My name is Kelsey.
I'm 16 years old and I have been learning to ride for about 6-9 months now and
have yet to go any further than a jog on my 4-year-old quarter horse. My first
riding instructor said she could no longer teach me no more because I'm, according
to her, "Way behind the rest of the students and wont go any further".
I know I have a fear of loping because my first bad experience with a horse was
when she spooked and started loping. I fell off but was being dragged by the stirrup
till I grabbed a hold of the paddock fencing and was free. My horse spooked recently
and went into a lope and I had to get off and didn't have the courage to get back
on him. Today I started loping on a lunge line but I was so scared I needed to
take an adivan in able to calm down. When I tried to lope for the 3rd time my
foot came out of my stirrup and I was scared I was going to fall so my new teacher
had to quickly act to make him stop. I want more than anything to lope, but this
fear keeps holding me back from actually wanting to do it and do have to courage
to do so. I'm scared I'll never be able to lope on my horse and will be stuck
in novice class events forever and will always be considered a nervous and novice
rider when all my peers have learned how to lope in less than 6-9 months. Is there
anything I can do to help get rid of this fear and be able to actually run with
my horse and lope like my peers without having to rely on drugs to calm me down
to do so?
Thanks for your time Cherry!
Well, if you were here, I'd say, just hop on behind me and we'd
go loping off. That way you wouldn't have to be in control of the horse, you could
hold onto me around the waist, and just soak in the feeling of the rhythm of the
lope. After a few minutes, you'd be thinking, "Wow, this feels wonderful"
and you'd relax and soon become addicted to loping ! On a well trained, smooth
gaited horse, the lope is wonderful rolling gait with a soothing, rocking motion
to it. You'll love it once you find a steady horse and can relax. Relaxation is
the key because if you are tense, you probably are making the horse tense....and
worrying your instructor.
But you should know that MANY people are afraid
to lope, so don't feel like the Lone Ranger ! It is because the lope is such a
free, rolling motion, and that the horse's feet come off the ground, that you
might feel like you are floating and have lost control for a second in each stride.
AND if the horse is not absolutely steady and well trained, you might not feel
So, if you know someone with a kind, gentle horse with smooth
gaits, and the rider is very experienced and the horse has been ridden "double"
(two riders), ask if you can hop on behind. If that is not an option, then I would
suggest to continue to pursue longe lessons because that is a great way to allow
you to focus on your balance and rhythm without needing to control the horse.
How do you feel about heights in general? Do you have the same fear when your
ride a bike or motorcycle? How about skiing? Sometimes you can overcome one fear
by facing another.
Best of luck and please let me know how you make out.
more information on riding see Becoming
an Effective Rider
I have a wonderful 4 year old Morgan gelding who wont urinate
when we are at a show. He drinks plenty and poops, but wont urinate. By the end
of the day he is uncomfortable and irritable. Our classes at the end of the day
are a waste. Please help.
don't say whether your horse has a stall at the show or not. If he has access
to a deeply bedded stall, he would most likely urinate. If you are hauling to
day shows and just keep him tied to a trailer, you need to find a place that has
deep grass or deep footing where he can urinate without it splashing back. It
would be best if it is not a busy place, but more of a private place. Here is
an excerpt from my new book "How to Think Like a Horse":
horses (and some ponies) can defect on the move only needing to raise their tails,
urinating is a more ritualistic procedure. It begins with choosing a place to
urinate that won't splash back as horses don't like to splatter their hind legs.
The stance is different for male and female horses. With mares, the head is low,
back arched, hind legs are extended back and spread apart, and the tail is raised.
Males horses stretch out, separating the forelegs from the hind legs more than
the mare which makes their back flat or a bit hollow. Since horses urinate about
every 4-6 hours, when you are on a long trail ride or your horse is on a long
trailer trip, be sure to allow him opportunity to relieve himself. If you are
mounted and your horse starts to assume the stance, raise up off his back. When
traveling, if the trailer is not bedded, the horse may not urinate on board so
will need to be unloaded periodically to urinate in the grass.
your normally good horse seems unusually antsy while being groomed or shod, it
could be that he needs to urinate but doesn't want to splash on the barn floor.
In this case, discipline obviously won't solve the problem. Instead, turning the
horse into a paddock or freshly bedded stall for a few minutes should do the trick.
can be much more frequent with a mare in heat - she will often squirt tiny amounts
often. And horses learn to urinate by signals. My mare Aria almost always urinates
in her gravel pen when she sees me heading to the barn at feeding time. Then she
enters her matted feeding area for a relaxed bout of chewing her grass hay.
any horse will urinate in a freshly bedded stall. It is thought they want to scent
it and make it seem like home. That's why when race track officials need a urine
sample from winners of a recently run race, the horses are put in stalls with
deep straw bedding and they can't resist giving a sample!"
more information on horse mangement see: How
To Think Like A Horse
I have a 22 year old Thoroughbred/appy
mix. I have owned her for 5 years now and she is great except for one problem.
You cannot tie her up. If you tie her up she flips out and breaks whatever is
keeping her there. She was a barrel racer since she was 5 or 6 and once while
tied she was charged by a bull ever since then per the last owner she won't let
you tie her. I can still saddle her but you have to walk her in circles and constantly
tell her to whoa. If at any time though she feels like you are going to try tying
her up she jerks her head or sometimes she rears. People have told me different
methods to use but most seem harsh, such as putting a lariat around her mid section
where the girth would go, then lace the rope up between her front legs and through
the halter where the lead rope connects. Then I was told to tie her up and that
she will learn to quit pulling back cause the lariat will tighten around her lungs.
They said she should learn to step forward and the rope will quit putting pressure
on. I am afraid to try something like this, cause I don't want to cause any further
problems. But I would like to be able to tie her up when we go for rides. She
won't usually wonder far because of my other horse. Can you give me any suggestions
what I can do to get my mare to be able to tie again?
First of you are wise to not attempt
to use a "wither rope" (which is what you describe in your letter) unless
you are experienced with that method because, yes, things could get worse ! With
that said, I will say that I have used that method over the years and it can work.
So can a lot of other remedial lessons. There are basically two approaches. One
is to tie the horse hard and fast to extremely strong and unbreakable facilities
with unbreakable halter and lead rope and let the horse fight it out to learn
that he/she can't break equipment or facilities and get free. The other approach
is to give the horse a bit of slack, so to speak, when he panics to show him there
is nothing to fear and gradually build up his tolerance for the restraint of tying
over time. With long time confirmed pullers this will take a lot of time, consistency,
and even so, it might not work. The way you would provide the horse "slack"
is by using either unbreakable inner tubes to tie the horse to (you can read about
this in the articles on my website) or using the Aussie Tie Ring. I was recently
interviewed for an article about tying for one of the national horse magazines
and here are some of my Reponses that appeared in that article:
Hill award-winning horse book author, trainer, instructor and former judge
of Livermore, Colorado, notes
that tying problems are specifically linked to a horses lack of confidence
due to inadequate exposure to the sights, sounds and things in the tying environment,
lack of lessons in restraint, restriction, and pressure on the poll, [or] from
the owner using poor equipment and not having a strong, safe place to tie.
In addition, she says, the horse may not have learned to halt on command, to ground
tie or to stand quietly on a long line. Nervousness and anxiety may also play
The solution to correcting these problems lies in retraining your horse
so that he understands being tied is not a threat to his safety and is not something
to fear in and of itself. In short, its your job to help your horse build
the confidence he needs to stand quietly and calmly whenever and wherever hes
starts at square one, as if the horse has had no tying or even in-hand training,
says Hill. That means teaching your horse essential ground skills. Most importantly,
notes Hill this includes:
to pressure. When a horse pulls back while tied, he creates pressure on his
poll and nose. His natural reaction is to keep pulling back in an effort to escape
that pressure. You need to retrain his thinking so that he learns to move forward
to release that pressure.Use a simple exercise with properly fitted nylon or poly
rope halter. Halter must fit so that the crownpiece sits on the poll. On a 10-15
foot line, stand facing the horse and exert light, steady pressure toward your
body, asking the horse to yield and take one step forward. As soon as the horse
starts to comply, begin to yield. Your success in teaching a horse to yield to
poll pressure lies in your ability to quickly recognize that the horse is trying
and immediately yielding.
at whoa. because whoa teaches obedience and patience and the stopping
of movement, all essentials for calm, relaxed tying.
still in scary situations. A tied horse often pulls back or fidgets when hes
startled or anxious about something going on around him. To help him create confidence,
Hill recommends sacking him out. Begin with objects he can see, working from all
sides of his body. Then move on to objects actually touching him. Ultimately,
he should learn to stand quietly or spook in place, a skill that will
come in handy not only for tying, but for many in-hand and under-saddle situations.
Dont use a breakaway halter or panic snap, says Hill. She prefers
high-quality nylon or poly rope halters, plus lead ropes that have no hardware.
Avoid weak or poorly made equipment that could break if the horse does pull back.
The idea is that once you have done all of the homework, you do not want
the horse to break free, she explains.
tie to twine loops. Once a standard safety measure in many barns, twine breakaway
loops are not a sound teaching tool, says Hill. The problem is that the twine
loops breakaway under even moderate pressure, landing you in the same situation
as above, where the horse learns that pulling back leads to freedom.
recommends using quick release knots, instead. Another option, says Hill, is to
use the Aussie Tie Ring. Endorsed by natural horsemanship clinician Clinton Anderson,
this gadget allows the tie rope to slip through the ring to a certain degree when
a horse pulls, thus releasing pressure and forestalling panic without giving the
horse total freedom.
think twice about stretchy ties. Hill advises against bungee-style ties. I
like the idea of the give, she says, but I don't like
the idea of the snap back forward. Instead, she prefers tying a regular
lead rope to a loop of stiff rubber tubing (like an inner tube from a truck tire).
It is strong enough that
it doesnt break, yet it gives just enough to get the horse to stop panicking
and listen to the go forward cue [and] step forward, says Barney. When
the horse steps forward, the pulling pressure is then released. The horse learns
that by pulling back, the ties dont break, and that there is reward/release
in standing in the proper spot. And, unlike bungee ties, the stiffer rubber
material doesnt present the danger of a boing affect when the
horse does step forward, notes Hill.
tie your horse to a safe, sturdy object, ideally a hitching post thats
designed for tying horses and wont break, says Hill. Again, you dont
want your horse breaking free. But you also dont want him to have a scary
experience while tied. I've seen people tie to the most bizarre things,
like door handles, bikes, panels, BBQ grills, says Hill. Just imagine
how terrified a horse would be if he pulls off a handle and it hits him in the
head or if a BBQ grill chases him.
tie too low. Tying low lets your horse get good leverage if he does start
to pull, says Hill. Always tie the horse at the height of his withers or
higher, she advises. And tie the rope so that it is a comfortable,
safe length for the horse. If it is too long, he will get in trouble; too short,
and it will be uncomfortable.
think about your horses comfort. The more comfortable the horse
is, the less anxious he will be, says Hill. So if its hot, work in
the shade. If its fly season, use bug spray. And keep to areas with safe,
comfortable footing, such as rubber mats, rather than slick concrete. Consider
psychological comfort, too: During tying rehab, work in an area familiar to your
horse, where he can see other horses.
youre ready to start, Hill suggests first tying the horse either using
a long rope run through a tie ring, holding the end of the rope so you can give
the horse a bit of slack if he panics, or using an Aussie Tie Ring or inner tube.
In other words, make sure the horse has a safe way to find relief from pressure
if he does pull back.
if he does pull, dont interfere. Wait calmly, stay out of reach of the horses
body, and give him time to figure things out for himself. If he doesnt step
forward and relax soon, give him your go forward cue. Only if that
fails and it seems that his panic may escalate should you step in and release
the tie yourself. If you must do this, be extremely careful, because your horse
wont be watching out for your safety.
when your horse is consistently standing quietly while tied should you move on
to more advanced lessons. This can include gradually lengthening the amount of
time the horse is left tied and tying in environments with more activity, more
distractions, horses closer by and so on. You can also move on to cross-tying
after your horse has mastered straight tying. Hill suggests ground tying the horse
in the cross-tie area first, so that he can get accustomed to the sights and sounds
of that spot before you add the cross-ties.
Question of Assistance
the training process, says Hill, Take your time. Be thorough. And
if you dont have the skill, confidence or patience for this task, dont
hesitate to enlist professional assistance.
a horse and especially re-schooling a horse to tie can be quite emotional for
both the horse and the owner, says Barney, who strongly recommends the use
of a professional trainer. There is no question that we all have the best
of intentions when starting a training lesson with our horses. But when
an owner runs into problems, its too easy to relax expectations and
thats when holes develop in your horses training.
alternative to sending your horse to a trainer is to enroll your horse in a suitable
clinic. Just realize, says Hill, that clinicians often dont teach tying
skills at these events. But they can help your horse learn the essential ground
skills that create a sound foundation for safe tying.
skimp when it comes to expending time, energy and even money to create a horse
who stands quietly, calmly and, most of all, safely while tied.
you wont be able to retrain your horse to tie quietly overnight. So what
do you do while hes learning? Basically, youre left literally holding
the rope or asking a knowledgeable friend or assistant to do the honors in any
situation where youd normally tie up, such as for grooming, bathing or a
in-between step that Hill considers a must-have skill for a horse is ground-tying.
It is the beginning of developing communication and control with your horse
and comes in handy everywhere from the barn to the back country, she says.
more information on ground training see: How to Think Like
a Horse, 101
Longeing & Long Lining Exercises,
and Long Lining the English and Western Horse
My horse had a puncture wound in the summer. Initially they
figured the bump was caused by an infection. Two months later I convinced a vet
to x-ray it because the bump did not go away with medication. Turned out he had
a fracture in his cannon bone and was on stall rest for 2 months. I had his two
back legs wrapped with polos for a total of 8 months until last weekend because
every time I unwrapped his fractured leg the bump would return in the exact same
area. We poulticed it and it 'popped'; however, every time it's unwrapped the
bump returns and his leg swells. Should I leave the wrap off in hopes the swelling
will go down or should I keep it wrapped?
First of all, how lucky for your horse that you were persistent and had the
site x-rayed. This type of question is one I don't really like to answer for two
reasons. First, I am not a veterinarian and I encourage you to get this kind of
advice from your veterinarian. And although you do give a good overview of what
happened, it would be difficult for anyone to give good advice without seeing
the horse and knowing the detailed case history and the nature of the persistent
swelling. Please contact your veterinarian for long term aftercare recommendations.
Best of luck to you and your horse.
more information on lameness see: Practical
Guide to Lameness