Sunday, February 7, 2016

Taming Wild Movie & the Good, Bad & Ugly In My Training

I want to give a BIG shout out to the movie, Taming Wild. I finally got to see the whole thing this weekend by Vimeo download, and I loved it!  It's a movie that explores the often asked question (at least on this blog)--do horses really want to be ridden by humans?  But what I took away from it, and thought was even more powerful, is what depths of trust can be achieved when you listen to, and respect, your horse. 

Trainer Elsa Sinclair wanted to see what would happen if you took a horse straight out of the wild and did not use ANY tools to train.  That's right, not a bridle, bit, whip, halter or lead rope.  Nada.  Nothing.

It opened my eyes to how much horses really do love humans, but most of us don't have the confidence to trust them back in the same way.  For example, I don't think I would be brave enough to trust my horse minus saddle, bridle, bit, in a new, open situation, like she did at the ocean.  (Although, the good thing is, if you fall, at least you fall in the sand.)

From start to finish, which horse to choose and at which speed the training would progress, Elsa looked to her horse for the answers, and you may be as shocked as I was to see what unfolds between the two of them.  And, there's a cute little surprise about nine months into the process, too.

A must see for all horse lovers.

and now.......

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Training.

Things have been going along as normal in the training of Leah and Beautiful Girl.  I had a lesson with Leah on Tuesday (Day #13 of the Challenge), and she was doing so well at the walk, we were able to spend a good portion of the lesson on the trot.

I was told to ask her to trot and then pull her into a run rein stop and just hold it until she would stop on her own.  I had already discovered, from working with her earlier, she wanted to move.  She was having a hard time standing still...and it took her a long time to come to a stop.  It felt like we circled for 2 or 3 minutes before I got a stop.

That was disappointing to me.  One of the things I loved about my first green horse/baby, Tanner, was that when he was pulled around to a one rein stop for the very first time, he circled once and knew to stop.  I remember my trainer saying--"He's a smart horse!"

I feel like that says Leah is not connected enough with me.

Maybe it also says she'd rather be home and is tired of being trailered off to lessons.

Yesterday, I took her to Riverside State Park Equestrian Area because they have a big, beautiful arena and round pen.

Before we left, she started rocking around the trailer and pawing the front really hard.  She had been doing more and more of that recently and I knew it was building to an "issue".

When we got to the arena, we worked from the ground until she would tune into me fully (rather than the other rider and horse in the round pen.  There was a woman working with her own green horse and it was bucking around and made her jump off.)  When Leah tuned in, I went ahead and got on and worked with her at the walk.  When I felt she was doing well at the walk, we advanced to the trot.  Trot meant GO, so we did the one rein stop.  She stopped a little sooner than the previous Tuesday, but not by much. The next time we tried, she gave me a really nice, engaged trot that lasted about a minute.  However, the third time I asked for it, she started to swing her head a bit and grind on her bit (she grinds her teeth when she's warning you.)

So, we went back to the walk and then ended the session on a positive note.

When we got home, I left her in the trailer to rest while I cleaned stalls.  And, today I'm going to go out and put her in the trailer and leave her there until she settles...without going anywhere.  I've GOT to get on that trailering issue before it becomes something very dangerous.

So, that's the good, the bad and the ugly of our week in training.  I find it hard to divide my time between three horses and I sense a lack of connection with all three when I do.

Is it possible to be connected with three?  I don't know the answer yet.


  1. I'd be interested in seeing that film. Horses have so much to teach us.
    I do think you can be connected with 3- or more- horses, it's all about being in the moment with them and not putting expectations on them by comparing them.

    1. Yes, easier said than done, but a good reminder. Be present and with the horse your with.

  2. I've got to watch the movie, the trailers look very interesting. My feeling is that we will never know whether horses want to be ridden or not. I think it's a personality thing. I found with mine that Dusty loved to go and do things where as Blue couldn't care less if he was ridden or not. He's very lazy and just wants to eat and sleep. I'm also of a mind that they do like our company and our interaction with them. They are curious animals. If they weren't they wouldn't have come into camps centuries ago being nosy and in the process getting themselves somewhat domesticated.

    Your question about whether you can have a connection with 3 horses is a definite yes. I think you just need to have the connection with the horse you're with at the time. Like Shirley said be in the moment with that one horse you're interacting with. Each horse has their own personality and I guess it's our job to figure out how to connect with their specific traits to help them accept us. Now that I've rambled on I have no idea if any of this makes any sense...

    1. Yes, it does make sense, and I'm so glad you and Shirley both answered with a yes. I needed the reminder to stop comparing and be with the horse I'm the moment. :)

  3. I can empathize with you on the trailering issue. It took a long time to train them to stand quietly after getting in the trailer, but I could never get them to settle down while the trailer is moving.

    1. Trailering is so scary anyway, it doesn't need to any more stressful. :( I will be working hard on bringing her anxiety down in the trailer. I loaded her with buddies Sunday and they reprimanded her for her antics. Cowboy actually bit her in the back when she started grinding her teeth. I was mad at him, but it did stop her. Penny loaded, too, and had the same attitude toward her. They weren't happy about Leah's stress and they let it be known. Maybe the seasoned horses will help this along. Time will tell.

  4. Connection is so elusive at times. I think it has to with intent - for both the horse and rider but I also think it is something else; something like compability in spirit. And, in my experience I haven't been able to discern that accurately or to "pick" which horse I will connect with. Some I was sure I'd connect with, and I never did. Others it was immediate. Some like Tex are a surprise. And, with a few it never happened. Not my fault, not theirs. Just not the same spirit or energy or whatever you want to call it. Does this even make sense? It's so hard to put into words.

    1. I was glad you wrote this, Annette, because it made me ask the question I needed to ask. Do I have a heart connection with these three. And, if so, what is it I'm really missing? I followed up with a post about that today. Thank you for your input.

  5. I agree that there can be a 'compatibility issue' but I think with Leah it sounds very similar to Carmen and I. She took long time to gain trust in me in the various parts of our work. Part of it was me not walking on eggshells and also insisting that she listen and not giving up until she did. Horses deal with stress by moving so I'm not surprised that she struggled with the one rein stop in a new location. That doesn't mean that you don't work on it, it just means that it's understandable.

    Irish used to get (and still will at times) get restless in the trailer when it was still. I found leaving him in and growling at him worked. But he knew what me growling at him meant so that helped.

    1. That's good to know about you and Carmen. And, you're right, they do move their feet in stressful situations. The barn and arena are full of other horses, so it is a more stressful situation than the trail, I think.

      Good to know about Irish and the trailer, too. I've never had a horse do it, so it's new and scary to me, but I think she'll get better with practice.


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