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Friday, October 21, 2011

Horse Handling and Safety 102

Yesterday was mostly about safety in a herd of loose horses.  It is different when you have a halter on a horse.  I prefer a nylon halter, but it don't matter if you use rope, or leather or nylon, the principles are the same.  I also prefer a cotton lead rope and a fairly long one too.  Razz's rope is about 10 feet which is a little long, but I sure prefer it more than the short 6 foot ones. 

When leading a horse, I don't care where they lead, most of my horses lead right behind me fine.  That being said I trust my horses not to bite me or run into me and they are still paying attention even if I cant see them.  I don't like them to pull on the halter its a sign of disrespect but most of mine if I have to pull its for a reason.  Most of my horses like to stop when they poop so if they stop walking I assume its to poop and let them and they walk much better afterwards.  Bailey has to be different and she walks beside me and almost ahead of me, but she walks so fast she has so take tiny steps and I still cant usually keep up with her, but again she never pulls me forward on the halter. 

I think a lot of handling problems would go away if people treated their horse like livestock instead of a pet.  Being tied up for long periods of time teaches a lot to a horse that would take us forever to get through to them.  Like Patience.  One of the hardest things for a horse to have.  I have never had a horse that was bad to tie up.  And they have been tested, and I have also never had those "cheap" pot metal hardware break either.  I have had a Belgian that broke a lead rope once.  She was eating and was surprised by a tractor and just jerked her head up and the rope broke.  She came walking to me to fix it.  It sure is interesting leading a 1800 pound horse with a 2 foot lead rope!  But she was good, we found a new one, tied her back up and she finished eating.  I start tying my horses up in a stall or somewhere they hit their butt about the time they hit the end of the lead rope.  doesn't take long and they figure its just better to stand still.  Even Jamaica and Jazz have been tied up for over an hour and have no problems with it with other stuff going on around them.  Some horses paw (like Kali) but she is learning she just gets ignored longer till she quits.  They all gotta try something just to check if it works.

I actually like it when a horse tests me when they are young (or when I first get them)  cause then they know my rules and it is a smaller issue.  If they are just nice and quiet, you never know how they are gonna react when they do try to test you.  I am not real strict with them, just a quick correction and its over.  Quite often my elbow meets their chest if they get to close and I don't even have to say anything or even look at them and they may try it once more but that's it.  And once jerk on the rope if they are too quick seems to work better than a constant pull. 

My horses mostly only get their feet picked up when the farrier is here or if there is ice in them in winter.  They are pretty good at this after they know how to pick up their feet.  Some are a little different and it can be surprising.  Like Belle, every time I pick up her front feet she stretches.  Sure weird the first time, but she isn't being bad, just unexpected. 

Same with loading, if you cant lead a horse, you will never be able to load one.  I walk in my trailer and just assume the horse will do the same.  Most do.  Razz always has to stop and look around (but she does that getting off too)  but always loads anyway.  I carry a buggy whip in my truck just in case, but have only had to use it a time or two.   Charlene's horse, Dude, had trouble the other day loading and he never had before and we finally figured out it was because he had never travelled alone and he was unsure.  We waved the whip behind him and on he jumped.  They way home he just walked in, no problem.  I also tie my horses in the trailer.  don't know if that's the best way or not, but it works for me.  I have loaded strange horses in with mine in the trailer and have had no problems either.  As long as they have enough room it works fine.  Quite often they are saddled as well and that works too. 

And I don't do a lot of groundwork per say, but I still expect it to be good when I do it.  And they are okay with it.  They all move when I want to get by in the alley way and when I am saddling them.  I don't know what else I would do with them.  I don't lunge them cause they don't need it and I wanna ride not play games.  I make them stand still for brushing and saddling.  It usually isn't hard but sometimes that patience thing comes into play especially when I am braiding manes or others are eating but I don't make a big deal out of it and they quiet down.  Or I ignore them till they quiet down.

These are just my opinions, not perfect by any means, and they may not work for everyone, but they work for me and my horses.  I am willing to hear how others do things differently.  Maybe I can improve on something.  If you want more information, a great book is called Ride Smart by Craig Cameron.  It mostly means ride smart today so you can ride tomorrow.  Same with handling.  If you or your horse are more upset or get injured you are doing something wrong.  I also agree with Kate from A Year With Horses. She is did a post on this as well.  Her advice that I think was most important is don't hurry.  I have found over time that going slowly actually saves time.  Even when I am late (which is a lot for some reason)  I act like it don't matter and to the horses it doesn't.  They don't care if they get ridden now or in an hour.  So slow down and you will end up saving time.  That took me a long time to learn, but I was determined and it really works.  You are probly sick of reading so I will quit now.  We will see about tomorow.


Kate said...

Good solid common sense advice. This is a good topic that's going around and your advice and horse handling are very sensible.

Country Gal said...

Great post. Its intersting to read how each horsemen or horsewomen works with their horses. My horse I had when I was younger would pick up his foot the minet he saw me with the pick, he loved to be groomed and pampered he was a Welsh pony a gelding. I havent been around horses for years my sister has always had horses but lives far, I feel once you have been with them and grown up with them you dont forget how to handle them or what they can be like. I was lucky I also worked with a family friend whom was a trainer so I learnt a lot from them as well things I have never forgot even though I dont have horses right now. As you know each horse has his or her own charactor . Have a wonderful eve.

Shirley said...

You've got a great no nonsense attitude, and it is mirrored in your horses. "Treat them like livestock and not pets" will probably get you some flack from some folks, but a 1200 pound pet can do a lot of damage. I wouldn't mind reading that book.

lisa said...

I have to agree with Shirley and I am and have learned that lesson the hard way!

fernvalley01 said...

"Keep it simple sweetie" I like your style. And I am so glad you are posting on this. I think there is a lot of great , common sense knowledge out there that needs to be shared. And "I walk in my trailer and just assume the horse will do the same. " LOVE IT!!!!

Janice said...

Sounds like really good common sense put to work.I love your no nonsense style, I can just see you out there working with your horses. I also assume when I walk into the trailer whatever is with me will as well.....sometimes I get suprised but not very often.