Posts Tagged ‘parelli
Toys for Horses makes Tuff Balls (which the boys have been a fan of for years) and a pretty sweet Aluminum Pedestal.
The boys have certainly put their Tuff Ball through the rigors (biting, kicking, and jumping on it) and it has been a fantastic way to work on desensitizing them.
Minnow, Blitz, and Boomer were in for a treat when their new aluminum pedestal arrived last week. Unfortunately we’ve had some nasty winter weather lately (making it difficult to train) – but that didn’t stop the boys from breaking in their new toy!
Don’t worry though, Minnow will have lots of time to practice on the new pedestal….we have our fingers crossed for Spring!
The thing I really like about the new pedestal is that it is a lot safer. It has a pad on top (similar to a rubber mat in a stall), not to mention the entire thing is round, making there no sharp edges. And lets not forget portability, not only can I roll it to move it, but I can also pick it up and carry it on one of my shoulders. I’m REALLY not going to miss lugging around our old wooden box pedestal!
So if you are in the market for some great toys for your horses be sure to head on over to Toys For Horses.com. Be sure to tell them Painting Pony sent you!
I know it’s a little early for Christmas Wish lists, but I have one item on my list this year that I really hope to get! A treeless saddle for Boomerang!
Admittedly I’ve had my current saddle since I was 12 (14 years for anyone counting)….and after a few growth spurts as a teenager…lets just say it’s less than “fitting”. I have no idea how I’ve lasted this long with a saddle that was a couple sizes too small, it’s kinda embarrassing.
I’ve been thinking about getting a new saddle for a while now, but Treeless never crossed my mind until now, mostly because I had never even heard of it! I have a friend from across the county (Oregon) to thank for my spark into the treeless saddles, Kali from Pony Pros, Kali and her husband Les run an amazing riding program for kids that teaches them about training ponies in a natural way (their own method that involves some of clicker training & even Parelli). All of their ponies (even the lesson ponies) are ridden bitless and in treeless saddles or bareback pads. It’s pretty amazing stuff!
So what is Treeless?
Treeless saddles are typically flexible and move ‘with’ the horse rather than creating a barrier of a stiff tree. Horses move more relaxed and free because no tree is constricting the shoulder. No pressure under the cantle gives relief to short and flat backed horses.
These saddles also provide a very close contact with the horse and help horses and riders with back issues. Many riders find relief from pain because the saddles are so soft and cause less jarring to the rider’s back. Beginner riders learn to feel the rhythm and find balance much faster.
Recently, while at the Equine Extravaganza, I got to meet and talk with a treeless saddle vender. I sat in a few different models, which I found to be surprisingly comfortable (I was a little doubtful at first). I am now pretty thoroughly convinced that treeless is the way to go for me and Boomerang. I regularly ride Boomer bareback at home, because I’ve found that he seems much happier to respond to my aids without a saddle on his back – he’s also lighter and just generally seems to enjoy it more. And since my switch in March to a bitless bridle I’ve been becoming a bigger advocate for the “natural way” in my riding.
So with my decision to go treeless, I went on the hunt for the right saddle. There seems to be a lot of versions out there. You of course have the big brands like Barefoot, Freeform, Ansur, Torison (I’m sure there might be more, but these are the ones I know of) but then you also have the I guess what I could call “knock-offs” which you can find on Ebay and other like sites.
I looked at A LOT of saddles online – some I ruled out because the cantel was too high. For Mounted Games it’s preferable to have a low cantel to make vaulting onto the saddle from the ground much easier. I decided then to nix the “knock-off” ones from ebay, because as much as I liked the price tags (new saddle for $99, yes please), I knew that I would be putting this saddle through the works with all the vaulting I’d be doing – so I wanted something that would hold up. And with a $99 price tag, I doubted this was possible.
In the end (thus far) I think I narrowed it down to a Barefoot saddle. I liked the look of the Freeform, but they had a higher price tag (about $1,500) – and I was going for more a used saddle pricing, and the Barefoot seemed to fit that ($500 – $900). What I also liked about the Barefoot is that it has a VPS Panel System, which basically means it has spine clearance for your horse. A lot of people opposed to treeless saddles complain that they make it so the saddle rests right on the horse’s spine (A treed saddle keeps pressure off the spine) – so with the VPS Panel System this issue is eliminated.
The great thing about Treeless Saddles is that they are designed to fit pretty much any horse. So you don’t have to worry about an ill-fitting tree, with pressure points that hurt your horse – and it also gives you the benefit of ordering online without worry about having to send back tons of saddles.
So even though I feel kinda ok about ordering online – I’d much rather be able to try something on my horse to make sure we both like it first.
Well, wouldn’t you know that Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of treeless saddles, because all my local tack shops seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. Luckily the Barefoot Company seems to have a retalier in nearby Delaware!
So if you’re listening Santa, I’d like to take a trip there to pick out a new Treeless Saddle!!
And if anyone out there has experience going Treeless let me know. I’ll take all the suggestions I can get – and I’m looking forward to being the only mounted games player in the US sporting a bitless bridle and a treeless saddle Maybe I’ll start a new trend.
What’s on your Christmas Wish List?
Images from the Barefoot Saddle Company.
Niatross aka Nitro is turning 24 on Sunday. Nitro is my retired Dressage horse whom I’ve had since I was 14 years old (thats 12 years for anyone counting). Nitro was probably my first real experience working with a troubled horse, and how I wish I had discovered clicker training when he first came to live with me.
For 12 years of his life Nitro lived at the same farm where he was bred. Family raised, in what I assume to be a loving home (I have talked to his previous owner/breeder before). After learning the basics Nitro spend the majority of his life in a pasture, shielded from the World, mostly because his owners were afraid of him. See Nitro was supposed to be a pony, or maybe a small horse. His mom was a small pony (Connemara/Welsh) and his dad was a Thoroughbred. Nitro must have inherited his dad’s lanky legs, because he stands 16.3 hands tall. His size can be intimidating.
Anyway at the age of 12 Nitro was sent to a dealer to be sold, where I happened to find him. I had spent nearly a year looking for a Dressage horse, and when I saw Nitro I knew he was something different. I was told he had Evented, and been “around the block” – a safe horse to buy a 14 year old who had outgrown their childhood pony. He was quiet, and was big enough to take up my long legs. After vetting him I brought him home on trial.
I knew enough to always have my possibly purchases vetted and brought home on trial. After childhood experiences of nearly buying blind ponies, ponies with positive coggins, and a horse that flipped over when girthed…..I knew its ALWAYS better safe than sorry. Only in this case, I didn’t expect to be lied to…..or to take a horse on trial with a 30 day tranquilizer on him.
Live and learn, and never buy a horse from a dealer you don’t know. Needless to say after purchasing him my mom and I were finally able to track down his original owner, who told us he went to one show – and had a panic attack so they took him home. Fantastic. And after 30 days I was left with an explosive horse that had no ground manners, and couldn’t even leave the property without having a freakout. Not to mention he was deathly afraid of the cows that lived down the street and had panic attacks when in a “warm-up” ring situation.
I later learned as a yearling he was viciously attacked by a group of geldings that had gotten into his field – the mark on his neck is the reminder he will always live with. This traumatizing event accounted for the fear of “group” riding. The cows – I have no idea what happened there. And his breakdowns when leaving home was due to his lack of experience in ANYTHING. All he knew was his safe pasture where he was born.
All I wanted was a nice horse to take me through the ranks of USPC in Dressage. Instead Luckily I got Nitro. Many trainers labeled him dangerous, and other pony club parents wondered what a 14 year old was doing with a horse like him. My mom feared I would get hurt, and asked me to consider finding him another home on numerous occasions. But I couldn’t sell him, I knew I could help him.
I spend YEARS helping him overcome his fears and gain confidence. I am proud to say by the time he retired he was a functioning member of horse society. No more nervous breakdowns in group settings, no more kicking fences out of fear and frustration, no more plowing me over just because he could. Nitro still has his quirks. He never COMPLETELY got over his cow fear (although he could now walk past them without panicking) and he still preferred not to be too close to strange horses he didn’t know (no pair class for us) and if put in the wrong situation, he’d probably still plow me over to get to a safe area. But the difference is I can trust him now, and he trusts me to make sure he is safe.
Nitro was never that perfect Dressage horse that won me first place ribbons and every kid wanted to borrow. He was a challenge, and its because of him that I am a better rider and a better trainer. I had to work every single second I was with him. I’m happy that he was able to find a home with me, its horses like him that end up in homes that don’t understand them and ultimately end up even more battered and bruised than they started out.
Nitro is one of those special horses that comes along to show you the way. Thank you Nitro for 12 years of excitement! Happy Birthday Pal!
After much anticipation I finally have some videos to share of Chincoteague Minnow learning his Spanish Walk. I started teaching this by asking him target a knee to his target stick, I then asked him to alternate legs – eventually asking him to do the left leg, then the right all while moving forward slowly. I used a neck rope to gently ask him to walk forward. Sometimes I think Minnow can just read my mind. These videos are after two 10 minute sessions. I am in awe at how fast he’s catching on.
The very best part about this is that after I was done working on his Spanish Walk I was explaining to my mom how it originally was started as an attempt to get him to rear. I was sort of goofing around and showed her that eventually I wanted to be able to lift my hands (and target stick) into the air and Minnow would rear. When I did this movement and took a step forward Minnow lifted a front let into the air. Immediately noticing what he had done I clicked him.
My mom walked back into the barn to mess with the horses (or perhaps I would have had a video of this as well) and curiosity began to get me. Minnow obviously had leg lifting on his mind because we were just working on it…but there was something I could use here. I remembered something my trainer always says to me. She’s always telling me that if you think of the action you want from the horse – your body will give off that energy even if you don’t know it. The trainer I use is very much into Parelli but she also loves working and learning with me about the clicker training.
So I pondered this for a moment. I stood directly infront of Minnow with my hands at my sides. I imagined gathering up all of my energy into a big ball infront of me – and I took a powerful step forward and thrust my hands into the air – I thought rear. Instantly Minnow rocked back on his hindend – lifted one leg and then the other. Click! I gave him a huge reward – Minnow is big on rewarding, he knows that if I get really enthusiastic and energetic (like you would with a dog) that he’s really catching on.
Obviously I had discovered something here with him. I tried this a few more times with the same result, then suddenly it happened. On about the fourth try Minnow lifted both legs off the ground at the same time. It wasn’t very high – but it was a AIR! I was so excited. I thrust my arms around his fuzzy neck, gave him several “jack-pot” treats and scratched his favorite spot.
I stopped right after that one because I knew I had to be careful how far I went with this. See Minnow has Ringbone (equine arthritis) in his front left ankle and if I work him too much he tends to get sore – especially in the winter. Its good for him to use his ankle but to much and I’m afraid he will start to resent the tricks due to pain. He wouldn’t do it if he didn’t want to (and I would never make him) but I know his signs of its time to call it quits for the day.
So his next Rearing/Spanish Walk session will have to wait for another day. I think the next time I attempt this rear method I might have Minnow positioned with his butt to the corner of the fence, that way it will guide him to rock back on his hind end more.
So that’s my exciting tale that I’ve been dying to post about. Has anyone else ever tried this method of teaching the rear? Or has anyone else used energy and mental envisioning to help succeed in teaching an animal a skill? I’d love to hear of any other experiences that are related. Or maybe you just think I’m a total nut!
So one of my 2010 Goals is to teach Minnow to rear. And by golly, I’m going to do it! So since its blistery cold here right now, and I’m sort of a weenie, I haven’t actually started any training yet. Do you blame me? I am sort of ashamed.
Anyway, since I haven’t actually started working on my goal yet, I thought I would share with you how I prepare to teach one of the ponies a new trick. There is a lot of thought and preparation that I do before I even begin to shape a new trick. Ok I lied a little bit there – sometimes I just head out to the farm with clicker in my hand and see what happens. Some of the best tricks I have taught the boys happened that way.
For example, Minnow’s shovel trick. I saw a sand shovel and bucket at the store, brought it to the barn, showed it to Minnow, and let him decide what to do with it. He decided to dig in the sand with it, I liked it, clicked it, and viola a new trick was born.
But for the more complicated tricks I usually like to do a bit more research. Most of the time I start out on Youtube, mostly because I am a very visual learner. In the case of the rear I searched “clicker training rear”. And this is what I came up with:
I spared you most of the not-so-great videos (many of which were a little too harsh for me). But from this collection I’ve gathered a few options for training the rear.
Option 1: Teach the rear through mimicking. I lift a leg, Minnow lifts a leg, I jump, Minnow jumps. I’ve never done mimicking with Minnow, but could be a good time to try it.
Option 2: Teach Minnow to target his knees to a target stick, start with one knee, then add two, then add height to it. Minnow loves to target, but it might take some coaxing to get him to not target with his nose, but I’m sure he could do it.
Option 3: Teach the rear on the pedestal. Reward for upward movements of the legs instead of getting onto the pedestal. Could end up with a neat trick of rearing onto the pedestal, but this requires a lot more coordination on the horse’s part.
Option 4: Capture the behavior naturally. Catch him playing out in the field and click/reward him for the rear. Capturing hasn’t worked well for Minnow (on bigger skills). I once tried capturing the lay down, but as soon as I approach Minnow to give the reward he panics and gets up. This wild born pony still has trust issues when it comes to his most vulnerable position. This option would work better with Blitz and Boomer.
I might do a bit more research before I commit (checking my clicker training books, checking the clicker training yahoo group archives), but from just these options I came up with I think I am going to start off with Option 2 – teaching Minnow to target his knees to a stick. I chose this option because I think it will work best for MY pony. I know how he prefers to learn and I think this option will produce the best results with the least amount of stress for Minnow. If I was going to train one of my other ponies this trick I might go for a different method. Training is about tailoring everything to the specific horse you are working with. Maybe your horse is deathly afraid of whips, asking him to target a dressage whip is probably not a good idea (not to mention I probably wouldn’t even think about teaching this trick if I knew my horse had underlying issues to be worked on).
And as a side note – for now I only plan to teach Minnow how to rear. Minnow is retired from riding due to a diagnosis or ringbone (equine arthritis) in 2008, so I run no risk of having a rearing pony when I stick someone else on to ride him. I believe at 6 and 7 years old, Blitz and Boomer are still too young and immature to learn this trick. I’m sure they would take advantage of their new and fun skill and I would end up with a problem. My equine sport of Mounted games is an emotionally intense sport for horses that is prone to bring on rearing due to the adrenaline horses experience – I definitely don’t want to advocate this trick during competition. So that being said, Minnow will be the only rearing pony, atleast for a while.
Please do not attempt any of these tasks at home without the help of a professional. I am not responsible for any harm or injury that may occur.