Archive for December, 2017

PostHeaderIcon Velvet – How to Win at Musical Sacks!

3/4/98
 
 
One of the Kansas City Regional Fox Trotter club’s favorite game for a FUN horse show EVENT is musical sacks. There are some horses in our club that stomp on the sack when they get close. They’ve probably been trained to do that. I thought I would offer the readers of this Corner Page, a natural horsemanship training strategy to prepare for musical sacks. Musical sacks is played just like musical chairs, except the horses must step on the feed sack. We generally double the feed sacks. There will be one less feed sack than horses. The music plays and we circle the sacks. The music stops and we rush for a sack…just like musical chairs. The main principle of natural horsemanship is to know that horses crave comfort. They will seek the answer to many a puzzle in their quest for comfort. The secret is to think how to train a horse to step on a feed sack to gain comfort. Ah…it gets easier now!

On the ground: Feed sacks can be scary. You need to show the horse that the feed sack is friendly. Fold the feed sack up into as small a package as you can and rub the horse all over with it…belly, rear, neck, between legs, and face. Do this and all the following steps until the horse is just standing there practically asleep while you are rubbing the feed sack all over their body. When this is successful, unfold the feed sack one more fold and proceed to rub the horse all over. Keep unfolding the feed sack and continue to rub.

What if the feed sack spooks the horse? You have to realize that spooking is uncomfortable. You have to continue to do whatever is spooking the horse until the horse stops. Then you stop also. Let’s say, the crackling is spooking the horse. I would be playing with the feed sack in the round pen or with a 12 foot rope attached to the horse. If the horse wants to run around in a circle while the feed sack crackles, that’s just fine. But the horse needs to gain comfort and that takes being brave. As soon as the horse stops and faces the fearful object, you stop whatever is making the object be fearful. I might stand facing away from the horse and just crackle the heck out of the feed bag. The horse might take off and that is fine. I would just keep crackling the bag until the horse realizes that the bag isn’t going to eat him. When the horse stops, I stop crackling the bag. I probably would pet the horse. Then I would turn around again and crackle the bag.

When the horse is no longer afraid of the bag in your hand, put it on the ground and try to get the horse to step on it. In the beginning, if the horse bends down to smell the bag, I would instantly stop any pressure I am making to get the horse to step on the bag. I would pet the horse. Then I would resume trying to make the horse step on the bag. When any part of the horse’s feet touches the bag, I would instantly stop my pressure. I would completely relax my body and pet the horse. If the horse takes the foot away, the horse gets longed and brought in to touch the sack. It doesn’t take long after the 1st touch for the horse to figure out that comfort is touching the bag. After we have petted and rubbed while standing on the bag, I would make the horse longe for a couple of circles and then make the horse come in and step on the bag. In the beginning, I would try for a long time to get the horse to step on the bag. Then would come comfort…petting and rubbing and resting. After 4 or 5 times of touching the bag, I would give the horse less time to put a foot on the bag or away we go in the longe. It doesn’t take long for that horse to figure out the big secret…step on that bag. I’ve found out that the horse’s own feed sack is best. It smells really good to the horse. Treats are OK too, when the horse steps on the bag. I would put the treat on the bag. Then the horse knows that this is really a good thing!

Next step is riding. The same principle applies. Ride the horse around the arena or pen at a trot or canter and then come into the middle and step on the bag. When the foot touches the bag, immediately drain your body of all animation and rub the horse. Stand on the bag for a while and then do the same exercise. If the horse takes his foot off the bag, you immediately go to the wall and trot or canter for a while. Soon the horse learns again that the bag is the key to comfort and the horse will search out that bag and skid to a halt and STOMP it. You’ll be a contender in musical chairs!

Just a warning….Velvet and I have played this game with the sack just a couple weeks ago. She loves standing on that feed bag! Watch out FUN DAY SHOW!!!

PostHeaderIcon The Big Fear

November 29, 1997
 
 
I’m always on missions. The mission for this column is FEAR! I’m talking to new:
 
Women Adult Riders Inspired by the Option of Retirement or WARRIOR!
 
This is for the WARRIORS who have discovered the unforgiving hardness of the ground and developed fear. The WARRIOR buys a horse and it bolts, bucks or shys and the WARRIOR hits the ground. The ground whispers to you…death, broken bones, pain. Your continuing mortality becomes a great concern. Your self confidence goes underground!You are not alone. You are in the great majority. Fear can be conquered and bested! Listen WARRIOR…read my story and keep chipping away at the enemy.Year I: THE TRAIL RIDE STARTS THE YEAR OF FEAR

In our last episode, I hit the ground and my life was saved by trainers Jenny Copple and Karen Moulis of Pine Dell Farm, Pleasant Hill, Mo. Jenny trained Sage and Karen trained me. I ride nice safe “farm horses” and developed my riding skills. Sage and I met after two months of separate training. I wasn’t scared of the gentle farm horses, but my body was as stiff as a board when I climbed aboard Sage. Sage hated my frozen body and refused to move, tried to bite my legs, and cow kicked. My immediate thought “My life is over. Surely Jenny will take me off this creature! But no, Jenny was telling me to squeeze her with my legs, spank her rear with my hand, spank her rear with the lead rope. Finally, she made a step and we started all over again.”

Jenny talked me through this like the control tower guy in the movies helping the passenger land the airplane after the pilot dies. The only difference was that I wanted to be the dead pilot! About half way in the ride (we progressed about 5 yards), we started to move slowly about the arena with mad, disgruntled horse things happening. I decided that I should cry because I was a tremulous mess. I needed to cry. I teared up and thought, “I’m going to tell Jenny that I want off!” But Jenny kept talking to me…talking me through and finally the hour was over and I was alive! I was wringing wet with sweat. There were a lot of people in the arena that night…of course I couldn’t see them; I only sensed them! They all came over and told me I did really well. Jenny told me I did really well. I felt better then, especially since my feet were on the ground. It was a one wine bottle night!

I continued to work with Sage on the ground and had the weekly riding lesson. The 2nd lesson I was much more confident; but Sage was worse. I had to get off and Jenny got on, and made Sage very uncomfortable about not moving. I got back on again with more confidence and made Sage move. It was a banner day. Several more rides and I had managed to ride her by myself. About two months later, Sage, husband and I went on the week long Eminence Trailride–in the Ozarks Mountains with only 4000+ other horses. My husband is a social person, not a rider and I intended to ride only in the parking lot and campground. But NO, my good friend told me “No-you’re going on nice short daily trail rides. You can’t come to Eminence and not ride! After you ride a week at Eminence everything else will be easy!”!

Sage did great. She wasn’t scared of anything! She walked two inches beside clangorous diesel trucks. We rode around the campgrounds filled with horse eating sights. We participated in a horse show with a record number 60 horses in the arena at the same time. She was great!

I was a nervous wreck the 1st morning and cried making certain no one could see that I was crying. I had tears streaming down my face, but my face was absolutely frozen in a noncommittal nothing. I went for 15 or 20 minutes at a time holding my breath…maybe less. Sage and I did lots of ground work to get me prepared for riding!

We crossed water; we climbed hills. I survived! I didn’t have fun, but it wasn’t torture either. Every morning when I got up, I wondered if I’d be dead or disabled by the time the day’s trail ride was over.

Thursday was the start of the year of fear. My friend erred in judgment and took me up and down a mountainous steep hill where the path consisted of rock ledges littered with loose rocks. Going up was frightening but the descent was beyond agony. I was frozen with fear going down. When I expressed some verbal dismay to my friend, she told me just to relax and lean back! HA! We did make it down alive, and even though I’m not a Catholic, I did the Cross Gesture! I couldn’t get off to kiss the ground because I couldn’t easily mount my horse.

We came to a river and two year old Sage was hot after climbing that horrid mountain. We were drinking and pawing to clear the dirt from the water and my friend yelled. However, I was intently watching Sage’s front leg sinking into a hole. It just seemed to sink down farther and farther. I was patiently waiting for her to pull her leg out of the hole when my friend’s frantic voice yelled “JUMP OFF!” This was a very loud and demanding voice! My body responded just when Sage sank down on her belly. I got up and waited for her to get up. “Quicksand,” I was thinking when she didn’t get up. She’s caught in quicksand!” I was running in circles around her in the water around her trying to figure out how to get her out of the quicksand when my friend’s voice penetrated my brain again. “Slap her; Yell at her! She’s going to roll!” “Roll? I thought….not quicksand?” I yelled, jumped and flapped my wings and Sage heaved herself to her feet. I got the lecture about sweaty horses and pawing water!

At that time I couldn’t mount my horse without a big natural mounting block and none was available within sight. My friend had to get off her horse and put my muddy wet foot on her leg so that I could heave myself on. My jeans from knees down were sopping wet and 20 pounds heavier. We made it across the river and I started thinking about our water adventure when we came to the part of the trail that was deep warm sand. . . .

Without any warning, PLUNK!…down we went. It was a broken record. No slouch in the learning not-to-die-experience, I was smart enough to leap off as we were going down. I dove into the deep sand in my sopping wet jeans. Yummy! 100 more pounds packed on my body. I was saved by my friend’s husband who had come to join us. It took all his strength to get my weak,quivering, dead weight back on Sage. On the short distance home, including a wide river crossing, everyone rode very close to Sage ready to beat her if she even blinked a lay-down eye! I felt like a steer being herded by cowboy drovers!

After we got back and I had semi recovered, my friend’s husband took me aside and had a little talk with me. “I am really worried about you and your “little, slight fox trotter! If only you had purchased a blocky horse—not necessarily a quarter horse…I’m certain that there are blocky fox trotters that could handle your weight. Sage isn’t strong enough to handle you on these hills. If she would have tripped up there on those mountains and started to fall, she couldn’t have recovered. You need a blocky horse.”

Instant Bad Brain Image: I imagined that horrid ride down the loose rocky ledges, Sage and I falling; Sage with bones sticking up out of her. Sage dead of a broken neck. I love Sage. … THE BIG FEAR OF DOWNHILL HIT. I managed to contain the fear so no one else knew.

Sage, the 2 year old, wasn’t afraid of anything in that camp of 4000 horses! Susan, the 49 year old, turned into a battered shell with zero self confidence. I made up some excuse about not wanting to stay, and we left the next day.

I was able to ride Sage around my property because it is mostly flat. I was so proud of Sage that she wasn’t scared of anything in the world! This was the first of the major assumptions I have mistakenly made about Sage. This is when she started earning the nickname, “The Horse of No Assumptions”. We were zipping by some bushes and heard a “tiny lion rattle sound”. Without my permission, Sage took her saddle and leaped ahead about 5 feet. I was like those cartoon characters that run off a cliff. “HUH…there’s only daylight underneath me,” and…thud. I met the unforgiving ground again! I had to lay there for a while waiting for the intense pain to go away. After my tremulous mass of flesh calmed down, I was able to determine that I was not broken.

I was too hurt to climb back on. Riding was only pretend after that. It was too cold, too late, too hot, I felt too bad. Winter came…no riding and I was grateful.

Here’s what I was left with in my 1st Year with Horses:

DOWNHILL FEAR: If the ground were sloped enough so a golf ball would roll downhill, I was major scared.

RIDING DREAD (RD) That’s when all the excuses for not riding are made. It’s a disease called RD!

PostHeaderIcon Riding Velvet is ah sigh so Good

I decided to ride Velvet for a while at Pine Dell Farm every evening that it was in the high 20′s to 30′s.  Ah, life is good with an highly trained finished horse.

I just might be over my mad desire to have a young horse to finish every 5-8 years or so.  It’s fun to get Velvet and I back into coordination.

PostHeaderIcon Lord Help Me Jesus

Velvet brought me one step closer to redemption.  I don’t believe I’ve ever felt the need to scream outloud my need for Jesus to save me.  I’ve had the thought many times, but I kept it internal.  I’ve had conversations wtih Jesus and God before, but no one got to listen in.  Velvet, the trained cow horse, got me to scream for help for all to hear. Everyone in the cow clinic and all the auditors and probably the neighbors heard me scream, “Lord Help Me Jesus!”

Velvet took over the cow.  Velvet is a trained cow horse. She understands being a cutting horse.  I’ve watched those cutting horses.  I understand the concept.  You put your hand and reins down on the horse’s neck because the horse just takes over keeping the cow away from the herd. The cow runs trying to get past you and get back into the herd.  Your horse takes off and runs to keep herself between the little cow and it’s cow friends.  Your horse blocks the cow.

It was in the 2nd dash and my hands were trying to communicate to Velvet what to do.  But Tony pointed out that Velvet knew exactly what to do and to let her do it. This involved me giving total control to my horse.  At that moment we were galloping back and forth. The cow ran. Velvet ran to cut the cow off. The cow turned the other way and ran off.  Velvet turned and ran to cut her off.

I’ve rode Velvet bridleless before thousands and thousands of times.  I’ve ridden her bridleless in front of large crowds of people.  But I’ve always been mostly in control of everything she did.  Occasionally, she would make a turn thru the middle of the arena that I wanted, but I pretended that cantering around the arena was exactly what I wanted to do. That was nice easy going cantering.

Velvet was in charge of the cow. She was galloping short burst of impulsion, spinning the opposite direction and galloping off again. This was an entire new feeling which might have prompted me to yell out, “LORD HELP ME JESUS”!

PostHeaderIcon She Came Knocking-Miss America

I thought my life was pretty exciting. It is not the case.  I found out just how boring my real life was.  It happened at 5:45 AM October 2012  Tues.   I was trying to catch Lucky Star in the yard and put him back into the pasture. I’ve been from house to barn and no Lucky! Usually Lucky Star sees my in the yard and silently appears about 6″ from my face.   I shook the grain bucket and I caught a glimpse of him in the light of the garage.  He was heading the other direction…away from me.

What!
Lucky Star is a “always in my space” kind of horse.  He never runs away from me.
I hike after him and find him standing by the far fence.  I go get him.  I saw a big tree branch move on the other side of the fence.  What was there?  Big tree branches don’t move like that on their own!
By this time all the other horses had finished eating and left the barn lot corral. They disappeared into the inky darkness of a crisp predawn day.  A horse whinnied.  The whinny didn’t sound like it came from my pasture.  It sounded like it came from where the big tree branch moved.
What?
More whinny.  I see all my horses but Sue.  It’s still dark.  I decide Sue must be the whinny source and she is out of the pasture.  How could she get out? There are no gates open.
I get into my car and drive out of my yard into the sod farm next door.  I drive along the fence row, looking for Sue.  Trees are lighted up in my headlights.  Nothing else.
No Sue, no nothing.
I return to where Lucky is eating his breakfast ..  I worry some more.
I drive out to the turf farm again.  Headlights shining into the row of trees lining the fence.  Nothing there.
Drive back to my yard, park my car and return to the barn, I see a shape in my yard.  It’s shaped like a horse!
It is a horse.! It’s not Sue. I have a loose horse in my yard!  I have a lost horse in my yard!
Horse goes over and sniffs noses with Sue and Lucky.  She’s in a small dead end place.  She is calm and quiet.  I go get my halter.  I decide that I might live if I walk up to her in the narrow dead end place.  She’s calm. She let’s me halter her.  My my my!
I look at her and decide I have a short saddlebred horse.  Her neck is elegant and stretched up to the sky.  She’s wondering what I’m going to do.  I’m wondering the same thing.
I lead her to the barn and she follows right along with me.
Thank you, Lord.
She’s in a stall.  I give her lots of hay and go on to work.
I called the Cass County Sheriff  to report.  I call my town police and talk to the Animal Control officer.  I report a missing horse. Animal Control officer drove to my house to see the horse and took her picture.
No phone call all day from anyone about the horse.  I call to find there has been interest, but picture proved not to be the right horse. (How could there be interest in missing horses? How many missing horses are there in Cass County?)
Go home and feed the horse.  She is nice and friendly.  I let her out into the corral where the other horses sniff her.  She floats across the corral. Beautiful extended trot.  Horses sniff and loose interest in her.
I decide to let her out.  Since she had been cooped up all day, she had some energy. She galloped up and down the pasture.
I am standing in admiration of her beauty when two young men walk up to me.
Excited, I say, “Are you missing a horse?”
“Yes”  We chat a long time.  Nice young men. One of them is the owner.  We chat about how his horse got out of the boarding place.  Boarding Place thought the young man had picked her up and took her somewhere because the halter was missing.  When he took a bucket of oats to her this evening, she wasn’t there.  She’s missing.  He checks with police and gets sent to my house.
We chat about the horse.  She is 4 years old.  Young man bought her for his self and  his daughter.  Her name is Wild Fire.  He bought her when she was two.  Her former owner named her for the wild flower, Wild Fire.  (I shudder at the name.)
She had a week and a half of training by an Amish trainer somewhere down south of KC. She’s quarter horse/fox trotter mix.  hmmm…I thought she was a short saddlebred.  I don’t see QH in her at all.  She’s a very elegant horse.  I don’t see fox trotter in there, but fox trotters don’t have a set look.
Young owner sez he just bought a truck. Truck broke down and he’s in a bind and needs to sell this horse.  Taking her to auction Saturday.
We chat some more.  I mention killers and no one is buying horses because of  drought hay situation.
We chat about hay and how the boarding place before bought some cheap 3-4 year old hay.  Plus the other horses wouldn’t let his horse eat.  Boarding owner wanted him to pay when his horse wasn’t getting to eat the inferior hay.  He got her out of that situation.  She’s been well taken care of and in her present boarding situation for 5 months.
He offered me $50 to keep horse till Saturday.  He has to borrow a trailer.  We talk about the magic number needed to fix his truck $300.
hmmm.  I like this young man.  His horse is proof of a well-loved and cared for horse.  He is polite and truthful.
The next day,Wednesday,  I tell Facebook groups about the horse. What to do to save this horse.  Let’s raise $300 and he can keep his horse.  I’m doing my best to not own this horse.
Then the fatal comment came on Facebook:
Wild Fire is a Stolen Horse!
What.  Wild Fire is a Stolen horse is repeated and no further explanation
A day of fury on Facebook.
I report to police that allegation has been made that she has been stolen.
Fury keeps on coming on Facebook.
That evening, I come home to find the horse has leaped out of my pasture into my neighbor’s pasture.  Neighbor has geldings that think they are stallions.  Or it could have been Lucky Star exerting some dominance over her and she jumped the fence to get away.  She found me because of Lucky Star and now she’s with 5 other geldings.  She must be a great jumper!  There’s not a scratch on her.
Called neighbor  and tried to explain this. She’s at work and will get home in about half an hour.
Darknes comes. Young man, his wife and nearly one year old daughter come with a bucket of oats for their horse.
“Bad news,” I say.  ”Horse jumped fence and someone alleged she is stolen.”
WHAT!
It’s the former boarding place with the cheap hay and the horses that kept our horse from eating.  Boarding place locked horse up for non payment.  Owners Stole Their Own Horse.  That’s the stolen part.  I am furious with the Facebook alleger. Furious!  I revel in furious, because it’s been years since I’ve felt furious at anyone except spouse.
We drive 5 miles to see horse. If we had a gate between our pastures, it would be about a block away. She is now in stall in neighbor’s barn.
Neighbor agrees to keep horse for time being.Owner sez it takes 4 grown men to load this horse.
Here’s a horse destined for auction, alleged stolen, wanted for a child less than a year old and needs four grown men to load in a trailer!
I’m busy Saturday and Sunday, but tell them that I’ll walk her back home if I can find a gap in another neighbor’s fence.  Neighbor sez she has a shute system rigged up to trailer load a horse.
Monday am comes and I’m up at dawn plus an hour or so…9:00am.  I did find a gap in the fence.  I need to saw a tree limb so I can walk a horse thru.  I call up this neighbor and ask permission to lead a horse thru his yard.
“Sure” he says. He’s noticed that his neighbor has an extra horse.
I go get the horse.  All her geldings try to friendly up to me and run away the mare.  We have words. I catch the mare.  She doesn’t want to leave the pasture.  We have words.  Geldings decide to run elsewhere and watch the show.
I get mare to leave the pasture.  Whew!
We walk about a half mile to my house and I get her into barn stall again.
I go into house and collapse in my recliner.
After I recovered, I called the  young man and told him I was buying his horse.
Turns out she is half Morgan, 1/4 qh and 1/4 Arab.  That explains her “look” .  She is beautiful.
Jenny comes out on that Friday and takes about 15 minutes to load her.  She is a quick learner and not really too afraid of the trailer.  Jenny loads her in both my trailers.  It takes about 1/2 for all this to happen and she is a relaxed loading horse.  I get to take over.  It takes a few moments for my kind of communication to get through and some coaching from Jenny.  She loads.  I get her to load in both trailers.
Loading lesson done for life.  She can now be transported!
I take her on trailer ride on Saturday to Fair Play.  I played with her in the morning and another person played with her in the afternoon.  They are hooked on each other.  Love is blooming!
Meet Miss America…..  Missy….  MissA

PostHeaderIcon Cisco and Susan in the Park

Cisco and I have been fortunate to get a trail ride partner. Hope is riding Lucky Star and I’m riding Cisco. Cisco and Hope are being rehabbed.

Cisco was rode for three years by his past owner. He was rode alone, along roads etc.. He was in trail training until his wildest spooks were the sudden stop and bracing his front legs. Then I won him in the raffle and he became my arena horse. It’s been about three years of both indoor and outdoor arena riding with a few trail rides.

Did he change? Nope, he still braces to a stop spook in place. He is nervous out in the wild, but he is a right-brain extrovert and gets anxious in unfamiliar places. He gets more anxious if he has to stop and stand still. Standimg still is not possible.

Here’s a little bullet story of how Cisco is doing

First Ride: nervous, wants to speed down the trail away from other horses. Rabbits, blind corners in trails where he can’t see, colverts, and anything else makes him ready to pop. He will follow behind another horse and control his forward speed. I use the reins often and they are much ignored. I try to let reins go loose between attempts to slow him down, but I’m nervous too. Halfway through our short ride, my knees hurt. Oh great, I’m bracing my knees in fear. We get back to trailer and my knees really hurt when I dismounted and landed on earth.

2nd Ride: Cisco just a little more relaxed. I am able to recognize when my knees are bracing. The knee pain is lessened. When I dismount, there is no knee pain.

Third Ride: I don’t remember the third ride

Forth Ride: That was when Hope and Lucky were arrested and ticketed. Someday, that story will be made available to all.

Fifth Ride: Cisco was calm and relaxed the entire ride. We rode with a nice calm horse named Storm. I believe he took all the burden off Cisco.

Sixth Ride: Cisco nervous again. No popping to a stop. Unable to stand still. Knees absolutely never hurt one minute. I’m getting relaxed now.

PostHeaderIcon Cisco Buddy Sweet

Everyone calls this Buddy sour, but that is so negative for a dependence problem. Cisco has a personality that lends him to be dependent on others…usually a horse. Cisco and Lucky were boarded together this summer. I’ve been trailering Cisco and Lucky lately to a park where my friend got to ride Lucky.
At no time was Cisco able to let Lucky out of his direct sight. If Lucky walked behind a trailer, Cisco went hysterical. I had to saddle Cisco where he could see Lucky. If not, Cisco became immediately a basket case of nerves. Saddling him was nearly impossible as I didn’t exist as he swung his body around trying to see Lucky. I would have been stepped on or squished or the unsecured saddle would have been launched into space.

I just went with it. I also made darn certain that Lucky was in clear view when I mounted Cisco. I need a horse to stand still like a statue when I get on.

One day I delivered Lucky Star to Hope. When the truck and trailer came home an anxious Cisco was waiting for Lucky. I told Cisco he now owned two mares. Delta spoke up and contradicted that. She said Lucky Star was her boyfriend and if Cisco thought he could boss her around he would feel her teeth!

Trail ride date was upon us. Cisco and I got there first. Cisco had never seen Hope’s trailer. When she came lumbering into the parking lot, Cisco screamed and screamed and screamed. Finally the trailer came toma stop and we could see Lucky Star. Cisco relaxed. Life was good.

Until the end of the trail ride

We tricked Cisco. Lucky stood by our trailer when Cisco went in. The door shut and Lucky walked away. Cisco became frantic. I had to jump into the truck and move. Horses have to brace themselves when the trailer moves. That stops the frantic movement.

Yesterday was our next meeting. Hope and Lucky got there first. Before we came into sight of the parking lot, Cisco started screaming. He knew where he was and thinks Lucky lives at the park. We screamed until I got parked, let Cisco out and we saw Lucky.

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