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Teach me about The Morgan Mind (Long)

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  • #61
    Ideas from what others have posted, and my experiences:

    1. Pick your battles, and fight them fairly. I pretty much undid my mare's excellent trailer training by letting someone escalate and escalate and bully her onto my trailer. She would not get within 30 feet of any trailer for several months afterward. And remember I said Morgans are smart? When I traded in that old trailer, having come to the conclusion that putting her into a small dark box with very few windows just wasn't going to work, the dealer pointed out all kinds of problems that made it very unsafe! I am *sure* that my good mare knew it.

    2. If I pick a "fair" battle, I have to accept that success may not occur on my schedule. Ours are often about doing scary stuff on the trail. Yes, sometimes I have to turn back. Peppermints help (but then have the result that once she's given in and dealt with the scary thing, she'll ask for peppermints in that location *every* time we're there.) As she has grown to trust me more, I usually can get her over/across/through whatever it is, if I can just keep her nose pointed toward it. I have to "out-patient her stubborn."

    3. On sensitivity: yes, I think most Morgans are sensitive, but they can be quite forgiving. Mine will often do something I'm not expecting, under saddle, and it's almost always because I've unknowingly instructed her to do exactly that! She's forgiving enough, though, to not do anything *bad* while I'm figuring out what went wrong.

    4. They're curious about *everything*.

    5. I forget to praise her. This is bad. Everything works so much better when she's told she's done the right thing. So I am taking the "Morgan Mare Pledge" to tell her she's done the right thing *every* time she does, for a while.
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

    Comment


    • #62
      I'm enjoying these stories! I have a pony of unknown parentage, but both my instructor and my farrier have guessed that she's at least part Morgan. And these stories seem to confirm their hunch. Now I understand better how to communicate in "Morganese"

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #63
        This horse does have a strong sense of justice, even if it's a bit distorted in his favor.

        I'm totally good with that. In fact, I find it reassuring: He's involved enough in his training to care about how things go. I certainly don't mind being held to the standard of being fair.

        Also, I like this thread's emphasis on the value of positive reinforcement. I think I have been generically nice and calming to him. I think he needed that at first since he didn't know me and I was asking him to think harder than anyone else had in years. But now, I think it's not good enough for him. If he notes the times that he gets praise from me, then I need to dispense those with thought behind them.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

        Comment


        • #64
          I'm good to go on the sense of humor. I think that is part of the reason why I love Morgans so much.

          Comment


          • #65
            Zett, I would suggest if you want to go with a Morgan id find a been there done that one that is older. Mine being 20 now still can be a stinker and when self preservation kicks in at the scary imaginary monster in the bushes he will go 10 ft up and over all at once. They are very agile and if you find one with the spook they can be something to sit for sure. Luckily I've always stayed on but no way a greenie would stay with it. They are a great breed and if it wasn't for his spook once in a while I'd have my 11 yr old riding him because he is just soooo good but I know she couldn't stay with him if he spooked. Do your research and ride the horse you may like a few times, buy with your head and not heart and i know that can be hard.
            Just for kicks here is a few pics of my boy
            http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...0260134&type=3

            http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...0260134&type=3
            Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

            Comment


            • #66
              These stories are fun to read!

              I alluded to the long story of my mare and her rescue this past June. If you would like to read more, here's a link to my blog:

              http://moonlitoaksranch.blogspot.com...nning.html?m=1
              “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

              St. Padre Pio

              Comment


              • #67
                I enjoyed reading this thread. I've been owned by Morgans since 1981 and have bred & raised a bunch of them.
                As in all breeds, each individual has his/her own personality and temperament. But overall, Morgans are smart and sensitive and very much into everything. Due to life, my training is often fraught with long down times in between sessions, but my Morgans have never taken a step back, in fact, usually they are further along then when we left off. Reviews are often not necessary, we just move on to the next thing.
                My handymen have learned to not leave anything untended if they are working near the horses. It will go into a horse's mouth, guaranteed. Even if tended, it will go into a horse's mouth. They specialize in pulling caps off human's heads & stuff from pockets. They do know better then to do that with me, but my handymen, over the years, have not been horsemen. And the Morgans know!

                Our first two Morgans were an untouched 4 yr old & an unridden 10 yr old. Both became good trail horses quickly. They all love attention and enjoy being with people. I have 5 now, and a TWH. My oldest is my first Morgan baby, who is coming 30. The youngest is one I bought last year as a 6 yr old. I have surely enjoyed the journey.
                There is no such thing as "bad" horsemanship or "good" horsemanship. There is simply Horsemanship or the absence thereof.

                www.oldmorgans.blogspot.com

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #68
                  MorganMan got an advanced seminar today.

                  No lunging first, people were making noise behind the barn that he couldn't see, someone was riding in the ring and there was a horse in the round pen at the end of the ring.

                  Too bad/time to Man Up and be a horse who knows some stuff, says I.

                  And he rose to the occasion. He wanted to look at things but when I said, "It's none of your business," and asked him to go back to doing what I had taught him already, he did. In fact, he ended *more* responsive to me than when life had been easier and he got a lunge first plus the ring to himself.

                  I can concentrate 100% when I'm on a horse, and this horse can return the favor. I love that feature in him. If he's not bored and not ranting about how he never had to do a lick of work in his first decade on Earth, he can have a huge attention span.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    What a good boy!
                    “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                    St. Padre Pio

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      I have surely enjoyed this thread. I still have my heart set on a Morgan. I know newbies are not supposed to get stuck on a breed, but it is too late for me. I know how I am. There's a certain Lippitt mare I have my eye on that I figure her breeding career will be over in the next few years (she's in her early 20s now) who has been in drill team - so I know she's not been just a brood mare. Plus, I hear tell that all that is good personality wise about Morgans is even more amplified in the Lippitts. I hope I can get enough money saved and experience by then to buy her - but if not, I will keep looking for a "been there done that" Morgan.

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                      • #71
                        My good Morgan is smart. This morning, a big storm blew up while I was riding in the indoor; she spooked when a big blast of wind and rain rattled the back door, but it was a typical 2-second leap sideways, spin, and done spook. Another horse -- her BFF Arab/Hanoverian buddy -- bolted, went faster and faster and eventually dumped her rider after about 10 circuits of the arena, and probably did another 3 before she stopped. My good mare just stood there and we both kept an eye on her buddy until the excitement was over. She got a treat for that! Can we say self-preservation?

                        Our lesson was delayed because the trainer had to help the other rider (who has a sore back and possibly a mild concussion), but when it happened we had 30 minutes of me and the mare just getting better and better.

                        She can be a bit stubborn, and a bit of a goof, and a bit hot, but when it comes right down to it, she is sane and safe.
                        You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                        1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Yes, third, fourth? on positive enforcement. This really can't be over-emphasized. As a matter of fact, if I don't praise my Morgans when I work with them, they literally get pouty. Negative enforcement is reserved only when I'm 100% positive that their behaviors is due to defiance, dominance based, not confusion. For example, my babies get a well smack on the butt with a stick if they kick up at my direction when I first teach them to lunge. They know it is wrong to do, because that is what they will get from their "elders" in the herd, and they will come to ask to be friends again - and then we are good friends again. Most of the time, one smack on the butt, once, is all is needed. Anything else? Repeat and direct that energy and praise the moment they do it right.

                          Zette, many of they are newbie friendly because they don't normally hold a grudge, are extremely forgiving, and for some reason they don't want to see a human hurt or sad. Weird huh? I remember one time when I was riding with a bunch of young kids taking lessons, one little girl fell off her horse, and was crying. Everybody stopped, the instructor rushed to her, and I dismounted. My pony looked at her, and bumped me lightly with his nose. I knew he was asking the question, so I led him to the little girl. He dropped his nose, touched the little girl on the cheek, asking "are you all right?" I'm not making this up. There were numerous times when our riding sessions didn't go well and I dismounted dejected. He would also do the same, touching me lightly, asking the same question, "hey, are you all right?"

                          However, just because they don't want to, does not mean they can't hurt a newbie. They are sensitive and hot, that means, everything they do is dialed up a notch. For example, they are born with spooks - for about one second, but you need to be able to sit through that one second of spook. And then, they think, instead of losing all their heads. My riding arena is adjacent to a patch of woods where deer and neighboring dogs and wild lives frequent. There were times some unknown rustle came just when we were riding by. He could shy away, for one step, for about one second, and we continued on like nothing had happened. Your objective, if you want one of these horses, is to find one that is more mature and steady type, and become the best rider you can be. The good news is, once you become a better rider, and can keep them on your aids all the time, meaning, keeping their attentions on you all the time, you can eliminate about all the spooks.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #73
                            Nice story, Gloria.

                            I hold out hope for this slightly spoiled morgan that once he likes having a job, he'll go out of his way to do it well.

                            The ones who don't care one way or another won't be so obvious about doing we humans favors. But it's sublime when a horse chooses to bail you out of a bad situation or forgives you a real F-Up.

                            A lot of people at this barn like this horse's big personality. That's on the ground. I'm the only one who rides him. It worries me that they won't keep him under their thumb a bit, or rather, give him the interesting, mentally-tough work he likes. It would suck if he were bored or, worse, mistreated. To him, being bored or "unheard" by the people around him is punishment enough.

                            I think this horse would be very old and well-ridden for years before he became a care-taker sort.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              It's funny, that sense of right and wrong. Generally Remy doesn't have strong opinions on much. He tries very hard and is quick to learn. I was reminded last night, however, that he really really really gets offended if he thinks you are asking him to do something wrong. Counter canter. Holy cow. He can do it very easily, he's very balanced, but he will. not. take the counter canter without protest and letting me know that I am crazy. So the departure usually involves a grunt or squeal (dork) before he picks it up. I'd forgotten until I asked for that how opinionated he is on that subject.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #75
                                Originally posted by Tee View Post
                                It's funny, that sense of right and wrong. Generally Remy doesn't have strong opinions on much. He tries very hard and is quick to learn. I was reminded last night, however, that he really really really gets offended if he thinks you are asking him to do something wrong. Counter canter. Holy cow. He can do it very easily, he's very balanced, but he will. not. take the counter canter without protest and letting me know that I am crazy. So the departure usually involves a grunt or squeal (dork) before he picks it up. I'd forgotten until I asked for that how opinionated he is on that subject.
                                I find it useful with horses like that to keep asking them to do the unexpected. They dig the variety-- new skills to master, no matter how whack-- and it keeps *them* from being the keeper of the rule book.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat

                                Comment


                                • #76
                                  Originally posted by Tee View Post
                                  It's funny, that sense of right and wrong. Generally Remy doesn't have strong opinions on much. He tries very hard and is quick to learn. I was reminded last night, however, that he really really really gets offended if he thinks you are asking him to do something wrong. Counter canter. Holy cow. He can do it very easily, he's very balanced, but he will. not. take the counter canter without protest and letting me know that I am crazy. So the departure usually involves a grunt or squeal (dork) before he picks it up. I'd forgotten until I asked for that how opinionated he is on that subject.
                                  My guess is what, he once took a "wrong" lead, and was reprimanded for that in the past. Remember, if he were trained "traditional Morgan" style, there is no place for "wrong" lead. It's drilled into their heads that they take left lead when going left, and right lead when going right.

                                  That grunt and squeal is actually a very, very GOOD sign. That means, he is really trying. They don't make that grunt unless they are trying really hard, either mentally or physically. Give him a BIG verbal praise when he tries, as if he just won a Triple Crown, is the world's fanciest pony. That way, he knows he is on the right track, and it will be easier next time.

                                  Comment


                                  • #77
                                    This thread makes me want to own another Morgan! I loved my little (14.3h) mare to pieces, she was great - smart, sensitive, a little hot but so sweet and people friendly, and really attached to me.
                                    Not a mean bone in her body, very athletic, very game to do whatever I wanted her to (cow chasing, trail riding, jumping picnic tables, swimming...). I evented her at Novice and was schooling at Training level but she colicked and died much too soon. It took me a while to recover from her death, because I still think to this day that she was my soul mate, as corny as it sounds.

                                    I rode / evented another Morgan for a while, an old style gelding, a lot less sensitive than my mare and steadier, but all-in-all the same mind to him - willing, willing, willing, and such a good boy. I remember when my 5 year old daughter was helping me groom / tack him up, and somehow her little hand ended up under his (shod) foot. He put his foot down and picked it up again right away, without putting his whole weight on. He evented at Novice level with me, and carted my young kids around in the ring, and if they got off balance, he would just stop and wait. Such a good boy.
                                    But then, a friend got me into Ottbs, and that was that.
                                    However, as I get older, having another Morgan is getting more and more tempting!
                                    Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #78
                                      Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                                      My guess is what, he once took a "wrong" lead, and was reprimanded for that in the past. Remember, if he were trained "traditional Morgan" style, there is no place for "wrong" lead. It's drilled into their heads that they take left lead when going left, and right lead when going right.
                                      Haha. You have to go into his software and rewrite that line of the program. I can hear him saying that *you* have it wrong. He knows because, one time in 1985, someone kicked his a$$ for picking up the wrong lead.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat

                                      Comment


                                      • #79
                                        Thanks, Gloria. Good advice. I want to not only learn basically how to ride but develop a really good seat before I get my own horse. It seems to me that you have to be an attentive rider on these guys; you can't just be sitting there with your mind on the scenery or those spooks would catch you totally off-guard and down you'd go...

                                        Comment


                                        • #80
                                          Gloria, nope. I've had him from his first day under saddle and I don't get after them for wrong leads. Just bring 'em down and try again. He just seems to think you go one way, that is the lead you take. LOL Doing patterns and selecting a lead at, say, centerline - totally fine. I think it's those personality quirks that make them to the most fun.

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