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Category: Horse Leadership

Posts referring to training the horse the know you are the leader. Horses need to know in every encounter who the leader is. It’s a life and death instinct for them. If you don’t quickly establish yourself as the leader, your horse will become the leader for that encounter. It’s a new question for every encounter but over time your horse can learn that you are always the leader. Or so we’re told.

Bill takes over horse duties for the day

Bill takes over horse duties for the day

Mikki is sick today and it’s cold and wet outside here in East Tennessee. So today I’ll be handling horse duties. All bundled up, I went out to let Valentine out of his stall. I would have preferred to open the barn gate to let him out that way but it’s muddy by the gate so I decided to halter him to let him out by our yard gate. Now Mikki does this every day, something about it being better for training your horse about your leadership role, despite the fact that the barn gate would be far faster and easier. I don’t have a lot of experience with the halter since I usually opt for the lazy, quick way – through the barn gate. So today I grab the halter and spend the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get this stupid thing on Valentine’s face. I was amazed how patient he was even though I bent his ears a couple of times. I lead him out to the pasture and slowly remove the halter and this is when he became impatient and shook it off. That was followed by a push by his nose…head…the long thing at the end of his neck. “Hey!” I’m not afraid of him and I won’t let him push me around without responding but it’s pretty clear to me that we need to spend some time on this leadership role thing. But he’s a fine horse and we’re happy to have him.

On a technical note about the website, I’ll changed the login requirement so you don’t have to register and login to post comments. I personally hate having to login everywhere to make a little comment. We’ll see how this goes. Hopefully we won’t be inundated with spam. If you see spam in the comments, we’ll remove it when we notice it.

Also, we’ll be changing some of the links around a little and probably adding a discussion forum soon for better online discussions. Someday you might see a few tasteful ads around here. We’ll keep them relative to the topic at hand. We’re billed for the web space and all so we’re going to try to recoup some of that expense.

The Big Day!

The Big Day!

Okay, I spent several days comparing the picture in the catalog, the pictures we took of Valentine all tacked up when we met him, and every other picture of a horse with bridle on I could find, and decided that today was the day.

I finally rode my horse, by myself.

First, we had to remember how to put the saddle on. It took a long time, but I’m pretty confident we got that right. It stayed on the whole time, so that must be a good sign.

The bridle was another story. I did the best I could, but I’m not confident at all that it was right. Valentine was so good and patient while I tried every combination with those straps that I could think of. I think he was annoyed by all the giggling, though.

Once the bridle was looking as close to right as I could get it, and the bit was adjusted pretty well, we maneuvered Valentine over to the tack room, which has a foot-high step up, so I could get on. Then Bill led us out to the pasture, and it was time.

Was that a wild ride! There are a few factors that came into play here. Valentine’s former owner hadn’t been riding him regularly, and we hadn’t ridden him at all in the month we had him. We were using tack that was all new to him. He is only 5 years old – a “teenager.” And, probably most importantly, I’m a total greenhorn and he knows it. So he spent the whole time I was on him trying to get me off. He ran under trees. He brushed up against the barn. He charged up to the barbed wire fence. He ran to the low point of the fence at the corner of our property, where I thought for a split second that he was going to jump it! He ignored every command but “whoa” and was slow to respond to that one.

The good news is, nothing he tried worked. I managed to stay on the whole time, and didn’t get off until I was ready.

Can’t wait to do that again…

Gotta Love Those Infomercials

Gotta Love Those Infomercials

Tonight we attended a workshop presented by Purina (Purina Horse Owner’s Workshop: We were pretty sure it was going to be a live infomercial for Purina Horse Chow – and they pushed their horse feed pretty hard – but we got a lot of good information from the presentation. The best part was at the end, when they had a guest speaker to talk about horse behavior and answer our questions about horses. He was a guy who has been around horses all his life and now makes his living by using his experience with horses to show corporations how to apply the principles of horse leadership to people leadership. It sounds kind of crazy, I admit, but it sounds like it might work. He was really common-sense and down to earth, and gave us some really good advice. His name is Sam Powell ( They also gave out free samples of horse treats, which Valentine loves. Unfortunately, they chose to call them “NickerMakers.” Do real horse people buy things called NickerMakers, or will we have to sneak into the feed store to buy them without being seen?