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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Hate-Mailer's Reply

Well, I guess someone must have gotten the point. Here is the reply from the girl who sent me the nice little letter that I posted about earlier in the week (in blue).

ok, shes doesn't like shanks, and i dont crank on her mouth. i gently pull her around. barrel racers are only suppose to guide their horses around the barrels and thats what i do. my horse is a runaway in the arena but i can take my hands off the reins when were just riding and she just stops and stands. 80% of the time i ride her in a regular D-ring snaffle, she does just perfect. i even run barrels with her in the snaffle, she just needs a bit more to actually come to a stand still after putting her whole heart into running for the person she loves and to do the stuff she loves. my horse is only 9 and shes one of the best trained horses in our county for sure. every one i know loves her and they're like "oh wow shes so fast and shes such a sweety, she listens to you SO well"if you want to see a video of my horse when she actually puts her whole heart into what she loves and then CRASHES in to the gate because the bit wasnt strong enough to tell her to come to a complete STOP even though she is trained to stop( shes THE BEST horse in the world and i can do ANYTHING with her in ANY bit except for a curb, i also can stick a 5 year old on her and not have to worry about anything.

Wow, we have certainly changed our tone a bit. I think she still needs to work with the horse in the arena quite a bit. I suggest taking her in there, warming her up, and cantering some big circles at first, concentrating on asking her to slow down with a half halt, then speed up again. Get her listening to the rider's signals and paying attention. Then start asking for her to slow down with a half halt, then ask for WHOA. After she stops, let her relax for awhile on a loose rein, and just walk around the arena. Change up the patterns, ask for gait transistions from gallop to canter to trot to walk to stop, then reverse the order. Start skipping gaits. Go from gallop to walk, then from canter to stop back to canter. Keep working at it, she will learn. Try to do this in just a snaffle, in the arena she can't really "run away". If she makes for the gate at a high rate of speed, turn her and keep going around the arena, asking her to slow her speed with a half halt, get her mind out of the "RUN, RUN, RUN". Make her think.

She must learn that no matter where she is or how excited, she MUST listen to the rider. This getting excited and not stopping when asked is dangerous, as illustrated by the video. The horse sustained a pretty significant injury and it could have been so much worse.

There is an excellent book called 101 Arena Exercises by Cherry Hill. It has tons of advice and patterns to use when teaching a horse to listen to cues. This was my guide when I was "reprogramming" my runaway.

I will have the Friday Favorite post up later today.


  1. Good response - she's got a tough road ahead of her. 101 Arena Exercises rocks!

  2. After watching the video several times. I have come to conclusion that the crash at the gate was not the horse but the rider! She didn't ask for a stop until it was to late. She drove for speed well past the timer. Also she was not steering her to the chute. She had one hand on the horn other hand on the rein that she just threw away and her eyes were down not looking where she was going. By the way a shank is the up and down side peice on a bit where the rein ring goes, a chain or strap under the lip is just that- a chain or strap also known as a curb. A shank can also be a lead rope with a chain on it. 99% of harsh bit have shanks for leverage, leverage to tighten the chain, push the nose, pull the poll. Any bit with a fixed shank should not be used for barrel racing. It is very difficult to isolate the shoulders which is what is needed in barrel racing, to properly turn a horse it must use its shoulders. So if her horse does not like shanks then she needs to be riding in a loose ring snaffle!!!! lol

  3. *eye twitch* I hate barrel racers that give us good barrel racers a bad rep...

    I just recently attended a clinic of Jim and Elaine Hyde (Elaine Hyde is a professional barrel racer, with many champion titles throughout Manitoba).

    They showed us how the common bits are used. They did this by using a real horse's skull, and a synthetic tongue. A combination bit - hackemore and gag bit - is not necessarily a cruel bit, BUT can be in the wrong hands just like any tool. A snaffle bit is not very favorable because certain movements can catch the horse's tongue, pinching it. Elaine's horse runs in anything, from a bitless to the gag bit with no problems.

    That being said I barrel race, my horses are trained to run straight to the fence and STOP no matter what. they stop exactly where they started, with or without my whoa. They are expected to do this in any type of bit or lack of.

    One time my gelding tripped coming around the last barrel... he yanked the barrel rein out of my hand, slicing my hand in the process. The rein ended up dangling over his ear. Sure enough he stopped dead when I leaned back, put my feet out and said Whoa. And he was a crazy barrel horse type. I had no pull, and he was running in a hackamore at the time.

    There really is no reason a horse should crash through the gate like hers did... no reason for harsh bits because a horse gets "too into the game" Plainly put, train your bloody horse and don't go faster until you've mastered the basics and this includes soft hands, upwards and downwards transitions and a little common sense :)

  4. the lady who boards my horse had a mare. and she took that mare into the arena and ran ran ran her. and then, she taught her to whoa from a flat out no holds barred run. no harsh bit required. just training.

    that's the thing - it takes time and patience. but speed event horses especially need to be taught to *think* as they're running, not just run flat out crazy. that's how they trip and slip and tumble - they're just running and not paying attention to their feet or their way of going. nevermind the rider's cues.

    the mare might have good behavior outside of the arena, but she's not 'well trained' until she stops, no matter what's happening around her or when or what she was doing.

  5. I could not see it well enough to see that the horse ran into the gate but I have to say TRAIN THE HORSE TO STOP and you wont need a harsh bit. I barrel raced many years and my horse would stop on a dime the moment I asked. I never had to touch the bit. In fact on one occasion we were gone and the horses got out of the fence, my poor unsuspecting uncle got the suprise of his life when he said whoa to my horse wile riding him in just a halter. There is no substitute for training. And no excuse.

    Bits do not stop horses, training does.

  7. What everyone else said.
    I'll just add a huge "sheesh"

  8. BITS DO NOT MAKE THE HORSE!! The trainer does!!

    have to use a bigger bit=smaller brain

    The most important thing that you can ever, ever teach a horse is a good solid stop or even better woah.

    That horse didn't stop because it got too into the barrel racing and ignored the girls request. Even as late as it was the horse should have stopped if it was trained properly.
    According to her youtube shes only 14. Still, gives a bad name to all those barrel racers out there that actually train their horses >_< I hope she reads these comments and takes everyones advice.

  9. Good heavens. This sounds just like a crazy 18-year-old girl that was at my old barn. I could have sworn it was the same girl!

  10. HAHA You guys all rock. This girl has a classic case of contesteritis.... there was actually a nice article in Horse Illustrated a few mos. ago wherein a champion rider had some good from the ground up training tips, though I kept trying to figure out why she called it the "trickle down stop" ....

  11. I'm late to the party, but I wholeheartedly agree. I rode at a reining barn for a number of years and now hate getting on a horse that won't stop. I ride dressage and jump occasionally and the first time I jumped the mare I ride now, she wore me out running through the bridle. So all winter we've been working on transitions and stopping, and now she stops right away when I ask. It's an easy thing to teach and I don't understand why people are so against horses stopping on command.