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Archive for the ‘Halter Training’ Category

October 2013
Translated into Spanish:

101 Ground Training Exercises

for Every Horse and Handler
by Cherry Hill

101 Ground Training Exercises by Cherry Hill

101 Ground Training Exercises by Cherry Hill

101 Ejercicios de Entrenamiento Pie a Tierra

Para el Caballo y el Jinete

Cherry Hill

Publisher: Ediciones Tutor S.A.

101 Ground in Spanish

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So many of you have been asking me about my new book – well it is finally here !

101 GROUND TRAINING EXERCISES
for Every Horse & Handler

8 1/2″ x 11″
255 pages
over 200 drawings and photos
comb bound and punched for hanging

“Every moment you spend with your horse is an opportunity to instill good habits and develop his respect, trust, and willingness to work with you. All horses need a solid foundation of in-hand and guide-line training in order to be safe to handle and ride”.  

Cherry Hill’s comprehensive collection of 101 ground-training exercises leads you and your horse through catching, yielding, turning, sacking out, backing, longeing, long lining, doing obstacle work, and much more. Every exercise is fully illustrated and described in easy-to-follow, step-by-step language that you can refer to during your ground training work — simply hang the book in the barn or on a fence post, and your’re ready to go! The exercises include clear goals, variations, common problems to watch out for, and lesson reviews.

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We recently brought home two horses.  The 4-year old mare is a sweetie and not issues but the 7-year old gelding is nervous and spooky. 

Three days ago during feeding he spooked and broke his halter.  (The mare flinched at something and the gelding turned it into a panic, rearing back until the halter gave way.)  I was moving slowly and deliberately around them so I am not sure what caused the mare to flinch but the gelding seems to be a bit of a basket case. 

I have worked for two days being very gentle but insistent with the halter and still have not been able to get it on him. I don’t want to press the issue because he doesn’t know me that well yet and has only had a few days to get used to our pasture. While he was eating, I had the halter nearby and would move it around so he could hear it jingle.  When he quit freaking out at every noise, I held it so that he would have to put his nose in the halter to take a bite from the bucket. 

I didn’t push the issue but slowly would move the halter around and by the time he finished eating I was scratching his jaw on the right side but was not able to get the strap over his head without him moving away from me.  I didn’t want to chase him, thinking this would cause further issues, but I was calm to the best of my ability and spoke soothingly to him.  Am I on the right track?  Do you have some advice that would help me to make this process go more smoothly?  Thanks!  Kathy

Hi Kathy,

Although you need to proceed with caution around horses for both your own safety and that of the horse, often sneaking around and being overly cautious seems to make horses more nervous and suspicious.

To me from what little you say, I’d say this. The gelding never learned to stand quietly when tied. And actually before that he never had been taught to be confident in the world of man, so is suspicious to the point of panic.

At 7 years of age, that is quite behind the program and now being a full grown, strong horse, it makes things especially more challenging and dangerous.

What I would do is start from square one with the horse free in a small, safe sturdy pen. You will have to have the time it takes with a small goal each session. Don’t use feed to distract or bribe the horse.

Perhaps at first just the goal of being in the enclosure with the horse without him trying to get away from you or turn his rump toward you.

Then a goal of him allowing you to come up to him and touch him.

From this point you can continue the lessons in the small enclosure or move to a small round pen (maybe 50 feet in diameter) where you can free longe the horse around you at a walk, trot, halt.

Eventually you will progress to putting the halter on the horse after you have halted him and walked up to him. It can be with you or an assistant holding the horse with loop around his neck or it can be with you solo and the horse free. You will put the halter on matter of factly, not using grain.

Just halter the horse using normal, safe procedures.

If the horse tries to move away, let him and send him around you free longeing. Then stop him, walk up to him and begin again.

Once you have successfully haltered the horse, unhalter him. And rehalter him. Do this until he no longer flinches or wants to move away. Haltering and unhaltering then will be you main lesson until it becomes second nature.

There are many articles on my Horse Information Roundup that will help you – just look in the Ground Training section.

And a good illustrated reference on proper handling techniques including haltering, tying and much more is  Horse Handling and Grooming.

Best of luck. Cherry Hill

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What Every Horse Should Know by Cherry Hill

“Essential information for any horse owner.”  

Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar, April 2011

“This book, a follow-up to the successful How to Think Like a Horse, is packed with information that every domestic horse needs to know in order to live a fulfulling life around humans. Regardless of discipline or age, there are certain lessons that we should all teach our horses in order to create a respectful relationship with them and eleiminate fear of people or their surroundings. Hill divides her book into threee sections: “No Fear”, “Leadership and Partnership”, and in-hand under-saddle exercises called “The Work”.

“Hill’s book reminds us that horses aren’t naturally adapted to live in our world, so if we want them to live happily alongside us, it’s our job to teach them how to act appropriately and enjoy domestic lie. Throughout the book there is essential information to better help us understand how our horse perceives our actions, and how we can make him more comfortable with things that he naturally has an aversion to. All of the advice is extremely practical and helps the reader to get inside the horse’s mind, in order to help him become well-adjusted to both humans and every day equipment. Well organized and full of photos and drawings, there is a lot to be learned from Hill’s newest book.”

“BOTTOM LINE: Essential information for any horse owner.”

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My friend has a 5 year old filly.  When he puts her out in the pasture she will stay by the back door unless another horse or even one of the llamas is out.  When he tries to walk her out in the pasture she goes in circles and tires him out by pushing on him to get him to go back to the barn. Daryl

Hi Daryl,

Horses are herd animals so seek comfort and security in numbers. This filly lacks confidence so just for safety sake, she would benefit from a companion animal (llama or another horse) when out on pasture.

To build her confidence, your friend could hold her training and riding sessions out in the pasture, building a strong bond with her out there. It sounds like she needs a thorough ground training review if she whirls or pushes when he tries to lead her. There are many articles on this blog (use the search tool in the right hand column) and my website horsekeeping.com related to behavior and ground training.

 

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Cherry,

My 20 year old niece has 5 horses one being a 4 year old paint. He has become very territorial of his field so much so that he will charge anyone that walks through the field. He has even charged up to the fence if someone is standing near by. How can we work with him to change this behavior?

Cynthia

Hi Cynthia,

The horse (I assume it is a gelding, if not, write me back and I’ll modify my answer) should be brought in from pasture to a separate training area, away from other horses and in a place that is safe to work. A 40-50 foot diameter round pen or 40 x 40 square pen works well for this.

The horse needs to learn basic in-hand and free exercises and the lessons must be repeated until the horse is obedient and submissive to humans. When a horse is dominant over other horses, that’s OK, that’s horse natural behavior. But when a horse acts dominant over humans, it is dangerous and the horse needs to be shown a different, safer way to act around humans.

Distilling things down in a smaller enclosure will help make the positive associations, then you will have a better chance of reminding the horse when you return him to the pasture group.

Some of the lessons he will need to learn are in this In Hand Checklist – a review of things he already knows will be helpful too.

Teaching him to Respect Your Personal Space is essential.

More on Personal Space here.

Here are some more pertinent articles

Grouchy Horse

Pasture Aggression.

I have hundreds of articles on horse care and training on my website. Be sure to search there for your topic of interest.

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Hi Cherry,

I have purchased a new mare (2mths ago) after being out of the saddle for 16yrs.  This mare is 7yrs old & hadn’t been ridden regularly for the last 3yrs, apart from being forward she has shown no signs of being anything but quiet.
Her rushing, is the one issue i’m continuing to have, I know that this is due to the lack of regular handling over the past 3yrs.
Outside of a walk she just wants to take the bit and race…(at a walk I can ride her all day on a loose rein, she listens to my seat and aides, I can change directions and halt with no pressure on the rein or bit, but only at the walk), she fights me in every other gate…her head comes up & she looses her flow, she ignors all aides asking her to “slow” I don’t want to have to fight her at the bit & end up with a dead mouthed horse, I have never had heavy hands with any of my past horses & would like this mare to understand that pressure is gone when she slows & listens to my seat & voice, thing is as soon as she does slow & I release the pressure that brought the response I was after, the fight starts all over again (also I think I might clarify that, I don’t yank or see-saw her mouth, by fight I mean restrain her, I ask for collection & balance I ask for her to listen to my voice and my seat to try slow her pace again but the more I ask for slow the
more cranky she seems to get) I’ve had her teeth done, her back is not sore, I bought a brand new saddle that fits her correctly and I don’t feed her anything, I think if I fed her on top of what she gets just from her paddock she would founder (she is an extremly good doer and is very fat now), she has a salt & mineral lick but thats prettly much it, so no “hot” feed at all!
I am currently doing the only thing I know worked for a race horse I got from the track once, which is… apply a half check as soon as she starts to race, if I get no response I halt and ask for her to back but she refuses to back (she plants herself even when she’s collected and “on” the bit), if I apply slightly more pressure she will then just over collect and put her head on her chest (very frustrating) & I don’t know how to rectify this, I haven’t had this problem before & when I asked for movement last time she refused to back…with just a nudge / sqeeze from my legs she rared up, I in no way want to encourage that so have not pushed for her to back, hence I’m looking for answers.
I include “back” with ground exercises, which she does with no fuss but this hasn’t transfered under saddle, all these exercises that I’ve tried and have worked for me in the past, arn’t working on her, instead she’s getting “piggy” with the flat work and the ground exercises so I break up the routine & do different things with her…her past owners had her graded in both dressage and jumping so I don’t understand why she’s not responsive to me asking her to slow using my seat and half checks.
Due to her past education she is receptive to directional leg aides and that is helping with teaching her basic reining (with the exception to backing she is learning to neck rein ok) to help her move better with the cattle, all of this is at a walk and to use her outside of a walking pace I need her to losen up, slow down &; keep her head from reaching for the clouds, I don’t want to use martin gails or anything like it, I don’t believe she needs them, I just want to relax and calm her & get her responsive outside of a walk, she has such lovely movement when she’s not fighting.
I currently ride her with an egg butt snaffle bit (would you reccomend changing bits?), i’m trying different ground exercises & i’m also trying to lunge her but she doesn’t seem to yet understand my indicators for her to move out…(I don’t have a round yard, just open area and cattle yards) I have tried also to long rein her as an alternative to also get her responsive to my voice, but i’m not very good at not getting tangled, it is a good thing that she wasn’t phased by my inability to keep the long leads from falling down around her hoofs…I know that this is a long explanation, but I wanted to give you as much info as I possibly could…hope you can help & possibly advise me on some alternative exercises to try.
Kind Regards
Beth

Hi Beth,

Most of the elements of my answer and suggestions to you are already in your question. They include going back to ground training, that is in-hand work, free longeing, line longeing, and long lining and making a strong association with the mare that she can move in balance in each gait without rushing.

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises

Rushing is a sign that a horse has lost her balance and confidence.

When you have trouble with things when riding, it just shows the basics have never been established, so that means going back and reviewing everything from square one and finding where the holes are. In this mare’s case, I’d imagine if you trotted alongside her in-hand, she’d probably try to zoom ahead of you. If you free longed her, she would probably rush at the trot and canter in poor form and with a too-quick rhythm. And so on. So its no wonder that she would do the same when being ridden.

Doing simple things well with you on the ground will help make a solid connection between you and the mare. All of the exercises you do in-hand and when longeing and ground driving will be a balance act between driving aids and restraining aids, just as you use when riding.

You’ll be surprised at how working on the basics will improve the mare under saddle.

Some of my favorites exercises, whether as ground training exercises or when riding are:

Frequent transitions of all kinds, both upward and downward, between gaits and within gaits. So instead of trotting around and around, you’d only trot a few strides, then maybe walk or maybe extend the trot, or collect the trot, but always be changing things up. The more you develop a give and take with the mare, the more balanced and steady she will become when moving at one gait for an extended period of time.

Walk-Halt-Back-Trot out of the Back and then Walk and repeat

Walk-Trot 4 steps-Walk repeat and vary the number of steps of trot, increasing as long as the horse stays balanced and rhythmic.

Add lateral bending (turning) to any exercise when a horse starts to speed up. Lateral bending, when done correctly, causes a horse’s legs to automatically slow down. So two strides (4 beats) of trot straight, then a full circle and repeat, that sort of thing.

Yes you want to use half halts or checks as you ride and be sure to yield when the horse does soften and slow down.

As far as a bit change, more than likely that is not the problem. You should be able to do whatever you need to do with an egg butt snaffle.

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