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Spin from Hunter Drugs and Cat Hiring: Buy the mind, people! But how?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post
    Related question... once you have the horse you have, what can you do to help them develop that blase attitude?? Handwalk them around new places? Buddy system with other horses? My daughter will tend to get nervous when her horse goes on "high alert" in a new place -- but it seems like in the long run, exposure to new places is needed to help the horse's comfort level. How to safely accomplish this?
    I have done the mounted Police team for many years and knowing the older seasoned horses - take the young ones with them.

    And something I think I over look at times is; my horses need exercise and if they are not getting enough they can act silly.
    Live in the sunshine.
    Swim in the sea.
    Drink the wild air.


    • #22
      We picked the one that let the stranger walk up to him in the pasture and catch him, walked quietly up the hill away from his friends, and responded calmly to being free lunged (which he hadn't done since being gelded a year or so before) and figured out what we were asking when we free jumped him. All without getting frazzled.

      IMHO, whatever the age you ask the horse to do something that they haven't been asked to do and see how they respond. Something fair. I have a friend who tests horses by simultaneously kicking, flapping the reins and yelling whoa!

      It really helps to have someone with a good eye and a history of picking horses with good brains, whether it be that knowledgable friend or a trainer.
      The Evil Chem Prof


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
        99.9% of the ones that are fancy enough to show need some form of prep, whether that's lunging or riding in the am or whatever else the particular person is comfortable with, which obviously varies greatly. But I've only ever seen two horses capable of going from the stall to the ring competively, and they were both 7 figure animals.
        Doing it right is a lot of work.
        Say it isn't so!

        But as I am thinking about finding a 3'6" horse, I tend to believe you. That one has to be more athletic than the AA hunter or eq machine I made last. I loved his mellowness and willingness to be a pet. He was athletic enough to do his little job. He could jump 3'6", of course, but not well enough to win or stay sound for a long, long time doing it.

        So I can't use the same "search image" for the mind of this next horse.

        But a poster here had one who you had to Wake UP, as in pull him up from the shavings in his stall at a big show before his rounds. I want That A/O hunter.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat


        • #24
          I am riding one right now that is 6 and he's pretty unflappable. He will never be a competitive hunter, though. A friend bred him and I was the first to sit on him (can't say broke because we never got past the walk). I decided not to buy him after seeing him in the jump chute...and his form has not changed much from what I initially saw. He's got scope, stride and is a nice mover but struggles against some conformational issues that effect his jump and make it difficult to showcase his nice movement. Another friend ended up buying him so I've been lucky enough to see him grow up and have been riding him for the past year.

          With limited exposure, he goes into the ring with a short warm up and clocks around. He has gotten a bit spookier as he's gotten older, but it's minor. He does have occasional temper tantrums...but he had those as an unbroke baby as well. All in all, he's pretty nice to be around. I probably shouldn't have passed on him because of the jump, but I don't really regret it. He is with the perfect owner for him.
          Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
          Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


          • #25
            Originally posted by doublesstable View Post
            I always thought the six figure horses were six figure horses because of all the money invested in shows and training.... maybe that's why so many people import?

            Or I guess the answer to the OP question is........ LUCK
            There are 6-figure green horses, too. Look at the one that just sold for $400k at the VDL auction.


            • #26
              I have one that can go right from his stall and into the ring... which is a good thing since he is a major beast in the warm up ring... or any ring with lots of other horses or people on foot in ir... I have often found a quiet place to flat and gone straight into the ring without a warmup fence. The minute his foot hits the show ring he's all business... we general don't do the flat class.


              • #27
                doublestable, "Some don't want to take the time to match the riders with horses or the hard work it takes to get a horse calm for the Hunter ring or admit the horse needs a different job and that's where you can find problems."

                And even more wouldn't know it if it hit them.
                Equine Photography in the Northeast


                • #28
                  When i bought my new guy I looked for a year. I knew that everything i looked at just wasn't for me. Didn't have that bed to show like you said attitude I wanted. I did find 2 that would fit but did not pass the ppe to my standards. The 3rd horse and a year later I knew was the one. I went to a guest ranch that sold horses sometimes. I bought the one not for sale. He was a 7 year old broke a little over 6 months but they already had started to put him in the guest horse bunch. That meaning that guest of the bed and breakfast can come and grab a horse and go ride it. I knew he had the mind and had to pay more because, well, he wasn't for sale. My trainer to this day says she wishes they were all like him. Sensitive to aids, forward, smart but not to smart, and sane!
                  Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                  • #29
                    I buy OTTbs and I have learned both from making mistakes and from pleasant surprises that it is wise to chose ones that came out of a professional program as a youngster rather than living more or less on the back 40 before being sent to the track.

                    I bought one from Charles Town who had been bred and raised by Three Chimneys. Probably the most polite horse I've ever owned. You could quite literally fire a gun off his back and he wouldn't bat an eye.

                    I felt sorry for a yearling by a cheap stallion out of a nothing mare when he went no-bid at Fasig-Tipton. Poor horse had probably been handled only sparingly before the sale and he had his mind blown but good.

                    Those are the most notable examples, but I now look for horses that were raised in situations where they were handled daily, had their feet picked up, got bathed, put on the walker, dragged around the farm and taught to stand up like a sale yearling. Those are the ones that tend to be used to living in a human world and can handle the surprises.
                    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                    • #30
                      I remember our first home bred. She was maybe 6 or 7 weeks old. We set down a big blue tarp and planned to lead the mother over it with baby close behind. Two of us could not push, pull, prod or otherwise get 'mom' near that tarp. We were so distracted it took us a few moments to notice the baby was standing happily dead center of that blue square. She met every new challenge in her life like that....calm and fearless.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post
                        Related question... once you have the horse you have, what can you do to help them develop that blase attitude?? Handwalk them around new places? Buddy system with other horses? My daughter will tend to get nervous when her horse goes on "high alert" in a new place -- but it seems like in the long run, exposure to new places is needed to help the horse's comfort level. How to safely accomplish this?
                        IME, you can make a calm/brave horse. Making one through and through blase takes some inborn stuff, too.

                        The calm/brave ones are made by people with a great deal of skill and intention. They know how to convey to the horse that they are calm and thinking. They can read a horse well and, add in great timing, they offer just the right correction, more pressure or less pressure as needed.

                        When you talk about those "outside things"-- handwalking or having a buddy-- those are all good things you can do to help a horse get calm. But the money shot is applying the right thing for the horse depending on his reaction to a given situation.

                        For your DD, I'd suggest two things-- either can come first.

                        1. She spend a lot of time learning from a good horseman how he does what he does-- what he thinks a horse is thinking, what he does in response, why, and how he knows a horse has changed his mind.

                        2. She needs to clean up her side of the street. She needs to teach herself not to get wound up just because her horse is. How to unwind him depends on what the horse is thinking. But she is in charge of making things different for both of them, so she has to change herself first.

                        It's very rewarding to teach a scared horse who is not thinking to slow down and Figure It Out. I hope you guys can find your way.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat


                        • #32
                          Agree about the innate blase aspect. You can give a horse all kinds of tools to get him to focus on you and you can give him mileage so there are not as many surprises, but at the end of the day you can't change that horse's character.

                          Unfortunately for that kind of horse, the worst thing that can happen to it is a rider who gets nervous - that's just reinforcing everything the horse suspects to be true - the world really is a scary place. What that horse needs is a rider who goes "really? I can't believe you are scared of that..." and lets the horse find his calmness from the rider. Now the rider can build those skills, but in learning, that rider probably needs clear guidance on what tools they can use to get that calmness and just like horses, it takes time to get that skill down pat (except for the rare uber freaky talented rider).

                          One of my favorite sayings with a spooky/nervous horse is to change their mind and their feet before they make up their mind. When that head elevates usually before the horse has fully thought about his plan for escape/evasion/obstinance, change it up - do a circle, change their mind by changing their feet. Don't sit their and get sucked into the trap of thinking ohmigod, he's gonna spook at X, but when he does elevate his head, make him do something different and harder - he doesn't want to trot past a spooky end of the arena, work on very small figure eights near the end of the arena and occasionally give him a chance to succeed by going back down there. Seriously, he's going to fail more than he succeeds and you may think the successes are so infrequent they don't account for much, but that is why training horses isn't easy. It's patience, experience and luck and each of those successes are adding a teeny tiny line of communication between the rider and the horse saying this will work. Even if he NEVER loves the far end of the arena, he has learned that the rider is to be listened to, the rider will not get him into trouble and the rider maybe should be trusted. That lesson will carry over into other situations eventually.

                          CBoylen isn't wrong - that really top level horse that doesn't need prep is like lightning striking twice - it's tough to be explosive over 4'0 jumps and insanely relaxed in between and not have a hell of a prep to create that. But let's face it, that's not the horse most of us are going to ride. Please raise your hand if you are in contention for a derby primary color. Bueller? Bueller?

                          You are far more likely to find that horse at 3'0 and if there were a few more people invested in the idea that it takes time to develop a horse (it's hard!) and it requires some talent to do the riding (even good horses get pissed off at bad riding), there would be plenty more and even 3'6 horses. After that, take into consideration what your level of showing is. Local vs rated vs. the larger A shows such as WEF, Hamptons, etc. It's all relative and most of us aren't showing in the place where the 7 figure super horse is the winner.
                          Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                          • #33
                            I've got one that can go from the stall to the ring...Now. Back in the day she used to rip my arms out going around a course, back into trainers because she did not want to go into the ring etc. Now she goes on a loose rein and has gone over 4' singles and 3'9 courses. Great mind etc but she took training because she came from an abusive situation. So she has all the great qualities EXCEPT movement. She comes in last at the local circuits! Poor girl

                            Next horse took one right off the track/out of a field. Scraggly looking fellow but my first ride was bareback, lead around in a halter. He had fabulous movement. Ended up being a spooky/hot fellow but good mind and great horse!

                            Current one I got on him 1 week after his last race and he w/t/c on a loose rein like a pleasure horse. He goes to show grounds and is a perfect gentleman and babysits my sister's OTTB who has already been showing a year! Great mind, great movement....have not seen a downside yet!

                            Luck has a lot to do with it!
                            "People who think their brains are not worth protecting are probably right!"
                            - quoted by Martha Drum


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post
                              Related question... once you have the horse you have, what can you do to help them develop that blase attitude?? Handwalk them around new places? Buddy system with other horses? My daughter will tend to get nervous when her horse goes on "high alert" in a new place -- but it seems like in the long run, exposure to new places is needed to help the horse's comfort level. How to safely accomplish this?
                              I "inherited backwards" a horse like this. My sister's first horse was completely unsuitable in almost every way. Petite, fine, extremely fancy, extremely anxious, and extremely neurotic. One mistake would undo him- and my sister at the time was a nervous rider. After a year and a half, during which I'd started to ride him a little bit at sister's request, she ended up getting off in the middle of a lesson in tears and handing me the reins.

                              The first thing I did was establish a set of behaviors I wanted. He was never going to be the blase type like my own horse, but I wanted him to be safe for a child or novice to ride, because he was for sale as a 2'6" horse (had step and scope to be a winning 3' horse, but at the time, was not suitable) and that meant he needed the confidence in himself to take a joke. I ponied him off of my horse. I put him in a lot of situations where he could see something terrifying and succeed- he could, for instance, walk past the flowerbox without leaping out of his skin, and he was dubbed Best Horse Ever and made much of. The next day we'd walk over it. Best Horse Ever! We established a routine of how his rides would go, and stuck to it. I have found that consistency is very relieving to the anxious horse. The key with him was recognizing that his reactions were fear-based, not "he is being an idiot," so he needed to stay calm and patient. On days where I expected he'd be more reactive than usual- snow sliding off roof, for instance- I had someone either ride or hold my horse (also this guy's turnout buddy) in the ring with him and model the attitude I wanted Amigo to emulate. By the time he was sold, he was confidently cantering small courses on a loose rein with no running, leaping, or spooking, wouldn't lose his cool if his rider missed to a fence but would chip in and not buck or run on the backside, and generally displayed more confidence in himself. I miss that horse- defensive and anxious as he was, he was very talented, once he relaxed enough to access it.

                              Bottom line- routine, consistency. If possible, use the power of the herd. If you have a been there done that horse, let that horse show Nervous Norman that nothing is going to eat him today. Most importantly, set them up for success. If they come out breathing fire, put them on the longe line. Don't give them the opportunity to remember that bucking or bolting or being a doof is an option. Take little steps. Everything is a progression- let the horse learn he has the capacity to handle new situations. Stay calm. If the rider can't stay calm, find another horse for the rider to be calm on, and put a calm rider on the nervous one. If the horse learns from the rider that there is something to spook about, pony's gonna spook, and then you're all in a handbasket headed straight to a bad place.
                              "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

                              Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
                              Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


                              • #35
                                I expect a response from a youngster when something unusual happens. The question for me is what is the response? I prefer what I call the "up periscope" response where the horse just raises its head and maybe slows or stops to look at something. But no spin, scoot, rear, buck or other silliness. Looks for a few seconds and then moves on. Horses are flight animals. I prefer the TB. My experience is much less spooking and if they do get in trouble like slipping or tripping - they have a higher level of self preservation. I am an amateur that shows at A shows and I choose brain, size and quality of canter over a fancy jump. Nice and square over the jumps is enough for me. Find eight jumps with a beautiful canter and a kind ride and an adequate jump and you'll be in the ribbons in most company.
                                You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!


                                • #36
                                  To me, a really flat, quiet walk is a good indicator. Will he ever wow the judges with his walk? Probably not, but to me, a good mind is more important. If I feel immediately comfortable to walk on the buckle with him, he's probably a very good soul. I also like a little dullness in my horses, and that usually translates to not caring too much when something out of the ordinary happens. Also, the more intelligent the horse, the harder you have to work to outsmart them, but the better they'll react to novel situations, I've found.


                                  • #37
                                    I definitely bought my mare for her mind.

                                    And I KNEW it at the mounting block waiting for my first ride... It was taking ages as the rider adjusted and re-adjusted my stirrup length (I had a couple broken fingers and was pretty unhelpful). I just stood up there and noticed this horse wasn't moving a hair. Not a hair! I sensed a kindness and a focus on the job.

                                    Then when I rode, I almost purposely did a crappy job of it. I mean, really crappy! I kind of leg-yielded her against some bushes and she didn't panic or change her stride.

                                    Yeah, I knew. I also knew I would have to learn to handle her powerful stride, but the mind was right.

                                    And, my initial assessment was right... She is very kind and has a great work ethic.
                                    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                                    • #38
                                      The one I bought now I had a good idea from the video that I was extremely interested in her. She was so green broke that the breeder wouldn't even send me a riding video of her, just a lunge line video, but the video showed so much cadence and self carriage that I was extremely interested in her. When I went to see her, she had only had a rider on her back about 6 or 7 times. They lunged her for ten minutes, saddled her up and took her to the arena. Up to that point she had been interested in things, looking around, but never reacted. However, they had laid a fence paneling up against the arena and when they went to ride her across the arena for the first time she noticed it. Her reaction. Stop, snort in place, and look. The rider encouraged her forward and she walked up and sniffed it and she never looked at it again the rest of the ride.

                                      Her breeding is actually a mixture of what to expect attitude wise. Her sire is actually known for siring very athletic hunters, but they are also known for being complete idiots at times, to the point where some trainers don't even want to deal with them. Her dam, though, is from a blood line known for being pretty quiet and sane. Luckily that one seems to have won out and has been encouraged.

                                      I did a lot of work with her myself at first. When it came time to take her out, I started by taking her to my trainers and just putting her in a stall there and then a paddock while I rode other horses, then riding her there. Then I would take her to small shows, picking places with different types of arenas both indoors and out, plus showing out of the trailer and from a stall to get her used to multiple type of situations. So far, she has become one of my easiest horses to show. But I have tried to never let her have a choice. Now, the day we get to a long show I will sometimes lunge her for a few minutes and sometimes just climb on based on the day and how many people are already there. If she is fresh, it just takes about 5 minutes of riding. She doesn't need to be worked in the morning, just about a 15-20 minute warmup if she wasn't schooled in the morning, otherwise it is just a 10minute loosening up to get ready to school. And man is it nice in compared to some other horses I have ridden.


                                      • #39
                                        To answer Horsegirl's Mom's question, although I do eventing not HJ so I hope this applies. I had a horse who was very quiet at home but would turn into a nutcase at shows. What I've learned to do is to get my horse out for a light flat school away from any other horses within an hoir or so of arriving at the show. I pull in, unpack, change clothes and get on. Once he's settled we go for a walk around the entire grounds including stable areas, fields, arenas...the more he sees the better. I've found the longer you wait to blow off that nervous energy and become familiar with the atmosphere the worse it will be. It also helps when you can get hem both comfortable with the surroundings earlier in the day before it gets too active.

                                        It may help if she has someone on the ground to lead the horse until they both settle a little.


                                        • #40
                                          coming at this from the opposite direction

                                          I think someone posted here that unless you have lots of $$ to spend, you're only going to get 2 out of 3 basic attributes: fancy, quiet, and cheap. I think I saw on another thread something along the same lines, but the 3 attributes mentioned there were brain, soundness, and athleticism. I think both of these are pretty much right on for hunters/jumpers -- unless you are made of money, you're only going to get 2 out of 3. I was looking for a 4' jumper, not a hunter. So for me, my choices were closer to brain, soundness, athleticism. I had not a lot of money to spend, and I happened to rank athleticism higher than brain. Haha, I got exactly what I wished for - I have a very sensitive (but super athletic!) TB who can still be quite the handful at age 16. It took us more than 2 years to install a decent work ethic in him, and for him to understand "go forward" does not also include bucking, spinning, kicking out at the rider's leg, etc. However, today he packs my little ammie butt around reasonably big courses and deals with most of my misses with aplomb. I couldn't ask for a better partner, but it took some blood, sweat, and tears over multiple years (with lots and lots of help from my trainer) to get there. To this day, I still have to deal with big-time spooks over little things, moments when I think his brain fell out of his ears, and embarrassing moments at shows where he just will.not.walk.back.to.the.barn.nicely. I think most ammies would rank brains over athleticism, and in general I agree with most other posters on this thread about how to judge that. We knew after a one week trial at home that my horse had "brain issues", LOL.