Blanket And Rope And Bit!

Sunshine has been worked three days in a row! That’s a first for him 😆
We’ve been getting used to the rope, then the blanket. Today both were combined. Next time I’ll put a saddle on him!
Well. A bareback pad. Not going to risk my saddle just yet. Not even as good as he’s being. Small steps.
Today he also took a bit for the first time!
Yesterday we targeted it and made sure he was comfortable with the headstall over his ears. Today I slipped it in while he was chewing.
He was so busy getting used to the feel of the bit he could hardly concentrate on anything else for the rest of the session. Maybe that’s why the blanket was such a complete non concern.
The bit wont be touched for a long time. He will get plenty of time to get used to it and comfortable before it ever gets touched.
If he doesn’t like the bit, well go bitless. It’s up to him. I would like a horse that can go in the beautiful bit I found in one of our barns, so it would be nice if he could be my eventual bridle horse.

Second Day Rope Training

The kids are back in school. That means I have more time for horses!
Sunshine is finally getting some consistent attention. Today was his second time working with the rope. It’s very important to me that horses are comfortable with ropes all over their body and legs. It is prep for that first saddling. Will help them be comfortable being roped off of. And will hopefully help keep them safe if they get tangled in rope or wire.
He has learned his first trick, kiss. And started learning ‘head down’ in the course of this video. Not only can it be a fun trick, teaching him to lower his head will help him be calmer. A lowered head cues the mind to believe the body is calm.
Using head down as a reward for possibly scary learning is resetting him to a calmer mindset after each asking.
Next time I think we’ll add in a blanket and pretty soon start putting a bridle on for him to wear while we ignore it and work on other things.
This guy has such an amazing mind. We’ll be able to zip through these basics so we can spend lots of time on the funner things!

Beginning Rope Training

The weather has been a little cooler and the kids are starting back to school. That means I’ve been getting to play with Sunshine!
He’s been getting some lessons on how to be a grown up.
Just because we train with positive reinforcement doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to learn about ropes. Learning to be comfortable with ropes around his body will help keep him safer if he gets tangles in rope or wire and it helps him be comfortable with the girth when I start saddling him.
He’s doing so good with it all. Of course we add that cherry on top with a reward for handling the rope so well. Chewing helps him relax and feeding so his head is lowered helps do the same. Plus everyone likes to get a cookie.
To make it even more fun for both of us we’re adding in some simple trick training by teaching kiss. He also gets to use kiss as a cue to me that he isn’t comfortable and would like me to slow down.

Riding Lesson

We got to enjoy a wonderful riding lesson yesterday. We are lucky to have a very good instructor who specializes in working with children who is close enough to be willing to come up. And to have some wonderful neighbors who are happy to let the local children use their very nice arena.
Combine the two and we had some great riding lessons for the kids!
They worked on real things, played at fun things, and she put up with their silliness and playing. The most important thing to me, second only to no one getting hurt, they had fun! If they have fun they’ll want to do it again. If they want to do it again, they’ll get better.
Focusing on the serious stuff and making everyone pay attention and work hard wont accomplish a whole lot if no one wants to do it again.
The horses behaved beautifully.
My son cantered for the first time on his own. Not really on purpose but he and his great little mare took it very well. He and one of the other girls there spent as much time as they could zipping around as fast as they could.
My daughter and Rusty don’t really like to move. She rode him on her own, without being lead for longer than she ever has and had fun showing off her tricks to her friend there. She declined when asked to trot and honestly, that is just fine with me. She’ll get there when she’s ready. Her confidence and deisre to be with the horses is growing by leaps and bounds this year. Better to go slow and keep it growing then do anything to ruin it at this point. Hopefully we can do this again soon.
If by any chance you are close to me, come play next time!

Braiding Manes

I was going to get out there in the afternoon. I had an hour. If I hurried I could finish what I was working on and go play with Sunshine.
Then I got caught. Other things needed done.
No problem. Once the kids got home we could go out and brush on him. Then the kids got home and each had things they really wanted to do. We finished those and finally made it out to play.
Only the kids were home. That meant they were bouncing around, screaming, and playing happily. They don’t do quiet. Sunshine hasn’t been around them enough to deal well with that.
He went in circles around me. Nervous and unable to hold still. So much for quiet time spent hanging out and brushing.
So the children went off to do whatever children do. It didn’t matter to me that what children do is get the big tub of sherbet out of the freezer and sit down on the step to engorge themselves.
I had a few quiet moments to play with the new pony.
We are slowly braiding his glorious mane. Both to keep the tangles out of it and to spend quiet time with him, no expectations, other than to hold still. I got a couple more braids in. He made a few circles around me. But there was some holding still.
Then I opened up a little pen with some grass for him to graze. It was not as much time as I would have liked to spend, but any horse time is good horse time.


My mom sent me the post. She’s such a bad influence.
I told her no. I was not going to look at a horse. Yes, I may have accidentally ended up horse shopping, but a friend of mine had a pretty little gaited pinto mare for sale. She was close, and the price was good, and she sure looked pretty in the pictures. I was going to go look at her in a couple of days. There was no reason to ask about a horse on the other side of the state.
But my daughter kept asking why we couldn’t get a palomino. All she wanted in a horse, in life, was a palomino.
I don’t think that was all. But I’m not sure why I did it. My mom nagging, my daughter whining, a couple of pretty little palomino Morgans sitting there on my feed.
In the end I contacted the lady. Just to ask about them. It didn’t mean I was buying anything. There was still the pretty little pinto mare here to look at.
But, the more I looked the more I liked. One of the palominos was quieter than the other. He had every Morgan horse that I loved best in his bloodlines, Chingadaro, Californio, Illiniweck, Trubador of Willowmore, Juzan. The list would be endless. Good western lines, along with some showier lines.
His sire was gorgeous, his mom, related to my beloved Coyote also looked so much like him. I was contemplating. Then the lady offered delivery. What was I supposed to do?
Then she said she could deliver in a couple of days!
Maybe I would be able to keep this a secret until then. My daughter, begging for a palomino, I could surprise her with one of her own. What fun.
The couple of days dragged on forever. The day itself even longer. Then finally he was here. We unloaded this little piece of Sunshine from the trailer where he had spent a very long day, into the teeth of an incoming storm. Bits of rain blew at us, cold and biting. Dark clouds billowed over head.
He stepped off the trailer bright and curious. I let him turn around, much to his breeders horror. We haul loose in stock trailers. I don’t care if a horse backs out or not. He spooked and jumped around, much less than a baby who has spent his day cooped up in a trailer has every right to do. Hair whipping in the wind he walked with a fair amount of calmness to his new, temporary, pen. He spooked and jumped a little, circled as the other horses ran up. Then I got the halter off and he was free.
The horses ran the fence line a little but mostly settled to visit. Rusty my big, mean, grouchy boy, actually seemed to like him. They quietly sniffed noses and offered a little grooming over the fence. Things were much calmer than anticipated.
Then my friend brought the kids home from school. The much anticipated moment had arrived. What would she do?
My son noticed first. There’s a new horse! He said. Rain was still spitting down on us. We walked through the gates. The horses paced the fence line. My daughter petted the calves through the fence. My son ran about excitedly. Climbed on the hay bale to see if he could get this strange new horse to come up to him. Then jumped off the hay bale and climbed up a few more times. A bit startling for a young horse in a new place. No contact was made.
I called him over, down off the haybale and the horse came right up. Hands were sniffed. There were no treats. Not yet. Then everyone was cold and wanted to go inside. It was brief and slightly anticlimactic. If I wasn’t already so besotted with him I might have been disappointed.
Expecting an ugly duckling needing lots of time to grow into the beauty his breeding promised, I had been more than pleased when a beautiful young horse had stepped off the trailer. He is a bit gangly, but no where near as much as Rusty had been, slightly older than this when he came, and not even close to how ugly my beloved Coyote had been when young. Either he is going to grow into an even greater beauty than those two, or he’s going to be pretty now, then outgrow it.
By tonight Rusty has decided he might need to kill this young horse after all. Good fences are a good thing to have. Although I had hopped we wouldn’t need them. Hopefully Rusty calms down soon.
Meet CAUM Sunny Spring Day. I believe we are going to go with Sunshine. Hopefully he settles in quickly and we can start playing with him!

The Pitfalls Of Planning

“If we spend too much time in the planning phase we wire neurons in our brain that then cause us trouble when the unexpected happens”.  ~Wally Olsen

It is a good thing to sit down and think about what your goals are and how you ‘think’ you’re going to get there. Getting a loose outline down is great. To carefully lay out exactly how and what you plan to do is where you get into trouble.

We can have all the ideas of how you think things are going to go that you want. Your horses don’t know what you have planned. They’re going to do their own thing. Regardless of how you decided the training session was going to go.

If you have already set down and built major neural highways following this one specific training plan your brain is going to have a harder time switching courses and choosing a new path to follow.

Think about what you think is going to happen, make a plan for more than one possible outcome, then be prepared to let all of that go and follow an entirely different path. With horses nothing ever goes as expected, often the new roads they lead us down are far better than what we were able to come up with on our own.

The neural highways most traveled are the ones your brain will work hardest to keep building bigger. Make sure those pathways are good ones.

Nothing New

We are never teaching a horse to do anything they don’t already know how to do.

We may be teaching them to do it when asked. Or showing them how to do it using their body more effectively. But the horse can move, on their own, far better than they can with us sitting on their backs.

I was listening to a podcast the other day as two very skilled horsemen talked about how the best thing they ever learned was to get out of the horse’s way. Deep down I know this. In reality, I always have contact on the reins. I like to think I’m not hanging on their mouths, just helping. There are many things we all like to think in life, that doesn’t make them true.

I’m riding quite a bit at the moment. Checking cows, sorting pairs, nice training type horseback work. Things where I can take it slow, set my horse up right, then let go and allow him to do it on his own. A perfect opportunity to put “staying out of their way and letting them do the job” to work. Added to this I can click and reward Rusty when he does an exceptionally good job. These are quickly working together to develop him into a cow horse who will not only do as asked but who understands the goal and will work towards it on his own.

When we have to get up the narrow lane past cows and calves to get them turned back the other way, he turns his head to the outside, carefully not making eye contact. When we have to do this at more speed he isn’t dropping his hindquarters and spinning after the cow, not yet. But I’m also asking him not to. It’s still icy and slick out there. When we’re bringing one cow along through the bigger corrals, he is starting to hold a line and work her when she turns back at us. He will trail her to the gate almost completely on his own, just a few small adjustments from me when really needed.

He gets a click and reward every time a cow goes through  a gate. last year that resulted in him taking one through on his own after I had stepped off.

There’s a difference between a horse who can understand and work towards a goal and one who will respond to cues. I’m not saying he is a super cow horse. He doesn’t get ridden enough to hardly make him competent. He is a trustworthy partner who will put his mind to getting the job done. That is worth way more to me than a horse who will respond better than him to cues but whose mind isn’t engaged.