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How the word "whoa" saved my life

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  • How the word "whoa" saved my life

    Yesterday, my once crazy gelding and I were riding along across a big grassy field in a nice gallop.... he was doing so well... controlled, galloping along. When I went to squeeze my rein to slow him down a bit, his entire bridle came apart and fell off his head, and slid down his neck (WHILE WE WERE AT A FULL GALLOP). I had lost total control. LUCKILY... I said whoa, and he came to a dead stop, realizing something was wrong. I quietly and quickly got off of him.
    Two years ago, this would have ended as a tragedy.... with a willful gelding that would have totally taken advantage of his rider with no controll.

    It was a long walk home... but at least this story didn't end with an out of control horse tossing his rider in the dirt at full speed.

    Anyway.... learned two great lessons yesterday... I need to do a better job of checking my tack before I ride - and the word "Whoa" can save your life.
    Kim
    The Galloping Grape
    Warrenton, VA
    http://www.GallopingGrape.com

  • #2
    Wow, how terrifying. Very glad you're okay and huge kudos to your boy.

    http://community.webshots.com/user/ballyduff
    \"If you are going through hell, keep going.\" ~Churchill~

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    • #3
      How exciting is that? So glad you are ok. My daughter had a bosal come off its headstall and dangle under the horse; he was 28 and the time and did not answer to whoa but I was there and headed him off at the pass. Good idea to train for such things (obviously a one-rein stop is useless here!)

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      • #4
        Oh my, that is scary! So glad to hear that your horse responded so well and all ended safely. Geeze, your story gave me the willies. I've broken a rein while cantering and that was terrifying enough. To have the whole bridle come off.......I cannot even imagine that. If the horse hadn't have stopped, what would you have done? I think I'd be reaching up and getting my hand on their nose, or ear or something. Good thing about riding Arabs is the short neck and easy reach. If you were on a WB or TB or something big, boy I don't know.

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        • #5
          Wonderful boy!! Did you tell him thank you?
          You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            I dont know what I would have done if he wouldn't have stopped! His neck is too long for me to grab his nose. I guess I may have just hung on and prayed for him to get tired! I'm too afraid to think about it... but I do know that I'll be continuing to get that "whoa" down pat!! It was terrifying for sure. I've been thanking him and hugging him and kissing him and thanking and thanking over and over. When we got home, he got a hot bath, head to toe massage and an apple covered dinner.....
            Kim
            The Galloping Grape
            Warrenton, VA
            http://www.GallopingGrape.com

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            • #7
              In the 1800's the arabs would use their cloke and cover his eyes. They had loose clothing so they just swept some of it over the eyes and the horse would come to a stop.
              Besides whoa I often use BACK to stop the horse quickly.

              This Whoa is something that should be reguarly practiced. On every ride I try it once or twice. Jogging along and suddenly sit down, sit back and say HO and the horse should stop, if not use the reins to enforce.
              If I want a faster, harder stop I sit back and say BACK and I expect the hind end to drop, slide slightly and then start backing.
              Last edited by Shadow14; May. 26, 2009, 02:53 PM.

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                I do alot of schooling on my trail rides, and stopping is one of them.. thank goodness... and believe me, I'll be doubling the practice on that whoa!
                Kim
                The Galloping Grape
                Warrenton, VA
                http://www.GallopingGrape.com

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                • #9
                  That's so good to hear! About the whoa, not the bridle! My mare has a great whoa from voice in the ring, even at the canter, but it doesn't always work as well out on the trail - something to keep practicing!

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                  • #10
                    You know, that reinforces my thoughts about training via voice commands as well as body cues.

                    I had heard differing theories on them, but Jake has always done really well with voice commands. I am not the best rider, and I am certain my voice is more consistent than my body!

                    So I am going to continue doing them, and maybe even step it up a little!

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                    • #11
                      Boy that is scary. I am *pretty* good about whoa training off seat and body alone but still- when that gear leaves their face out there in the open- wide open- at a gallop no less-aye aye aye! Just that loss of confidence in what's happening! EEEEEE

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                      • #12
                        Glad you are OK. When I got my present horse I knew nothing about his background.
                        I re-inforced whoa with a carrot bite while handwalking him. Then the same under saddle. Since we "only" trailride it does not matter - ie no "unexpecteds" like for arena training. Pretty much if I say whoa he stops and turns his head to look for his treat.
                        Also my first rides with him on the trails, alone, and away from the barn - I selected a place at the end of the woods to be our stopping point at the end of the ride - not sure if he would be one to want to gallop back to the barn - where he would get a treat. Every time we would get to that spot on our way home - he would automatically stop and turn his head and whinny for his treat. Alas, we lost those trails. Your post has reminded me to not be lax with this as I have been.

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                        • #13
                          Glad to hear you're okay!

                          "Whoa" is my favorite word ever. (Well, I use "whoooa" as an "easy" and "HO!" as a "PLANT 'EM!", but you get the idea.) When I was breaking and training horses it was the first thing I taught them, and I would not get on until they could stick their feet in the ground with a word.

                          This winter a big (17+hh) goofy 3y/o where I was working somehow managed to get a garbage bag in his stall. We think it got baled in with the hay. Anyway, he got it stuck in his mouth and started thrashing and spinning in his stall, which was a double-wide and easily big enough for him to get up to speed and hurt himself. I heard the commotion, ran over and yelled "WHOA!" He planted his feet and stood, snorting and quivering, until I came into his stall to "rescue" him. I was thankful for the few days I had spent working with him in-hand on how to lead and stop politely, because before that it was only an optional part of his vocabulary.

                          Teaching to stop from the seat is great, and my charges can all do that pretty well, but it's hard to engage those muscles if you're ever, say, hanging off the side of the neck. "Whoa" is definitely a life-saver.
                          Member of the Standardbreds with Saddles Clique!
                          They're not just for racing!
                          nowthatsatrot.blogspot.com

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                          • #14
                            One of my friends was laughing this week. She has inadvertently trained her horses to have two different words for stop. Her horses of course know the word whoa and do it properly. However, she often says Errrrrr (like the sound of screeching tires) when she has to stop suddenly, like if she gets cut off by a dog underfoot or another rider. Now her horses have all learned that "whoa" means "stop gracefully" and "Errrrrr" means "lock 'em up with no questions asked."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by carp View Post
                              One of my friends was laughing this week. She has inadvertently trained her horses to have two different words for stop. Her horses of course know the word whoa and do it properly. However, she often says Errrrrr (like the sound of screeching tires) when she has to stop suddenly, like if she gets cut off by a dog underfoot or another rider. Now her horses have all learned that "whoa" means "stop gracefully" and "Errrrrr" means "lock 'em up with no questions asked."
                              I posted on this earlier but I use the word BACK when I want a sliding stop. A back and a hard stop are the same actions. If your horse has a good back you can use it while travelling forward, yell back and the horse drops his butt, digs in and starts backing. I get a slide on the hind end and then the horse starts flowing backwards. It makes for a nice hard stop using something they already know.

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                              • #16
                                Holy mackerel! So thankful that he stopped....and a reminder that it is always good to be a friend and be trusted by your horse, in addition to learning whatever vocabulary we need them to learn. I had a gelding who was just plain my friend and he made life so much easier, he taught me that he would step over sideways to let me mount no matter what which he would not be at first because he used to be absolutely terrified of anyone standing over his head. He allowed my arthritis body to get up on him from a tailgate which gave me great joy.
                                Thanks for the reminder of good times!
                                "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by carp View Post
                                  One of my friends was laughing this week. She has inadvertently trained her horses to have two different words for stop. Her horses of course know the word whoa and do it properly. However, she often says Errrrrr (like the sound of screeching tires) when she has to stop suddenly, like if she gets cut off by a dog underfoot or another rider. Now her horses have all learned that "whoa" means "stop gracefully" and "Errrrrr" means "lock 'em up with no questions asked."
                                  That's hilarious! Sounds like one of my dogs - no clue why but we refer to him as "tuna fish." The other night I asked my husband - "Where's the tuna?" So the dog jumps up and comes running from the other room! That's the first we'd seem him respond to tuna. Whoops!

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Shadow14 View Post
                                    I posted on this earlier but I use the word BACK when I want a sliding stop. A back and a hard stop are the same actions. If your horse has a good back you can use it while travelling forward, yell back and the horse drops his butt, digs in and starts backing. I get a slide on the hind end and then the horse starts flowing backwards. It makes for a nice hard stop using something they already know.
                                    Whatever works for you. I can throw my ex-reiner into reverse just like you say. Then he steps backwards onto the damn dog, and all sorts of shrieking results. I find saying whoa when I want whoa is much less complicated. I may ask for a back afterwards, and indeed I do frequently enough that he is in the habit of dropping his butt in preparation, but they are two separate commands.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Wow, scary story!! Good on you for training your horse so well! I should really do that- my horse is great with voice cues but I have yet to install the "whoa" one- when in reality, that probably should have come first!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        GallopingGrape, I am glad to hear you are OK. That must have been very scary. A good whoa is so important.

                                        I found that out when I was riding my somewhat green gelding on a limited distance ride. We were going through a narrow gate next to a gun range, people were shooting like crazy, a car drove right up behind us, and the person in front of me took off galloping - all at the same time. My poor gelding lost his mind, got behind the bit, ignored me, and started to freak out. Well, I am a high school teacher and have trained dogs, and I just instinctively yelled STOP very loudly in my best teacher voice. I had not trained this horse originally, and I had never used that command with him before. He stopped dead in his tracks and started listening to me again. It was amazing, and we avoided a huge crash.

                                        Another time we were going down a VERY steep, long, rocky hill. I prefer a single rein rather than split reins. Well, my horse stumbled slightly on the downhill. The bobble caused me to accidently drop the reins, which popped right over his head and hung down in front of him. He immediately picked up speed and started cantering down this very steep hill, with the reins hanging in front of him. There was no way I could reach forward for his bridle, so I yelled STOP very loudly, and he immediately stopped dead. God bless whoever gave him his initial training, as he still remembers it! It has saved my life twice.

                                        I have actually gotten in the habit of using a very soft whoa to tell my gelding to slow down because bad footing is approaching. We usually don't change gaits, just speed. He is very responsive to voice commands.

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