel the whole horse. If my horse is not responsive to my legs or seat then I hang in there to get some level of improvement.

Short Serpentines, is an exercise that I learnt from Buck Brannaman and I have found really beneficial in having my horse’s move forward. It is not just getting your horse to move forward, but not having them run off. You can go from one to the other in a heart beat.

The exercises above, both on the ground and ridden I would have working for me before riding outside. The environment is also going to influence your horse to go forward. With horses that are shut down in an arena environment, hacking out or riding those horses outside is going to help them to move more freely. Giving your horse a job to do is also going to help as well.

While the title of this article was, My horse won’t go; the above is also going to help you in so many other ways. There are many ways to help your horse go forward more freely, from some of the exercises above, or to where and how we ride our horses.

A Blog Update for August

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I missed July’s blog, so thought that I had better get in early for August. Since my last blog we have continued to update the horse facilities here on my families cattle property. The toilet and shower are now completed and we have added an arena cover over the 60 foot round pen. ( ABC Sheds of Young in New South Wales did an excellent job. ) This should make a big difference for when summer arrives and for the home courses.
In July we also had our first home course since February and hope to have another in October. As always it is great to see the progress that everyone makes with their horses.
I have added a horsemanship article below, that many may find interesting, happy reading.
Arena Cover in the background with large round pen in front and stables to the side

Over the last few months I have been home starting horses and having horsemanship conversations over the internet. A question that recently came up, was what do you do when your horse goes rigid or hollows through the back and feels like they are about to buck etc. When a horse goes into flight mode it is a common tendency for this to happen. Equally it is also a common tendency for riders to pull on the reins. Pulling on both reins is unlikely to help and more than likely work against you. So using one rein is often the better option. If the horse is already rigid through the back you may find that you are still unable to get to the hindquarters. In this case putting the horse on a small circle and using your leg to try to establish flexion through the ribcage and then you may find that your horse starts too soften in your hand. This is of course is knowing what happens before what happens, happens. ( Getting ahead of the bucking or running off. )

Continuing on from this, when you first start with the young horse, riders are wanting their horses soft and relaxed. Lightness is another topic and a good friend, Mike Bridges speaks of this in his book ” The Art of Making A Californian Style Vaquero Bridle Horse. ” In his book Mike speaks of many things and you are going to have to read his book to find that out.

When riders start with young horses and are wanting to progress and add speed, ” it can be easy to come undone” and loose that softness. This may have more to do with balance. As the horse becomes more balanced not only do they become more emotionally stable, you also going to have lightness to signal. As was said to me a long time ago are you working on the start or the finish. Perhaps if we begin with the end in mind that gives more understanding to our horses and our horsemanship progress.

Building A Foundation

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To say this year has been different to past years would be an understatement. As a result it has caused many of us to change our plans and the way we go about everyday life.

Later in the year I am going to be participating in an online event that will be to my knowledge one of the first. As this event gets closer I will let you know more.

Also I am sorry to say that Tina and I have had to cancel this years U.K. schedule due to Covid -19. In organising the U.K. schedule there is quite a lot of work to be done before hand and with the uncertainty of the months ahead and travel restrictions, quarantine and everyones health we felt that we were unable to go ahead. We are very grateful and thankful for everyones support and understanding and we look forward to next year.

In the next few weeks I hope to have completed a cover over my round pen. Over the years I have spent a lot of time in the sun, rain & snow. To have a cover to work under is going to be an amazing environment. I have also included a horsemanship article below, happy reading.

The horse above was a stud horse called “Boy Boy”, that I rode for a few months for Andrew Seville from the U.K. polo world. While I cannot swing a polo mallet like a polo player, if you can swing a rope and ride with a flag then you can swing a polo mallet.

Building a foundation for your horse go on from, sets the future. From when you have that green unstarted horse to that green started horse. Having that horse to where he is solid physically, mentally and emotionally is gold. It takes time and we have to do our homework to get the results.

The foundation is not about cantering and galloping circles all over the place. More times than not it is about going slow and walking and trotting circles. Hence the saying slow and right beats fast and wrong. By going slow and keeping your horse in balance it gives your horse more time to understand and helps settle your horse mentally and emotionally.

If you have a horse that is sensitive taking time to make sure your horse trailer loads well, ties up, that you can pick their feet up, ride them with a flag or even bareback builds that foundation for the future. It puts money in the bank that you can draw on at a later date if needed.

By going slower you will also be putting less stress on your horse physically so that you will still have a horse to ride when they are at later stage of life. What I have said above is not a do this in this order, but perhaps helps all when we are confronted with adversity to see the opportunity to build on the foundation.

Have Your Horse Pick You Up From The Fence.

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Winter has arrived here in the southern hemisphere and recently we have been fortunate to have a little more rain as well here on my families cattle property in central Queensland.

While travel restrictions have prevented travels domestically, I have been able to put in more infrastructure here at home , with a more up to date ablutions block for home courses. All going well, more improvements will be in place by the end of July.

Currently I have been fortunate to have strong young horse bookings, with horses ranging from all breeds and ages. Over the years many ask why start young horses and while there may be a number of reasons. The main one is to continually improve your horsemanship. When you see a horse started well, it is like art. It is smooth with the human able to fit the situation and the horse. There maybe moments where things do not go as smoothly as you would like. You learn through your own experiences and the experiences of others and keep setting it up and over time you will have more to offer the horse.

An image from a young horse course many years ago in Central Queensland.

With current restrictions, many have not been able to ride, or been “grounded.” I have been asked if I could write an article that might be helpful to those that have been grounded.

An exercise that would help many, is to get your horse to learn to pick you up off the fence. In my travels, where riders use mounting blocks to mount their horses, it is often a struggle for riders and horses. I have seen where horses are lead to the mounting block and then riders are about to put their foot into the stirrup and the horse moves away. The rider then leads the horse back to the mounting block only to again be faced with the same situation.

If your horse can see the block as a place of security or comfort and the rider has their ground work to a place where they can position the horse and direct the feet from the fence, they would have so much more working for them when they did get in the saddle. For a young unstarted horse , this gives them the benefit of seeing you above them without you having to be in the saddle. You may still have to use your flag and your horse may not be comfortable with you on the fence to start with, hang in their. It might take awhile to get your horse to where you can rub them with your foot, flag etc. It is worth waiting for and can really help your horse to be more comfortable with you in the saddle.

The image above was from Australia’s Legacy of Legends a few years ago, and is of Buck Brannaman helping me with a young horse to pick me up off the fence.

What A Month

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Well what a difference a month has made for all of us. I trust that all are well and healthy and no doubt we are trying to make the necessary adjustments to working from home.

Australian courses for April have been postponed to later dates that are yet to be determined, young horse intakes are still continuing. Anyone wanting horses started in Australia please contact me at info@davidstuart.com.au

Tina and I are hopeful that we can continue with a revised U.K. schedule starting in September. There is a proposed schedule up on the website, this may change overtime. We thank you for your understanding and continued support in these ever-changing times.

March was a busy month with young horses and we were able to get the Brisbane Foundation course completed before travel restrictions etc came in. On a personal note my fiancee, Rachael, and I were married in Brisbane. It was a wonderful day and we both had our families in attendance.

I have added a horsemanship article as well below. I hope all enjoy, stay safe and healthy.

The image above was of a young horse in the U.K. that could get to bucking and he was not going to give it up after a couple of saddlings.

My understanding is that riders in the U.K. are now spending more time on the ground due to current restrictions. So perhaps and article of this nature is helpful to many.

Most people have a ground school repertoire of one one nature or another. For many though this is still just lounging their horses around in circles with the odd jump etc thrown in.

Zac, the horse above was not a horse that you could just lounge around and get on, you had to build his confidence and trust. Getting to where he was able to go across a stream was not easy for him. He would get to where he would not move his feet and then explode. Some horses when they get scared instead of running, they stand still and then can explode and be quite violent.

When ever I get a horse that does not lead well or follow a feel, or dull I am understanding of the above. Being able to keep the feet freed up and the horse thinking down to their feet is vey important. It is sometimes not about running your horse around more, but getting them to where they are following a feel, not leaning on the lead rope. See if they will cross a stream without running through it , walk over a tarp without rushing. See if you can get your horse to sidle up to a fence. How well does your horse load, how well does he or she catch to halter. How well does your horse pick his or her feet up for trimming , shoeing etc. Notice the rhythm and cadence of your horses movement.

Prepare your horse for riding, through what you do on the ground. Ground work and ridden are the same and should not be thought of as different topics.

Because of the ground work, consisting of many of the above suggestions I was really pleased to see Zac’s owner be able to ride Zac. Many of you know Zac and his story, he was a horse that had a lot to teach us all.

Finally, please stay safe out there with your horses. Equally, keep healthy and I look forward to catching up with you all on the other side.

The Eye is the Window to the Mind

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Here we are at the end of February, with March already upon us. Many of us in Australia have now had rain, to see the country change from dust to mud and green grass will have many smiling. At home it has been a busy year as usual from feeding stock and general stock work to starting horses and a home course. My Australian course schedule starts in March with courses in Brisbane, Qld and Perth, W.A. to a course outside of Sydney, N.S.W. in April. More info can be obtained from the website or email me at: info@davidstuart.com.au I have added a horsemanship article below, I trust all enjoy the read.

The eye is the window to the mind is a sentence that many have heard before. When you put your shingle out at the front gate saying that you start horses or give horsemanship courses to the general public, an array of different horses come through the front gate. Some of those horses are very talented, athletic horses and others not. I heard Buck quoting Ray Hunt one day, about an example where a rider did not have one of those talented athletic horses and Ray said that while you may not be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear you can still make a purse.

I thought that this was very true and another reminder, the better our horsemanship is the more that is reflected through the horse.

Many horses will go on to be nice saddle horses regardless, of what we do, as some don’t. Over the years I really noticed some of those talented and athletic horses were not always easy to get along with. What I also learnt was that I wanted those horses to be my friend, as I did not need then working against me. As my presentation improved and I did not bring that self preservation out of the horse, there was less bucking etc and more progress. I am not saying that the horse would not get scared, but by slowing down the horse got more sure of things. As my feel and timing improved the horses would change and you could see their eye soften and their body demeanour soften.

This is very much a road of constant and never ending improvement.

The Start of a New Year

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The New Year is now well under way and I hope that all found time to relax with family and friends over the festive season. I have just recently returned from Buck Brannaman’s course in Tamworth Australia. It is always good to see a class act and is always a learning opportunity and confirms your beliefs as well as creating new ones.

Presently I have horses in for starting on my families property in Qld and at the beginning of February, I have a 2 day horsemanship and cow working course and in March there is a 2 day foundation course in Brisbane Qld and also courses in Western Australia with Jenny Jackson and Horsemanship First. More information is available on the website www.davidstuart.com.au on the course schedule page.

Horsemanship; One of the many things that Buck spoke on, was the blind spot that horses have either directly behind them or in front of them and under their neck. This was a really important area to take of as it can be the result of horses jumping and spooking and riders being unseated when horses they are not confident in their blind spots.

There are a few ways you can help your horse to gain more confidence in the blind spots. One way is in a round pen and getting to where you can drive your horse around and not only draw your horse to you, but drive them away to where you are changing eyes and going through that blind spot behind them. You could do this while the horse is loose or with a longer line like a lariat rope. ( Be careful and do not get kicked ) Even when riding a young or green horse you need to be careful that you do not ambush your horse with an outside leg aid when they are looking the other way.

Again it was mentioned that until your horse is in balance your horse will not be emotionally stable and to not ride your horse out of balance.

While there where a number of lessons to learn during the course, the above I hope will give more understanding as to why your horse may spook or behave in the way that they do.

I look forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones in my travels through out the year.