Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses - Rhythm's Story - Part 4

Part One of the Baby Boomer Series

Rhythm's Story starts here

After the young Arabian horse's experience with Harvey Jacobs, there was a big change in our relationship. Every since Rhythm had been a foal, I had been able to get him to do anything that I wanted but he was always afraid of me. Just walking into his stall would case the colt to climb the farthest wall trying to get away. I would talk softly to him and try to be reassuring but the young horse had no trust in me.

I would cluck to him and he'd turn and face me like he should. Trying to put the halter on, the horse stood there and shook. His eyes darted wildly and I could see the wheels turning. If there had been a way to flea, Rhythm would have been history.

As much as I love horses, that was really hard for me. I knew that his reaction was based on those difficult training sessions when he was small. I just didn't seem to be able to find a way to break through that wall that I had put in place. So every time I walked into his stall, my heart would sink and I felt like a real brute.

It's probably important to note that Rhythm didn't feel this way with anyone but me. With the rest of the family, the red colt was a sweet affectionate horse. It didn't matter whether Lindsay or Dave cleaned the stall, the horse was sure they were in there to play with him. The colt would pull on their clothes, grab at the fork or try to dump over the wheel barrow, if they wouldn't pay attention to him.

It was required that he get a least two or three good minutes of scratching on his whither and maybe another two or three of scratching under his chin. Oh, ya, then there was that spot right up under his throat between the branches. Once all three of his favorite spots had been dealt with, then the horse just might let them clean his stall.

Of course, you know for that scratching that he stretched his neck out, lifted his head and set his lower lip a quivering just like any other horse. That wasn't enough for Rhythm, he'd make these little sounds that I swear sounded like a cat purring only horse size. His eyes would flutter and sometimes he'd even drool.

Harvey's work gave me a starting point. Once I had haltered the horse, I would ask him to drop his head before we even thought about doing anything else. It was so interesting to see how doing something so simple could have such a big impact on the horse.

Rhythm's neck is set on really high. His usual position is with his head up in the air over the top of people. It had never dawned on me that the horse's eye being higher than mine relayed to the horse he in in a dominant position. That was the last thing I wanted this horse to believe.

I have known since my John Lyons days that a horse dropping it's head releases endorphins. That causes them to relax. But I had never seen the need for that to happen with the horse in hand. I mean I could see the need with a frightened horse under saddle on the trail or even in an arena. It just hadn't occurred to me that getting that horse to drops its head when I wanted to lead it would help my horse to soften his attitude.

With Rhythm, anything that would bring the horse down a notch from that huge attitude of his was a really good thing. I quickly learned that getting the horse to put his head down low and keep it there, really changed the dynamics in our relationship.

The other big thing I had learned from Harvey was that I wasn't praising this horse enough. I have always been a person telling those around me that they just aren't praising their horse enough. For me to be told I wasn't praising my horse enough means there are really a lot of people out there doing the same. This changed the way I handle all of my horses.

It's so easy when you have as many horses as I do, to get done what needs to be done and move onto the next horse. But that just isn't good enough, particularly for Arabian horses. They need more than just a pat or a word to tell them they are ok. The amount of time for the praise needs to be much longer than the amount of time that went into correction.

Those extra minutes taken to build up the horse after a schooling session have proved to be invaluable with all of my horses. For Rhythm it was the beginning of finally building the kind of relationship that I love with my horses. It took years to overcome the damage I did on those two or three training sessions but it was worth every second.

It didn't take years, however, for Rhythm to get over trying to climb the back wall of his stall trying to get away from me. That only took a couple of weeks. I can't even tell you what a relief that was. I had always been afraid that he was going to do himself some kind of serious injury and it was going to be my fault. Thanks to Harvey Jacobs I have the tools to fix such things.

For a while, that's what we did, worked on Rhythm's attitude in hand. Because the Arabian horses from these bloodlines mature so slow, I wasn't going to be riding him anytime soon. I did put in lots and lots of ground work before I got anywhere near thinking about starting him.

To be continued...............

This picture is Rhythm is the snow in the presentation ring in front of our house. I think he was a coming three year old at the time. As you can see, this horse loves the snow!

Rhythm's Story - Part 5

Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog Here They are now measuring the rankings by votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY


  1. That is a stunning photograph and the color against the snow is brilliant.

    Abraham Lincoln

  2. Wonderful post! Loved reading it! Glad you were able to fix your relationship with Rhythm! The head lowering was one of the first things Diago and I worked on for both relaxation and for ease of working with him (putting on the halter, brushing his mane, etc). It's not that he's really tall and I couldn't reach those places with his head up BUT it made it much easier if he'd have it at a more comfortable position. Besides that he quickly learned that if his head was down he'd get lots of head and neck scratches and that's something he loves. I'm quite glad to read that they need lots of praise. I get a lot of razzing from people about the amount of praise I give Diago. But in my experience with him it seems to really reinforce what we're working on. And goodness you should see the look on his face when he gets the praise. His eyes just light up and I swear he smiles with them! :D

  3. Rhythm does indeed LOVE the snow!

    What a gorgeous photo!!!

    Interesting how Rhythm is coming about in your posts. I learned a lot from 2 Lyon's seminars. The stuff he teaches is practical and easily to recall. Id love to go to another one of his seminars!

  4. Ooooh horses and snow, you know they are my favorite and he looks awesome, great photo!!

    I am enjoying these posts because I have had similar things to deal with that were not started by me but that I inherited with the hores. I need to boot myself in the butt and spent the time with my horses individually, I am hoping that I am working slowly towards that and this summer will be all about enjoying them rather than them being a burden.

    Hope you are feeling better today, (((Hugs)))


  5. Haha, fair enough. =) I can definitely admit that knitting podcasts would not help everyone stay awake! The ones I listen to are very lively, though, and my mind stays engaged thinking about all the projects and yarns they describe.

    That's an incredible picture of Rhythm in the snow! I guess because I'm not around snow often, I don't think I've ever seen a horse in snow. I'm glad he likes playing in it. =)

  6. That is an amazing picture of Rhythm in the snow ... it's so deep and sticking to all the trees and gorgeous. Of course, that good looking horse just makes the snow even better.

    The idea of lowering a horse's head to get him to relax and respect you is interesting; I've always known it was a good thing, but never thought of it like that. I'll be keeping that in mind from now on!

  7. PLEASE do NOT jump out of a plane with double vision. I don't think anything good can come of that.

    Stay on the ground! :-)


  8. What a fabulous picture. My mom loves animals so much that sometimes my husband thinks she loves her dachshund more than she loves her son-in-law.

  9. Pretty sorrel, or should I say handsome. Ground work is so important. That first step. It's funny how every horse has his/her spot. I think my old gelding had the funniest spot. His was under is neck just above his chest. He looked like a giraffe when I scratched him there, of course probably, encouraging bad habits on my behalf. That's why I don't have any boys.

  10. That is one beautiful horse! And you write beautifully about horses.

  11. abraham, thank you for your positive comments. One of these days I'm going to get a "good" camera and really get a chance to work on my photography.

    equinspirit, I know what you mean about their expression when they are praised. Mine do that too.

    barn goddess, yes, John Lyons is great. I really have appreciated the time I spent with him at clinics and such.

    lori, I love them in the snow too, but we rarely get it like in this picture.

    ashpags, we don't get snow like this often either.

    jackie, ditto on the head lowering. I used it for other things but just didn't realize how much help it was with the stallions.

    hallie, nope, not jumping for me since that injury. But I always did want to do it a time or two.

    jen, yes I understand about that critter love.

    callie, I'm not good with the shades of red. As Arabians they only register basic colors so that makes this guy chestnut.

    dj kirby, thank you and Rhythm would thank you he actually is quite vain. lol

  12. Someone told me once to seek "compliments" from your horse. I thought that was an interesting why to look at the way your horse reacts to you. Sounds like that is what you were seeking as you worked on your relationship with Rhythm. When those "compliments" happen...doesn't it feel great!