Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Day 2: Doing a Little Something, But Mostly Nothing

I was supposed to go on a ride today, but everyone canceled, and I ended up doing what really needs to be done--more of a little something, but mostly nothing training.

I started by tying the two girls.  I use Blocker Tie Rings on the 2 setting.  While they stood tied, I worked with Cowboy, ponying Tumbleweed.


Next, was Leah's lesson. I got on bareback so that I could feel the tension in her nerves/muscles along her back, her heart rate, and breathing.  Like yesterday, she wanted to go, but as you can see in the video, I just kept holding her or asking her to back up to the spot we'd started at.

I timed the sections using Siri on my iphone.  I'd ask her to set a timer for 5 minutes and during that time, I stretched, breathed, and petted her.  When the time was up, I took her over obstacles, and then returned either to the same spot, or a different spot, to rest again.

Here she is resting by the gate on the opposite side of the arena. (Gates tend to make her nervous)

The difference in Leah's work was phenomenal.  When we finally moved out, I used only neck rein pressure for our turns.  She was much more responsive in that calm frame of mind.

I watched a short movie on YouTube today, 500 Miles (I'll embed it below).  One of the trainers said something that really stood out--I'll paraphrase a bit--

Horses are prey animals, and we're acting like predators when we're on the edge, always on the go, with a mission critical objective.  You need to slow down and make sure they're okay.

I feel like I'm doing that now with Leah.

I tied her up inside the arena, and got Beautiful Girl.  We worked on the same things, but from the ground.  BG loves doing the obstacles, and is very precise in where she places her feet.  Leah is, too.  Both horses suffer from the same problems--anxiety, anticipation, and overreacting.  Not on the ground, but in the saddle.  

Here's Leah cocking a leg and relaxing.  She has always been good at standing tied.

The horses aren't the problem with this new training style--they're eating it up and excelling.  It's me.  I have a hard time letting go of my predator nature.  I am all about objectives and getting things done.  I'm like A to Z in five seconds--speedy Gonzales.

But I can be trained!

While I transitioned between Leah and BG, I tidied up my arena obstacles and tack room.  That kind of cured my need to get something done.  And, while I did all these patience and relaxation exercises, I had music playing.  (Not as good as having a television, Sarah B!)

A bit of serendipity: while I was uploading my own videos, I came across some videos--one on bucking, where Clinton Anderson highlights a dangerous bucking horse that was trained out of it, and the other on the 500 Mile movie. Beautiful was nothing like the bucker in the Anderson clip.  She showed no signs of bucking in saddle before her two separate bucking episodes.  

I recommend you read Jenna Blumer's blog post today about Warwick Schiller.  What he is doing is very much what I'm exploring now.  He really looks into the idea of a horse who hides their anxiety.

I had previously shared the Anderson clip, but I deleted it, because it isn't representative of where I'm going with my training.


  1. I think you're doing a good job doing nothing but something! It's nice that you have the time to work with the horses everyday for a bit. That makes a big difference.

    I liked the second video with the veterans and mustangs. They're doing good things for the vets. As for Clinton Anderson, well, he's definitely on my least favorite list of clinicians.

    1. I completely understand. I’m anti-clinician right now. I only shared that because it popped up, and I felt like it was a good thing for me to watch—not so much for methods, but to inundate my mind with an openness to possibilities for Beautiful’s potential to change. I’m firmly committed to taking my own / their own unique track to get wherever it is we’re going. 😀❤️ Life has sent me off the rails with horsemanship, and that’s okay.

    2. LOL. I went even further and just deleted it. I didn't want anyone to spend time going through all the ads just to see what I'm not planning to do and what is not representative of BG. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. I too struggle with the urge to accomplish. It's hard to let go. I'm very much a work in progress. All I know is that Carmen is growing in leaps and bounds with this approach and we are having fun together.

    1. It’s also kind of embarrassing. I’ll post about that tomorrow. I was at my local arena standing around, and I was starting to doubt myself. 😂 But I know this is right. Humbling. But so is being almost killed. This way is more safe, and as you say, fun.

  3. So much of horsemanship is a mental game- for them, as well as us. When I first got Gussie back she was full of anxiety. Wouldn't stand to be mounted, wouldn't stand still after I got on, backed up when I was bridling her, wanted to jig on the trail etc. etc.... She is so much calmer now and I love that she is for the most part, a willing partner.
    I like Warwicks videos. I have watched several and enjoyed them all. Another good person to read is Crissi McDonald, Mark Rashid's wife. Here is her web address:


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.