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.