I am beginning to wonder about horsemen and horsewomen insisting on "playing" with their horses.
When I started out riding, people did not play with their horses. It was heavily discouraged because it ENCOURAGES DISRESPECT. If you wanted to get your horse fit, you WORKED him properly, schooling him in a well thought out program.
If all a horse does around you is play he starts thinking that he does not have to work at all unless he feels like it.
You have to TRAIN a horse to obey you.
Am I just an old fashioned fuddy-duddy?

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I guess you are but then that would make me old fashioned as well, but I think that people are afraid to ride so they would rather play around, it is like riding tself there are all these gurus out there saying sit on this ball, do this exersise it wiall amke youa better stronger rider,, I don't think so ONLY RIDING WILL MAKE YOUA BETTER RIDER !
Then you don't do groundwork with your horses as a part of your training program? That surprises me!
Most people I know that show dressage do their ground-work and ride.
I work my horse by playing games/groundwork/ desensitization and LOTS of RIDING! The whole package makes us better & safer partners in all these areas.
Best wishes to you.....
I don't know about Josephine's ground work, but in the hunter-jumper system I grew up in we mainly did ground training (lunging, and some ground driving) the first month of training to get the horse obedient to voice commands and physically stronger in preparation for riding. Then we would lunge before riding for a while, until the horse did not seem to need it any more in order to be a quiet ride.
I think that dressage people may do more lunging than this while preparing the horse physically to the greater demands of dressage. While dressage people can also do alot of ground work at the advanced levels, it takes an extremely knowledgeable horseman who is quite fit and able to keep up with a horse in a more collected trot while keeping good contact. They (the advanced horsemen) can make it look easy, but it is really very hard work, and very advanced work, often in preparation for the airs above the ground.
Things may have changed now, I am just an old-fashioned horseman after all.
Jackie, I totally see what you are saying and I know it is very hard work! But that doesn't mean that those that play with their horses TOO are AFRAID to RIDE. I can see that it's all progressive hard work.... for horse and rider. I work hard with both/ with all I do with horses whether it is on the ground or in the saddle. Very little to do with horses looks easy to me unless that's all a person wants to do is 'look' at them.
Even hand grazing them:
I love to take some down time with my horse, just sitting with my horse on a long line and enjoy being in nature with horses all around. But, even that requires being aware and alert to anything that might unexpectedly spook my horse and then I better be prepared physically and mentally to hold on to allot of energy at the other end. Even when we do this, I periodically tell my horse "Heads Up-Kiss" and he will stop eatting, walk to me, and offer his nose for the kiss, and then I wiggle my rope slightly to let him know he needs to move back from me to eat. If I want him to keep his head toward me rather then his rump I tell him to move his hiney and he is expected to do that or I move the rope and point my finger either direction if I want him to move left or right. I do believe this inhances us as a team with me as a fair leader. Been doing this for 5 years with no broken nose 'yet'...it could happen. Some might ask, "Why?" And I'll answer that "cause it brings me joy". No one could enjoy their horse more then I do. Maybe as much but not more. To me that is what this is all about. I pay all this money to 'enjoy' my horse.
I find you to be a very smart, open minded woman that prefers to stick to the more traditional methods of horsemanship. And, a person that is not out to insult others choices. And I need to work harder at not feeling the need to defend those choices. To each his own!

Enjoy all that hard work while I work hard at horsen around!
and Please Help the MUSTANGS!
I cannot do hard work due to my MS. I used to do this work, but only within the Forward Riding system, lunging to get my young horses fit for riding or blowing off excess energy.

Since I got diagnosed I have considered many systems for dealing with horses. Most I have to drop, not because the systems are not good and effective, but because it is not safe for me to do them. Luckily I have enough experience that I can tell pretty quickly whether I can do something safely.

This is a for instance, not a condemnation of the system. After seeing several videos that use operant conditioning to train the horse to yield completely to an aid (Western trainers), I came to conclusion that it would not be safe for me to handle or ride a horse trained by this system because I am so clumsy walking, and regularly have to lean on the horse or use the lead rope to keep on my feet. This happened Wednesday, I was recovering from the flu, really weak, and had to catch myself by leaning on the mare's shoulder twice (well once I sort of fell against her shoulder.) Both times the mare checked on me, and stood still just long enough until I found my balance again. In an other example, a few years ago when I was trotting another horse, I temporarily lost my balance, and this wonderful horse gave me just enough support from one rein so I knew where my body was and could regain my balance. I really appreciated this because this particular horse has an EXTREMELY sensitive mouth, but he willingly gave me the support I needed. I am so pathetically and totally dependent on the horse's cooperation and good will in order to handle or ride them, and the horses do make allowances for my clumsiness.

When I started out I was so totally disrespected for riding forward seat, for caring about what my horse thought of me, and for doing all I could to keep my horse happy with me riding and handling him. It is sort of puzzling now that I have become the inconsiderate meanie towards horses since I do not do a certain system of training which is dangerous for me because of my handicaps. Hat Tricks did not "love" me, but I could catch him in a 50 acre pasture without any halter or lead rope, and he would willingly follow me away from his buddies through two gates, still without ANYTHING on his head. AND he would often nicker when he saw me. I never played with him, all I did was treat him with respect and did everything I could not to hurt him when I rode. Because I was a beginner when I got him I am sure I hurt him a lot, but I improved and he responded.

It is much safer for me to ride and handle conventionally trained horses (hunt seat).
I agree Jackie, It is totally possible to have a serious working relationship with your horses, and still feel kind, affectionate feelings toward them. I think every horse is different when It comes to loving you back. Obviously horses have the capability to form relationships and bonds with othe species. we see it all the time. But there are many horses that while true honest work horses, just don't have a desire to "love" anything that's not a horse. I have the whole spectrum, from puppy dogs to "leave me alone Im a wild mustang right now"

Those horses (Cassidy) happens to be my most treasured trail companion, she's got more heart than any of the others, but when she's a horse she just wants to be a horse. I might consider her my friend, but she considers the other horses her friends not me.

I also agree that some of us need less sensitive horses, that dont easily become upset if you have to sometimes catch them in the mouth over a great big ditch or something. A horse with too sensitive a mouth could get us both killed (the horse and I) on the kind of trails I do. The sides should'nt be too sensitive either

I for instance have to poke my toe (pretty) hard into Lacy's side when I get on.
She's over 17 hands, and I just have to grab a piece of mane, stick my foot in and jump!

I'm not saying that's exactly a "CLASSICAL" method of mounting. But I realised with LACY early on that everything had to be custom (not just wider tack). The way I dealt with her had had to be very confident and matter of fact. I cant be concerned with what she thinks about everything, because I used to be. I would tippy toe, walk very lightly and touch her very softly, and as a result she was easily spooked if I trpped or dropped the brush or something.

I can't afford to have her be overly sensitive to fast moves around her or a less than "quiet" leg.

Like shirley says "to each his own" what works and keeps you safe, and more importantly what YOU consider to be a good time
Actually both the mare and gelding I mentioned are quite sensitive ARABS, hot-blooded and very sensitive. But they still take care of me and react appropriately to my clumsiness. In return I am expected to ride to the best of my ability, and anything less is not acceptable. I'm not totally sure how they distinguish between my clumsiness and a real aid, but both are very responsive horses.
My first horse, an Anglo-Arab was willing to cooperate with me, but never as a buddy. He said he was a HORSE, and I should respect that. He told me how he wanted to be treated, they all did. I just followed their lead.
I'm sorry that you have these health issues and impressed that you continue to ride.
I love your tender sedaments and experiences with various horses helping you out. I have such an appreciation for horses and all they do for people.
I broke my ankle three summers ago and was in various types of casts for six weeks. I went only about a week out of saddle. For a few days I couldn't ride cause of the pain medications and there were a few days I was in the hospital having & recouperating from surgery (I now have a plate and six screws in my ankle) then there was a couple more days out of saddle cause of pain meds. Other then that the doctor gave me permission to ride and I did. Cash was excellent the whole time. One day I got too far on the edge of the mounting block and it tipped so I fell right underneath Cash and he just stood there. And he's no slug ! I was so impressed with his care for me.As soon as the cast came off and I started feeling better he went back to misbehaving just enough to keep me progressing. I get the feeling sometimes that he knows better then I do when I need to take some steps forward. But he's only 8 now and I know I've kept our progress slowed cause I am very cautious about new situation. Many things have happened in the past five years that have delayed progress but maybe it's all going at exactly the right pace for us to be safe. My father was very ill for too long and I had a couple of health issues myself and then a couple of drama queens that made things pretty difficult at the barn during various stretches. Oh yes, I had my big fall off Cash just a few weeks ago and that kept me out of the saddle nearly 5 weeks. The first day i was able to get back in the saddle I nearly cried....it just felt so right to be back on his copper back again. I was lunging him in between just to keep him active and in good communication with me.
My step-grandmother had MS and I was diagnosed at one time with Fibromyalgia. My health has actually improved though and I doubt I had Fibro. Who knows? I went to several kinds of alternative care doctors and am much healthier today then I was even 15 years ago. I don't mean to compare MS to Fibro either, especially not in my case cause at my worst I was lucky to not have it as bad as some I've seen that can't even bare to be touched.
You deserve many gold stars to keep on being determined to stay active with your horses. I hate to think what would happen to me if I wasn't able to ride and I suspect you may feel similar.
I hope you have not ever felt that I think poorly about those that do conventional training. I pretty much believe people have to do what works for them and their horses. Everyone is sooooo different and that should be okay. BUT, others have really bothered me with some of their seemingly judgemental attitudes. Like the idea that people that like to play with their horses are afraid to ride. I don't mean to be rude towards someone that appears to be your friend but that seems to me to be rediculous and rude. I am going to try to be less defensive about such things as It just really shouldn't matter to me what someone else thinks. I'm working on it!
Ask any of the horses at the barn and they will all tell you that I really am a kind natured gentle person. We have 15 pretty well mannered horses that don't give anyone much trouble when being handled so I can get away with the gentle nature with them. Now and then things go a little rough but rarely.
Anyway, Take care of yourself and keep fighting to stay in that saddle!
Dear Shirley, first let me state that if you ride your horse I do not consider playing with that horse as a sign of cowardice, in fact it can be a very useful way of coming to basic agreements with the horse.

When I started riding seriously decades ago, within the hunt seat riders in Northern Virginia there was this cultural opinion, spread by our riding teachers, that the only reason people "played" with their horses was that they were not brave enough to ride the horses. I also picked up this opinion from writers of books on riding, from many different systems. So in the 1950's, 1960's and early 1970's this paradigm held sway. I remember snide comments about people who were too afraid to go fast on a horse (not aimed toward me), too afraid to jump, too afraid to ride a difficult horse, etc. on and on. I think that this is a survival from the time of the cavalry and from cavalry trained riding instructors. Several times I was told flat out that I would never become a good rider unless I dealt with ANY fear, NOW, and work through the fear. Otherwise I would NEVER be a good rider because any horse could scare me enough to stop me from doing the necessary work.

The ideal I picked up on was that a good rider should be prepared to ride any horse, with any tack, trained by any system. You rode hunt seat--well if you went anywhere else in the USA you had to be prepared to ride anything from either saddle seat on well trained horses to almost unbroken broncs in a western saddle. The exceptions were that it took REALLY GOOD riders to ride a advanced level dressage horse, a good polo pony, or a western horse trained in the Californio jaquima/spade bit system. But a good rider had to be prepared to ride anything else, no matter the tack or the level of training.

This system (making people overcome their fears) made for bold riders. Even with my MS, I am prepared to ride almost any horse with any saddle. I find it odd that I, with the timidity that comes from my disabilities, am a bolder rider than many people who are in perfect physical shape, have perfect balance, have better training as riders, etc..

Times have changed. However us old fogey's still have the memories of our riding instructors giving scathing remarks about our riding abilities, and no gentleness or consideration of egos were evident. If your instructor did not think you were a good rider, they were perfectly willing to tell you in great detail. Often I was driven to tears, my ego completely shredded. Gound work was for preparation for riding (or driving), and stopped as soon as possible. If you called yourself a rider you had to be willing to take on and overcome any problem the horse presented you.

As I said this was a different horse culture than the one in operation now. As long as you RIDE your horse as well as "playing" with your horse everything is fine. But if you just lunge for an hour before getting up and then keep a death grip on your reins so your horse never goes fast, (which I've seen), you never got respect. I personally did not mind, these instructors managed to turn me, with all my problems, into a good rider and a bold rider.

Different cultures, different expectations.

Another consideration, back then, unless you were among the fortunate few, people rarely got to ride alot, or spend hours with their horses "just playing with them." I never saw a round pen in my youth in either North or South America, that was used for loose lunging of horses, they surely existed but not where I rode. I HAVE NEVER RIDDEN A HORSE TRAINED IN A ROUND PEN (well, maybe one, once), and it never bothered me.

Shirley, I think you are developing a WONDERFUL relationship with your horse. He obviously is quite happy with the way you are training him. That is all that really matters. Enjoy yourself with your horse, there are not many like him.
I love that horsemanship has become so commonplace in this country that there's room for innovative new methods, and trainers to succeed. but we must always remember how long horsemanship has been in practice
( about 4,000 years)

And then consider how many "new" methods have been introduced since the original horsemen trained and rode their first mounts, the fundamentals have stayed the same through the ages

It is extremely important to value those that bring something new and enthusiastic to horsemanship,

But never discard the "OLD" methods, We must be a collective sponge of knowledge and learn not only the new things available to us, but also study the ancient / classical forms.

I feel that I, not only know the things that I've picked up on my own, or have learned from modern sources. Studying the classical disciplines and the history of horsemanship in general gives me a better base to start from.

Kind of Like someone who calls themselves an artist, should have the capability to draw very realistic landscapes, portraits etc. not just throw different color splashes at a canvas and call it art.

An artist who has mastered the CLASSICAL techniques, can then demonstrate his creativity in more "Abstract" or "original" work.

Jackie You're not an old "Fogie", you're "Classically Trained"
Because you have such an in depth training and understanding of Huntseat you can probably not only work with most any horse across disciplines.

You can also develop your own sort of "original" training system.
Let me add something, if your horse has a medical problem (like Jennifer's Oliver) there is nothing wrong in trying anything to make progress. Obviously the medical problem has to be treated, but it can take months for true healing, and anything that you can do safely with the horse during this time of healing is good.
And I really admire all you ladies who try your hardest to develop a good relationship with your horses. This was something that was totally neglected in the not so good old days, in fact I was totally disrespected for doing so with my first horse. I did not care, all I cared about was what my horse thought of me and how he cooperated with my less than perfect riding.
Enjoy your horses, they are a gift from heaven that make our lives much more bearable.
Has this been the most succesful/active discussion in Barnmice history?
Geat job Jackie, what a conversation starter!


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