Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another Journey Begins - Offers... Me and BG

Part One

Not too long after I began schooling Storm, Dandy and Legs at the facility of BG and WF, there was some sort of disruption between a couple of his clients. The end result was that a walk trot rider who had been working all year towards her first horse show in Oct was now horseless.

Not wanting to see the child disappointed I volunteered Dandy as a replacement. I figured if my GD took the horse to the show to exhibit in hunter pleasure, he'd be at the show for the little girl to show too. Dandy is always much happier working so I thought if MD and GD were OK with this plan, it would be good for him too.

As long as it was hunter, I wouldn't have to worry about rub marks on his back from improper saddling because his issue is back at his coupling where a hunt saddle doesn't reach. There shouldn't be a problem with my GD especially since the horse was now in my care and not hers except at the horse show where the two kids would be responsible for Dandy's care.

I figured with the mother of the walk/trot rider at the show too, Dandy's care would be covered quite well. I wouldn't have to worry the horse had feed or water or that his stall was cleaned properly or that he was blanketed when he needed. BG would see to it that GD did her part, or so I thought, Dandy should be fine doing this double duty so the walk/trot girl could ride AND the kid would have a safe horse to ride. That was important to me too.

MD and GD agreed with this plan so BG decided he wanted to change Dandy's headset for hunter pleasure. He wanted the horse a little bit higher so for several days he long lined him with a side check to lift the horse up. Then I rode him that way too because BG thought that was the best way to raise the horse's head. Me, I was curious to see if riding in the side check might help get the horse to roll over correctly. I'm really not sure if we accomplished that but Dandy did carry his head higher for that show and the following season too although this brief session of time was the only time BG actually did any kind of training work with the horse.

A few weeks after I began hauling horses there to school, BG and I were once again discussing my breeding business. We talked about the need to get some of those horses started and why I wasn't getting that done. Next thing you know BD volunteered to help me out. He told me I should bring some of my young horses over so he could help get them started under saddle.

I probably should get this straight, right up front. BG's offer was to help me get these young horses started under saddle at no expense to me. He was volunteering his services to help me because he said that he and WF believed in my dream and wanted to do what they could to help me attain that. According to BG it was within his power to help me in this manner and he couldn't think of anything he'd rather do more. It would be fun for him and it would be good for my business. It would be a win-win for everyone.

This offer of help with my young horses was much needed and by this time I had seen what it looked like he'd accomplished with my friend's mare so I took him up on this offer. While I still hadn't really thought of him as a trainer of show horses, there had been much said to lead me to believe he had lots of experience beginning young horses. Also there was the fact that I would be right there watching the process so I'm know for sure everything was within my comfort zone and that my young horses were getting started properly.

Since not getting this done has been a big part of my problem getting horses sold,the thought we could get some others going could get me one step closer to be able to get some successfully marketed. Not getting horses into the ring had also added to the marketing issues, but the more horses I had started the more options I had to get something ready to show. I began to think with BG's help I might actually be able to get this done so I agreed after I got my regular horses worked the following day, I'd make a second trip with unbroke stock.

By this time in my life with horses, I'd learned that just because someone says they can, it doesn't mean they can. While Goldie seemed to be doing pretty good, BG hadn't started her and I hadn't seen him start any horse in my time there. The things I had seen him do hinted at the possibilities but nothing really told me he really could get the job done. He definitely talked a good game but was that enough.

There was a young horse in the barn he claimed to have started when that BNT he'd worked for told him he needed the horse safe to show to it's owner by the beginning of the following week. According to BG the BNT had the horse in training for months but nothing had been done with hime. Now the owner was coming to see his horse under saddle so BG had only a couple of days to get the job done. According to BG he'd done just that. I had seen this horse being ridden and I'd seen him shown. The horse was being ridden by one of those kids in the barn so it wasn't all that impressive to me but the horse did seem to be safe. That was what I really wanted, not a finished show horse but a green horse ready to learn what I had to teach.

By this time I also had seen BG lay a horse down. Now I'm not going to tell you that I am particularly impressed with this as a training technique.It may have been a great moment in the Horse Whisperer but I am unconvinced of itself it means much. All I'm saying is that I saw BG do this with a horse and the horse seemed none the worse for wear. What it meant in a training relationship, I still am not sure, I did know that as far as BG was concerned it alleviated problems with resistant horses. For me, I've never felt any of my youngsters have been resistant to being started under saddle so I can't say that I thought this was something necessary in the scheme of things.

I still remember that first day when I brought over that extra load of horses. My feelings were mixed between relief and concern. The relief was based on the possibility that I might actually be getting some much needed help. The concern was because I still was not convinced that BG was the man who could help me. I wondered what I'd gotten myself and my horses into.

I decided I was going to gauge how BG did by my horses. If it looked like things were going too fast or the process didn't make sense to me, I was going to get my horses out of there. I was determined that my horses weren't going to get hurt in any way because I felt overwhelmed.

One of the things I've learned over the years is I really don't like watching someone else work my horses. It is more nerve racking to watch than it is to do it myself. Watching BG start these young geldings was stressful. I decided I was going to keep a journal of their progress to give me something to do as well as to track what was done with each horse and his response.

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

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  1. there's something for you on my most recent blog post... :)

  2. Hmm, curiouser and curiouser. While I am not dead set against lying a horse down ,if it is absolutely necessary, I think many peoples definition of absolutely necessary are quite different .The only time I did it in the last 20 year is with a gelding that had learned to rear and bolt away , I had to take him down or loose him onto the roadBadger (but that was an absolute last resort) and while many good trainers have that in their bag of tricks ,I think the best ones rarely if ever feel the need to use it

  3. I spent an entire year working for a reputable trainer who taught me to use Running W's and we laid everything down. I have to admit, I thought it was really interesting. He didn't ever try to make it seem as if it was because he thought it cured resistance, he flat out told me it was because he was an old man, busted up and it was easier on him to start youngsters like this. He also terrified me by giving me the 'hairy eye' and specifically told me that done incorrectly a horse could be crippled for life and I had damn well better learn to use the equipment and the techniques correctly!!!!

    I used the Running W's on a couple of rank horses after I left his place, but have not used them in over a decade. I still have my set and have actually used them as a hobble for horses that were exceptionally difficult to trim.

    Anyway, I remember when you posted about getting some help getting some of these horses going. If I remember correctly, you left off rather abruptly about it and I always wondered if perhaps things didn't go as well as planned with that.

  4. Hopeful, thanks for thinking of me.

    fern, I feel much the same way. I have laid colts down when they were being unruly and I thought they were going to flip over. I find I can control how they go down so they don't get hurt and leave them thinking I had control. They usually don't get that naughty again but I would never do it just to do it. Not so for BG. He likes showing off that he can and exerting that kind of control just because he can. Not my thing.

    BECG, I have no idea what a running W is so I cannot picture how it's used. Sounds like the trainer you were working for knew how to make it work for him. I'm not sure BG really accomplished much more than putting on a show.

    BG used a long rope and used it in a way he asked the horse to lay down. If a horse freaked out, I can see where it could end up pretty broken physically. I do know the horse looks at the person who laid them down differently after it's happened. How far that carries over, I'm still not sure.

    You're right I did do a few posts about starting these horses. I will be including links to them in the next post, I think. As for what happened along the way that will be part of this story as well. You're right things didn't go as planned.

  5. Sounds like BG is one for putting on a show. Even if it's unnecessary. I know a few trainers like that and it's all about them and impressing clients(who don't know better) but not really about what's best for the horse.

    I can understand the stress of not having enough time to start all the young horses correctly. But I can see this is leading to a problem with a trainer like BG.

  6. I'm getting anxious now waiting for the next installment. I hope nobody got hurt.

  7. I've really enjoyed reading the comments about laying horses down. Since I saw it in the movie, I've always asked trainers about it, but I've never known any that actually did it. They've always said it should only be used in the rarest and most difficult of circumstances where, if the horse's issues can't be worked out, the horse faces being put down by the owner, so they resort to that as a last and final method. I read about it in the Tao of Equus years ago, too--the workings in the horse's mind that go on when being laid down. This would be a fascinating post and discussion in and of itself.

  8. Arlene, BG is definitely into putting on a show to impress people. But he's smart enough not to do it someplace people who know more will see through him.

    I must admit I cringe at calling BG a trainer. I don't want to give him any credibility he doesn't deserve. What that means will all come with time.

    smazourek, I can see why you might think that but not to worry. Any damage done was not physical in nature.

    Linda, laying horses down is an interesting subject. That's for sure although I'm not sure that BG really understood the benefits or how to make it work for him. I think he just expected it to do certain things that it really didn't do. I think he did it because he could not because it needed to be done.

  9. Laying down is a new concept to me so I'm going to Google it to see what it is. It sounds like it's a way to dominate a horse. One of the (many) books I've read proposed lifting a foal off the ground until it stopped struggling. Supposedly the idea that you are bigger and stronger imprints into its brain and it will remain respectful even after its fully grown.

  10. As others have stated, laying a horse down for major behavior issues is one thing. Doing it just to do it- a whole 'nother ball of wax.

    Showing off rarely leads to anything other than making a complete and total ass out of yourself. Doesn't matter how big the crowd or what they know.