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September Musings

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We are now halfway through September and no doubt it is starting to feel  autumnal in the Northern hemisphere and in the Southern hemisphere we are heading out of winter and waiting for summer.

We still have horses coming and going here at our home facility. There is also a home course planned for November as well as courses in Emerald and Brisbane. More information on courses and schedules can be found on the website.

I have put together another horsemanship article below – Happy ReadingFor many people around the world, their introduction to horses starts at a young age and then there is a break with many returning to horses in their 30s and 40s, some start at this age as well.

To be around horses for any length of time, there has to be a love of horses. Riding well, takes a lot of dedication and time, horsemanship is not just about riding. You can be a knowledgeable and educated rider and still not be able to trailer load your horse.  While I am probably biased, I am of the view, that the more we educate ourselves, the better we become with horses and for our horses.

Horsemanship is non denominational it is not a discipline or a competition, it is applicable to all horses. Our horses are a reflexion of ourselves and our abilities. Our confidence and ability to adjust to fit the situation is a reflection of our experience and education. As we become more educated and experienced we will be able to fit an array of horses and situations. The attitude and presentation behind what we do has a lot to do with the outcome, this is not just about learning some techniques and your horse is magically going to get into the trailer , stand still to saddle, not shy when going down the road etc.

It is more about who you to have become, to be able to fit your horse at that point in time. You can not walk into the round pen or arena pretending to be one person and then be another outside.

As I have said many times if we make our goal to  develop a dependable riding horse the rest takes care of itself. I had better go and start riding some horses.

 

 

 

 

 

A Website Blog For Spring

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Spring is on the way, at least in the southern hemisphere.  Since my last blog a few months ago we have had a course in Central Queensland at Emerald and have upcoming courses in the next few months at Emerald , Brisbane and at the end of the year in Western Australia.

We have also been doing some virtual courses in the U.K. I was unsure how these would go and thus far the feedback has been great. This weekend we are in the New Forrest. We have a yard full of young horses in for starting with some due to go home over the next few days.

I have written a horsemanship article below for all

When putting theses articles together I try and come up with a topic that is beneficial to everyone. This time there is not a topic, just a conversation.

In recent horse conversations, we were speaking about horses taking over. As they are a herd animal, it can be their nature to do so. With developing your horse you may need to revisit exercises, ground and ridden for the horse to understand and learn and become solid. You would try and do this in a way that was not drilling and had both consistency and variety.

Some horses will pick up on things very quickly and others not as quickly. When the horse makes a change or a try, then give some recess for the horse. Some horses will pick up on things and start to anticipate and that is mostly a good thing. What happens for riders is that they stay there a little to0 long and then what works for them starts to work against them, the horse starts to take over.

Riding with accuracy and learning to be particular without being critical is an awareness that can be of benefit. With a young or green horse you will not be as particular as you might with a horse that was further down the line.  You would still begin with the end in mind, you might want to back up 5 steps and be straight. You may get 7 steps and not be straight.

I am also of the view that when you approach your horsemanship in this way it creates discipline within both the rider and horse. You don’t want fear, although the horse’s self preservation may come out at times, in time you will have confidence and understanding.

 

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.

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.