Archive for the ‘Missouri Fox Trotter’ Category

PostHeaderIcon First the Bridle and Now the Saddle

I tell people that a new book is not possible because the humor of a person new to horses is gone.  Maybe that theory is flawed.  I might have had two humbling experiences just today and the last time I rode.  I might have dramatic, pathetic and humorous stories, even now.  You be the judge.

I decided to change bits today on Cisco’s bridle. Cisco made certain that he was involved in the exchange. He had his head mostly in my lap while I was trying to do this. Figuring out how to get the bit on the bridle and then the reins on this Wonder bit is complicated for me. I think they must call it a Wonder Bit because it makes people like me wonder how to install it correctly.

Finally, I got done and put the bridle on Cisco. Whoops, the bit must not have gone into his mouth. No, the bridle was too long and the bit just fell out of his mouth. I made the bridle shorter and put it on again. Hmmmm, the bridle still appears too long and the curb strap came no where near Cisco’s chin. I said, “The heck with this! I’ll just ride him bridleless today”.

I haven’t rode bridleless for quite a while. It appears that I have been assuming Cisco has been following my leg and body position (rather than the reins) quite well, but when you ride bridleless, you find the truth. I hate the truth. But the truth defines the journey!
Cisco and I were still impressive without the bridle but there is a lot of room for amazing “betterness”! (Yes, I just invented that word!)
I need to put more balance in my riding. I’ll be balancing my time with and without the bridle from now on.

Cisco had a nice weekend with this home herd.  He and I went back to play today.  Over the weekend, I had some alone time with four of my bridles.  One of them had another bit all perfectly hitched up to the bridle.  I was able to see how my bit should have been put on the bridle.  With my old dirty used bridle with the reins that are slowly rotting, but with the correct installation of the  Wonder bit, we are ready to ride!

I have rules for proper saddling and mounting a horse.  The saddle rules are as follows:  The horse must canter or jump over something along with tightening the girth at least three times.  I followed the rules.  Cisco cantered both ways in a round pen.  I tightened the saddle gradually at least three times.  The saddle was secure when I mounted.  If the girth would have been loose, the saddle and I would have fallen off the horse during mounting.

Cisco and I spent a long while practicing skills in the arena.  Near the end of our session, I asked him to canter.  I had this strange feeling that my body couldn’t keep straight in the saddle.  I stopped and scootched the saddle back straight on his back.  We cantered off.  Hmmm, I still had a wee problem with keeping my body balanced in the saddle.  We stopped and walked for a moment when I heard banging.  My saddle was making a banging noise.  My saddle is normally a nice and quiet saddle.  It has  never made a banging noise.  I checked those little straps that hang off the saddle.  Nope, they were not causing a banging noise.  I looked at my cinch.  Good Lordy!  My cinch wasn’t secured on the ring correctly.  I had Cisco creep toward the round pen and I got off on the round pen panel.  I climbed down the round pen to solid earth.  I went to the other side of Cisco and looked at my girth.  Good Lordy!  My girth was not secure.  It was not tight.  It was barely even touching Cisco.  I had been riding purely balanced on Cisco’s back with no anchor for the saddle.  If he would have spooked sideways, the saddle and I would have left his back.  If I had asked him to jump over something, I might have had quite an experience!  I followed all the rules of tightening my girth.  I broke the rule of securely fastening the strap to the saddle.  I didn’t twist it around the ring at all.  Good grief, protect me against brain loss!

What is Holding the Saddle on Cisco?

One should not ride with a loose girth

What will happen the next time I ride Cisco?  I am taking applications for guardian angel!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco Worship

Every day I agonize over how I can let Cisco know what a wondrous horse he is to give me so much try and affection.

Should I just go into his pasture and feed him treats non stop all day long?
How about me brushing him daily for 3 hours?
Can I feed him a bag of horse feed every day?
Let me rub behind his ears, rub his withers, rub his head, rub his nose, scratch his belly, scratch other itchy places etc for three hours every day.  Would that work?
Should I give him a warm bath every day?  Should he be squeaky clean, oil and germ free clean every day?
I could stand in front of him and tell him, “Good Boy” one hundred times a day.
He would love me taking him out to find the greenest clover patches and letting him graze for four – six hours every day.

Instead of all the above,I take him out of his pasture, put a saddle on him and play with him on-line, at liberty and riding most every day.  I try to rub him when he does something I’ve asked for him to do.  I try to give him stops, rubbing and resting moments when he has put effort into a task.  I give him a treat when his “try” is special.  I do try to tell him, “Good Boy” when he gives me a great try.  I do occasionally take him out to graze at wondrous clover patches after our playtime.

His feed program is healthy.  His weight and body composition is perfect.  His teeth are “adjusted” yearly.  He gets veterinarian exam and yearly inoculations.  His feet are trimmed by the best farrier on the planet.

I need to get an animal communicator so I can ask Cisco what more I can do for him!

PostHeaderIcon Afraid of Gates or Worry?

I’ve wrapped up enough examples to know that Cicso is darn certain that a gate will kill him, We were so scared of the gate at the April 2015 Spring Horse show that we just zipped around it.
Cisco was terrifie of the gate at the 2015 versatility arena at Ava shows both June and September. We have yet to make an entrance through a strange gate using my right hand. Cisco can barely tolerate me using my left hand to open and shut a gate. Usually gates are set up to go thru with the rider’s right hand. We have to back through the gate when using the left hand, much more difficult.

Or is it something else? Cisco is a deep horse, one that thinks things through. He was very well trained when I got him.

While Cisco has been my horse, we found that he worries. He doesn’t get comfortable quickly in different places. He worries. It takes him a while to relax in strange places. This is not immediately apparent to anyone. He hides it well. Underneath that perfectly calm outer exterior can be a worried horse in an environment new to him.

I worry that ulcers can form. Therefore, I’ve taken to feeding him alfalfa pellets. Alfalfa produces digestive juices that flood the entire gut, lower and higher of the horse. Ulcers are found in the upper level of the horse’s system. When worry hits, the ulcers start hurting and the horse reacts. So, I’m trying to prevent ulcers from forming by getting that alfalfa to do the job of massaging the inside of the horse.

I’ve found that Cisco likes to move when he is worried. Standing still is not an option when he is highly worried. But yet, I let him walk out and he appears to be calm.

Standing still at a location new to him is not good. He moves his body around, trying to move forward while I’m telling him to stand still.

The rope gate at the latest horse show, Spring 2016, was a frightening thing. He had to hold still while I grabbed the rope loop off the fence. Oh that was difficult. He might have been worried that it was an electric fence kind of a rope. However, he has been just as scared of a regular metal gate. I finally was able to grab the rope with my right hand.

Cisco hopped up and down with his front feet. He was very upset. I felt no fear. I didn’t fear that Cisco was going to buck or bolt, so I hung on to the rope. I had a 22′ rope to hang on to and maneuver around with. In not too long, I got Cisco to back into the arena and I was able to hang the rope back on the post. It was incredible how upset he was. We went thru the trail obstacles fairly successful. He was very worried.

Next I had also signed up for the Open Trail Obstacle class. Our fearful rope gate adventure was repeated. On the 4th obstacle, the back thru L, Cisco lost it. We scratched that obstacle and went on to the next.

While the rest of the riders where going through their trail course, Cisco and I took advantage of being able to ride in the covered arena where the rest of the horse show was to be held. We moved and he was fine.

When it came time for Western Pleasure, Cisco did great. Cisco did great on all the remaining rail classes. He never stood still for too long while we waited to ride in the remaining five classes in which we were entered. The last class was Open Fox Trotter, Will Canter. Cisco’s canter was not exactly like a rocket. We didn’t go fast enough to orbit into outer space. I could tell that he was not yet relaxed and used to his surroundings. Oh my what a day it was!

We will be practicing a rope gate, and comparing, remembering and thinking about Cisco and his worries.

Fast forward to late 2016. We now have assessed Cisco to be a right brain extrovert . Read about the right brain extrovert In this article.

What personality is your horse?

PostHeaderIcon An Amazing September 2016 Weekend!

I spent three days at the World Show watching Velvet and Powder perform magnificently in their classes. Way to go Nichole Hack and Caitlyn Vaught! You both are amazing and bring the best to these lucky horses you ride! They are truly blessed to have you.

That was three exciting days. I arrived in Ava, Mo and discovered, I left both my iPad and my iPhone at home. That was not acceptable since I was going on to Colorado,for more marvelous picture moments. I drove back home…200 miles… on Monday to get them. Back again 200 miles to Ava on Tuesday to root for Powder and Velvet… And maybe everyone else in the versatility arena. On Wednesday afternoon after the versatility speed events, I met up with my great friends, Apryl and Hope, and off we went to the Parelli Summit in Pagosa Springs, Colorda. We took two days to get there.

Upon our arrival the next morning at the Parelli ranch, I discovered someone had taken all the oxygen out of the air. We watched the amazing horses and horsemanship and then we struggled up and down slight slopes to get to the porta potties and vendor tents. Occasionally, my heart felt like it would explode out of my chest and at my age, it could really happen. The Summit was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Off we went late Sunday afternoon headed home. We made it to Garden City, Ks and then home on Monday. Then it was a 2 hour drive for me to get to Kansas City. I had that deep tiredness inside me.

Last month I gave my beloved Circle Y Flex Tree saddle to Yellow Boot Saddlery to clean and restore. On the drive to Pagosa Springs, Donna called me with heart-breaking news. My tree was broken on both sides. What! My beloved saddle that I worship and used for an unknown number of years is broken beyond repair! My beloved saddle is dead. I fussed at Donna. She was the bearer of horrid news. Poor Donna. My response was, well, gruff!

Donna told me that they had found a lot of saddles with broken trees. A lot of us are wandering around with broken trees. Tony Vaught had been telling me for years, there was something wrong with flex saddles. Apparently he was right about this particular saddle. Luckily, I had been using the CSI saddle pad for a long time. That might have helped the horses I had ridden with that saddle.

Tuesday was a Susan Universe shut down and I emerged slightly tired tarnished on Wednesday. We had a clinic with Tony and Jenny Vaught on Friday, two hours away at Harmony Horseman in Hiawatha, Ks. Off I went on Friday late morning. I knew I would be late, but I had a great excuse! I pulled in around 2:00 pm and was sad when entering the arena as there were only a few people there. Oh No! Hardly anyone came to the clinic! What’s up with that? I got unpacked, got Cisco saddled, warmed up and rode him. Around 4:00 or so, I found out the clinic was Saturday and Sunday, not Friday and Saturday. My brain failed me!

The good part of this is that I got to ride Cisco and I was on-time for the clinic starting on Saturday. I got to take part in the introduction and tell people my name and what I wanted to work on. I was first to talk. I decided to demonstrate what I wanted to work on rather than the express it verbally. I got up and skipped across the space and changed my lead foot to skip on the other foot. There were a few people in attendance that had never met me. Oh boy, I bet they thought I was a deranged old adult. I was non verbally telling Jnny I wanted to work on flying lead changes. She got it right away!

Playing with Cisco on the ground and riding him is always an incredible experience. We communicated. He tried to understand my fumbling cues. He gives me two or three times what I ask for. He tries his heart out. That is his personality.

Saturday afternoon about 3:00, my brain got hot. It didn’t hurt, it just got hot. I didn’t feel bad, dizzy or sick. My brain just got hot. I gave up about 4:30, got Cisco bathed, fed and settled and went to my room, took a shower and crawled into the bed. I was in the dark and finally, the brain cooled down around 8:30. What the heck was that! I didn’t get to go out and eat dinner with the crowd. I hate missing the social part of the clinics!

I did suffer from saddle grief throughout the clinic. I have two more Circle Y flex Lite saddles. I rode one of them on Friday and my body cursed it. It doesn’t have the padding that my beloved saddle has or something. It causes parts of my unmentionable parts to experience pain. I changed saddles on Saturday. This saddle has always been challenging for me to keep my right foot in the stirrup. About two hours into the clinic on Saturday, both my feet started hurting. It is the darn stirrups causing the problem. I have Don Orel stirrups on my beloved saddle. I need those stirrups on this saddle!

I also had given my favorite bridles to Yellow Boots Saddlery to clean last month. I was riding Cisco in the Myler snaffle bit. He was resisting my directions. Finally, I got off and went to get a one-ear bridle that I never use. It does have a bit that Cisco likes and responds well too. It was near the end of the day and the heat in my brain mentioned above got to me soon after.

I started out using the one-earred bridle on Sunday. I discovered that Cisco’s head action during his fox trot immediately upon cantering throws the headstall off his hear backwards on his neck. So I was wearing a bridle with nothing to make it stay in place. That was irritating! I had to get off and take the time to change the good bit to a bridle with a browband! The entire weekend I was mad at my broken saddle for dying on me. I was occasionally mad at my bridles! These things cause grumpiness, especially when riding in temperatures in the upper 80′s temperature. GRUMPY!

Sunday when we started doing leg yields and flying change exercises, my mood went up into exceeding happiness. Again I repeat, Cisco gave me his heart and try! I love that horse!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco 2016 Post Parelli Summit

I went to the 2016 Parelli Summit for one and maybe two reasons. I went to learn more horsemanship so I could be a better human for Cisco and because it was the 20 Year Anniversary!

I attended all three days Of David Lichman’s breakout sessions on advanced liberty training. His mentors have been Pat Parelli, a circus Liberty horse act performer and the woman who invented the clicker training with dolphins. You can’t get much better mentors than that!

I learned more advanced techniques in how those experts communicate with their animals.

We start out the advanced at-Liberty act by having the horse come to our body and laying his head on our chest. Cisco is dead set in his way of invisible worry. When he puts his head down, he can’t see the predators that might be stalking him. I knew about his problem with lowering his head and we have made great strides. He is doing really well at lowering his head when I am on his back and we are standing still. We have a long way to go to lowering his head when I ask him from the ground. Now he has to lower his head and rest it on my chest. Oh my! We did it, but not without issues, trust issues! At the end of our session today, I asked him to put his head on my chest while I was seated on a chair. Oh my, this took quite a while. We will be practicing this forever. When he lowers his head, he is relaxed and trusts me to be the protecting leader.

Then there is the boomerang move. I point, give the verbal cue. Cisco runs to and around an obstacle. He then runs to me and puts his head on my chest. That might be the description of what it might look like someday. We did a very inexperienced version of this today. There was absolutely no running and much directing on my part, but we did it at liberty!

Playing with a horse on the ground is a very special communication experience. I cherish this time with Cisco.

Usually after I have spent days watching what Pat and Linda Parelli can do with horses, I have 43 things to try and on my first ride with my horse, I try all 43 things during a hour ride. Poor horses in my past. I managed not to do this with Cisco. I do have some maturity now. Ha! But I had to end our riding session today riding bridleless. I love doing this as I have only the truth to deal with…no reins!

I have so much fun with Cisco! The days will fly by this fall, winter and spring. I’ll try to keep ou updated verbally and with a view movie clips!

PostHeaderIcon Lucky Star’s AKA Name is Always Adventure

I let a beginning rider have a beginning rider lesson on Lucky Star.  We went through the required seven games and some required rules before mounting.  That went well.  Our rider mounted.  I did neglect to give the rider the mandatory mounting rule, but it went well.  Now the signal to walk forward was given and Lucky’s response was ears back in protest.  We tried the turning on the hindquarters and then walking forward.  That is when Lucky decided to move and place his front feet in front of the barrel and his back feet in back of the barrel.  He did not jump, he just sidled his feet to both sides of the barrel.  Can you imagine being a beginning rider and your horse straddles a barrel?  No, I can’t either.

I took over Lucky Star.  I put a halter on his neck and led him around.  We did some slow circles at a very slow walk while our rider was learning about reins, where his shoulders and belly button go.  I turned Lucky lose and he managed to move somewhat.  About this time, Cisco volunteered to come into the arena.  Cisco became the lead horse and Lucky was supposed to follow.  Whoops.  Lucky doesn’t like being the following horse.  So we had a duo horse team walking around the arena.  The big achievement was that Lucky moved as his rider was getting used to being on a such a horse.  I had given our rider a crop with the instructions to tap Lucky’s forequarter three times when he fails to move.  Lucky laughed and ignored taps that were more like the strength of a fly.  I coached on the art of tapping Lucky until the tapping actually irritated him enough to have him move.

Cisco ended his voluteer duty and Lucky Star went off on his own.  He tried to rub his beginning rider against the corral panel.  I pulled him off the fence and he and his beginning rider wandered around just a bit more, working on the tapping technique and steering.

I called the lesson to an end.  I got on Lucky Star and demonstrated how Lucky can move.  I demonstrated the tapping.  Lucky and I did a flat foot walk around the small arena with some dropping out of gait.  We ended the session.  Whew!  Next is what will happen when I ride Cisco while our beginning rider is on Lucky.  I think Lucky will do this well outside the arena.

PostHeaderIcon First Cisco Trail Ride

Cisco had thirty days with Nichole Hack to prepare him for me.  I took my first ride and it was a good one.  Cisco came home and I took him to my favorite summer arena to get better acquainted.  I rode him in a clinic with Jenny Vaught.  We were doing great.  I started trusting him to take care of me.

Friend Chas called and wanted me to go on a trail ride with her.  Gulp!  My first trail ride with Cisco.  I said yes and the deal was made.  We agreed to ride at Holden Lake.  It is a city lake with a trail that goes around the lake.  The trail include riding through woods, behind people’s houses and across a long damn.  Louie and Chas; Cisco and I.

Cisco was excited when I unloaded him.  Chas and Louie showed up not long after we got there.  Louie was excited too.  Chas and I did the ground work with our horses.  Chas got on Louie and came over close to where I was going to mount Cisco.  I got up on the trailer fender, holding on to one of Cisco’s reins.   Cisco was still a wee bit excited at the new place, but he appeared to me that he was going to let me mount. He stood sideways at the trailer so I could get my leg over the saddle.  I had to turn around on the fender to get my body in proper position.I turned around and let loose of the rein for a millisecond.  In that millisecond, Cisco took off.  He left Louie, Chas and me behind.  He galloped out of the parking lot neighing and screaming.  There were two horses in a pasture across the road.  Where was Cisco going?  How far would he go? Was there a fence around the Lake Holden Park?  If there was, it was too far off for us humans to be able to see it.  Cisco continued his gallop.

The thing not to do is take a horse and run after the fleeing horse.  This makes the fleeing horse think that the chasing horse is joining him and will gallop for freedom.  Chas turned Louie around and started after Cisco at a calm and slow gait.  She knew that Louie had to become Cisco’s anchor when Cisco’s right brain behavior was replaced by a thinking brain.  She kept on trying to shorten the ever expanding gap between Louie and the galloping Cisco.

Heaven was my reward.  Lake Holden was fenced off.  I headed for the open gate so I could block Cisco if he ever found the way out of the park.  Louie and Chas were still heading for Cisco.  When Cisco came up short at the fence, he ran back and forth a bit trying to find a way out.  He gave up and noticed Louie. His thinking brain came back. Cisco came over to Louie and Chas was able to grab a rein.  Cisco was caught.  He would not be running out wild on the gravel roads of Cass County.

Cisco and I reunited and did more ground games while Louie and Chas watched.  Louie was impatient.  I led Cisco up to the trailer fender again and did not let go of the reins.  I was able to get into the saddle.  Cisco and i moved out with some fretting going on with both Cisco and Louie.  We started across the big meadow with an ugly black stump near a dried up ditch crossing.  Louie was in the lead, but was uncertain of that stump and the narrow crossing.  Cisco was fine.  I let Cisco take the lead and away we went.  We made it to the forest pathway where Cisco relaxed.  Louie had taken the lead again and we were going on like you read in the perfect trail ride book.  We did a water crossing.  I think he jumped the water, but that was just fine with me.  it brought back memories of riding Velvet on the trail.

Cisco and Louie went the entire distance around the lake or did we turn back and take the forest trail again.  Maybe Chas will remember.  It was a successful trail ride and one for the memory book.  My horse got loose and galloped away on our first ever trail ride.  scream

PostHeaderIcon Fix the Cisco Love

it happens. You go to get your horse. Your horse turns away and leaves you. I want my horse to come to me and anticipate our time together. My last post was news that Cisco turned his back to me. I was spurned.

Yesterday, I went out to feed the hungry horses. I offered to let Cisco out of the horse pasture. I opened the stall door. He looked at me, turned his tail and left me hanging.
Sadly, we had a major lesson coming up. Practice on the gaits and then my heaven on earth, lead changes. It was not deathly hot, but sweat snuck into every wrinkle I own. Cisco was wet. He had to expend a ton of effort. I tried to thank him and rub him when he did good. I get carried away during the lead change exercises and forget to rub him as often as I should.

Hello! I have so much sweat on my head and you usually lick my head. I need that today

We were done. His head itched with sweat. I took off the bridle and he rubbed his head against me. Then he put his head around my neck and kept it there. He was hugging me. I had no food to give him on his trailer ride home. He did get treats.

Today I went out to the stalls to see what would happen in our relationship. After the hardest of day of riding, Cisco did not turn away from me. He allowed himself to be haltered. I led him out of the stall to the trailer. I set a bucket of food down next to the trailer entrance and let him eat. When he was done, he went back into the horse pasture. I am back in his good graces. Whew!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco the Teacher

I learned a lot from Cisco today.  The big lesson is how to get really high stacked hay bales down on the ground.  I’ve got hay stacked in my barn.  Stalls are on one side and hay is on about half of the other side.  The hay is stacked about four bales over my head.  So it takes about four bales to equal my height and then add four bales on top of that and you picture the hay tower.  I’ve misplaced my gadget to drag a bale off the stack.  Cisco taught me today that he can unstack a tower of hay and not die in the process.  Sadly, I wasn’t in the barn to see this.  Of course if I had of been in the barn, I could have crushed by either a hay bale or Cisco getting out of the way of the falling bales.  whew.

Here’s the story. Time to ride.  It’s been too hot for me to ride all this week.  Today is cool enough to ride.   I went to the barn to get Cisco.  The horses stay in the barn during the day.  There are fans to blow the worst of the flies off them.  It is a comfortable shady place.  Back to the story.  I picked up the halter and turned toward Cisco.  Cisco turned around and left the stall.  Cisco said to me in non verbal language.  I don’t want to be with you mom.  I don’t want to go and run and sweat while you ride me.  It’s just not fun for me mom.  Take Lucky.

ahhhhh!  I hate those non verbal words from Cisco.  He is supposed to want to be with me, even though I ask him to run around in this humid hot weather.  I went into the horse part of the barn and pasture and stalked Cisco until he purposely got himself back in a stall and then I had him trapped.  At least he turned to face me and I put on the halter.

Mom, you left your hat and favorite sunglasses here last week!

We did ride.  We practiced our flying lead change preparation and attempts.  We quit before he got horribly sweaty and returned home.  Now the plan.  I’m going to let him out in the yard where he can eat the yummy grass.  Plus I’m going to wash his trail.  His tail has itchy dandruff.  He will so appreciate getting rid of the itchy tail.

Cisco didn’t appear to be thrilled with his bath.  His non verbal language was not positive.  He spoke to me in these words, “Stop getting water in my face!  I’ve never heard the water stream hit the barn before.  What is that scary noise and you have me tied up!  I can’t run to get away in case the noise wants to eat me.  You want to put my tail into a big bucket of water?  What the heck?”  Thank goodness you are done and I can eat grass in peace now. Thanks for turning me loose.”

You can see how great of a horsemanship person I am to be able to translate Cisco’s feelings.

Now I’m going to get some horse feed for him to make him feel extra special.  I’m going to put it in the trailer so he will have great love for the trailer.

Cisco, “Bucket rattle!  Food Food!  Mom has food for me!  oh wait.  She’s putting it in the trailer.  That means she is going to put me in the trailer and take me somewhere to run and sweat.  Snort! I’m not going near that bucket of food.”

I decided to leave Cisco at peace with all that yard grass.  He will eventually go and eat the feed in the bucket.  I drive to the gate and shut it.  Cisco has fooled me before and left the property even though he was the only horse loose and his herd was in the pasture.  Yes, he has broken the horse law of leaving the herd.

I drove back and didn’t see Cisco outside.  I went to check on him and discovered him eating hay in the barn.  Four bales had fallen off a stacked hay tower.  Cisco, Lucky Star and Delta were munching hay.  I didn’t see any blood on Cisco.  He took those hay bales crashing down without getting hurt.  I gave Sweetie some hay as none of the flying hay bales landed near her stall.  Cisco turned around and came toward me.

Cisco, “I would like to get into the stall mom.  The fans are all blowing air into the stalls and I’m on the other side. I don’t want to eat grass.  I want to be inside the barn eating hay with the fan blowing on me.”  (Cisco”s mom opened the stall door to where Sweetie {Cisco’s girlfriend} was standing.)  ”Get out of the way Sweetie, I’m coming in.  Move!”

I left the happy horses chomping on hay.  I drove back and opened the gate.  I’ll have to spend undemanding time with Cisco to get his love of me back to 110%.

PostHeaderIcon Fox Trotter Rough Fox Trot-Smooth it Out

A Missosuri Fox Trotter has a lot of options on where to place his feet while moving forward. There might be as many as 12-15 different names for the two forward gaits that are unique to “gaited”horses.

Cisco was born with a bouncy 2nd gait. He was born with a tendency to hard trot. This is the normal trot that non-gaited horses have. We gaited people don’t like that suspension bouncy gait. We gaited people want smooth, non-bouncy.
Bouncy fox trot vs hard trot Discription: If you bounce out of the saddle, you are hard trotting. If you are not thrown up out of the saddle, it is a rough fox trot and might be very close to that suspension out of the saddle. There is a difference between the two but both are uncomfortable.

Fix the hard/rough trot:
1. Slow transition from the first gait into the 2nd gait. Really really slow. In the fox trotter world, we go from flat foot walk to fox trot. Or we might go from regular quarter horse type walk into a fox trot. Or we might go from a dog walk into a fox trot. These are transitions. Cisco is a “what do you want me to do,” horse personality. If I ask for a slow transition upwards, he gives me at least a medium to fast speed. We usually need several upward transitions until my “ask” is light enough for Cisco to be confident to give me slow. Cisco is generous with his giving back to me. Two years practicing along with Healthy Stride farrier work with Tony Vaught has just resulted in a balanced horse with an upcoming slow fox trot. Cisco and I were in a lesson with Erin Patterson yesterday and Cisco fox trotted smooth enough that I was not praying for the command to transition down. This was a miracle day.

2. Practice transitioning to the fox trot. Practice slow transitions upwards and down. We transition from quarter horse walk to dog walk (extended walk in non-gaited horse), to flat foot walk to fox trot, down to flat foot walk, up to canter, down to fox trot (Mucho Difficult). Cisco and I have been doing this for two years and he has taught me a lot about my non verbal signals. Cisco told me just this past winter that he wish my signals would be consistent. He told me a year ago that my non verbal signals were much too “loud”. He throws his head up when my signals displease him. (This gets me yelled at during horsemanship lessons!)

Once you get a smooth fox trot, let your horse keep at it. The more your horse does a smooth fox trot, the more muscle memory builds up in the horse. When the horse gets a little tired, he will find a way to make less effort (smoother) as he tires. There are two theories here. Above is the the let them do it for a while. The other is to reward them when they are doing it right. When you transition down to a stop, rub your horse. Rub a lot so there is no question in your horse’s mind that he did something right!

3. Head position. Every fox trotter who does a fox trot, has the perfect head position in which the perfect fox trot comes forward.

Ava 2014 5 years and over mares. Watch Jody Lynn Jokisch 374 for perfect head position and smooth fox trot. This is a treat


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