Magic in Training, Week 1.  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship in

Magic has spent the first week in the following areas:

1. Picking up feet
2. Mounting
3. Sacking out

He is still fairly spooky but is coming around. In the following video you can see how the sacking out process is performed. This process is done with plastic bags, trash cans, buckets, and whatever else we can think of.




In this next video, you can see Magic getting his first real ride. It is important that he be mounted several times as well as ridden for prolonged periods of time. It is also important to make sure that he can be ridden bareback. So far, saddles and equipment have masked the fact that he is was not properly started and desensitized to the presence of the rider on his back.





Max, Final Days  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship in

Well Max had a couple of more days and then was picked up by his Mom, She was satisfied with his progress and will probably bring him back for another 30 days in a couple of weeks. Thank you all for following his training and progress, I will let you all know when his training resumes.

Day 24, Much Improvement  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship

Max worked very hard today and was extremely good. His back ups have become much more compliant, and the two of us have negotiated an agreement about straightness. When he backs up and his hindquarters get crooked, he would prefer that I straighten his front end instead of his back end. That way, he can keep the weight off his forehand while backing up. And hey, who am I to argue? I'm going with it. Here is some more video of him working on hindquarter yields around some figure 8's.



Day 23, More Arena work  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship

Now we are working Max fairly seriously in the Arena. His work out consists of 10 minutes of free running and warm up. We let him run around as much as he wants and kick up his heels for a full 10 minutes. By the way, all times are strictly enforced on a timer so there is no guess work. Then we start working the exercises that I think he needs the most. These consist of a lot of transitions from the rein back to the walk and the trot. Then we work on Hindquarter yielding and Forehand yielding.


In the Video below, you can see Max being worked on a walk to Rein Back exercise. In this exercise, Max's rein back is fairly rough but he does it. The point of the exercise is to walk forward 5 strides,(A stride is 2 steps) and then rein back 2 steps. This he does with a bit of resistance.

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In this next video below, you can see Max being worked on the Walk to Trot Transistion. His transition is fairly rough and there is considerable use of the rein in order to make it happen. This is not acceptable and will need a lot of improvement before we consider it good.

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Day 22. Max working in the Arena  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship

Today, Max was worked pretty hard. To start with, I let him loose in the Arena and he ran around for 10 minutes. I timed it to make sure. He had a lot of energy and really ran around hard. Afterwards I mounted him with a saddle and bridle and started working him on the following exercises:


1. Rein Back to Walk Transitions

2. Rein Back to Trot Transitions

3. Walk to Trot Transitions

4. Hindquarter Yielding Figure of Eights

5. Forehand Yielding Figure of Eights

In the video below you can see me working on trying to get him to perform a simple walk to stop to rein back transition. It is very difficult for him. He is resistant, crooked, and not collected. This tells me that if he were going fast, he would be extremely difficult to stop.

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Day 21, July 4th Day Off  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship

Today is the 4th of July and therefore Max will get his day off today instead of tomorrow. Tomorrow he will get worked like always and will continue his training in earnest.

Day 20, Back to some basics  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship

Today I want to talk about going over some basics with Max. First of all, we are now riding Max easily bareback and with a saddle. We also have a basic dialog going with him but now we want to expand the vocabulary that we have with him. We want the following things from Max:


1. He must give to the Rein

2. He should not try to take the Rein back by rooting or tossing his head

3. He should give the walk, the trot, and the backup on specific commands

4. He should maintain his gait until told otherwise without being constantly held in that gait

5. He should not change directions until told to do so

Max cannot learn all these things at once. We will pick our battles, and teach them individually. Too often, when I am teaching a horse one thing, I will become irritated by vices in another area and lose focus. I must remember that if I am teaching the horse about cues for the gaits, I should overlook faults of collection and other things. Teach one thing at a time and only correct those things which the horse has already been taught.

In this next video below, you can see me working with Max to understand the difference between walk faster, and change gait to the trot. To ask Max to speed up the walk, I simple give him a squeeze with my legs. But I do not allow my heels to touch him. Once he speeds up, I release my squeeze, and he should hold the new speed. I will not hold him to the speed by continual squeezing of my legs. If he should falter, I will squeeze again to remind him to maintain the new speed. But I will not hold him in the speed with my legs. Instead, I give him the responsibility for maintaining the speed and hold him accountable.

When I want him to trot, I simply touch him with both heels at the same time. The heels as opposed to the leg allows him to really differentiate the "go faster" cue from the "change gait" cue. Note: This system is not universally used by competitors, but it is an excellent approach for the typical rider who wants an easy, reliable set of cues for their horse.

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Day 19, Another Assessment  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship in

Well Max had another assessment today and it has been determined that he needs a lot of work. He has good stamina, and can really go. But he has had limited training and thus does not know how to handle fear, anger, and frustration. The good news is that he is not really a very emotional guy. But the bad news is that his steady good nature has masked a lack of training and education. And even his good nature has a limit. When that limit is reached, he does not have the right tools to handle his emotional outburst and it manifests itself as bucking. In this video below, you will see my intern Emma working on getting him to be much more responsive to the leg.


To get a horse under control, we need to work on just getting command of certain parts. I would never be able to say to a green horse "Calm Down !!" such a command would be meaningless. Thus, when the horse becomes agitated, instead of saying "Calm Down", I would say, turn your head to the left, and move your hind quarters to the right.

When the horse has his head bent to one side, you gain a lot of leverage on his neck so that it is difficult for him to throw his head down and buck.

When the horse is moving his hindquarters to the side, the power of the haunches is redirected sideways instead of forward, (as in a bolting horse) or upward. (as in a bucking horse)

When the horse is performing an easily understandable, maneuver, he gains a great deal of confidence in the rider and in himself because he knows that he is doing something correct. There is no ambiguity about what is being asked of him, and he can easily deliver. The posture that the horse is put into greatly discourages bucking because it become physically difficult to do, the movement greatly discourages bolting because the horse is bent and moving in circles.

Many people underestimate how much a horse can be asked to move the hindquarters. In this video, Max is asked to move his hindquarters to the side but he is still a bit sluggish, and particularly sluggish in his turn to the left. Over time he will become better, more responsive, happier to deliver, and more fit to perform the task. It should be noted that the horse should not be asked to perform this exercise for more than 5 minutes at a time, and certainly not more than twice a day. It should also not be done more than 4 or 5 times per week as it can become fairly strenuous. Once the horse has learned it well and is fit, I work on this no more than once or twice a week, and then only for about a minute or two if the horse is performing it properly and with alacrity.

This is also a great way to start developing a lot of impulsion. The horse will become much more attuned and responsive to the leg. Since the leg is applied one at a time, the horse will learn the importance of moving off the leg one at a time. When the horse is really moving off the leg with alacrity, then the rider may apply both legs to drive the horse forward.

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Day 17, and Day 18, Out of Town.  

Posted by Enlightened Horsemanship

Sorry, no blog post for these two days.