Monday, November 19, 2012

Problem solved

So if you read my last post, you'll know me and pony had a few problems.

Pony is actually my trainers horse, and I have a full lease on her. Since I've never been a horse owner, and have only been riding a little over a year, it's really nice to have someone who knows the horse inside and out nearby when I have a problem. This way, the problem can get solved the right way!

So, pony is a very interesting horse. She's super honest, super forward, and super sensitive.

Basically, what we think happened was that she got frustrated and was trying to tell me that something was wrong. Usually her left lead is better, but I kept thinking she wasn't picking it up. Since she's so small and has such a long mane, it's kinda hard to tell which lead she's on, so even though I think she was picking it up, I kept slowing her down and asking for it again and thinking she was in the wrong when she was really doing what I asked.

My trainer suspects that when I thought she kept doing something wrong, I got frustrated and she could tell. Amanda (my trainer) describes her as a sensitive little kid. She gets really upset if she thinks your yelling at her.

So, her crowhop was the pony version of laying on the floor and crying because she didn't know why I seemed frustrated with her when she was doing what I asked!

So. The best solution to her little meltdown really isn't working her hard because she honestly loves to work, and it was her way of letting me know she was frustrated upset and confused. So honestly, this one was on me.

The best way to get what you want out of her is to stop her (because what she wants is to just run around, so really stopping her is showing her balking doesn't get her what she wants) refocus her, give her something that she can do easily and right, rebuild her confidence, then try again.

I know if your reading this you might think 'that's stupid, she crowhopped and you let her get away with it.'

While yes, you shouldn't teach your horse that crowhopping or balking is a way to get their point across, she had already given me a lot of hints as to her frustration, and I wasn't listening to her. She did something that I would listen to, but that wouldn't hurt me because she knows me and my seat.

I'm taking it like it was a lesson to me to pay attention to my horse and figure out what exactly it is that they are telling me before I jump to conclusions and use firmer cues etc.

Because pony is a very honest horse. And Amanda got her as a mustang and broke her, and she said she has never seen her buck under saddle in her entire time owning her, which is impressive for a previously unbroke mustang!


  1. I'm so glad you are learning to listen to your Pony instead of punishing her for a little crow hop. She was trying to tell you, but you didn't understand her communication. I think she was understandably frustrated with you. I find that I'm usually the one in the wrong, not my horse, but it's always easier to blame them. Maybe in the future, you can close your eyes and really feel the lead she's on. Relax your body and just flow with her rythmm and you can feel the inside lead very easily. You will recognize the incorrect lead easily as well, it will be uncomfortable by comparison. You won't need to lean down to'll feel the lead that is correct and the more you feel of her, the better you will become. The learning process is so much fun! Good job Marissa, and thank you very much for the compliment on Harley. He is pretty stinkin' adorable, and he's totally blind.

  2. You are wrong...I am not thinking that it is stupid. I'm thinking that it takes some real awareness to finally get what our horses are trying to say to us.
    I will tell you something that I learned recently. All horses are honest. They don't know how to be any other way. They do not plot and plan, they tell us how they feel at every moment of every day, but sometimes we don't understand. A horse that is hard and unruly is telling you that he doesn't trust you and will not follow you.
    A horse that is sweet and easy to get along with is telling you that he does trust you and will follow you.
    I think you could be right, she was trying to communicate to you, but had to get bigger with her actions to get you to listen. Very similar to how first we ask, then we suggest, and then we encourage when training.
    Its a good lesson to learn.

  3. Cindy... It took me a few times reading that to figure out you meant I was wrong about you thinking my ideas were stupid, not about me being wrong about what was going on!

    Thank you both! I'm so glad I was able to meet blogisphere people who believe in the same type of horsemanship I do!

    There's this one big macho barny baddass at our barn, and within a few minutes of listening to him I decided I didn't like him much. He was letting us all in on his secret to breaking a mustang. This solution was "you get a rope around their leg, and you tie them all fours so they're on the ground, then you cover them in a tarp and let them lay in the hot sun for a few hours, then they will never doubt who's boss again!"

    Isn't that just dispicable? I have been able to let a lot of horses know who the boss is before, simply by work, and building trust, not by forcing them to suffer!

    Our horses do so much for us! I would rather have a horse that lets me know when there is something else going on, instead of a horse that does what I say out of fear.

    Thanks you both for seeing my point of view! I will definitely have to work on listening to exactly what my pony is telling me and why she's telling me that!

    1. Oops! Sorry Marissa I did not mean to throw you for a loop like that.
      Ya I don't like that guy at all! Perhaps we should tie him under that tarp for a day and see if he thinks WE are the boss then! LOL
      My big red horse Killian, I'm pretty sure he was "broke" in a bad way. I think it produces a horse that gives out of fear but there is reluctance with it at all times. He will do what we ask but he never really gives of himself.
      You are a smart smart girl, who has insight to what is going on. You and Pony are going to be just fine.

  4. Thanks! And that's such a bummer about's so sad how trust is so hard to build but fear is so could work for years to produce a trusting horse but the wrong rider will ruin him in a matter of rides, or you could have a horse taught to fear and it will take such a long time to teach them that they shouldn't fear your cues, but rather trust that what your asking is safe for you both!

    I found out a bunch about ponys past that was really interesting that I was going to sit down and write about tomorrow!


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