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October - December 2010's POSTS

Novermber 20, 2010

The "Buck" is not Stopping Here!
(Chronic Bucking Problems)

I just got my first horse last mothers day, she is sweet and gentle but when you saddle her and get on her that totally changes. Even with someone leading her around wall im sitting on her she try's bucking. The vet said she was healthy, the saddle and bit fit properly. She is just not broke. Its not lack of experience because we had a professional come by to ride her and my horse tried bucking her. And the previous owner was no help to us he said he had no clue what commands she used. We have tried riding bareback and using just a halter and riding western and riding with a halter, and all different combination, but it didn't help. We have also tried pulling her nose to our knees when she try's to buck, cause that's what people keep telling us to do, But she just freaks out even more. Please help 3 trainers have already given up on her and we dont know whats wrong.


Im not sure if this stuff will change anything but just in case. She is a 15 year old quarter horse, she was sold to us as a beginner broke western riding horse and she is clearly not, she is bare foot as the farrier said she has great feet, we keep her hoofs picked and i always make sure to spray her with fly spay so the flys are not bugging her wall riding. And the riding problem isnt just that she likes to buck, its mostly because she tenses the second the rider trys controlling, the second the rider takes the reins or reminds her she is on them such as kicking or squeezing with there legs trying to get her to move she tenses. She may wave her tail a little i have never noticed as when she does this we are mostly focused on getting her calm and dismounting i will walk and trot her around the corral some times before i ride but not that often well usally someone is leading her around but if someone is leading yes she does guide, but if the rider controls she only goes crazy.


Tip of the Day - Watching a top Cowboy ride a tough bucking horse the full eight seconds at the Rodeo..Is the stuff dreams are made of! Riding one you own at your place is....how most nightmares start!!

Thank you so much for your question. By reading your description, a couple of things are very easy to see. You won't need to pack a lunch when taking your mare on a trail ride, you must really love horses to worry about flies bothering her and I have a used car that was only driven by a little old lady on Sundays that I would like to sell you!!! (No Test Drive necessary) Seriously, the behavior you describe is an unacceptable and potentially dangerous one. If the seller represented her as a "Babysitter", what he has done is actually criminal. With three professional trainers giving up on her, I find it perplexing why you would want to continue to try and make it work. I feel this behavior is way out of hand as well but I will try and give you my take on it anyway.

Your detailed description gives us a few clues. And the riding problem isnt just that she likes to buck, its mostly because she tenses the second the rider trys controlling, the second the rider takes the reins or reminds her she is on them such as kicking or squeezing with there legs trying to get her to move she tenses. She may wave her tail a little i have never noticed usally someone is leading her around but if someone is leading yes she does guide, but if the rider controls she only goes crazy.

Not being there to witness these issues in person, I can only surmise a few things from your words...The weight on her back, squeezing with your heel or leg, wringing of the tail... all are symptomatic of several possible physiological issues. Soundness in this day and age comprises much more than a horse's limbs being normal. I would want a Vet or Chiropractor to check her back, neck, and vertebrae.

I would also have a Vet check her kidneys and palpate her female parts looking for any anomaly such as cysts or tumors on her ovaries. The dramatic change that takes place when you try to control her with the bridle, points to discomfort of some kind with her mouth. Have her teeth been floated recently? (twice a year is best) I would consider using less bit.

After addressing the above possibilities, it might well be time to try going back to basics and try long lining. When she is listening to your commands, going forward, turning both directions, stopping and backing you might then return to saddle work. Before I would ride her, each time after saddling and cinching her loosely, I would lunge her at the walk trot and canter both directions for 5-10 minutes tightening the cinch very slowly maybe two or three times.

If after going through all this and you discover she has no physical problems and the remedial training had no success, it might be time to consider sending her to a reputable trainer for 30 days, replacing her or taking up another hobby.

I wish I could think of more positive things to tell you. I hope what I have said will be of help or give you some food for thought I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

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November 12, 2010

The Curb Has Me Stalled
(The Horse and the Stall Bridle)

Lonnie: I think this has probably been covered on your awesome site, but I have searched and cannot find it. Perhaps you can tell me where to look for the answer?

I need to know about stall bitting to help acclimate a horse to the curb. I have bitting tack but have used it only with a snaffle and don't want to do the wrong thing. Do I just put the surcingle on and attach the curb bit with fairly loose side reins so the horse can play around and find out for himself how the bit works? Should I tie the tongue?

Tip of the Day - I don't know exactly when it happened, but it seems the "Stall Bridle" has gone from a very beneficial tool to an implement of torture! Horses are only supposed to wear it for a short time....NOT live in it!!

Thank you so much for you great question. I know that the thought of this can "Curb your enthusiasm". After being certain his dental work is up to date, the first and most basic rule about starting a horse in the curb bit.....he first must be wearing the snaffle perfectly!! The "bridoon" (the snaffle's proper name when placed in the double bridle) is the work horse of the double bridle, it turns, raises, lowers the head sets the speed, stops and backs. Contrary to popular belief, the curb is NOT an emergency brake, it is not supposed to steer or help one keep their balance when posting. Its sole duty is to tuck the horse's nose in order to distribute the balance of the horse whose head has been elevated by the snaffle. The Romans should have called it the "finesse" instrument.

When the Romans invented it, it was such a perfect tool that I venture to say it has had less changes (albeit thousands of modifications) than any other invention in history. It remains today basically unchanged, in principle.

A few things to remember when selecting a curb bit to use:

A Seal-Tex wrap is a good start. Other options: The shorter the shank, the less leverage, the higher the bit in the horse's mouth the less leverage, the lower the port the less pressure, the thicker the port, the less pressure, the looser the chain, the less leverage. Tying the tongue would depend on what the horse is used to.

That being said, It is always better to lead the horse around with the curb for a few days to help him acclimate to the new artillery in his mouth. This way, you can instantaneously release the bit should there be a problem. When you feel he "understands" the bit, you may then put him in a stall bridle, if you wish. I seldom recommend a curb bit stall bridle at this stage of the game, preferring it's use on older horses already accustomed to it. A stall bridle will not turn loose in an emergency as your hands can. I therefore like to ride and then sometimes drive in the curb instead.

When you have selected the correct bit, it must be placed in the horse's mouth correctly and at the right height. The surcingle need only have a ring at the very top of the back band as with a curb bit, side reins NEVER should be attached lower. The side reins should be elastic, adjustable and the same length. The idea is to fasten them in such a way that they simply encourage the horse to set his own head when he lifts too high. They are NOT meant to HOLD his head down. I would never suggest that the horse should be left alone when wearing a stall bridle. This is tantamount to his learning how not to wear the curb at best and injuring himself at worst. It is much better to stand at the door and observe, cluck and make him move around the stall should he "lug" or raise up to high. 10-15 minutes should be plenty. Much longer you will only teach him to resent the program.

I guess, that pretty much sums it up as to how I would do it. I thank you again for your question and hope this has been of some help to you. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding!

LF Lavery

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November 6, 2010

You Can Lead A Horse To Water!
(Working with Automatic Waterers)


We have a five-year-old Saddlebred mare who refuses to drink from the automatic waterer in her stall - it appears to spook her. She would probably totally dehydrate before using it. Any suggestions? I have tried putting sliced carrots in the water.


Tip of the Day - Automatic Waterers are a wonderful invention that can do many other things beside just watering the horse... They can: Create ice sculptures, fountains, mud, "horsey" swimming pools, provide hours of playtime for your horse and pretty much guarantee you will keep on a first name basis with the neighborhood plumber.

Thank you so much for your question. The good news is...if your horse drinks no water, the stall will stay much drier. Seriously, this is not an uncommon problem. Keep in mind, all waterers are truly not created equal. In years past, the design and mechanics of waterers was such to almost insure problems in acclimating a horse to the machine. Today, waterers such as the "passive" ones made by Nelson make it much easier to get the horse drinking as if it were the farm pond. Being "Flight" rather than "Predatory" animals, horses respond to what could be construed as threatening stimuli such as unpleasant smells, unusual sounds, strange movements. The older model waterers can display all of the above and genuinely frighten a horse. The "swirl" of the water as it fills the cup, the "whoosh" sound of the water, the movement of the "float" up and down, the "rust" or stagnant smell are all things that can encourage the horse to stay thirsty. I think it is safe to assume that one or more of these conditions is the culprit. Let's think of some ways we can deal with it.

The idea of the carrots in the water is great thought and certainly on the right track, in fact, I often use apple cider vinegar in the water. However, similar to the Tip of the Day, you might try to attract the horse to water but if all is not right...you can't make him drink. Here are some ways to handle the other variables. First, If it is a heated waterer, check that there is no short etc, that might be producing a shock. Then, turn the waterer off. If it has mechanical, moving parts make certain they are oiled and working quietly and effortlessly. Thoroughly clean the bowl and everywhere the water touches or is stored . Rinsing and brushing these surfaces with bleach when you have completed the heavy cleaning is helpful and can should be repeated on a daily or weekly basis. (Waterers with stainless steel bowls make this job a breeze) Done correctly, the issue of smell and the mechanics of operation or strange movements, have been covered.

Turning the water back on, if it is possible, adjust the flow of the water to make the water refilling the cup as quiet as possible. Strange sounds covered.

When you have done all you can to make your waterer equine friendly.....Forget about it and for a few days, hang your horse's water bucket so it is setting on the waterer. Now the horse will be getting his water in almost the exact location as the waterer. Remember, horses are beasts of habit. After 4-5 days, remove the bucket and see how it goes for at least a 24 hour period but no more. If, in that time, the horse has not taken any water, give him some but do not put a bucket in his stall. This will be a good bit of work for you, watering by hand, 2-3 times a day but we do not want him to get used to the bucket in the stall again. Remember, horses are beasts of habit.

Again, turn the water off. For another 4-5 days, let's make the waterer the feed box. Putting his grain there will defiantly attract him there and hopefully make him comfortable with the bowl and the action of putting his nose in it. After this period, re clean as before, turn the water on and give him another 24 hour period to get his water only from the waterer. If he does not drink within that period, there are some other things to try but I doubt they would be worth the effort. But take heart...An unused waterer makes a great holder for a mineral or salt block!

I hope this has given you some food for thought and that you will purchase a salt block holder. Thank you so much for your question and I swish you Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

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October 31, 2010

Is there a FASTER way to Slow Down?
(Rating the horse at the Trot and the Lope)

Hi Lonnie --

I am training my Saddlebred for western pleasure, and we have made great progress. The lope is his weak spot right now. While I have a wide range of speed control at the jog and trot, I am having a hard time getting the canter to slow down to a lope. He falls out of the canter easily, and when I ask him to slow down with reins and/or seat, he quickly slips into a trot, despite my driving leg. I did think of asking him for more speed at the canter -- up to a hand gallop -- and then back down, thinking that would help him get the idea. Would that help? I'm also doing a lot at the walk -- extended, collected, halt, etc -- and circles and bending to get him on his butt more.

Interestingly, or sadly, my other horse has the same issue at the trot. He's from Saddlebred Rescue and a former buggy horse. I was trying to teach him to western jog for when hubby rides, but he only thinks the trot has two speeds -- fast and faster. Admittedly, I haven't worked a lot at a jog on him since hubby's comfort is fairly low on my training priority list. :)

Do you have any exercises you could recommend for teaching that range of speed and slowing down the canter?

Thanks so much!

Tip of the Day - When you and your horse seem to be getting in too big a hurry, always remember......It doesn't take long to wait a minute.

Thank you so much for your great question. Looking for a "silver lining", at least you and your husband will always be out front on the trail ride or cattle drive. Much less dust out there! Seriously, I know how maddening this behavior can be. It certainly sounds like you are giving it your all in dealing with it and are using many of the time tested "tools" for affecting an improvement. The possible causes, reasons, inadvertent triggers etc, are virtually endless and not being there to see it in person makes my task quite difficult but not impossible. Let's give it a try to see if we can figure this out.

As with all undesirable behaviors, WHY, is the most important question to be answered. The "checklist" for any training issue should always include: Is there a physical problem. Is it caused by a lack of or improper training. Is the perpetrator displaying this behavior willfully?

In your case or should I say cases, I doubt, from your description, soundness or physical problems would be a consideration, with the exception of the dental work. The horse's mouth must be comfortable to allow you the opportunity for the best control. Floating the rough edges of the horse's teeth, 2 x per year, is simply a must when dealing with horses expected to be controlled with bits.

The type of training or lack of it is something only you can assess on your "Western" horse. On the other hand, your husband's "speedy" trotting horse is very likely a product of his time spent "on the road". The Amish seem always to be in a hurry to try to stay ahead of the semis and gawkers on their way to town and I am certain this horse was probably encouraged to go faster every time he made the trip. That being the case, it could well have become a habit.

The willful manifestation of issues such as this usually are blamed on one of two things, the stability of the horse's mind ( does it because he wants to ) or he does it because he can. In the second case, repetitive misbehavior without correction quickly leads to a reinforced habit. This could well have some impact on the issues of both horses.

Dealing with the western horse, realize that a horse, displaying a true lope rather than a canter, should require little or no "driving" from your leg and even less contact with the bit. It is an extremely relaxed gait that affords the most comfort to both the horse and the rider. No cowboy worth his salt would jog 50 yards when he could lope. As I mentioned earlier, the ways you have been working your western horse are those most often used to slow the horse down at a canter. I would continue using them but also keep in mind that relaxation is the key to the lope. How "quietly" you can induce the lope will go a long way to helping you with the speed issue. If your first 10 steps are at a lope, chances are you will stay loping. Here is a little homework that should give you some insight along those lines.

While the weather is still good, I think you will find the large outdoor area your better venue. Not so much for the "run" aspect but for the long distance you have to keep the canter progressing to a lope. I would suggest this, anytime he falls out of the lope, instead trying to run him back into it as we might want to do with a horse that canters, stop him immediately and back him several steps then pick up the lope again. (Keep in mind, backing is not just the process of moving backwards but more importantly involves the dropping of the head and the softening of the mouth to where the horse is loose in the bridle.)

In dealing with your husband's horse, because I feel we are dealing with a habit, we must introduce him to a new habit. As with your horse, a supple mouth and a relaxed horse are the main ingredients to the ride you are looking for. Time and a lot of it will be needed to affect a change, As usual, W,B & T (Walking, Bending and Twisting) is the way to start. Introducing a word like "easy" each time you must use some rein pressure to slow him down will serve you well in the future. Consistant, diligent and repetitive work such as this should have the horse doing the W,B.T. on a relatively loose rein and responding to the "secret" word in just a few weeks. It would then be time to introduce the trot. Allow him to trot only when he is asked do not let him "steal" it. When you do ask, do not kick, gouge and cluck but be as subtle as possible asking for the trot. The moment he picks up more speed than asked for and does not respond to the"secret" word, stop and back a few steps. Walk some time before you ask for the trot again. Keep repeating the stop and back each time it is necessary. If there is no improvement, try stopping, reversing and walking, then the trot all the while keeping relaxation and a very supple mouth in mind.

These behaviors will both require a good deal of time to correct but if you put forth the effort, I am confident you will succeed. Thanks again for your great question. Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

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October 27, 2010

And We All Fall Down
Shoulder Development

Hi Mr. Lavery,

I have a saddle bred about 12yrs old who is a rescue. When I work him to the right or in tight circles he tends to drop his shoulder. He has even fallen on me once because of a "wet spot" in the arena and his drop to the inside was so bad I couldn't pull him back up. I do lift his inside shoulders like a young horse around corners. I work him in a roller snaffle full check and his "show bridle" is a single wire with a low port 6in curb. He doesn't need anything more but his pole bend isn't the best w/o baiting. I know he needs more solid muscle on his shoulders. How do I get it? The rest of him is very athletic but the shoulders.I have not used stretches because our arena is not deep enough. Our arena is 60x125. He is 16'1. Could the dropping be that hes too long to cut this corner? Shoeing? More protein to build muscle? I have tried weight bell boots and light chains to get him to "wake up" I am not expecting him to be a worlds champion just better balanced around corners. I do long line him and do straight away work as well as bending and flexing before and after workouts. I will say that when he shows in a "deep" ring he is awesome! Would a biting rig help?? I respect your option allot! Any help would be helpful.

Tip of the Day - Only being able to get your horse to go in one direction... can be worked around....unless you are going the wrong way on a one way street.

Thank you so much for your great question. It is a pleasure to receive such a detailed inquiry from someone who is obviously a horseman with such a terrific understanding of a horse's gaits and physiology. Being so well informed, I assume you will not be happy going in only one direction and have not found his laying on you very rewarding. I guess we had better address this issue.

For a horse to be perfect going one direction and limited when going the other is, of course, not a normal thing. Your analysis of the situation seems to be right on. That being the case, what could be the cause of such symptoms and how best can we treat that cause?

12 year old geldings often start receiving visits from "Arthur" ( Arthritis ) not to mention other old injuries or conditions that might be popping up as the horse ages thus restricting some movements. With any performance horse, it is a wonderful idea to pull the front legs forward, thus stretching the shoulders, as a part of the warm up before working the horse. It only takes a few seconds but the loosening effect can be invaluable. You might try putting the horse on a anti- inflammatory such as a NSAID for a day or two as a diagnostic tool. If he improves....you have soundness issues and should contact your veterinary.

As you suggest, a large horse can be compromised in a "tight" turn. 60 feet is not a tight turn. Further, I do not see this as a problemem as your issue is only in one direction.

Shoeing or lack of it can certainly effect the performance of a horse. Too long a foot can leave a horse unsteady. Interference, caused by improper shoeing can trip a horse up as well. Certainly something to think about.

Footing that is has no cushion can be as slick as ice to the steel shoe worn by the horse. Additionally, deep footing requires more deliberate muscular effort on the horse's part. I would consider footing that best compliments your horse's performance.

Because a horse's center of balance is located in his head and it is being controlled by the bridle, it is important the horse's mouth is supple and straight in the bridle. While mounted and standing still, turn the horse's head over his left shoulder, then over his right shoulder. Is the range of motion and the effort required the same? If not, more suppleing is necessary Is the horse's dental work up to date? (Teeth floated twice a year)

Working in Long Lines in a 60 foot circle to the right will considerably improve the strength and range of motion of the right front leg as it becomes the "bearing" leg and takes more weight and travels farther than the left. The "stretchies", boots etc can also be of help in increasing the range of motion.

These suggestions, coupled with all you are currently doing, if diligently applied, should affect some improvement in the issue at hand. I hope you find this helpful and am sure you will persevere. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding!

L. F. Lavery

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October 24, 2010

A "Leading" Question
Canter Issues

Hi Lonnie. I recently met you at the River Ridge horse show and bought some of your bit stuff. I love it and it is making a difference in my mare's mouth. Thanks for the help!

Now, my biggest problem I am having is my left canter lead. I got my mare from SBR and she was with the amish for 4 years. I am working her back into a riding horse and hoping to show this year. However, even though I have perfected the trot both ways and the canter to the right, I can not get the left canter lead. What is even more bizarre is that she canters to the left in long lines perfectly. Now, I was taught that most problems are rider error and I agree with that, so maybe it is me. However, how could I have the canter perfect to the right and yet can't get it at all to the left? I have on occasion let her continue on the incorrect lead hoping she will switch it and she never does, not even in a circle. It almost feels like she takes it correctly and switches it in the second stride. At first I would really exaggerate the tip to the rail and once I realized it didn't help I decided not to tip her at all and I got it twice but had to run her into it. But now I can't get it again. I guess I am just looking for suggestions. Could this be a physical problem? Shall I have a chiropractor or massage therapist out to look at her? Here is the tricky part, once I ask for the canter a couple of times she gets fried and I lose my horse. I have always ended on a good note by turning around and trotting to keep her mind right but it doesn't help me with the canter. When I got her from SBR they said her left canter needs work. I can't even get the left canter to work on it. I am attaching two videos of her in long lines so you can see how good she is there, sorry I don't have any riding videos.



Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for this great service you provide.

Tip of the Day - When you really think about it, it is hard to understand why the canter causes so much trouble...It is, after the walk, the first gait most new born foals do.

Nice to hear you have experienced the difference "Bit Sweet" can make in a horse's mouth. Hard to believe just a few drops can make your ride so much better. I wish rubbing some on your mare's left leg would help her canter. Surprisingly, the left lead is the one you will find most horses prefer cantering on in the wild, in the pasture, while at liberty. Much like there are more right handed people than left handed.

Your question is a good one but one that could have many answers. Your videos are excellent but give no real clues to the cause of your issue. In the Long Lines, your mare appears to be completely comfortable on both leads with a canter that is flowing and in control. That being said, we might well remember your statement about rider error. From all you have said and the great detail you have described the problem with, I doubt error has much to do with this but I would not rule out the "rider" part. By that I mean the variable between cantering so successfully in long lines and cantering so unsuccessfully under saddle, is the rider. Weight in the saddle can affect the horse's balance, can aggravate a weakness or injury in the horse's back, put more strain on a suspect hind leg or stifle. In general, a rider's body can very much change the dynamics of the canter for the horse. This is a possibility.

Keep in mind that the horse's mouth is the key to control and if it is uncomfortable, many problems which might seem unrelated can occur. Is her dental work up to date?

Although I truly believe most Amish get a bad rap as to the care of their horses, the "road" can be hard on them even though most American Saddlebreds are "Sunday" horses rather than their utility ones. Soundness problems as mentioned above can be brought on by the miles on asphalt and can manifest themselves with this type of cantering issues you are having. That being the case, seeking consul from a vet or chiropractor would be an excellent idea except for the fact there is no evidence of that type of problem on the video. I would try a few more things before you make the call but do make it if all else fails.

As you describe, cantering in the circle is the time tested way of correcting cantering issues that have to do with leads, form and speed. Again, excellent that you have tried this although it was to no avail.

You have approached this pretty much as I would have so there is little I can add. A couple things you might try:

*Keep your canter work in as small a circle as possible.

*For a while, attempt your canter only on the left lead.

*Canter on the lunge line before you ride.

*Try putting a bell boot or dog collar on the left front leg.

*Try the same on the left rear leg.

*When on the wrong lead going to the left, keep going as you decrease the diameter of the circle in hopes of her switching leads.

*Try riding with just a halter rather than a bridle.

Once again, thank you for your great question. I wish I could have been of more help but hope this has given you some food for thought. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding!

LF Lavery

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October 16, 2010

I Just Hate Playing "Footsie"
(Mannering for the Farrier)

My 21 month old filly ( quarter horse) has obviously had her feet done in the past,but one time she is good the next time she pulls back so hard she snaps the lead line. I have not started her with ground work for respect etc for I just wanted to let her be a horse so do you have any solutions to my problems for I would hate to have to sell this beautiful filly to somebody that would be able to fix her of this.

Tip of the Day - It is possible to shoe two of a horse's feet at the same time... simply not two on the same side.

Thank you for your question. With "respect" to the issue that is concerning you, what you are in dire need of is... a little, sister Arethea said it best...... R..E..S..P...E..C..T!!! 21 months is way too old for a horse to show so little to you. On the larger breeding farms of many breeds where they process virtually hundreds of horses, foals are usually taught to stand for the Farrier often before they are even weaned. This is simply part of the rudimentary training process one puts a horse through knowing you will eventually be dealing with an animal that may weigh half a ton, is capable biting, kicking, let alone striking you in the head with it's front feet. I suggest we get started before she gets any better at ignoring you.

Controlling a horse's head is the key that gives us the leverage to use our lesser weight to manage these large animals. Setting up a situation where the animal is breaking the "head" restraint serves to reinforce the horse's resolve to rebel and is the major cause of your problem. Coupled with the hit or miss, "one time, this time, next time" approach you describe, you have set up the perfect scenario for this type of unwanted behavior. Fortunately, unless you are leaving something out, I think we can turn this around.

To begin, resolving this problem is not a once a month or once a week job. If you want to correct this issue, it is a daily job. As on those Breeding farms mentioned above, the filly must be handled daily. Feet picked up and cleaned out. "Tapped" lightly with a brush or currycomb making a bit of noise on the bottom of the foot to imitate a hammer. Unfortunately, this is a two person job for a while as she has already learned how to "break her ties" to you. Best done in her stall, the "header" should position her in the stall so she has no room to back up as she has been doing and keeps her in a place where the side you are working on is not blocked from the door by her. He should keep her head straight and keep her from going forward without undo wrestling or brutal restraining. The "R" in relax is the same as the one in Respect and the "F" in another word is the same as the one in Fight. Quiet, slow, methodical movements, with a good deal of comforting talk are what is called for. Starting at her shoulder, slowly move your hand down the leg to the cannon bone where a slight squeeze or pinch should encourage her to lift her hoof slightly off the ground. The first few days simply hold it where it is for several seconds with you vocally reassuring and the header petting her head. Let it down slowly. Do the same with the back feet starting at the hip and moving your hand down the hind leg to the cannon bone. Repeat the reassuring, etc. This process should not take over 5 minutes and may be "bundled" with her feeding. After two or three days, you should be able to hold the foot a little higher and longer and then pick it out and tap on it. After a week or so, when your header feels he is doing little other than standing there, run the shank through a ring on the wall as if she is tied but with the header still holding the byte. Again, make certain she is positioned correctly in her stall as described above. If she stands for this, you are ready to tie (not Snub) her again, in a correct position. Ideally, you will be able to hold her with a rope or a shank yourself and be able to pick and clean all four feet in a couple of weeks or less. With a little patience and diligence, I am confident you will be able to have her singing RESPECT in two part harmony.

Thank you again for your question, I hope you find this helpful. Good Luck and Good Riding!

LF Lavery

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October 13, 2010

Hackney from Acme
(Characteristics of the Hackney)


We have just purchased a hackney pony for my 6 year old daughter. He is 11 years old and is very sweet. She will be using him in Pony Club. One of the older girls rode him yesterday, and when he canters he does what I would consider a hop with his two front legs and then canters and it is very bouncy! His trot is also very bouncy. Is this normal of a hackney? HE looks wonderful walking, and my daughter wont be going fast for a while. We were just curious. Can we work on this to make him a little smoother, or is this something we would need to hire someone to do, and is it possible to smooth it out? Any tips or suggestions would be great. We have always just rode for pleasure on trail, and don't have many "training" skills!


Tip of the Day - After 100's of years of selective breeding to refine the conformation, athleticism and disposition so a breed of horse is most suited for it's particular "job". ...It is often difficult to undue this predisposition with a couple of training sessions. For example, don't bet a lot money on an Arabian winning the "Little Brown Jug", Standardbred race!

Congratulations on your recent purchase and thank you for your question. I must tell you, however, that after many years of doing this you are the first Hackney pony owner disappointed your pony is too "Bouncy"! Most often with the breed the complaint is, "not bouncy enough." Adversely, many other Hackney owners would kill for a pony with a wonderful walk. I don't not think your problems are insurmountable but if I assume your daughter will want to do more than walk before she is 30, now is a good time to work on these things. Let's start with a little history lesson first.

The Hackney pony was originally developed in the mid 1800's in England. It is the product of a cross between a very attractive and athletic stallion, the Wilson Stud and a rather mundane breed of ponies known as "Fells". The intent was to produce a breed of ponies that were very pleasing to the eye, could trot with much animation and height, would look good pulling a carriage and were very hardy individuals. I can think of no other breed in history that so fully accomplished their desire in such a short time. By the 1880's, what the breeders had hoped to develop was exactly what they had produced. A tough, handsome, functional, breed of ponies suitable to stylishly pull carriages as wonderfully as their larger cousins, the Hackney Horse. To this day, in fact, that is what the Hackney pony is still shown as and known for, world wide. It is only in the last 15-20 years, that they have gained any popularity as riding ponies. That being said and as the Tip of the Day alludes, you may better understand why you are having some of your riding issues with your new pony.

On the positive side. It is good that your 6 year old can comfortably ride the pony as they can sometimes be very head strong. It is good that your pony can willingly execute the gaits asked of him as sometimes they are not comfortable under saddle. These are two important things that assure me that the pony can be improved.

The bouncy, animated, elevated motion you speak of, although bred into the breed, is enhanced by collection, something that will not really be as important in Pony Club as in the show ring. By that I mean, this motion should greatly level out as the pony becomes relaxed and very supple in the bridle. In other words, the stronger you take hold of the pony as it is going forward the more animation you may expect.

Things you can do to affect improvement. A "fresh" pony will be a hand full, a relaxed pony will be what you want. Lunge the pony before he is ridden. Trot and canter. Turn the pony out in a paddock or pasture where he can practice his cantering skills without being collected. Keep the pony's hooves trimmed short on a regular basis. I do not feel you will need a trainer but please keep that option in mind should things not improve dramatically after you faithfully implement the things described above.

I hope I may have been of some help to you and thank you once again for your great question. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

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October 7, 2010

Training on a Budget

I can't afford a lungline right now but would like to start lunging my horse as he has not been riden in a while, would it be safe for me and my horse to use a long dog leash? And a meter long stick with a meter or so of rope tied to the end of it? I will not be able to afford these things for a few months and would like to get him in shape to be ridden again as soon as possible.

Tip of the Day - Fine "Corinthian" leather and 24 carat Gold plating do not make training equipment any more efficient.

Thank you for your question, I have just completed a chapter in my book on just this very topic. Times being what they are and training equipment seeming to just get more and more expensive... it makes perfect sense to look a bit closer to home for "tools" you can use on your horse. However, having never seen a Dog leash longer than 12 foot... Please do not attempt to lunge your horse with one. I would consider no length less than 18 feet to be a safe one for a lunge line with 20 - 25 feet even better. If you are not well versed in the art of braiding (baling twine can be fashioned into a wonderful rope) Cotton rope makes an excellent alternative to an expensive lunge line. It should be at least 1 inch thick and can usually be procured at a discount "hardware" or a Wal- mart type store for less than 25 cents a foot. A large, heavy duty snap is then affixed to one end and you have created a useful lunge line. Always wear gloves of some kind and never wrap this rope around ANY part of your body while lunging. As far as a "whip" or a "flag", 1 meter is a bit too short. Second hand stores and junk shops are great places to find tools you need at a very reasonable price. Old fishing poles, thin "mop" handles, bamboo, PCV pipe, etc, can make a wonderful whip handle (5 ft or better) and here is a place to put some baling twine for the lash or a plastic shopping bag for a "flag". The orange "vehicle" flags also make a wonderful lunging appliance.

If you use a little ingenuity, and some thought you would be very surprised of the myriad of things you can find to substitute for expensive tack. In fact, many of those expensive items we use today were "morphed" from these types of common everyday things originally. Just walk through any training barn, Gate springs, "S" hooks, lengths of hose, dog collars, coffin bands, surgical tubing, rubber wrap, pulleys, diapers, fishing line, broom sticks, even shoestring and a thousand other things, all started out unrelated to horses until someone had an idea. The sky is the limit when training on a budget. Thanks again for your question, I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery

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October 4, 2010

Correct Shoeing Behind

Mr. Lavery: I am familiar with your advise from your website "Ask The Trainer Online" as well your participation on the Trot.org website. I have a question concerning the shoeing of a Saddlebred that I am considering purchasing for my Jr. Exh. daughter. The gelding is an 8 year old show pleasure horse, is big/muscular, stands at 16.3 and has good/healthy hooves. The horse has good motion but seems to do some shuffling behind and on the reverse he moves better when you ride the wrong diagonal.

I am going to have the horse vetted, but am wondering how much the shoeing could be causing or effecting his way of going since I've never seen hind shoes set up the way these are. To me and my amateur, non-farrier, layman's eyes and knowledge, it seems like they are a bit of overkill and that the shoes may be a too much (heavy) for the horse. This is why I would appreciate your thoughts as to why the horse would be shod this way and how it might effect his way of going. Have you ever seen this type of package for hind shoes in particular?

I've attached 2 pics of the back feet/shoes and one of the front feet, along with 2 of him being ridden (by someone giving him a test ride) and 1 of him parked out.

I am just curious as to your thoughts on the shoeing and I appreciate your time and consideration.

Thank you.

Tip of the Day - It only makes sense, that when shoeing a horse, to try to stay as close as you can to the way God made him.

Thank you so much for your great question and for including such good pictures. These are great help to me when trying to help by E mail..

The hind shoe and package that you refer to is not really anything very out of the ordinary. The shoe is nicely made and fits the foot well. The "trailer" and "calk" turned to the outside, is a bit more drastic than I would want to use but is commonly applied when proper trimming of the hoof itself cannot be achieved. One only needs to look at the picture of both hind feet to realize that this horse is toeing out badly and therefore will not break correctly over the toe thus altering the normal flight path of the hoof. (You mention shuffling and this is most probably the cause) The farrier has turned the calk and trailer in an effort to correct this. As stated above, I would start by trimming the foot to achieve the same end with less torque and strain on the horse's ankles and legs that the trailer can cause. Even though I do not agree with this type of "trick" shoeing I must, however, bow to the farrier as he is there and I am not nor am I privy to what has been done up until this point.

One thing I will say though, to have a horse shod with a plastic pad against his hoof rather than leather is sure way to make certain you will be using bands, have chipped, broken, unsightly and unhealthy feet while setting up an opportunity for White line disease, abscesses and a multitude of other problems. (Exception: Double Nail Pad)

I thank you again for your question and hope I have given you some food for thought. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding!

LF Lavery

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Links To Questions & Responses
Date Subject Search Criteria
Nov 20, 2010 The "Buck" is not Stopping Here! Chronic Bucking Problems
Nov 12, 2010 The Curb Has Me Stalled The Horse and the Stall Bridle
Nov 6, 2010 You Can Lead A Horse To Water! Working with Automatic Waterers
Oct 31, 2010 Is there a FASTER way to Slow Down? Rating the horse at the Trot and the Lope
Oct 27, 2010 And We All Fall Down Shoulder Development
Oct 24, 2010 A "Leading" Question Canter Issues
Oct 16, 2010 I Just Hate Playing "Footsie" Mannering for the Farrier
Oct 13, 2010 Hackney from Acme Characteristics of the Hackney
Oct 7, 2010 Training on a Budget Ingenuity and training tools
Oct 4, 2010 IF THE SHOE FITS Correct Shoeing Behind

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