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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.

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.

A Blog Update

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It has been a couple of months since my last website blog. I am now back in Australia after another successful Northern Hemisphere schedule. I have been traveling to the U.K. for over 20 years now and we are in the process of putting the final touches to next years schedule.

Since my return to Australia I have had a course in Western Australia and also a home course. Currently I have horses in for starting here at my families cattle property in Central Queensland. I am also in the process of finalising my Australian schedule for next year, so please refer to the website to stay updated with schedules.
I have also completed some infrastructure improvements here a home with stables and an updated shower for the home courses. Below is a horsemanship segment, I hope all will enjoy. If you are interested in hosting courses etc, then please email me at info@davidstuart.com.au

The image above and below are from recent courses in Western Australia with Jenny Jackson at Horsemanship First. With the W.A. courses we also include a young horse element. I think that this helps to give an understanding of the ground and ridden work and also how quickly a horse can progress when our presentation is fitting for the horse.

These days I often use a saddle horse to prepare horses for riding. My saddle horse helps give confidence to the young horse. This also gives the young horse an opportunity to see things from above. You can also help the young horse with following a feel. Many times when encountering horses that drag on the end of the lead rope or do not move freely with their feet, my experience has been that they will be inclined to buck.

Having your horse follow a feel is really important, many times you can get your horse to move away from the flag or to go forward when you drive them, but they may still not be following a feel. This also flows through to the riding, you may find that your horse does not yield well to your leg or is not very forward thinking.

Like many parts of Australia right now it is also very dry here at home. I hope rain will arrive soon and Christmas will be a green one for all in Australia.

The Canter

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Welcome to this months blog, presently I am home in Central Qld – Aust starting horses on my families cattle property. I have already begun the years course schedule with a one day home course in January and then a visit to New Zealand’s South Island. Thank you to Scott and Michaela for all your efforts in organising the 3 days. Below is a schedule of courses coming up in March, more info is available on my website www.davidstuart.com.au I have also added an article on the canter below, that may be helpful to those struggling with it.

UpComing Events:

  • March 2nd & 3rd Green Horse Course , Nebo – Qld – Aust.
  • March 15 – 19, Horsemanship & Masterclass, W.A. – Aust
  • March 29, 30 & 31st Green Horse Course, ACT – Aust


The canter is a topic that can cause a lot of anxiety in both horse and rider. What many riders may not be aware of is that they can do a lot at the walk and trot to help prepare the horse and themselves for the canter. Don’t think that it is a case of take a deep breath, pull your hat down, hold on and kick like crazy and canter. Many riders experience horses kicking out or bucking going into the canter.

For a long time I have said that forwards is your friend, if in doubt ride forwards. That is not to mean that your horse runs off with you, getting your horse to carry you in the gaits is really important. If you have to peddle / continually kick your horse in the walk & trot then you are probably going to struggle with the canter. Equally keeping your transitions smooth both upward and downward. If you “ambush” your horse into the canter through the sudden use of a crop etc, you are likely to find your horse starting to run into the canter.

I also encourage riders to use trotting poles or a cross rail to transition into the canter. The horse then often finds the canter without the rider having to override their horse. If you can feel your horse is really on the forehand at the walk or trot, you may wish to get your horse more in balance before asking for the canter. Asking for the canter transition going up a hill will have your horse more in balance. At the walk and trot try and feel for your leads, then when asking for the canter see if you come out on the lead that you thought you were on at the trot.

Knowing the foot falls of the canter will also assist in your leads. In the image above you can see the horse taking the first stride on the left lead. (The right hind being the first stride for a left lead.) The middle image showing the moment of suspension before the left hind starts the sequence for the right lead. I trust that the above is helpful to those struggling with the canter.

The UK Summer is Coming to an End

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There are now only a few weeks left to my U.K. schedule. To date we have had 17 horses come through the 2 young horse modules and the courses have all gone well and been well attended. The horse below was one of the horses that came through the last intake of horses, the image was taken on the 9th ride.

During the courses of late I have had a few discussions about being more effective on the end of a lead rope and not having to resort to the flag all the time and timing up with the feet.  (There is nothing wrong with the flag, just don’t get dependant on it. ) I have also spoken about riding more with your seat and legs and trying to do less with our reins.

Riding with your seat and legs, and having more feel both on the ground and in the saddle does take time to develop. For some riders things  fall into place vey quickly and for others not so. The sensitivity the horse has is amazing if we get that to working for us, it has to be great thing. While at times it may seem like we are in the slow lane, equally we should look at it from the perspective of where we would be if we had not started. I think that we would all agree that we are better off having started on the horsemanship road than we would otherwise be.

We also try and have a little bit of fun on the courses. Having me behind the bar at a steak house is always going to be fun.

For a brief moment I thought that I was in the movie Cocktail , I probably have more the Bryan Brown look than Tom Cruise. There was no hippy hippy shake going on either.

 

A What Has Happened Blog

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It has been a crazy few months and there has been a bit of water go under the bridge since my last website blog. In March I was in Canberra for a green horse course and then a private course outside of Sydney. The green horse course in Canberra was well received and there is another in October. During April & May I have had quite a large young horse intake. There is a home course this weekend, again the focus will be on green horses. The image to the left is from the green horse course in Canberra.

Then for the first week in June I will be in Western Australia at Jenny & George Jackson’s Horsemanship First facility, at Serpentine. The courses at Serpentine are always good with lots of variety and I look forward to catching up with everyone in Western Australia.

Over the next few months I have an article coming out in Horse Deals Magazine, I am not sure which month as yet. At the end of June I will be back in the U.K. I look forward to catching up with everyone over there.

I have also added an article below that my local vet Bruce Howlett of  Stabler & Howlett in Australia put together on wound care. Please note that this is of a general nature and may not fit all circumstances.

While I hope that no one needs the below, horses do find ways to injure themselves and perhaps the below is helpful in some way.

First Aid for Equine Leg Wounds

3 Priorities

  1. Prevent excess blood loss. Surprisingly few wounds have dangerous blood loss, however if a wound is bleeding profusely apply a firm compression bandage of cotton wool and vetrap above the wound and leave in place for 20minutes. Seek urgent Veterinary advice if bleeding persists.
  2. Decontaminate the wound. Wounds can be cleaned with clean running water and dabbing with moist gauze swabs. Take photos once the wound is clean.
  3. Protect the wound from deterioration/allow healing to commence. Fill the wound with Intrasite Gel, dress with a nonadherent dressing like MediSteriPad or Melolin, bandage with a thick layer of cotton wool overlayed with Elastoplast and Vetrap. Seek Veterinary advice and send the photos to your Vet.

Common Mistakes

1.Failing to cover the wound – leads to drying of the damaged skin making repair and healing more difficult.

  1. Bandaging too tightly- this is the most common error, cuts off blood supply so retards healing by killing tissue, in extreme cases can lead to laminitis/founder due to lack of circulation to and from the hoof. Bandages on horses’ legs need to include a THICK layer of cotton wool to provide even pressure over the wound surface.
  2. Delaying seeking Veterinary advice – it is amazing what we can do to help repair fresh wounds as opposed to old wounds. The difference can be months in healing time.

Wound Kit

10cm x 10mtr Vetrap x 2

7.5mtr Elastoplast x 2

Cotton Wool Roll

Gauze swabs

Intrasite Gel x 2

MediSteriPad 10x 20cm

Have A Horse That You Can Be Proud Of

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The new year is already under way and many new years resolutions have been made and cast aside. What is it, that you want to do with your horses? When you ask riders or auditors on courses, many have not really answered that question. Whatever your answer,  be it for recreational reasons, competition or work, the horse is the common denominator and horsemanship is nondenominational. To have horses in your life shows you have a love  of horses, improve your horsemanship and develop a riding horse that you are proud of. ( Horsemanship should not be thought of as a fad or style )

Over a few decades of teaching I have observed riders that make the most amount of progress in their horsemanship are the ones that educate themselves and then go away and do their homework. In this case they are the ones that over time develop a good riding horse through increasing their knowledge and refining and honing their skills What you define as a good riding horse today will be different tomorrow.

The horse above was a horse that came through a young horse intake a few years ago, he could kick and strike and buck a little. What has been exciting is to see how this little horse has developed into the riding horse that he is now. He is not perfect and will probably never win any ribbons etc. His self confidence has grown and he can work a cow both inside and outside an arena, rope horses or cattle, gather or muster cattle and amongst many other thing he puts a smile on my face when I ride him. Also what makes me smile is that I know if I had this horse 10 years ago he would not have ended up being the horse that he is evolving into.

Having a horse that is good to lead, tie up, bridle and has good ground manors is just as important as riding. Your ground work, is preparation for your riding under saddling. If your horse is not sure of you on the ground they will also reflect that when you are riding.

As a teacher/instructor I gain enjoyment out of seeing students progress, ( most instructors do I believe ). I also gain enjoyment out of seeing horses progress, from when they are started under saddle to their development into a nice riding horse. The horse below in the U.K. could really get to bucking and to be able to see the owner ride him was a highlight. It took time and dedication on both the rider and my part for this to happen.

If we can help develop ourselves our horses will reflect and benefit. Enjoy your horses and horsemanship.