Cheek Whorls

Whorls on a horse’s cheeks are said to be a sign of debt and ruin.
Superstitions are fascinating to me. Some of them are so out of the blue it’s hard to figure out where they could have come from.
Others are so painfully easy to see, looking back with a modern knowledge of dentistry and veterinary practices.
With whorls on a horse’s cheek we have the perfect storm. The whorls are placed directly over nerves connected to the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). This is the joint where the jaw bone connects to the skull. It is an extraordinarily important spot in the horse. Issues here affect everything from chewing to soundness throughout the entire body. Especially if there is only a whorl on one side. This exacerbates everything through unevenness.
The whorl over these nerves seems to cause tightness and tension on the TMJ. This in turn can cause tightness and tension through the entire body. Try to relax while clinching your jaw if you are curious as to how this works. Then open your mouth and move your jaw around to see how much more relaxed that makes you feel.
We can help our horses relax in the same manner with some simple body work. A very useful practice if they have a cheek whorl. You can find all sorts of examples and techniques online.
This same tension can also lead to irregular chewing. In some, fortunately rare, cases there will even be teeth missing or malformed in the location under the whorls. Either of which cause the teeth to wear unevenly. Which causes pain and pain related ‘bad’ behavior if the teeth aren’t checked and problems resolved.
Now think about unrecognized pain behavior in horses before good, regular dental care came about. You have horses who act in a dangerous and unpredictable manner, seemingly without cause.
If you depend on your horse to make a living and they have a tendency to suddenly explode out of the blue, or are unable to hold condition because they aren’t able to eat properly, your living will be strongly affected. You wont be able to work. You will lose money. All leading to debt and ruin. This superstition is so fascinating to me. We can see the cause clear as day. If only they were all so easy to see, and fix.

We are still here!

Sometime I wonder about that myself. With the kids home over Christmas break it’s been hard to work horses and impossible to get any video ready to share.
Sunshine has been doing great. I sneak out and get a couple of minutes with him once in awhile. In those quick little sessions we’ve been working on Spanish walk.
He’s a natural with those high stepping Morgan legs.
Trying to encourage him to keep the hind legs up underneath himself. And to walk next to me instead of behind me. That’s the hard, and rather dangerous part.
We’ve also been doing a bit of beginning cutting lessons, in the very beginning of the video. Getting him focused on and following me, while also setting back and turning on those hind quarters. Not something we achieved here. 😆

I was walking home after feeding the other day when I looked across the pen and saw Rusty hanging out with a flock of birds.
Can you see them? I had to zoom in quite a bit to get him clear across the corral.
Then I didn’t think any more about it.
Until I brought him in to work with him. He was COVERED! The huge flocks of birds look pretty swooping and diving, but do they really HAVE to spend so much time hanging out with my horse? 🤣


I had THE best session with Sunshine today.

I threw a blanket over his back, at liberty, and he was fine with it. We worked on that for 3 lessons? way back in August. He’s so brave.

We got a few steps of Spanish walk. In a row. Not with him aiming for the bridge with those big stepping feet. He even added a few forward steps to it!

He stayed very nicely on the bridge. Long enough for me to walk all the way around him even, without trying to follow.

Such a good smart boy.

Then I went to shut off the camera. Only to find I hadn’t turned it back on after he started out the session by trying to eat it. Then, while I cleaned snow off the GoPro, trying to stand on the flimsy plastic tub I was using to set the it on.

Somehow after all of that I forgot to turn it back on.   🤦🏼‍♀️😭😭😭


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.