Tuesday, November 11, 2008

MiKael Meets Richard......Getting Started Part 2

Part 1

My Arabian horse, Scandalous Tag, wasn't as impressed with his new job on the second day. While he didn't do anything particularly naughty, it looked like he wasn't really sure if he wanted to carry that dead weight again. The horse was a bit nervous when approached so Richard decided to work on his submissiveness again.

Richard's approach to submissiveness is to ask the horse to lay down. Now some people really balk at the thought of this but Richard does not force the horse to the ground. He asks in such a way the horse can make the decision to lay down or not.

There is a big difference in those two strategies. Richard feels the mind set of a horse that is forced to the ground is not what he is looking for. What he wants is a horse that is a willing partner, not one that has been coerced.

To accomplish this Richard pulls on the horse's head to get him to drop it down low as he lifts up the horse's front leg nearest to him. If the horse co-operates and gives his shoulder while dropping his head what you have is a horse that is willing to lay down.

Now Richard doesn't always ask the horse to actually lay down. Just the fact the horse is willing to do so most times is what Richard is after. The fact that the horse has chosen to submit to the request speaks volumes to the compliance of this horse.

On this second day Tag was really being resistive to the whole idea of giving his shoulder or even dropping his head. Richard decided with this kind of resistance it was really important for the horse to actually lay down. He rotated his requests back and forth between the right side and the left asking the horse to drop his head and give that shoulder. Changing between those sides seem to soften the horse's resolve and before long Tag was laying flat out on the ground.

It was really interesting watching the horse as he finally made that decision to give Richard what he wanted. It was almost like he shrugged his shoulders and said "Well, what the heck........this isn't that big a deal." and down the horse went.

Tag laid there flat out on his side with no restraint. The horse looked perfectly relaxed like he just did this sort of thing every day. Richard walked around him and even away from him. The horse's eye was soft as he followed Richard's movements, as well as those of other people in the arena. The horse didn't even try to get up until Richard asked him too.

I think Richard let Tag lay flat out on his side like that for a least a good 5 minutes before he asked him to get up. Even then the horse looked at Richard like "Are you sure? I'll gladly stay here longer if you like."

When the horse did get up he did it slowly and cautiously like maybe he was wanting to know if Richard might change his mind. Once on his feet he just stood there quietly while Jessica walked up and got on him again. Whatever his problem had been at the start of the session was totally resolved.

Before the training session was over Tag had carried Jessica at the walk, trot and canter in both directions on the longe line. The horse didn't act like it bothered him even once. When it was time to cool him out, the horse was taken off of the longe line and turned loose to cool out walking around the edge of the arena. I can tell you that's a little gutsier than I care to be on a second ride.

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

Part 3

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  1. I like the name "Tag"--good name for a horse:-)

  2. Eck! No helmet?! I think if I was getting on a horse for a first or second ride, I'd be wearing a helmet. Even if the horse was very sweet and submissive, I'd wear the helmet just in case. Jessica is WAY braver than me!

  3. I know, as much as I'd like to have Jessica's job of being that 'dead weight' and being apart of Tag's training in becoming a riding horse, and what not.. I'd be wearing a helmet, because everyone is just getting to Tag under saddle. I'm a bit jealous of Jessica, but I'd be wearing a helmet.

    Oh, and I want to see video of Richard's training techniques and methods of getting Tag to lay down :)

  4. I worked for a cutting horse trainer for a year that taught me how to use Running W's. We started all of the horses with them and laying them down was a big part of his training. I have wanted to get them back out and use them on some of these older horses I have been trying to get started, but due to a lack of a good place to do it haven't yet.

    But I think the laying down method is just the ticket for a lot of horses. Used properly, as you describe Richard doing it, really does get a horse soft and willing to accept just about anything.