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An Australian Spring

By Blog, Horsemanship, Uncategorized

It has been a couple of months since I last put a blog up, so had better make a start on one for September, or December will be upon us all before we know it. Since my last blog, there has been a home course and another week spent in Western Australia. We continue to take outside horses in for starting and beyond, with another intake in progress as we speak.

Whats Coming Up: We have another home course in November on the 11th & 12th. This course is a Horsemanship / Cow Working course. More course information is available https://www.davidstuart.com.au/course/aust-horsemanship-cow-working/

Our online course is also available at https://www.davidstuart.com.au/courses/online-course-the-start/

The video below, is old footage filmed in the U.K. and is of a foal and a young horse that I handled. It was a case of just going with the flow and what was offered and every situation is different. The horsemanship article below is a little longer than previous and is on the topic of hands. Happy Reading.

Hands, as many coaches will tell you are not easy to teach or to understand. Developing good hands as a rider and understanding how they affect your horse is important. Perhaps this article gives a glimmer of understanding to the subject. For riders to have developed their seat to where they are not using the reins for their balance or blocking the horse with their hands or reins is a really important aspect of riding a horse.

The image below is from Western Australia at Horsemanship First and is a lovely 6 year old mare owned by Jenny Jackson. I have had a handful of rides on her over a couple of trips to W.A.

In this image, the mares frame is quite open and I am riding the mare towards my hands. My hands and arms are not pulling back and my fingers are open, so that I am not blocking my horse from going forward.

Developing feel in your hands, legs and seat is easy to say and another to live. It takes time to develop feel and awareness and I believe feel is a quality that you are always developing. When you reach for your horse, what sort of feedback do you get? Does your horse feel braced or nervous?

In a conversation with a jumping coach sometime ago, they said, ” It is called riding and not sitting.” Riding is about being effective with our aids, some horses will require much less with our aids and some horses may need more initially.

A quote that I read recently by Thomas Ritter; “The legs bring the horse to the seat, and the seat brings the horse to the hands. When the teacher says ‘shorten the reins’ it needs to be translated into: ‘engage the hind legs, sit on them, and then take the slack out of the reins’, because if you shorten the reins from front to back, the horse will only resist.” ~ Thomas Ritter

A good friend said to me, a long time ago that the amount of frame that you have on a horse is dependant on the amount of engagement that you have. When horses are ridden from the front to the back you may also tend to see a shortening of the neck and the horse may not be accepting of the hands.

The horse in the image on the left is again the mare in the above image. She is starting to find forward and carry me in the gait and be in front of my leg. She has a little more frame on her than the image above as a result.

The image below is an old one from the U.K and was of a horse that I started and had a handful of rides. His frame and head carriage is again fitting for where he is at in this image. Note that there is a float in the reins here.

Riding your horse to your hand or riding your horse into a frame rather than just shortening the reins at the front is a concept that is hard to teach in practice.

If your horse lacks forward and impulsion riders can tend to frame their horse up off their hands and this tends to lead to the horse being on the front end and over bent. Horses may still be over bent or on their front end if they are impulsive or running through your hand as well. Good Impulsion may help you to have better hands. I hope the above creates some awareness and insight in the importance of having good hands when riding. Stay safe and enjoy your horses.

Horses & Cattle in July

By Blog, Horsemanship, Uncategorized

Due to rain, it seems like a good time to put pen to paper. Over the last month we have been busy handling and processing weaners we weaned last month, while also riding outside horses. As a result there has not been too much spare time.

We have also held several virtual courses in the U.K. with the last one to be held at the end of August. As I have said a few times publicly, I was a little sceptical as to how these courses would work. I am continually impressed with how well they have worked, and the progress that all the riders have made. The wonderful thing about these virtual courses, is that as a spectator you can watch a course from whatever country you are in.

Whats Coming Up: As mentioned there is a U.K. virtual course at the end of August, I am also back in Western Australia at the end of August beginning of September. We also have a home course coming up on August 5th & 6th. We continue to have outside horses coming in as well. Below is another horsemanship article and video clip from the online course from my website on trailer loading. Enjoy

An image from the U.K. some years ago.

Trailer Loading: There are many ways to get a horse onto a horse trailer and I am sure that I have most likely spoken about trailer loading before in a blog. Sometimes a video or a picture says more than words, so I have added a short clip from the online course.

I hope the above gives some insight into trailer loading, and as I mention in the online course. Preparation is a big factor in the success of trailer loading. (Due to internet speeds in rural Australia the video quality is a little grainy. The video quality in the online course is good. ) This filly was from Ross Grazing, a local rural property that has breed high quality competition quarter horses for decades.

When you take the time to handle young horses well and put the time in. Horses like this filly have a wonderful future in whatever they do. Enjoy your own horses.

For more information: email: [email protected] or message.

A Website Blog For May

By Blog, Uncategorized

We are nearly half way through the year, it seems to have flown by. I am now in Western Australia running a course, that Jenny Jackson at Horsemanship First is hosting. Presently I am enjoying a couple of days rest at Madurah while looking out over the Indian Ocean, the dolphins were again a no show this morning Jenny. Jenny and her family have a wonderful facility and make everyone very welcome. The next block of courses and lessons start on Wednesday at Serpentine.

Schedule: Back home in Central Queensland we continue to have horses in for starting and also have a home course at the beginning of August. For more information please email me at [email protected] We also have our online course available on the website; https://www.davidstuart.com.au/courses/online-course-the-start/ In the next month we hope to update the course schedule with up coming courses for the second half of the year.

I have added a horsemanship article below, happy reading everyone.

Western Australia – May 2023

The Foundation – The mare above is a really nice mare and now has a handful of rides on her and is really progressing well. She is a sensitive mare and her self preservation is always there on the surface. Apart from riding, we have trailer loaded her, got her to where she is comfortable with a rug and with having her feet picked up. Ridden her outside in a different environment. As she gains more confidence in the human she is also gaining more confidence in herself as well.

When riding this mare, I have done lots of upward and downward transitions, mainly walk to trot, trot to walk with a few canter transitions. With the focus being to keep the transitions smooth. Again all of the above helps to build confidence and a calmness in the mare. I am trying to use and direct that sensitivity and life in a positive way.

While this does take time to develop a mare like this. You have to go slow to go fast, if you want to find the holes in your approach, just add speed.

Happy New Year

By Blog, Horsemanship, Uncategorized

Happy New Year, I trust that everyone had an opportunity to enjoy a break over the Christmas and New Year period and catch up with family and friends. As I put pen to paper, we are just starting to enjoy some much needed rain at home. Horses and cattle will be the beneficiaries of the green grass.

Whats Going On; We continue to take horses in for starting and have a list to work our way through, we are getting there. At the beginning of February we have a home course on the 4th & 5th, this course is filling up, so if you are interested then please contact me at: [email protected] We also have a course in Queensland at Anstead Acres in Brisbane on February 18th & 19th. For more information on these course, please go to the website: www.davidstuart.com.au

Online courses : https://www.davidstuart.com.au/courses/online-course-the-start/

Our website shop: https://www.davidstuart.com.au/shop/

Below is a horsemanship article about one of the horses that I started in Western Australia, titled – Going Slow To Go Fast

Going Slow to Go Fast – The horse above, many may have seen on social media. He is from memory, a 7 – 8 year old warmblood that I started in Western Australia at the end of 2021. He is a very sensitive horse and could easily have gone in the wrong direction. It was a case of preparation, for saddling and riding and going slow to go fast. While this is not the end of the story, the progress that this gelding has made over time is really pleasing.

These type of horses are not for everyone for many reasons with the human often guilty of trying to knock that sensitivity or self preservation out of the horse. As these horses gain more confidence in themselves and their environment, they often become great horses with time. The sensitivity starts to work for everyone. You have to work with the horse on many fronts, physical, mental and emotionally.

Some years ago, whilst in the U.S. attending a Buck Brannaman course, Buck spoke about getting the horse mentally with you. Using as an example, horses that are sweet on home or herd bound. Many will know and understand the words of causing the wrong thing to be difficult and allowing the right thing to be easy. So with a horse that is herd bound etc you may just want to keep him walking or trotting in circles etc until they start to look for another solution. That of course, is look to you as a place of comfort and peace, many of us miss that moment, when you feel the horse asking, that is the time to sit and rub. Sometimes it is not what you do, it is when you quit doing what you do.

This is not just applicable to horses that are herd bound or sweet on home. With sensitive horses, they pick up on this really easy. It was easy for this horse to move his feet, but without direction he would get lost, again going slow to go fast.

Its Is Beginning To Feel A Bit Like Christmas

By Blog, Horsemanship, Uncategorized
It is that time of year when Christmas is upon us and another year has gone by, with a new one soon approaching. What did you accomplish in the past year, horsemanship wise ? What are your plans for the New Year? A good friend, reminded me some time ago of the importance of reflexion. The answers are different for everyone and there is no right or wrong answer. Just the fact that you participated, you and your horse are most likely in a better place.

As we ride towards Christmas, you maybe thinking that you have all the rugs, boots and riding accessories needed, in fact you may have your own tack store. Some more thoughts for your Christmas stockings below.

The Online Course –  The Start; is exactly that, it is designed to get you started.  There is 4 videos with 2 hours and 40 minutes of video content. The videos include ground and ridden work. In addition there is also a trailer loading, plus a saddling and bridling video. The lessons and notes associated with each of the videos I trust all will find useful.

This week I start a series of courses and lessons in Western Australia at Horsemanship First, near Serpentine.

2023 Schedule: Is now up on the website, more courses will be added once confirmed.

HorsemanshipThe Canter; In previous articles I have spoken about transitions, not overriding your horse and balance. With regards to downward transitions, you may find that doing them on a circle or in the corners will be of assistance in having your horse not fall on the forehand.

I do lots of transitions within the gaits of walk and trot and want to feel that my horse is on the aids, this includes my seat. When you start to bring the canter into play, with a young horse I may extend the trot and let my horse role over into the canter.

As my horse begins to develop gaits within the gaits in this case the trot and I can feel the trot start to develop some bounce my horse is going to be able to start to lift into the canter.

The above takes time to develop and there are many ways to have your horse go into the canter. For those that are having issues with the canter this maybe an approach to play with. If you are struggling with impulsion, your horse won’t go or has too much go, the above is going to help. When riders are having issues with the horse being behind their leg or not wanting to go, this is also where bucking, kicking out issues start when going into the canter.

Having your horse in front of the riders leg, when riding and carrying you in the gait is going to help with your canter. As a rider if you are always having to peddle your horse along then the canter is not going to have a lot of quality to it. Knowing a good rhythm and tempo for the gaits will also be of assistance.

On the ground, if your horse is not walking out and you are chasing your horse forwards. Or having to slow them down, this will be a transition into how your horse rides.

For those that are on instagram, I have a video of myself riding a chestnut horse that makes a couple of small jumps. I don’t have the skill set to upload the video unfortunately, looking at the video you can see how the horse’s stride length is short at the trot and he is not tracking up. In this case it is an indication that he is not relaxed and the energy is right on the surface, so it only took some cattle to tip that energy and life over the top. Later, not on the video, he started to let down and relax and his stride length at the trot lengthened and then he was able to canter. This situation is very common for many riders.

A very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone. Thank you for all your support this year it is always greatly appreciated and we look forward to catching up in the new year.

November

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We are now towards the end of the year and in the Northern Hemisphere many will be trying to stay warm and dry and those in the Southern Hemisphere will be dry and warm. Life is full of contrasts.

Whats Happening: Last weekend Rachael and I had the opportunity to attend a Carl Hester Masterclass in Caboolture, Queensland. Carl is an accomplished Olympic dressage rider, competitor and coach. He spoke on an array of topics while coaching, horse and rider combinations through the dressage levels. A great evening and well worth attending.

Well it has finally happened, earlier in the year I spoke of doing some work on the website and it is now completed. There is a small shop which will I hope will grow over time and an online course.

The Online Course: while not replacing attending one, I hope, will act as a source of support for those that have been on courses or perhaps as a source of preparation for those going on courses in the future. There is quite a lot of video footage plus some notes as well and I trust that the information will be helpful for all. For those that are interested go to the course button on the website home page. There will be a drop down box for the online course.

This weekend we have a 2 day course at Anstead Acres within the Brisbane area. Detail are available on the website. In December I am back in Western Australia for 10 days , again information is on the website.

Horsemanship: Balance is a topic that is often discussed and something that was said to myself a long time ago was: That feel brings you timing and timing brings you balance. As our feel develops so do many other attributes.

When the horse gets out of balance their emotional stability is compromised.

The image on the left is a horse that I started in Western Australia. I was using the flag to help him gain confidence and also to help in creating flexion on the circle and to not have him fall on his inside shoulder. You can note the inside hind leg stepping up underneath the horse.

Having the horse stay balanced through the shoulders is also very important. If the horse is not perpendicular through the shoulders, leads and lead changes are going to prove challenging as well.

This was a mare that I rode in the U.K., while it was a long time ago and I cannot remember everything now. Her balance in this image is nice for where she was at after a few rides.

Learning not to override your horse and to develop your horse at the walk and trot in preparation for the canter. Encouraging your horse to see you as a place of peace. The meaning of the words above when they were shared with me was often limited by my experience. As my experience and understanding grew so did my knowledge.

An Australian Summer

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The year seems to be flying by, it does not seem that long ago we were welcoming in the New Year and now we are looking towards the end of the year.

Again the number of horses coming through our home facility continues to amaze me. With different types, sizes etc. For the horsemanship article below I have provided some observations for setting yourself up for success with the young horse – green horse. I have probably over the years touched on this before in different ways.

Whats New: On October 15 & 16 we have a home course coming up, plus in November we have a course in Brisbane at Anstead Acres and then in December I am back in Western Australia. Please keep an eye on the website course schedule for updates.

This is Rachael’s new horse, he is now coming back into light work after some rest.

As mentioned above, giving a little direction with regards to young horses may be helpful to those looking at this option. I encourage riders to make their goal to develop a nice saddle or riding horse, this takes time, more than many appreciate and a commitment.

Look at what your overall competency around horses is and be honest. Look at the temperament that is going to best fit you and your situation and then ask yourself, do I need a young horse. There is no right or wrong answer this is about what fits your situation.

I personally enjoy developing young horses into nice saddle horses, it is not for everyone though. You can still develop a 5 – 8 year old horse into a nice saddle horse. You will also have a better idea of the 5 – 8 year old horses soundness and temperament etc as well. ( I am only using the 5 – 8 year old age bracket as an example, if an older horse again is a better fit for you then go with what is going to work for you and the horse. )

If you are going to breed your own horses, my suggestion would be to handle them to where they can be haltered, lead, pick up their feet, load into a horse trailer etc. Even if for no other reason than normal animal health such as; hoof care, worming or to treat injuries. While it is not a guarantee, if horses are handled well as young horses then the starting process and outcome is going to be easier for horses and humans.

My last suggestion, without turning this blog into a novel is education for the human. Those that have made the commitment to educate themselves regardless of the topic and do their homework over time make progress.

In finishing this blog up, I came across this post the other day on a social media platform. I had read this a long time ago and there was not a lot of understanding on my part at the time. I read it differently now. They are words that Ray Hunt carried in his wallet.

Understanding is the one-dimensional comprehension of the intellect.  It leads to knowledge.  Realization is three dimensional–

A simultaneous comprehension of head, heart, and instinct.  It comes only from direct experience.

A Late Blog For June

By Horsemanship, Uncategorized
It is a late website blog for June, but non the less, I have just made it in time. Again as last time, it has been a busy month. Currently we have a yard full of horses with more to come in July. The middle of June saw us at Anstead Acres in Brisbane, Qld for 3 days. Pam Andrews, thank you for all your efforts in putting this course together after having to reschedule due to floods earlier in the year. It is always great to see the improvement that riders make over the course. While many have a tendency to believe that they are not making much progress, when riders look back and see where they have come from. When they could not lead their horse into the arena for the course or could not get their horse onto a horse trailer to get to the course, this helps to give some perspective.

In July we have a home course coming up, this is a 2 day green horse course, more information is available on the website. There are currently still a couple of rider places available. Email me at: [email protected]

In the U.K. starting Friday we have a virtual course starting in the county of Shropshire for 3 days. We started these courses last year as a response to Covid times and they were received very well, while a different format to usual courses, we do get some things done.

Below is a horsemanship article on trailering your horse, hope all enjoy reading.

Trailor loading is non denominational, it does not matter if you are a western rider or an english rider, or ride for pleasure or work. At some point you are going to have load your horse onto or into a horse trailer or horse float.

Horses do travel better on an angle or facing backwards and depending on how much you travel with your horses and what pulling vehicle you have, will influence what is going to work best for your situation.

My first suggestion would be not to wait until you need to load your horse to find out that they do not load. Preparation is important, have your horse lead well, know that your horse ties well and can stand tied for some time. Moving the hind and fore-quarters and being able to back up and come forward easily is good preparation for your horse to able to move their feet in the trailer. When your horse is in the trailer see if you can move their hindquarters over, see if you can back them up a few steps and then be able to have them walk forward. For horses that rush out this can also help. It may take some time to get to this point. With feed, if horses can eat in the trailer this shows some level of relaxation, although not always a guarantee. Having your horse feel relaxed and confident in the trailer is what you are looking for and that your horse will walk willingly into and back up, or walk out of your trailer willingly is something to strive for.

Whether you lead your horse into the trailer or stand outside and drive them into the trailer has a lot to do with the situation and the trailer that you have. I remember receiving some guidance a long time ago in the California with a foal. When we had loaded the foal into the trailer we turned the foal around in the trailer in both directions. This was to help him be able to learn how to move his feet in the trailer. That may not always be possible, it can help horses to travel better.

Just because your horse loads into your trailer is not a guarantee that your horse will load into your friends trailer. Knowing that you can take your horse off the trailer and get them back on if you are by yourself is also reassuring. Maintain your trailer, I have seen horses that have gone through the floor and tried to fit through the jockey door of the trailer. Some trailers are too small for the size horse you are travelling.

The above is a guide as to what you should be aware of, for when you travel your horse. Preparation is the best advice I can suggest. Some horses are going to need more preparation than others, if your horse is one that panics and goes into flight mode easily, spend more time on the preparation.

Mayhem

By Blog, Uncategorized

It has been a very busy month to date with having returned from Western Australia mid May followed by a quick trip down to Bowral in New South Wales.

It is great to see the progress of all the riders and their horses. When you start down the horsemanship road there is a few turns and twists for everyone.  It is always rewarding to see horses and riders make it through the rough spots.

Upcoming Events; In mid June we have a Foundation Horsemanship course coming up in Brisbane at Anstead Acres. For more information please contact Pam Andrews, contact details are on the course page of  the website. In July we have a virtual course in Shropshire in the U.K. and also a Green Horse home course here in Central Queensland, email me at [email protected] for more info and prices.

The horse starting at home in Central Queensland is still very busy and with the improved facilities, life is easier for both horses and humans. Below is an image of our new horse wash bay. I have also added a horsemanship article below that I hope all enjoy reading.

 

Building the Foundation: It is easy to say, it takes a lot longer than many realise. Time is one of the ingredients to building that foundation. With some horses that are really sensitive and their self preservation is right on the surface  it may take longer to develop their confidence and trust in the human than horses that don’t have that depth of self preservation. The riders competence also has a lot to do with this as well.

What are you wanting in your horse or maybe what are you not wanting in your horse is a great question to ask yourself as well.

In reading some articles the other day I thought they really touched on some great points. One, was having a ground covering stride and how some horses can have a trot that is very short or “floaty” and the importance of lengthening that stride. The other point I was reading was on responsiveness, if a horse can feel a fly land on them then why are we having to do so much with our arms and legs to get the message across,  the horse is not responsive to our aids, in other words they are dull or not understanding.

One of many ways to lengthen the stride of your horse is riding out. Often a short stride is associated with a horse being anxious or nervous. As long as it is safe to do so, hacking as it is termed in the U.K. or riding them out will lengthen the stride and help the horse to relax and let down over time. In the U.K. I used to take young horses out a lot on trail rides. I also took riders out a lot as part of the courses that I ran over there.

 

When you are out there on the trail there are so many things that you can do to help your horse gain more confidence, the environment often causes your horse to be more forward and responsive than what many achieve in an arena environment.  This will also help with straightness in your horse as well, when you are out there have your horse walk out. Growing up on my families cattle property we often had large  areas to cover, so you appreciated your horse if they had a good walk.

The horse below was a polo horse that I rode for a little bit in the U.K.  While not swinging a polo mallet well, if I can ride them outside swing a rope on them, ride them with a flag, others will be able to swing a polo mallet. It is easy to focus on the end result and if we get the preparation better then the outcome is also likely to reflect this.


 

A Late Blog for April

By Blog, Uncategorized

I may just have time to get a website blog in for April. It has been a very busy time since my last website blog. At the end of March I headed up to Barkly Downs Station for 10 days. Barkly Downs Station is in Qld near the Northern Territory border. Words do not do justice to the size of these operations. One photo of the landscape looks very similar to the last, when you are on the downs country. It was a great experience and thank you to ACC and Rob and Megan Mcauliffe and all the staff at Barkly for your hospitality and having us there.

In the mean time we have also continued adding infrastructure to our facilities at home. I am sure that they will be appreciated by those attending our home course in July. This course is a Green Horse Course so if you are interested then please contact me on [email protected]

We also have a Foundation Course coming up in Brisbane in Queensland in June. This was originally planned for March but due to floods has been rescheduled for June. This course is held at Pam Andrews facility at Anstead Acres. More information is available on the course schedule page.

Presently I am in transit in the Qantas Lounge in Brisbane on my way to Perth for 10 days to do some courses and lessons at Horsemanship First in Serpentine, Western Australia with Jenny Jackson. Again for more info please go to the website or get in contact with Jenny.

Within the U.K. we have some virtual courses happening in the next few months. Tina will be able to provide more info and the dates are again on the course schedule page.

During the second half of the year we will also be updating the website, so please stay tuned for that. Hopefully all goes relatively smoothly.

I have also added a horsemanship article below, enjoy and we hope to be able to catch up with you many of you throughout the year.

( Some may call the new seating around our round pen a viewing stand, I am calling it a Grand Stand.)

At many of the courses over the years I have mentioned that these days everyone has a ground and ridden work repertoire of one nature or another. What differentiates the outcome for many is that one persons approach may have more quality and understanding to what they do in their ground and ridden work to what anther person is doing.  The horse then becomes a reflexion of this.

What are some of the qualities or outcomes that you are looking for within your horse when you are  both on the ground or in the saddle. Is your horse understanding and thinking and feeling down to their feet, do you have relaxation within your horse both at a standstill and in motion? Does your horse accept you on the ground and in the saddle? How well does your horse accept their environments? What are your transitions like ?

The above are just examples of and you can make a long list of questions here. To get better with your horse you have to ask different questions, if you want a different answer. If you are just running your horse around on the ground or in the saddle, you are not going to like the answers to your questions.

“While we may all ask what our horse can do for us, it is perhaps what can we do for our horse.” This may not be the first time this line has been used and I believe that it is still relevant today.

Ray Hunt used to say you have to THINK, many just react to circumstances. On a halter that I received as gift a long time ago, there is a leather nose band on the rope halter that says THINK. I had kept this halter in my house and recently thought that perhaps the giver of that gift would like to see it in use.

It is a very useful reminder and lesson and a wonderful memory.